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Another iStorm, Isaac, in the Caribbean

By By Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteoroligst
August 23, 2012, 4:08:34 PM EDT

A tropical system has gathered the name Isaac in the Atlantic and is likely to become a hurricane over the Caribbean and could eventually impact the United States.

This disturbance became Tropical Depression Nine early Tuesday morning.

Hurricane hunter aircraft found tropical storm force winds in the system Tuesday afternoon.


According to Dan Kottlowski, head of the Hurricane Center, "We expect the system to continue to become better organized over the next couple of days."

The system is moving toward much warmer water and lower wind shear.

"People in the Windward and Leeward islands should be prepared for tropical storm conditions Thursday with torrential downpours, gusty thunderstorms and rough seas," Kottlowski said.

There is potential for this system to become a category 1 hurricane as it moves westward over the Caribbean Sea.

The precise track of the system from later in the week and beyond is a little uncertain and will depend on the strength of the system itself and the state of a large high pressure, known as the Bermuda-Azores High.

However, a general arcing movement or curve around the high is anticipated, which will bring the system in contact with the Greater Antilles this weekend and potentially over or near Florida and the southeast coast of the U.S. in general next week.


This is a different scenario than Ernesto and Helene, which plowed nearly due west into Central America and Mexico.

While the system brings the likelihood of needed rainfall to the islands, it also brings the potential for flash flooding, mudslides and dangerous seas to the region.


There are also concerns for flooding in the U.S.

According to Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "Any tropical system that were to move slowly northward along the East Coast or inland, over the Appalachians will bring the risk of flash flooding."

Except for the area centered on central and northern Georgia and a few other pockets in the East, soil conditions have transitioned from abnormally dry and drought to normal to wet in recent weeks.

Soil conditions have become wet in much of northern Florida and the Carolinas. Part of northern Florida was slammed by 1 to 2 feet of rain by Debby earlier this summer.

Just last year, the combination of another iStorm, "Irene," and then later "Lee" brought record flooding to part of the eastern third of the nation.

Speaking of iStorms, seven out of the last 11 storms, whose name began with the letter "I" have been retired, according to Meteorologist Adrienne Veilleux.

Recently Retired iStorms Irene- 2011
Igor- 2010
Ike- 2008
Ivan- 2004
Isabel- 2003
Isadore- 2002
Iris- 2001

Another area of potential development in the coming days is the western Gulf of Mexico, part of the old remains of Helene.

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