Tropical Strom Isaac was located about 120km WSW of Key West at 4am (UK time) on Monday 27 August, and continues to move west north west. Mean wind speeds of 65 mph have been observed by the United States National Hurricane Center aircraft. These mean wind speeds maintain Isaac as a tropical storm, just below hurricane strength which requires mean wind speeds of over 74 mph.
The official United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast track predicts an intensification of this system into a hurricane as it passes across the very warm Gulf of Mexico by midnight tonight with a high risk that the Hurricane will be a Category 2 storm, with winds of around 100 mph when it makes landfall along the US Gulf coastline during the early hours on Wednesday morning.
The NHC notes that there is still a great deal of forecast uncertainty in exactly where Isaac will make landfall, with locations ranging from the Texas/Louisiana border eastward to the Alabama/Florida border. The most likely forecast track has the eye of the storm making landfall close to New Orleans, but the NHC state that it is important not to focus on the exact forecast track due to forecast uncertainties and the fact that significant hazards extend well away from the centre.
Therefore, there is a high risk of very rough, chaotic seas and hurricane force winds across the Gulf of Mexico impacting marine traffic and oil and gas production during the next few days. This will be followed by torrential rain, potentially as much as 500mm in 48 hours, causing flash flooding. There is also the risk of embedded tornados and more general hurricane force winds, with a storm surge and over topping waves along the Gulf coast from Alabama to central Louisiana, with New Orleans at an increased risk of being impacted than previously expected.
The Met Office’s StormTracker allows you to monitor all named storms around the globe to evaluate risk and enables the comparison of past and present storms. It can be used with the official warnings and guidance from the National Hurricane Center and other Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) who have responsibility for the issue of tropical cyclone warnings.