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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Naples, always prepare!! We still have the heart of hurricane season ahead of us. A tip. I start buying food etc. in April, a bit each week. Right now all I have to do is get last minute items and board up.
BTW Cape Coral here.
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7372. MahFL
Quoting snotly:
how were people able to show radar images of the irene leaving the west side of the island? Isn't the radar down?


Simple, there are 2 radars, a regular one and a high def terminal one.

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Quoting Grothar:
Good Morning everyone. I should write this in my blog, because it will get lost in a few minutes. Here is what I think may be causing a divergence in the models.

Irene is now becoming a compact storm, which would indicate strengthening. I have written for a number of days that while interaction with land is probably the most important disruption on a system, it is not always a destroyer. However, many storms regenerate and remain strong. If Irene gets stronger, which is now very possible, she will respond much more to any weakness in the trough to its North. However, I believe the models are taking into consideration that these storms have a tendency to create a good environment to their North. In effect, they can create their own high pressure which would keep them on a more westerly track. The models have to work with many variables and I believe this is one of them. Because the models have shifted East, it is just that based on the current steering and strength, this is what they expect. If you have any questions, make them fast, because these spurts of brilliance I have don't last long these days.


Very interesting but I don't like it!
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7370. nash28
Quoting MahFL:
Looks like a more westerly movement right now, so west coast of Fl ?


No. Very unlikely at this point.
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7369. jfm1975
I have a question for anyone kind enough to reply. I havent seen the 8 AM models and I know that Hurricanes never go the line they draw on tv. They wobble along. But I see chatter about the GFDL model being an outlier and want to hit SE FL, along with a couple other models, but the latest run from 8 AM sounds like it shifted a bit left/west. Is this the case. I am in Ft Lauderdale, and if this hits this vicinity, it will at minimum be another Wilma. Your thoughts and commetns I'd love to hear. Thanks
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From Dr. Master's blog the other day. Notice the track skill of the GFDL drops off after 72 hours.


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7367. oakland
Quoting naplesdreamer28:
I see several people talking about the GFDL, I see it shows a S FL hit. Is this a reliable model. I'm in SW FL thinking not to have any worries because of the cone shift, but then I see that model and its a direct slam. I don't want this to hit anyone, but also don't want to get caught in the "frenzy" if we should be preparing over here. Any thoughts?


We here on the west coast are probably okay. Key word is probably! I live just north of Sarasota and have gone ahead and done all of the preliminary preparation. Hubby and I will fill cars with gas by tomorrow and wait to see about bringing things in, etc. If you haven't done so, even if Irene misses us entirely, I would suggest you get all of your hurricane supplies now because there is still a lot of hurricane left.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Irene dealing with some dry air in her core:



Yup.

Might keep her from strengthening much this morning.

Upcoming Terrain might effect Irene even more.
Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
That is called pumping of the ridge which tends to a more west track and is something the models overlook except for the GFDL.




Quoting Grothar:
Good Morning everyone. I should write this in my blog, because it will get lost in a few minutes. Here is what I think may be causing a divergence in the models.

Irene is now becoming a compact storm, which would indicate strengthening. I have written for a number of days that while interaction with land is probably the most important disruption on a system, it is not always a destroyer. However, many storms regenerate and remain strong. If Irene gets stronger, which is now very possible, she will respond much more to any weakness in the trough to its North. However, I believe the models are taking into consideration that these storms have a tendency to create a good environment to their North. In effect, they can create their own high pressure which would keep them on a more westerly track. The models have to work with many variables and I believe this is one of them. Because the models have shifted East, it is just that based on the current steering and strength, this is what they expect. If you have any questions, make them fast, because these spurts of brilliance I have don't last long these days.
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7364. MahFL
Looks like a more westerly movement right now, so west coast of Fl ?
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7363. snotly
how were people able to show radar images of the irene leaving the west side of the island? Isn't the radar down?
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Looked at the latest vortfix, lined it up with the one near St. Croix last night and got a direction 295 for last 12 hours of travel with Irene. On that heading, Irene would completely miss Hispaniola and pass between Great and Little Inagua, then over the Keys.

I'm pointing this out to suggest that any prospects for disruptive land interaction prior to arrival in Florida or points north are getting smaller and smaller... meaning chances of a major hurricane are getting larger and larger.


Being in E. Central FL, my theory is that since the shuttle program has ended, NASA has taken down the very expensive hurricane deflector shields.
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RSO Loop
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Quoting naplesdreamer28:
I see several people talking about the GFDL, I see it shows a S FL hit. Is this a reliable model. I'm in SW FL thinking not to have any worries because of the cone shift, but then I see that model and its a direct slam. I don't want this to hit anyone, but also don't want to get caught in the "frenzy" if we should be preparing over here. Any thoughts?
You should not let your guard down.
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Quoting sflhurricane:


Statistically speaking its more reliable than the GFS and all others
hasnt nailed one since ernesto
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GM Gother

TY for your insight, even if it short lived.

