15 September 2003

Isabel still a CAT4, bypassing the Bahamas...

Since Saturday's update, not too much has changed.  Isabel remains a
powerful CAT4 hurricane, and has been slowly tracking WNW.  For quite a
while, she achieved a large eye and broad symetric eyewall, in a
configuration known as an annular hurricane.  She's now departing from
that stable configuration, and the cloud tops are cooling as asymetries
lead to pockets of deeper convection in the eyewall.  Although this
means slight weakening in the near future, it opens the door for future
intensification.  SSTs will continue to be plenty warm (~29C), and shear
is becoming more noticable, but should decrease again over the next
couple days.

At 15Z today, Isabel was located at 25.2N 69.4W and tracking WNW at 7kts
(this is about 6 degrees due east of Eleuthera Island, Bahamas). 
Intensity has fallen a bit to 120kts and 945mb.  She has already
accumulated 7.25 Intense Hurricane Days, and several more are most
likely in her future.

U.S. landfall is not out of the question, and it appears that NC (Cape
Lookout to Cape Hatteras area) will receive the initial hit, then she is
forecast to track inland over eastern VA and central PA.  Conditions
could be favorable enough for Isabel to hit eastern NC as a major
hurricane on Thursday morning.  All coastal residents should be
monitoring this storm very closely.  Inland flooding is always a huge
concern with landfalling hurricanes, and with central PA lying right
along the forecast track, the flooding situation already in place in
eastern PA could be severely aggravated toward the end of the week. 

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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