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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1622. ncstorm
TWC is showing a new batch of models that shows Irene off shore of east coast of FL except one model which still has the West Coast of Florida
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
You can see once the mid-level center and low-level center aligns, it develops that eye.



Super cool animation! Does that mean the low-level center continues to go WNW and has just aligned with the mid-level center?...or does that mean that the eye position is showing that it the low-level center been going due west for a while?

Because the low-level center travel means EVERYTHING right now...WNW means a graze by Hispaniola and a larger threat to east US coast...west means more direct strike to Hispaniola...weaker storm...and more southerly and westward track....
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Quoting TerraNova:


Hey TA13, do you think this is a genuine eye (i.e. sign of intensification) or dry air appearing at the center? I'd say a bit of both.


Your right, probably a bit of both (especially with some tiny clear spots in and around the center).

But I believe that this is a very weak eye.
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The people here are so funny!! ...each day the models shift, so there are always a new group of people... watch tomorrow it sends it out to sea...so the fishcasters will be here....lol...(although, if it does that I believe it will atleast hit the bahamas...so it really isn't a fish storm)...lol...
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Quoting Dennis8:
I have a big group of people I manage in Nasaau for and event Mon- Thursday.at Atlantis....anyone in Nassau please email me
I would be outa there by Tues. PM.

Honestly.
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TS Irene Video Update
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Ir that's the center...we can see it heading west quite quickly...
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1615. JLPR2
Quoting TerraNova:


Right, a true "eye" would also stand out on IR. There's a lot of dry space on radar around the circulation center so I would think this could be the beginnings of an eye, but not one quite yet.


False eye going away.
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Quoting P451:
A little rapid scan from GOES EAST (until it jumps to the last frame...)


When it jumps to the last frame, it moved slightly N of due West.
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1613. shawn26
It looks to ne moving due west right now
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Quoting ncstorm:


yeah..thats a monster..and thats the lowest pressure I think the ECWMF has produced since developing this storm..


i think i just threw up a little...GULP
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Hummm... just opened my googleEarth to see what was going on w/ HHers... not liking that current trajectory they r having with Irene... heading between first and last vortfix is 295-300 degrees...

Keep that up and we r up and over PR by tomorrow... sheesh...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
It is very weak, but an eye..



Hey TA13, do you think this is a genuine eye (i.e. sign of intensification) or dry air appearing at the center? I'd say a bit of both.
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1609. Dennis8
I have a big group of people I manage in Nasaau for and event Mon- Thursday.at Atlantis....anyone in Nassau please email me
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Quoting dfwstormwatch:

check your wundermail




thanks this did
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
You can see once the mid-level center and low-level center aligns, it develops that eye.

Can also see it moving almost due west too.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
It is very weak, but an eye..


Pretty obvious on Viz:
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1603. ncstorm
Quoting tiggeriffic:


SHUT THE BLEEP UP! wow...ummm...yeah...no please?!


yeah..thats a monster..and thats the lowest pressure I think the ECWMF has produced since developing this storm..
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Quoting Hurricane1956:
Don't understand why the National Hurricane Center has not! change the track cone to the East??,all Models are now in agreement that it will go East of us here in Miami,any thoughts?? about this.


Cone is only updated at 11 and 5
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15788
Quoting Tazmanian:
i want the HH back lol

check your wundermail
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1600. breald


Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Dude...I lived in Raleigh during Fran...that is exactly how I got into hurricanes...and why Irene is giving me the creeps...if this storm does indeed only graze N side of Hispaniola like Levi said it could....this could be Raleigh's next Fran.....I can't believe I am seeing this...but if it happened before...it can happen again....


That storm is also why the hockey team Carolina Hurricanes got their name. They moved to Raleigh shortly after the storm hit. People were a little mad at the name they picked..LOL. A little useless tidbit.
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This shows the eye develop very well.

Link
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1598. BA
Quoting cycleranger:
Link

Another "eye" POV on Visible GOES-13 Rapid Scan. Very cool.

Takes a a minute to load by the way.


interesting loop
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1597. Gorty
Is New England a possible target from Irene? It almost looks like she could go south to due north into LI and then CT on north. New England will get wrecked by a major. I live in New England.
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Quoting dmh1026:


Looking at that, if there is an eyewall forming, it would be the most broken on the western side and the most organized on the southeastern side which is still out of radar range. Yeah, we need the hurricane hunters in there...
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Quoting P451:



Don't you understand? Only the following places exist on the map.



Nobody else exists or matters...at all.

When a storm stops threatening any of those regions those individuals disappear entirely. You can already see the NOLA contingent has become sparse on today's blog.



