As expected, we have reached the peak time of the year for tropical storms and hurricanes to spin their way through the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Isaac, which topped out as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum winds of 80 mph, was a tropical storm for much of it's existence, passing by Key West and the Florida Keys with heavy rain and up to 60 mph winds. The storm left a bigger impact along the central Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama. Although some media outlets made this storm out to the be the second coming of Hurricane Katrina, even though it wasn't nearly as intense (Katrina topped out at a Category 5 hurricane), it did travel along a somewhat similar route as Katrina and also made landfall on the same date in late August near New Orleans (August 29th). Here's a recap of the path of Isaac as it made progress through the western Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico, followed by landfall and the slow track inland through the southern US.
In addition, here's the track that Hurricane Katrina took in 2005, along with a satellite image of this storm which was very powerful as it was spinning in the Gulf of Mexico.
The main memorable aspects of Isaac will be the flooding and heavy rainfall it caused as it swept through Louisiana and Mississippi. At least 2 levees had to be breached to allow for flooding to subside just outside of New Orleans and in another location near the LA/MS border, but it appears that the upgrades done on the various levees in and around New Orleans did succeed in keeping out much of the water from the Gulf, Lake Pontchartrain, and the rain that fell in town in the range of 5-15". Isolated higher amounts of rain up to 20" fell farther off to the east. It should be noted that there were a fair number of tornado touchdowns in association with Isaac, in the range of nearly 20 twisters on August 29th and 30th.
Having reached the "I" named storm of the season just about the same time as in 2011, two more named storms are churning in the Atlantic as of this blog post. Hurricane Kirk was out in the central Atlantic and is projected to stay out to sea, well east of Bermuda. In addition, Tropical Storm Leslie had formed as of Thursday afternoon, and is expected to become a hurricane on Friday. The forecast track for Leslie takes it off to the northwest, staying away from the Caribbean islands, but at the same time if there is a change in the steering flow, it could creep toward the US or Bermuda. This will be another storm to keep an eye on. For the latest, check out the National Hurricane Center website.
Meantime, we have wrapped up the month of August on a hot note in North Central Wisconsin as the mercury soared into the 90s on Thursday. A new record high of 92 was set in Rhinelander, while Marshfield and Wausau tied their records at 93 degrees. With this late shot of hot weather, August will continue our streak of consecutive months of above average temperatures in Wausau, which now stretches all the way back to October 2011 (11 months in a row). With still drier than average conditions in much of the region, we will have to see if Mother Nature makes up for it as we head into the fall season. Most times, in order to have cooler conditions, it has to be cloudier or at least wetter. Enjoy the Labor Day holiday weekend!
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