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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how much rain do you think Greensboro, NC will get? I am thinking 6-10 inches maybe?
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7271. WxLogic
Quoting Chicklit:

It's impossible to make everyone happy; we can only hope for reasonable compromise, and if something were directing Irene, the current "solution" is presently the lesser of several evils.


So true...
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7270. WxLogic
Quoting yesterway:


These dogmatic statements amuse me...

:)
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Quoting scott39:
If the GFDL has not given in to the E side models, then that is an indication to me, that maybe a farther W track into Easterm Fl. is looking more likely than staying off the coast.


My feelings too .. :(. And I'm in Melbourne....
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
06Z GFDL still on the western side of the cone




What is GFDL seeing that otheres (except CMC) are not?
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'streaking'....not 'flashing'....man, I'm gettin' old
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting HCW:
Hot off the Presses



Thanks..keep em coming
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Quoting LakelandNana:
Can't say I am excited at all, the gas alone for the generator will be a gazillion dollars if we need to run it for any length of time. Replacing roofs, fences, paying the tree company another gazillion dollars for downed trees, being without power in 90+ degree heat and taking cold showers does not excite me in the least. But, if that is your idea of excitement...


Sorry, but there are no 'cold showers' in FL in august.
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Quoting LightningCharmer:


So the next time I'm invited to a "flash"-mob, I really shouldn't worry about what I'm wearing?
I've heard of clothed flash mobs.

Seen a few on YouTube so flash mobs doesn't mean you have to be in your birthday suit. :P

Back to Irene.

She does look menacing.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Word. There's a sick kind of excitement - something between anticipation and dread - when u know one is coming and u can't get out of the way. Once it gets going, though, it's pretty horrible. For the Bahamas, it looks like Irene will be one of the bad ones... 48 hours to cross the archipelago, with winds up to and possibly over Cat 2 the entire way. It's going to be long...


That's why many home in the Bahamas are build like concrete forts...
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7261. Drakoen
Quoting scott39:
How fast does a high pressure take to shoot A TC back W after it already in the process of a turn to the N?


That depends on how fast the trough lifts out to allow the ridge to build back in.
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7260. HCW
Hot off the Presses

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115830 1852N 06659W 6965 03043 9877 +129 +098 166008 010 023 000 03
115900 1851N 06701W 6966 03044 9876 +134 +094 326002 007 022 001 03



Looks like ~988mb, location approximate unless you can convert degrees/minutes into lat/lon by just looking.
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7258. nash28
Quoting scott39:
If the GFDL has not given in to the E side models, then that is an indication to me, that maybe a farther W track into Easterm Fl. is looking more likely than staying off the coast.


Even the best performing models won't give up the ghost on certain systems. Sometimes the GFDL nails it days out. Sometimes it completely screws the pooch by 600 miles. I've seen both happen.
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Quoting LakelandNana:
Can't say I am excited at all, the gas alone for the generator will be a gazillion dollars if we need to run it for any length of time. Replacing roofs, fences, paying the tree company another gazillion dollars for downed trees, being without power in 90+ degree heat and taking cold showers does not excite me in the least. But, if that is your idea of excitement...

I feel ya....Big Time!
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7256. scott39
Quoting Drakoen:


Yes.

Its not going north anytime soon.
How fast does a high pressure take to shoot A TC back W after it already in the process of a turn to the N?
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PR still dealing with tropical storm force winds, downed power lines across the island, trees down and heavy rain moving in behind the eye. Luckily no reports of deaths. Only situation seems to be a rescue going on right now near Vieques.
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Carolinas start watching...

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Quoting presslord:


it's really nothing new...in the 70's it was called 'flashing'


So the next time I'm invited to a "flash"-mob, I really shouldn't worry about what I'm wearing?
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Time: 11:59:00Z
Coordinates: 18.85N 67.0167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 696.6 mb (~ 20.57 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 3,044 meters (~ 9,987 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 987.6 mb (~ 29.16 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 326° at 2 knots (From the NW/NNW at ~ 2.3 mph)
Air Temp: 13.4°C (~ 56.1°F)
Dew Pt: 9.4°C (~ 48.9°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 7 knots (~ 8.0 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 22 knots* (~ 25.3 mph*)
SFMR Rain Rate: 1 mm/hr* (~ 0.04 in/hr*)
(*) Denotes suspect data

That's the centre.
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Quoting presslord:
the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't
Word. There's a sick kind of excitement - something between anticipation and dread - when u know one is coming and u can't get out of the way. Once it gets going, though, it's pretty horrible. For the Bahamas, it looks like Irene will be one of the bad ones... 48 hours to cross the archipelago, with winds up to and possibly over Cat 2 the entire way. It's going to be long...
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This storm will be an interesting one indeed. It will be a matter of how much that trough digs in and deepens and whether the Ridge will keep it together. It looks like the Ridge is going to do its job at holding Irene in its just a matter how strong that trough gets and deepens.

We could be looking for a landfall anywhere from Dayton Beach to Myrtle Beach in my honest opinion as of now. The exact timing of when this storm curves will be critical to whether or not Florida gets hit at all. I am expecting that over the warm waters of the Bahamas' should allow this storm to strengthen quite dramatically possible with rapid intensification likely at some points as this storm heads over warm waters including the gulf stream.

