Dangerous Tropical Storm Irene headed for the Dominican Republic

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:38 PM GMT on August 21, 2011

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Tropical Storm Irene roared into life last night, transitioning from a tropical wave to a 50 mph tropical storm in just a few short hours. Irene is getting organized quickly, and has the potential to become a hurricane by Monday morning. All interests in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and South Florida should prepare for the arrival of this dangerous storm. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm found the strongest winds near 18°N latitude to the north of Irene's center at 8am this morning. After passing through the center, the plane returned to the area of strongest winds two hours later, and found that flight level winds at 5,000 feet had increased by about 5 - 8 mph. However, the pressure in the latest center fix taken at 10am EDT remained the same as two hours previously, 1007 mb, and the plane noted that Irene's center was not circular, signs that the storm still has some work to do before serious intensification can begin. Visible satellite loops and radar out of Martinique show the storm has rapidly organized this morning, with well-developed spiral bands forming and a large area of intense thunderstorms to the north of the center. Irene has shrugged off the dry air that was bothering it yesterday, and wind shear has fallen to the low range, 5 - 10 knots, as analyzed by the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group. Torrential rains and strong gusty winds are affecting the northern Lesser Antilles this morning. A wind gust of 41 mph was recorded at St. Eustatius at 8am local time.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Irene.

Track forecast for Irene
The computer models are in agreement that Irene will pass just south of Puerto Rico tonight, then hit the south coast of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic or Haiti on Monday afternoon. Irene should then emerge into the channel between Haiti and Cuba on Tuesday afternoon, when the storm will have 12 or so hours over water before having to contend with Cuba. A trough of low pressure is expected to move across the Eastern U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday, turning Irene to the northwest and north by Thursday. The timing and strength of this trough varies considerably from model to model, and will be critical in determining where and when Irene will turn to the north. Irene's strength will also matter--a stronger Irene is more likely to turn northward earlier. The most likely path for Irene is a track just east of the Florida Peninsula and into Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina by next weekend, but a landfall near Miami then directly up the Florida Peninsula is also a reasonable solution--like Tropical Storm Fay of 2008 did. Fay formed just off the coast of Puerto Rico, and was never quite able to get organized enough to become a hurricane, due to passage over Hispaniola and Cuba. Fay topped out as a strong tropical storm with 70 mph winds, and did over $500 million in damage in the U.S., mostly due to flooding rains in Florida that accumulated to over 25 inches in a few areas. Fay also dumped heavy rains on Hispaniola, triggering flooding that claimed eight lives.


Figure 2. Track of Tropical Storm Fay of 2008.

Intensity forecast for Irene
Irene is embedded in a large envelope of moisture now, and wind shear will remain low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. With water temperatures very warm, 28 - 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification except when land is interfering. Irene's current appearance on satellite loops gives me the impression of a storm that is not fooling around, and I expect Irene will be a hurricane before hitting Hispaniola on Monday. Passage over Hispaniola will not destroy Irene, since it is a fairly large storm. Once the storm finishes with Hispaniola, it will have to deal with Cuba, which will keep Irene from intensifying significantly. Once Irene pops off the coast of Cuba Wednesday or Thursday into the Florida Straits, Irene will likely be a tropical storm. If the storm then has at least a day over water before hitting land, it will likely become a hurricane again, and could become a major hurricane if it ends up missing South Florida and moving over the warm waters on either side of the Florida Peninsula.

Harvey hits Belize
Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall at 2pm EDT on Saturday near Dangriga Town, Belize, as a tropical storm with 60 mph winds. Harvey continues to dump very heavy rains on southern Mexico, but dissipation is expected tonight as the storm pushes inland. Harvey was a small storm, and the strongest winds were confined to a short stretch of coast near where the center came ashore. Winds at Belize City, Belize on Saturday topped out at 15 mph.


Figure 3. Radar image of Harvey taken at 11:30am EDT on Saturday, August 20, 2011, a few hours before landfall in Belize. A small closed eye is visible just south of the offshore islands of Belize. Image credit: Belize National Meteorological Service.

Invest 98L northwest of the Cape Verde Islands
A tropical wave few hundred miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, Invest 98L, has become disorganized and lost most of its heavy thunderstorms. The disturbance is moving over colder waters and encountering drier air, and NHC is giving 98L only a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Tuesday. The latest set of model runs keep 98L well out to sea away from any land areas over the next five days.

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Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Abacosurf:
Repeat....someone asked where the hurricane hunters were...

And the above was my reply.

They the HH are on St. Croix. getting slammed.....Not me.
lol, i'm sorry, i only got 2 hours of sleep
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Irene's core is much better organized than a few hours ago. It's going to be interesting to see what she can do before landfall in PR. I still say just below hurricane strength.
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Quoting P451:
One heck of a tower of storms seems to be heading for St. Croix.