Things can change and quickly.
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7357. Drakoen
Irene dealing with some dry air in her core:

Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30613
I see several people talking about the GFDL, I see it shows a S FL hit. Is this a reliable model. I'm in SW FL thinking not to have any worries because of the cone shift, but then I see that model and its a direct slam. I don't want this to hit anyone, but also don't want to get caught in the "frenzy" if we should be preparing over here. Any thoughts?
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Say what you want about the GFDL, but it is the only reliable computer model that predicted 7,000 blog comments by 8 am!
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7354. Drakoen
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30613
Quoting AussieStorm:

If i was you, I would head inland and be with your daughter. The extended models show Irene going up the coast.


I'm thinking about making that decision later today or maybe tomorrow. I just want to be the crowds on the road.
Member Since: May 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 203
Quoting Dennis8:


It was hell to have to pee in my yard the morning after Ike hit Houston...no water ( no toliet ), phone, electricity, cell phone NADA. no fun


That's why you fill the bathtub or some large vessel of water. It doesn't have to be totally clean to use a gallon or so to pour into the toilet and make it flush.

Unless the toilet is actually physically destroyed, it still works.
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7351. MahFL
The eye is begining to show on visible.


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Looked at the latest vortfix, lined it up with the one near St. Croix last night and got a direction 295 for last 12 hours of travel with Irene. On that heading, Irene would completely miss Hispaniola and pass between Great and Little Inagua, then over the Keys.

I'm pointing this out to suggest that any prospects for disruptive land interaction prior to arrival in Florida or points north are getting smaller and smaller... meaning chances of a major hurricane are getting larger and larger.
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This forecast track REALLY needs to move east. I love living at the beach, but not when we've got one of these setting it's sights on us!
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Quoting spayandneuter:
For those that may be affected by Irene or any other storm for that matter, please make sure you prepare evacuation kits for your animals as well as your families! It is no longer OK to leave them behind to fend for themselves. If you wouldn't leave a 2-3 year old behind to fend for themselves, you shouldn't leave your pets behind either! When you evacuate, take your pets with you!

Thanks for listening to my preaching, but I have spent to many days away from my family (the furry ones too) rescuing pets after a disaster. It's my job.....but if everyone takes their pets with them I get to stay home! They are part of the family and the entire family matters!


I already have a pet friendly hotel booked in the area in case I have to evac. I take early model watching VERY seriously!
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1990
7347. Grothar
Good Morning everyone. I should write this in my blog, because it will get lost in a few minutes. Here is what I think may be causing a divergence in the models.

Irene is now becoming a compact storm, which would indicate strengthening. I have written for a number of days that while interaction with land is probably the most important disruption on a system, it is not always a destroyer. However, many storms regenerate and remain strong. If Irene gets stronger, which is now very possible, she will respond much more to any weakness in the trough to its North. However, I believe the models are taking into consideration that these storms have a tendency to create a good environment to their North. In effect, they can create their own high pressure which would keep them on a more westerly track. The models have to work with many variables and I believe this is one of them. Because the models have shifted East, it is just that based on the current steering and strength, this is what they expect. If you have any questions, make them fast, because these spurts of brilliance I have don't last long these days.
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Quoting sflhurricane:
Anybody know what forecast time update will include the planes that are measuring the atmosphere. Thats the forecast that I wanna see


00Z models this evening, which the GFS starts coming out at about 11:30 PM EDT.
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Quoting presslord:


I may have been present at such occurrances a time or two...memory of it is kinda fuzzy...for a number of reasons...


LOL!! Uh-huh...I hear that Press...and 40 or so years ago, I can't remember if I inhaled either...let alone prancin' around in the birthday suit...oh hell, I did. Ahhh...the 60's and 70's..they don't write music like that anymore...
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7344. Dennis8
Quoting FLdewey:


Trying to give it an urban feel yo?

Alright, less like a Shrimp Cocktail in imported crystal Jeeves.

:-p

So the models are in two slightly yet significantly different separate camps... kind of a fly in the ointment.


Take it down the middle and still a educated guess..huh?
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FLIGHT THREE -- NOAA 49
A. 23/00Z
B. NOAA9 0609A IRENE
C. 22/1730Z
F. 41,000 45,000 FT



UAD takeoff in 5 hours
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Irene is 25 miles north from the coast of western PR.
Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
Quoting Thunderpig75:


That was one person at a time...usually at sports events and concerts.


I believe that was called streaking. Wasnt there a song about it?
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7340. scott39
All I saw was the word pee and kept on scrolling!
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7339. FLdewey
Quoting Dennis8:


Like a skrimp..maybe you should have gone to school today to..ENGLISH. :>)


Trying to give it an urban feel yo?

