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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Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115255
Any reason why Irene is so lopsided to its north? With little to no shear, I would expect a rounder system.... there is practically nothing on the south side of this one
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Quoting PRweathercenter:
she's getting stronger, the pressure is down from 1007 to 999. I would not be surprised to see a 60-65 mph TS by 5 pm


That's certainly possible.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting muddertracker:
ok...who do I have to put on iggy so that I can see the blog???


LOL
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Quoting MZT:
WU Admins! Please move the control buttons for "+" and "-" closer to the middle of the posts. When someone stretches the blog with an image, you cannot even click the "-" or even the "!" anymore...


Heartily seconded.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
All jokes aside, Irene appears to be in the process of building an eye wall, but that doesn't mean she has an eye.

She's probably going to run ashore before she can complete the wall.
she's getting stronger, the pressure is down from 1007 to 999. I would not be surprised to see a 60-65 mph TS by 5 pm
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Dennis8,
your acting like a complete Troll, Dont make me use the spray...
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It's not fair to overly criticize local media here...most of us are hard core weather weenies...the general public actually has lives...also..local media are in a kind of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation...
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ok...who do I have to put on iggy so that I can see the blog???
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MZT:
WU Admins! Please move the control buttons for "+" and "-" closer to the middle of the posts. When someone stretches the blog with an image, you cannot even click the "-" or even the "!" anymore...


Yes please!
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carolinashurricanes:Thanks! Nervous about the models shifting east, but cant lie I am also a little excited!

We went through Bertha and Fran in '96 in Jacksonville ("The Eyes of '96" they called them), almost 3 months apart to the day.

Preparation is THE most important thing you can do. Period.

It's amazing the peace it gives you when the devil's trying to beat the front door in, knowing you've done everything humanly possible to prepare your house for the hit and yourself for the "afterward".

Saved our bacon and the lessons learned helped us get our neighbors ready for Ivan.
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if irene keeps on the path shes been on then she will miss land for a day or so, that is if what everyone thinks is the actually is the eye.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I know everyone is talking about Irene right now but there are very violent storms happening outside my window.i watched when the first storms came through but with all this lightning and thunder.Wind is also starting to blow hard.
Are you in the DC area? Stay safe!!!
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
I'm about to get hit by a squall...
It was gusting pretty good where I'm at in south Caguas
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1100 AM PDT SUN AUG 21 2011

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER HAS ISSUED THE FINAL ADVISORY ON
GREG...WHICH IS NOW A POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE LOCATED LOCATED ABOUT
850 MILES WEST OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA.

THERE HAS BEEN NO CHANGE IN THE ORGANIZATION OF SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS ASSOCIATED WITH AN ELONGATED AREA OF LOW PRESSURE
LOCATED ABOUT 425 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF MANZANILLO MEXICO DURING
THE PAST SEVERAL HOURS. STRONG UPPER-LEVEL WINDS OVER THIS SYSTEM
ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE FURTHER OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AND
WILL LIKELY INHIBIT ANY POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT. THIS SYSTEM HAS
A LOW CHANCE...NEAR 0 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE AS
IT MOVES LITTLE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE GULF OF THE TEHUANTEPEC HAVE
FORMED IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE SOUTHERN END OF THE TROPICAL WAVE
THAT PRODUCED TROPICAL STORM HARVEY. DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...OF
THIS DISTURBANCE IS EXPECTED TO BE SLOW TO OCCUR. THIS SYSTEM HAS
A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING
THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES GENERALLY WESTWARD AT AROUND 10 MPH
.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115255
All jokes aside, Irene appears to be in the process of building an eye wall, but that doesn't mean she has an eye.

She's probably going to run ashore before she can complete the wall.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting tennisgirl08:


That's what I've been saying....in fact the UKMET is the best performing model for long-range forecasts.
If it is, and I'm not saying it isn't then FL better not become complacent, including myself.
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1905. MZT
WU Admins! Please move the control buttons for "+" and "-" closer to the middle of the posts. When someone stretches the blog with an image, you cannot even click the "-" or even the "!" anymore...
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I know everyone is talking about Irene right now but there are very violent storms happening outside my window.i watched when the first storms came through but with all this lightning and thunder.Wind is also starting to blow hard.
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Link

PR radar, eye wall open to the north
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1902. Dennis8
Quoting AWeatherLover:

