Tropical Storm Isaac, which brought intense rain and wind to the Florida Keys and South Florida Sunday, is expected to hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 2 hurricane on Tuesday or Wednesday.
However, forecasters are still uncertain about Isaac’s path because their best computer programs used to predict the storm are returning different results.
Forecasters say it has been difficult to forecast the storm’s path. The U.S. National Hurricane centre’s forecast map shows that it could hit somewhere along a roughly 300-mile stretch of Gulf Coast across four states from southern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. Those areas are under hurricane warnings.
Hurricane centre forecasters are uncertain of the storm’s path because two of their best computer models have tracked the storm on opposite sides of a broad cone for much of Sunday. One model has Isaac going well west and the other well east.
Keith Blackwell, a meteorologist at the University of South Alabama’s Coastal Weather Research, told National Geographic’s Willie Drye that this discrepancy is “very unusual”:
The models are being fed the same data, but are producing divergent paths. One model is predicting Isaac will make landfall somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and Mississippi, while the other model is forecasting a landfall in Mississippi or Louisiana.
The graphic below from the U.S. National Hurricane centre shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow).
According to the National Hurricane centre, “This forecast uncertainty is conveyed by the track forecast “cone”, the solid white and stippled white areas in the graphic. The solid white area depicts the track forecast uncertainty for days 1-3 of the forecast, while the stippled area depicts the uncertainty on days 4-5.”
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