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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Don't start freaking out... 951 mb over Bahamas
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If this moves west for a while, the models could change again.
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Well my friend IRENE is indeed heading to PUERTO RICO and yes it's knocking on our door step.

Quoting nola70119:
Yesterday some bloggers speculated that the center could form south of where the apparent low was......now they are are saying it will form north of where the low is, and will miss Haiti/DR completely and head to the Carolinas instead of Florida.

Lets just say we don't know where its going right now, and until we get a better appearance, we won't know. Saying its headed to PR and the Carolinas is premature, at best. Not that it couldn't happen, but there is no responsible reason to put up red flags this early out.
Member Since: August 3, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 178
why is no one posting the HWRF map has they come in come on guys whats get with the show here
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Quoting presslord:
Levi...that was just outstanding...would be a 100...but I'm afraid I'm gonna have to clip you 5 points for the "Carolinas" reference....


Oh Boy, here we go...LOL.
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Quoting connie1976:
Levi,
Do you think that at the 5 pm update that parts of south florida will be out of the cone?



No. Florida is still very much in it. Only a degree or two of latitude/longitude shift could mean the difference between Florida and Georgia/Carolinas with a northwest-moving storm. The NHC will move down the model consensus anyway, which is up the east coast of Florida.
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In other news... remember Lisa last year? I thought 98L might pull something like this. Now it looks unlikely. Too much sarahan dust. Is the african wave train over for the year, or what??

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HWRF @ 72 hrs...

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What are the winds nearer to Fajardo ?
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IRENE GO HOME GO AWAY
Member Since: August 3, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 178
a sw jog? coc is pretty clear and it looks west to me as well. i don't see where the center mught be reforming in another location
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12z HWRF in line with the GFS. Both show minor land interaction with Hispañola and a more intense cyclone.
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Yesterday some bloggers speculated that the center could form south of where the apparent low was......now they are are saying it will form north of where the low is, and will miss Haiti/DR completely and head to the Carolinas instead of Florida.

Lets just say we don't know where its going right now, and until we get a better appearance, we won't know. Saying its headed to PR and the Carolinas is premature, at best. Not that it couldn't happen, but there is no responsible reason to put up red flags this early out.
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Quoting Clearwater1:

Actually, the models, GFS for instance, started east of FL, then moved West of FL, in the Gulf, over FL, then now back East of FL. Only difference is now, we have hh data plugged into computers and it is getting closer.
5 day error is 250 miles either way. But when the 3 day comes out, the nhc will have it nailed. err, I hope. Oh, imo, the lastes run will indeed move the cone or terror, a bit east at 2 pm
NHC does not update the cones for the intermediate advisories, only at 5am, 11am, 5pm and 11pm
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oh boy... 961 mb storm coming closer to Bamhamas at 72 hr out (3 full days from now)
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Levi,
Do you think that at the 5 pm update that parts of south florida will be out of the cone?

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Writing from PUERTO RICO it is still sunny in the Southwest part of the island as it's expected that probably the southwest part of the island could probably experience hurricane force gusts of 75MPH or higher. pray for us down here
Member Since: August 3, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 178
Quoting 69Viking:


Divgod this gets my vote for best post of the season so far, right on spot you are, LMAO!
Whats up viking .. i remember you from last season. In the panhandle area near hurlburt field right. Still keeping my eye on this thing. Don't like those I storms.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I keep seeing all this "hype" about major storm in the Bahamas on this run, etc, etc. I only want to remind pple here that well, this run is practically identical to runs that were seen repeatedly 4-5 days ago. Yesterday P451 mentioned 3 possible options, with good accompanying graphics, and this was one of them. I'm also pretty sure the NHC cone includes this option, and that it has since the storm was initiated. Let's not act "shocked" by what has been an obvious possibility from the get-go. It's a bit too disingenuous.
Exactly correct.
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Levi32 has his video up:

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Quoting amd:


the storm itself is definitely moving west (as shown by the last three recon passes), but the center is trying to relocate further to the north again. In fact, the last recon pass has NW winds of 20 mph at 17.3 North 63.667 West. I suspect a new LLC may be forming to the NE of that point. IMO.




Exactly.
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Levi...that was just outstanding...would be a 100...but I'm afraid I'm gonna have to clip you 5 points for the "Carolinas" reference....
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Quoting clwstmchasr:


I don't really believe that the models have shifted back and forth. Most of them started in the East GOM and have been slowly shifted eastward.

