TROPICAL Storm Isaac is forecast to make landfall in the next 12-24 hours bringing with it a potentially damaging storm surge, large waves and hurricane or near-hurricane force winds.
The NOAA have this to say: “Reports from the Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the central pressure has dropped a little more… But so far… The maximum flight-level and SFMR-observed surface winds still do not quite support hurricane intensity. The current intensity is held at 60 kt pending additional observations from the Hurricane Hunters.”
Whether or not Isaac tops-out as a hurricane or a tropical storm remains to be seen, the NHC (National Hurricane Centre) has slightly downgraded the intensity forecast. In terms of making landfall Isaac is expected to move into a weakness in the subtropical ridge near the North-Central Gulf Coast in the next 12-24 hours.
Surf wise, Isaac is not a perfect hurricane by any means. With swell heights in excess of 30ft and associated winds up to hurricane force at the core there’s nothing much on offer near the peak of the storm. At the periphery and before and after arrival there will be windows of opportuunity.
Yesterday (Monday, Aug 28th) at Pensacola was just one of those opportunities. “Just got out of the water and the surf was so much fun.” Said Dr Buck Waters of pensacolasurf.com “The drift kind of sucked but it was worth it. The surf was running chest to head high. The wind is blowing out of the NE at 16-20 mph with higher gusts.”
“Today on the other hand it is a total washout at Pensacola with surf in the totally unsurfable range. “It’s running way overhead. But unfortunately its victory at sea today.” According to pensacolasurf.com
Above is the NOAA’s estimation of the probability of areas at risk from the storm surge exceeding 5ft. Storm surge induced flooding has killed more people in the United States in hurricanes than all other hurricane-related threats (freshwater flooding, winds, and tornadoes) combined.