I am expecting we could see a Cat 4 or 5 if this storm heads more in the area of Charleston if it takes a more Southern path most likely a 3 or 4 but this storm has the potential to be quite the terror especially if hits the Georgia Coast since the angle it would come from would maximize the storm surge in an already storm surge prone region.
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Quoting sflhurricane:
Anybody have any insight into the most reliable computer models thus far this year? Because clearly if GFDL is right so far, this is devastation for the entire FL peninsula... But if a model like the UKMET is right, this is going towards the mid-Atlantic


Can you say "D-R-A-M-A"?
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Quoting islander101010:
the hyped up tw is moving off africa some spin there


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Thanks for the answer Drakoen. Something to think about.
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Quoting hahaguy:


I'm sure you tried that once or twice.


I may have been present at such occurrances a time or two...memory of it is kinda fuzzy...for a number of reasons...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
000
WTNT54 KNHC 221159
TCEAT4

HURRICANE IRENE TROPICAL CYCLONE POSITION ESTIMATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
800 AM AST MON AUG 22 2011

AT 800 AM AST...1200 UTC...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE
IRENE WAS ESTIMATED BY FAA DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR TO BE
NEAR LATITUDE 18.9 NORTH...LONGITUDE 67.0 WEST...OR ABOUT
75 MILES WEST-NORTHWEST OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO.

SUMMARY OF 800 AM AST...1200 UTC...INFORMATION
------------------------------------------------- -
LOCATION...18.9N 67.0W
ABOUT 75 MI...120 KM WNW OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 295 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...987 MB...29.15 INCHES

$$
FORECASTER AVILA
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Irene is a lot farther north than it was last night, and now the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

Bahamas...Get ready for at least a Category 2 hurricane.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32694
Irene will head "WNW for 48 hrs or so" according to the NHC. That is a VERY BIG "SO".
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Anybody have any insight into the most reliable computer models thus far this year? Because clearly if GFDL is right so far, this is devastation for the entire FL peninsula... But if a model like the GFS is right, this is going towards the mid-Atlantic
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7241. snotly
GFS scenario ... start spreading the news... Irene is leaving today, see wants to be a part of it... if she can make it there she can make it anywhere...
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 686
Quoting Thunderpig75:


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



ah...wrong on both counts...it was hundreds often....and at lottsa places other than sporting events...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Can't say I am excited at all, the gas alone for the generator will be a gazillion dollars if we need to run it for any length of time. Replacing roofs, fences, paying the tree company another gazillion dollars for downed trees, being without power in 90+ degree heat and taking cold showers does not excite me in the least. But, if that is your idea of excitement...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
7238. scott39
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
06Z GFDL still on the western side of the cone


If the GFDL has not given in to the E side models, then that is an indication to me, that maybe a farther W track into Easterm Fl. is looking more likely than staying off the coast.
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7236. Vero1
Looking Back: Irene Pounded South Florida In 1999

POSTED: 7:14 am EDT August 22, 2011
UPDATED: 7:32 am EDT August 22, 2011

Irene is the first hurricane of the season, but did you know when she slammed into South Florida in 1999, she was the sixth?

The storm started in the western Caribbean Sea on Oct. 13, pounded portions of Cuba, then moved on to Miami, where it dropped up to 20 inches of rain in some areas, the most since Hurricane Dennis nearly 20 years earlier.

Irene was only a Category 1 hurricane while it toyed with the Sunshine State, but it still caused eight deaths and $800 million in damage.

Irene later moved northward and left its mark on Virginia and North Carolina as well.

Information taken from Wikipedia Copyright 2011 by WPBF.com. All rights reserved
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Quoting presslord:


it's really nothing new...in the 70's it was called 'flashing'


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


I'm surprised they are forecasting Irene to remain a CAT 1 across these waters.
I agree Chicklit, with everything we know with the info thats been posted here regarding water temps, upper airflows, etc. I think it's a conservative map so as not to induce PANIC. I think the NHC is waiting on info from the high alt. aircraft into the models before adjusting the map. I saw panic in Houston with Rita---not very pretty.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
LOL .... first thing Isaid when I got up this morning...
You better get to work Baha....
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7230. Drakoen
Quoting scott39:
Is it also right to take into consideration of how fast the trough moves out and then how fast the high builds back in? In regards of how far W Irene goes?


Yes.
Quoting SunnyDaysFla:


Its not going north anytime soon.
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Quoting Thunderpig75:


Sudden groups of naked people.


it's really nothing new...in the 70's it was called 'flashing'
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting westernmob:
Hard to believe the radar site in PR does not have backup power. Looks like that would be a vital thing to keep a generator at!!??


May not necessarily be backup power. Could be damage to the radar site, transmission lines, or broadcasting capability..
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7227. GoWVU
Quoting presslord:
the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't


Press well said, be careful what you wish for...
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Quoting WxLogic:


Not going N anytime soon.

6z GFDL?
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5417
Quoting Thunderpig75:


Sudden groups of naked people.


Never seen any so far...
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7224. HCW
Quoting westernmob:
Hard to believe the radar site in PR does not have backup power. Looks like that would be a vital thing to keep a generator at!!??


Radar is still working you just need to switch to a TDWR source TSJU

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Quoting hahaguy:


That's as serious as I've ever seen glenn glazer.


You're right HaHa. Saw the same thing. You read the body language and it speaks volumes. Hey...we'll dance with Irene as best as we can. Let her fill up Lake O and all the estuaries as she goes by, take care of those drought conditions, little or no damage to anyone and Mother Nature will have done her job.
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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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