After lashing the Western Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Cuba late in the week of September 21st, 2002, Isidore began to strengthen and take aim at the Yucatan Peninsula. Isidore, which was at 100 mph when it bared down on Cuba, grew to 115 mph as it entered the Southern Gulf, and turned toward the west.
On Saturday night, September 21st, some models were indicating that Isidore would become a catastrophic hurricane with winds well above Category Five status as it threatened the Central Gulf Coast of the United States in the following week. Would this come to pass? Only time would tell.
After pounding the Western Caribbean, and particularly Cuba with over 100 mph winds, Hurricane Isidore re-emerged into the Southern Gulf of Mexico. The warm waters of the Gulf were especially conducive to the storm's further intensification. With sea surface temperatures in this region running between 85 and 87 degrees for much of the year, and upper level wind currents more supportive for development, the Gulf was an ideal source of energy for this developing storm.
On Saturday, September 21st, Isidore's winds grew to 115 mph, and its pressure was falling. It was also developing an eye and a more solid core of thunderstorms around it as well. Models were beginning to show a track that would have Isidore knocking at the door of the Gulf Coast by the middle of next week, and some indicated that it would be a very powerful hurricane with winds of 130 to 150 miles per hour.
By the morning of September 22nd, the winds of Isidore had grown to 120 mph, and there was a very tight and narrow eye that had formed. The storm was wobbling along the Northeastern coast of the Yucatan, and was bringing high winds, torrential rains, and tremendous waves to the towns along the Northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Progresso, Mexico to Merida, Mexico.
By the afternoon, Isidore began a more southwestward jaunt, and was about to make landfall near Merida, Mexico. By this time, the eye had become more pronounced, and the colorized infrared satellite imagery showed a solid area of red colored thunderstorm cloud tops. Winds were now at 125 mph, and pressures were now around 966 mb.
Late in the afternoon, at around 5:00 PM EDT, the storm moved over the Northern coast of the Yucatan with its full fury in tow. Two people were killed by ravaging flood waters and high winds that knocked down trees. Video out of the area showed the roads were pretty much impassable. Isidore would weaken though, and that weakening trend continued for the next 36 hours as it almost became a tropical depression.
What had happened to cause the weakening of Isidore was the fact that while it was over land in the Yucatan, the core of the storm's thunderstorms around the center of circulation had collapsed. Once that happened, the storm lost its power source, and became very disorganized. Winds went as far down as 40 mph, which barely made it a tropical storm. Then, late on Monday, September 23rd, 2002, Isidore re-emerged out into the Gulf.
Although it had a very well defined circulation, the storm was never the same again before making landfall along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. In spite of that, the storm was a very vast system with its effects being felt as far east as Florida, and as far North as the Ohio Valley.
After making landfall in Louisiana with 65 mph winds, and heavy rains that left places like New Orleans and Baton Rouge waterlogged, and their levy systems working overtime, the storm headed to the Northeast, where it brought heavy rain to places like Louisville, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo.
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