Reports from there will definitely be interesting over the next few hours.
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Quoting MZT:
Switched to FireFox and reloaded... have to admit WU loads faster in FF than IE. Anyone using Safari or Chrome?

Next "Blog Stretcher" I'm ready to downvote! :-D
chrome
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Quoting roflcopter:
Hello everyone - long time lurker.

Looks like Irene is going to mean business for both the Dominican and Haiti as well as possibly Cuba and the SE US.

Here's a question, does it seem odd to anyone else that we've gotten through the H storm (not counting Irene obviously) without really having a storm get close to being a Hurricane? It's been very active early on this season too. Just wondering. I'll go back to mostly lurking now.


A couple got close, just ran out of either ideal conditions or hit land. Dr. Masters also mentioned the stable air that has been present thus far in 11 as well in a couple blogs earlier in the week.

Seems Irene will break the streak and be the A.C.E. leader by this time next week.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
Did I see somebody call me a hard core weather weenie? I'm not sure I like that whole statement.
.
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This storm is a difficult one for the media, and the forecasters at the NHC.


denial ain't just a river in Egypt
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Quoting ncstorm:


that will come back to bite them if Irene heads our way


KILM is a conservative office, they are use to this since they are threatened almost ever year. They'll start honking the horn Tomorrow night or Tuesday morning if models stay consistent. Horry County (Myrtle Beach) will take 30-40 hours to evacuate being that its still high season for tourists. Ill stay if its a 3 or less, roads just become a cluster around here during evacs do to all the newbie tourons and folks who have moved here in the last 10 or less years a have no clue about hurricane evacs....
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2015. MZT
Switched to FireFox and reloaded... have to admit WU loads faster in FF than IE. Anyone using Safari or Chrome?

Next "Blog Stretcher" I'm ready to downvote! :-D
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2014. sdswwwe
Quoting Dennis8:


September 12 is a big date for Texas storms...Carla, Ike


September 12 is a big day everywhere for storms
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Quoting Abacosurf:
Repeat....someone asked where the hurricane hunters were...

And the above was my reply.

They the HH are on St. Croix. getting slammed.....Not me.


They won't even have to leave the runway to do the next center fix, LOL
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
Quoting Clearwater1:
Are you in the DC area? Stay safe!!!
Yes I'm in D.C.My connection had went out just a few moments ago.The storms have died down..for now.I can still here thunder in the distance.
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2011. Torgen
Quoting EastTexJake:


NO! Maybe I don't want to change. Why should I? U-tube should make sure their applications mesh with others.


If you insist on using broken applications, don't expect the rest of the world to bend to your whim. YOUtube works perfectly fine with the majority of the world's browsers. Do you complain that you can't get FM stations on your AM radio, and scream that the radio stations should cater to you?
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Still got an hour before 5 PM, back later
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Tools/Compatibility View should fix the blog stretch. Enable it, then reload the page.
Thanks.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8046
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Reed Timmer just posted this on facebook- Current forecast track for Irene has a landfall just south of Miami on Thursday at 75 knots. Will deploy D2 and record radar data in the eyewall if it attains cat 3 or higher


Interesting,thanks forn the heads up,I hope it dosen't get that strong though
Member Since: July 19, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 6
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


So im guessing if it does strengthen it will eventually work itself into a more symmetrical system? Or does that have to happen first before it can really gain much strength?


It can strengthen as is actually...most critical thing is that a tropical cyclone needs convection over the center to release latent heat (and we have that)...latent heat causes upper-level pressure rise. If the upper-level pressure rise can evacuate somewhere...then the surface pressure falls below and it strengthens...

Indeed...Irene has been evacuating a lot of its upper-level pressure into a large upper low to the northwest (seen by all the high cirrus clouds fanning out on the north side of the storm)...so its got convection at the center and good outflow for strengthening...

...albeit the convection at the center right now is a bit meager...it needs to get more intense convection before it can strengthen faster instead of very gradually....
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 539 Comments: 3712
2006. Dennis8
Quoting mynameispaul:


HTGal I'm more concerned about middle to end of September for SW LA, SE TX storms - that seems to be the time of year we get the worst ones.


September 12 is a big date for Texas storms...Carla, Ike
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 446
2005. shawn26
Where do you think the storm is going to go Mason?
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Quoting PRweathercenter:
what would you say the winds are doing there?
Repeat....someone asked where the hurricane hunters were...

And the above was my reply.

They the HH are on St. Croix. getting slammed.....Not me.
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 510
Quoting mynameispaul:


HTGal I'm more concerned about middle to end of September for SW LA, SE TX storms - that seems to be the time of year we get the worst ones.


Agree. There is still hope...LOL
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Did I see somebody call me a hard core weather weenie? I'm not sure I like that whole statement.
.
.
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This storm is a difficult one for the media, and the forecasters at the NHC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Relix:
Squalls in Toa Baja!

