Bill Read's Blog: Isaac's end game

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HOUSTON - Tuesday is the beginning of the end game for Isaac.

The effects of Isaac are already being felt Tuesday morning as this large storm progresses steadily onshore on the northern Gulf Coast. Because of the nature of the coastline and the large wind field of Isaac, tides have already become a problem for low lying areas from southeast Louisiana eastward through Alabama. 

Also, heavy rains are beginning to cause some flooding problems far away from the center of the storm… even back over Florida.

As these conditions get progressively worse through the remainder of the day, the time for preparation has basically ended and people will have to ride out the approaching storm. 

Overnight Tuesday, the strongest portion of Isaac is expected to make landfall in southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi with peak winds of 80 to 100 mph near the center of the storm. Most people in the path of the large storm will experience less wind. However, prolonged winds of at least tropical storm force will bring trees down and knockout power across a wide area. 

The storm surge will be the initial big impact coming from Isaac. On the storm's current path, size and intensity, we expect upwards of 12 feet of surge along the Mississippi and east facing Louisiana coast lines. While nothing like Katrina's surge, there will be significant flooding outside the protection of the levees. 

Storm surge from Alabama to along the beaches of the Florida Panhandle could reach five feet, as will be the case on the south facing coast of southeast Louisiana. Also, the slow northwest movement after landfall will keep tide levels elevated much of Wednesday and Wednesday night.

Because Isaac is large and is forecast to move very slowly northwestward Tuesday night and all day Wednesday, extremely heavy rainfall is forecast with some areas expected to receive upwards of 20 inches of rain, which should cause severe flooding. Depending on where this heavy rain falls, this could be the big disaster story coming out of Isaac…and we all know what that is like here in Houston.

For us in southeast Texas, dry and hot will be the main impacts from north winds and subsiding air on the west side of Isaac. There may be some two to four foot swells reaching the beaches, but the tide elevations are expected to insignificantly different from normal.


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