+1


-2
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Quoting scott39:
Good for you. I hadnt seen you on here until recently and a welcomed addition. I have 1 question about your track forecast. I see most of the models impacting somewhere on Fl. as a direct hit including the NHC with the cone of error in the GOM also. Your track forecast really zeros in on GA/SC/NC now. Do you see any room for error there as the days continue. Im still learning, Thanks

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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All jokes aside, Irene appears to be in the process of building an eye wall, but that doesn't mean she has an eye.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
1899. Dennis8
Quoting Abacosurf:
between 1 and 3 PM


ROFL................
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Quoting gugi182:
Well i will give you an update on the conditions outside my window in PUERTO RICO. The sky is starting to get a little more darker, but there's some patches of clear sky. No rain yet in the southwest part of the island but we did get a nice wind gust that shaked a little the palm trees in front of my house. WELL THAT'S MY UPDATE I'LL KEEP TUNING IN UNTIL I HAVE POWER.


Definitely keep us posted! Just make sure you are safe and don't put yourself at risk for us.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
I think 98L has an eye...



That's just mean :P
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Quoting Abacosurf:
between 1 and 3 PM


It's after 3 PM now.
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1895. Dennis8
Quoting sdswwwe:
It really is starting to look like a ragged eye on radar and satellite. May just be an illusion, but each successive frame is looking more and more circular and more convection around that spot.


yes it is...
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Quoting MississippiWx:
I think 98L has an eye...


+1
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1893. srada
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


Thanks! Nervous about the models shifting east, but cant lie I am also a little excited! Have not experienced a real hurricane here, closest thing to it was Ophelia...


I have been through many of hurricanes so I'm use to the threats we come under. It does get exciting but also can be scary at the same time, especially if you have something stronger that a 2 coming your way.
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In other weather news, we actually have some tornado probs up here in Long Island....

150 0-1 km Helicities and about 2000j/kg of CAPE

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Quoting Mississippiwx:
I think 98L has an eye...

LOL, yep i definetly see one, should be upgraded to a cat 1 at 5 Pm, and become a cat 3, and hit spain...
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Quoting Tazmanian:



on the nhc web pages


that's where it should be, but it is not.
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if it keeps on current path it will miss any land mass for at least a day or so. thats is what everyone thinks is the eye actually is the eye
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1887. sdswwwe
It really is starting to look like a ragged eye on radar and satellite. May just be an illusion, but each successive frame is looking more and more circular and more convection around that spot.
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is trying to close the center with convection... radar Link
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Quoting KennyNebraska:
Where's the 2PM?
between 1 and 3 PM
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 451
My current projected path and intensity forecast...Still feel the intensity is underdone.

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Quoting KennyNebraska:
Where's the 2PM?



on the nhc web pages
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115255
1882. GetReal


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Quoting P451:
72 Hours, Irene, WV Imagery



Wow...see how Irene's outflow punches out the upper low/TUTT to the NW in that WV loop...this confirms what Levi was saying today in his blog video.....

Quoting MississippiWx:
I think 98L has an eye...


ROFL...LOL....
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 505 Comments: 3688
Where's the 2PM?
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Quoting xtremeweathertracker:
Notice the mean break between the two ridges at day 4!! Although Irene will continue west-northwest in the short term, a turn more to the northwest and north should occur as she feels the weakness!! Although i believe Florida is still in the cone of possibilities, i believe they would most likely get a scrape on the eastern coast as Irene sets her sights on GA, SC, NC later this week!!!

wow... I didn't know Texas high is THAT big. I guess everything is bigger in Texas :\
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8032
Quoting srada:


Welcome to the blog, fellow Wilmingtonian! Not surprising about the local media though. Thats how and why I found this site.


Thanks! Nervous about the models shifting east, but cant lie I am also a little excited! Have not experienced a real hurricane here, closest thing to it was Ophelia...
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1876. Dennis8
Quoting HoustonTxGal:


Yes, I have heard of Storm Spotter Dennis :o)

Pleaed to meet you


You too....
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Dennis8,
No im just stating a fact, and MO...
And yet almost everyone thinks this is an eye... Which its not
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when twc was actually good...
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Quoting Dennis8:


Heights here ..I am mentioned freq on Channel 13 as the storm spotter Dennis Raney in the Heights...I am retired from meteorology. Family on Lake Conroe and used to live near you in Northhampton Estates. HOT HERE


Yes, I have heard of Storm Spotter Dennis :o)

Pleaed to meet you
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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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