Well time to get the party started. Will be going to a friend's... and then just drink to our hearts content :D! XD! Every reason for a good party!
It's squally here, we are looking at land fall about 100 am local time
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Quoting Relix:


Just as a sidenote to people that don't know... this is complete and total bull*** from this kid. He's been trolling for a while so you can just safely ignore him.


Really, Then that type of post is tantamount to criminal. This is serious business for those in the path or potential path of this storm.
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1998. Dennis8
Quoting zerveftexas:

Where do you live? We've barely had 4 inches here in west San Antonio...

Also, stop whining.


Houston Heights..We get 48" a year....you average a lot less so it is all relative.... my 17" is more than the official 10" so some whining is in order!
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 446
Quoting Relix:


Just as a sidenote to people that don't know... this is complete and total bull*** from this kid. He's been trolling for a while so you can just safely ignore him.
I already did so pls don't quote him/her.
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Quoting HoustonTxGal:


We need rain here in TX... will someone please send a small tropical system our way to hang out for a few days...Thanks!

And why can't I post a graphic? ugh


HTGal I'm more concerned about middle to end of September for SW LA, SE TX storms - that seems to be the time of year we get the worst ones.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Grrr.... blogs is messed up again.


Tools/Compatibility View should fix the blog stretch. Enable it, then reload the page.
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1992. Relix
Squalls in Toa Baja!

Well time to get the party started. Will be going to a friend's... and then just drink to our hearts content :D! XD! Every reason for a good party!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Still not buying the "eye" from Irene.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8046
Quoting Abacosurf:
Getting slammed in St Croix. only 20 miles away from Irene.....and closing.
what would you say the winds are doing there?
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Quoting WCSCTVCharleston:


Ophelia was a Joke


Opie season isn't a joke! The Bearing Sea is nasty that time of year...Ohhh! Wait, you said Ophelia; that little meandering pest from a few years back ;)
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Outflow boundaries/low level arc clouds being spit out.


First one in a while, means it has just about mixed all the dry air out.
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Quoting RyanFSU:
While the weather story is Irene in the Atlantic, the ECMWF model has been consistently spinning up dual-intense, but midget typhoons out of the monsoon gyre in the Western Pacific.

For those that like "cool weather", this is right up there. Try forecasting this from your armchair.





You mean 'little people'
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Quoting P451:


Keep in mind she is far away from that radar which is peering high up into the atmosphere at that point. It's not giving a good image of the core from this distance.

We are still a ways away from the PR radar giving a good detailed look into Irene.
Hmm, interesting, I did not know that was how radar saw things. Thanks for the lesson.
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Outflow boundaries/low level arc clouds being spit out.
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1982. scott39
Quoting xtremeweathertracker:

Of course there is room for error. The margin of error for a 5 day forecast is 200 to 250 miles!! The reason for the shift IMO is the relocation of the center 60NM north of the models initializations. That is why we are seeing this eastward model trend. Also if Irene were to see too much interaction with Hispaniola keeping her weak we could also see a farther westward track. She looks to be steadily intensifying, moving west-northwest, likely to miss the mountainous terrain of the Dominican Republic, thus my forecast moving just to the east of Florida!!
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1981. Relix
Quoting weatherjr:
To me, not much effect from TS Irene expected here in PR. Just because of the big size and rotation of the storm. The NE quadrant will never touch PR. The part which should cross the island (or pass very near of it) is the weaker part, both in terms of rain and wind and thunderstorms.


Just as a sidenote to people that don't know... this is complete and total bull*** from this kid. He's been trolling for a while so you can just safely ignore him.
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Quoting dearmas:
anyone have the link to track recon?? Thanks


Tropical Atlantic's Live Reconnaissance Decoder & Archive for the Atlantic Basin
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Irene's more westerly track this afternoon has gotten her back on the NHC forecasted track. Earlier today, Irene was noticeably north and east of her forecasted track.
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Quoting HoustonTxGal:


We need rain here in TX... will someone please send a small tropical system our way to hang out for a few days...Thanks!


Sorry TX Gal it ain't gonna happen till that huge high pressure over you retreats. Doesn't look like any time soon.
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first beer as per puerto rican tradition
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1975. Torgen
Quoting muddertracker:
ok...who do I have to put on iggy so that I can see the blog???


Switch to Firefox? I've never had an image linked badly break the blog for me, and I think Chrome and Safari users are immune as well. Most modern browsers catch bad formatting because it's used for security exploits. Microsoft refuses to adhere to any standards other than their own arbitrary ones.
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1973. RyanFSU
While the weather story is Irene in the Atlantic, the ECMWF model has been consistently spinning up dual-intense, but midget typhoons out of the monsoon gyre in the Western Pacific.

For those that like "cool weather", this is right up there. Try forecasting this from your armchair.



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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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