Actually, the models, GFS for instance, started east of FL, then moved West of FL, in the Gulf, over FL, then now back East of FL. Only difference is now, we have hh data plugged into computers and it is getting closer.
5 day error is 250 miles either way. But when the 3 day comes out, the nhc will have it nailed. err, I hope. Oh, imo, the lastes run will indeed move the cone or terror, a bit east at next advisory
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Quoting CCSoFLA79:
Hello all! I enjoy reading all your posts and they are very helpful! So thank you.
My questions is. I live in Fort Lauderdale. Is this something I need to start preparing for? I have seen some chatter saying it is going up the coast. I know it is too early to tell but it just scares the bagebeez outa me.
Do early preps. [Early preps are the things that can be done without major disruption to daily life, like stocking up on non-perishables.] Listen for further info. A lot is going to depend on where this storm travels in the next 48 hours as to what you have to prepare for.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22734
967 mb storm heading for Bamhamas at 66 hr.
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Quoting chevycanes:

gfs initialized it just fine on the 12z run.
don't fret it, METs like him don't follow long range forecasts...
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Quoting BenBIogger:




From yesterday and day before... when everyone was screaming Florida and GOM... the system didnt develop yet.. and until it did 3dg further N... it will move more accordingly east
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943. amd
Quoting InTheFloridaKeys:
Looks west to me.....



the storm itself is definitely moving west (as shown by the last three recon passes), but the center is trying to relocate further to the north again. In fact, the last recon pass has NW winds of 20 mph at 17.3 North 63.667 West. I suspect a new LLC may be forming to the NE of that point. IMO.

Also, I should point out that those who have thought Irene would attempt to form further north have done an excellent job with this system so far. As someone who had thought the system would stay further south, I need to find some crow.
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So glad Levi32 is back... getting crazy in here with wishcasters/doomcasters
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Quoting divdog:
moving north , moving south, moving east, moving west. Its north of the track, wait its now south of the track. Its gonna hit the mountains, wait, no its not. The nhc track is goofy, wait, nah it looks pretty good. When r the models gonna run again. Its gonna hit south florida, wait maybe it will hit south florida. will it pump the ridge or wont it. I love this place what a great source of cheap entertainment.


Divgod this gets my vote for best post of the season so far, right on spot you are, LMAO!
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
should see 60 Mph later today, and 65 mph tonight, all depends though, She needs to pull it together for that to happen though, "Good luck to ya PR" hope you guys bode well through this strong TS/Cat 1
thanks!
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Quoting UPRM1CIMA:
Thank you, Taz.

Then why did the beat us in the olympics in baseball?
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Quoting leftlink:


I am thinking it will be closest to the path of Tropical Storm Chris (Link) -- however the intensity when it approaches the mainland is anybody's guess.
If asked to pick of one out of those, yes, Chris.

And intensity seems that it will be stronger than Chris, but highly uncertain at this point.
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Quoting FLdewey:
PR Emergency Management says no school, no college, and government will be closed tomorrow.

Thanks for that.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5725
Quoting aquak9:

press, at the top you can change it to wave height, period swell, etc.


useful tool...many thanks for it
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Quoting wxhatt:


I know! I think we have to start preparing NOW!

The preps you need to do now you should have been doing all along...

Word to the wise to all along the East Coast and Gulf Coast.... Get the early preps done. If you have to buy plywood at the last minute to batten up, it's one thing. All the rest of the stuff you can get done in advance, except for milk, bread, and full tank of gas.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22734
seems to have tken ajog to the sw a tad
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Quoting scottsvb:
Dont forget... GFS had this started around 14N and 63W.. its already 3dg further N


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Quoting Levi32:
Good morning.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Sunday, August 21st, with Video

Thanks for the update.
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Quoting scottsvb:
Dont forget... GFS had this started around 14N and 63W.. its already 3dg further N

gfs initialized it just fine on the 12z run.
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Not going to post this time. Someone already took care of it.
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Looks west to me.....

Quoting wxhatt:
Look at this, gaining lattitude all the time. On this trajectory, it may even get on the north side of PR.

This is what the models are seeing. I expect a shift even farther to the east...


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Quoting cloudburst2011:



WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT GEE I DISAGREE TOTALLY WITH YOU...IRENE IS RIGHT WHERE SHE SHOULD BE GOOD OUTFLOW STRONG FEEDER BANDS A WELL DEVELOPED SYSTEM..

Please, no need to shout.

Do you guys seriously think that looks like a hurricane?
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Quoting cloudburst2011:



WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT GEE I DISAGREE TOTALLY WITH YOU...IRENE IS RIGHT WHERE SHE SHOULD BE GOOD OUTFLOW STRONG FEEDER BANDS A WELL DEVELOPED SYSTEM..
winter, I would have to side with cloudburst on this one. It is definitely going to CAT1. I am 100% certain. Just look at the storm in its entirety...it is getting is act together fast. If you are comparing it to smaller TS Emily, she didn't have a strong/organized core when it hit the mountains and that pretty much sealed her fate. Irene is better than she was before. "Better...stronger...faster!"
Member Since: May 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1472
48 hr from now but is this the right HWRF model? Got it from RaleighWx:

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12z HWRF @ 60hrs....(I think this is right, the site is being a bit screwy!)

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moving north , moving south, moving east, moving west. Its north of the track, wait its now south of the track. Its gonna hit the mountains, wait, no its not. The nhc track is goofy, wait, nah it looks pretty good. When r the models gonna run again. Its gonna hit south florida, wait maybe it will hit south florida. will it pump the ridge or wont it. I love this place what a great source of cheap entertainment.
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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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