Alright, less like a Shrimp Cocktail in imported crystal Jeeves.

:-p

So the models are in two slightly yet significantly different separate camps... kind of a fly in the ointment.
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Quoting spayandneuter:
For those that may be affected by Irene or any other storm for that matter, please make sure you prepare evacuation kits for your animals as well as your families! It is no longer OK to leave them behind to fend for themselves. If you wouldn't leave a 2-3 year old behind to fend for themselves, you shouldn't leave your pets behind either! When you evacuate, take your pets with you!

Thanks for listening to my preaching, but I have spent to many days away from my family (the furry ones too) rescuing pets after a disaster. It's my job.....but if everyone takes their pets with them I get to stay home! They are part of the family and the entire family matters!

Here is a very good site that has great info if you have a pet or pets of any kind.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
7337. oakland
Quoting spayandneuter:
For those that may be affected by Irene or any other storm for that matter, please make sure you prepare evacuation kits for your animals as well as your families! It is no longer OK to leave them behind to fend for themselves. If you wouldn't leave a 2-3 year old behind to fend for themselves, you shouldn't leave your pets behind either! When you evacuate, take your pets with you!

Thanks for listening to my preaching, but I have spent to many days away from my family (the furry ones too) rescuing pets after a disaster. It's my job.....but if everyone takes their pets with them I get to stay home! They are part of the family and the entire family matters!


Well said!
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7336. scott39
Quoting marknmelb:


My feelings too .. :(. And I'm in Melbourne....
Great City, I was Born there and moved to Mobile AL. when I was 10 years old. Talk about a major culture shock!!! "Hey Yall" "can I borry sometin" "Im fixin to do that right there yonder"! I can pick on them because this is my home now and I have a blend of a Northern accent and southern hick! LOL Some of my family lives in Palm Bay by you. Hope Irene misses you and stay safe.
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7335. Dennis8
Quoting LakelandNana:


It's twice the fun when you are female!


LOL
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7334. Jax82
Quoting FLdewey:
So happy its a school day... nice quiet 8 hour span of standard issue adult panic. :-o

Cone shift to the right again today I see... I'll wave to it as she blows by to my East.


Eastcaster!!!!!!!! ;)
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When's the atmospheric data gonna be installed in the upcoming model forecasts? I'd assume the 5 pm update?
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Quoting Dennis8:


It was hell to have to pee in my yard the morning after Ike hit Houston...no water ( no toliet ), phone, electricity, cell phone NADA. no fun


It's twice the fun when you are female!
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Quoting Grandpato4:
Good morning everyone. I see the forecast track takes it into FL/GA. That track would probably be best for both of my properties, but not so good for some of you all. Are any of the models still taking it into NC? I have considered going ahead and heading inland to my daughter's house in Raleigh.

If i was you, I would head inland and be with your daughter. The extended models show Irene going up the coast.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
For those that may be affected by Irene or any other storm for that matter, please make sure you prepare evacuation kits for your animals as well as your families! It is no longer OK to leave them behind to fend for themselves. If you wouldn't leave a 2-3 year old behind to fend for themselves, you shouldn't leave your pets behind either! When you evacuate, take your pets with you!

Thanks for listening to my preaching, but I have spent to many days away from my family (the furry ones too) rescuing pets after a disaster. It's my job.....but if everyone takes their pets with them I get to stay home! They are part of the family and the entire family matters!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
7329. Dennis8
Quoting FLdewey:
First light... looking better today.

Less like a skrimp.



Like a skrimp..maybe you should have gone to school today to..ENGLISH. :>)
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Good morning everyone. I see the forecast track takes it into FL/GA. That track would probably be best for both of my properties, but not so good for some of you all. Are any of the models still taking it into NC? I have considered going ahead and heading inland to my daughter's house in Raleigh.
Member Since: May 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 203
7327. Dennis8
Quoting masonsnana:
And, you may not even have water!


It was hell to have to pee in my yard the morning after Ike hit Houston...no water ( no toliet ), phone, electricity, cell phone NADA. no fun
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7326. FLdewey
First light... looking better today.

Less like a skrimp.

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7325. oakland
Quoting CajunCrawfishhunter:
No gulf storms this year?


Not yet but the season is far from over.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
"Cold" is only relative to the outside temperature at the time...

Prolly the only "good" thought about this new track of Irene is that it brings much less rain to the southern half of Haiti than any other track would have done. Earthquake effects in northern Haiti were minimal. Since the track also keeps Irene's prodigious NE quadrant away from them, even the Nrn Haiti residents shouldn't be as bad off as they would have been on earlier tracks.

Still doesn't make me like "taking one for the team", though....


please check you're WU mail
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7323. FLdewey
So happy its a school day... nice quiet 8 hour span of standard issue adult panic. :-o

Cone shift to the right again today I see... I'll wave to it as she blows by to my East.
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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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