Well, I am here to represent NOLA then. I certainly don't want a storm in my backyard next weekend, I have too many projects to evacuate.
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Quoting Mississippiwx:
Eyes don't form without an eye wall. I don't doubt that the hole in the convection is about where the center is, but it's not an eye. If you look throughout the core of the storm, there are other holes as well. I will say that it's getting better (stronger), though. Still don't believe it has time to work out its core issues to become a hurricane before Puerto Rico



THANK YOU, fnally someone else agrees with me!
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It is very weak, but an eye..

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Good observation...that's the turning point or benchmark on it's final track IMO


Quoting charlottefl:
That appears to be the big difference in the W and E models. The ones that take it more to the W into the GOM take it directly over Hispanola, and the ones that take it east skirt the northern coast. That's the thing to watch for...
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Don't understand why the National Hurricane Center has not! change the track cone to the East??,all Models are now in agreement that it will go East of us here in Miami,any thoughts?? about this.
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1590. A4Guy
this storm has to be setting a record for going from Gulf casting, to SoFla casting, to Carloina casting, faster than any storm in recent memory.

The only thing I am sure of is where the storm has been, is now, and I am pretty certain of where she'll be in the next 24-48 hours....but that's about it.
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With an eye.. it would make it easier to track its direction.. if that is an eye. which it appears so
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i live in eastern nc , the insurrance is paid up , the car is full of gas , the chain saws and generators have been test ran today and i have got d cells, bug spray , 4 days of water , honey buns, nabs and beenie weenies. Just told the wife and kids they are going on vaction to alaska
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

WU FAIL
Now that's funny.
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Quoting ncstorm:
946 MB in SC..per the ECWMF


SHUT THE BLEEP UP! wow...ummm...yeah...no please?!
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New EPAC invest:

BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_ep922011.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
0000
201108211827
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
END
INVEST, EP, E, , , , , 92, 2011, DB, O, 2011082118, 9999999999, , , , , , METWATCH, , EP922011
EP, 92, 2011082118, , BEST, 0, 148N, 939W, 25, 0, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
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Tropicalanalyst,
And your proof (a few different types of evidence), and ill eat a buffet of crow for lunch, Very hungry
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http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/flash-vis.htm l

This is not random...this is an eye! Look at the last three frames...high clouds circle the immediate center and form an eye wall...then an eye suddently pops in the middle at the end...

...that also means Irene has been going straight west for a while....a track going straight for the S coast of Puerto Rico or just S of Puerto Rico...and direct strike for Hispaniola...which means weaker storm due to mountainous terrain disruption and perhaps a more westerly track than an east coast threat...hmmm....
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1582. NASA101
Pretty impressive numbers from 12Z Euro AT 144 hrs.. 942 mbs on the SC coast... pretty consistent track from both EURO, GFS, HWRF...

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946mb hurricane into SC

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15788
Quoting HurricaneDean07:
THERE'S NO EYE, you dont get an actual EYE, until there's a Eyewall formed...


Right, a true "eye" would also stand out on IR. There's a lot of dry space on radar around the circulation center so I would think this could be the beginnings of an eye, but not one quite yet.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Last time I checked, it had to be a hurricane for it to forms an eye?


Nah, not necessarily. Fay had an eye while crossing Florida, a strong tropical storm can create one. Just as hurricanes, even as high as Cat 2s, can exist without an eye (excluding EWRCs).

Dunno if it is one, could be. It'd be very weak and it could just end up junking it for a proper one later.

OT, but important: Looks like the Libya intervention might be approaching the end. Maybe.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Totally different situation than we had with Earl. The trof is going to lift out too quickly and the high build back in too fast for this to go out to sea. If I lived in GA/SC/NC, I would be making preparations now, and not waiting until I had a hurricane watch or warning. By that time, everyone knows and it's chaotic.
ok... at least I lives in Raleigh but after Fran (wasn't alive back than) I should know that Raleigh still can get hurricane force. I'll warn my aunt in Charleston and tell her to comes to NC. After Hugo, she created a special plywood for it to fit her windows and marked which windows it goes to. She haven't used it since Hugo, but I think she'll have to use it this time.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7906
1577. dmh1026
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1576. ncstorm
946 MB in SC..per the ECWMF
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Well one thing seems almost sure some of the Fishcasters won't be on here with this one. This one looks like it could be a big one.
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1573. Walshy
Quoting MZT:
OK I want back and watched the last half and he did not say anything about comparing to Hugo. But he was clear that the weakness of the trough will be short lived and that is a large reason why he expected a landfall in the southeast.


Okay that makes sense.
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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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