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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472. MZT
Quoting 7544:
they might up here to 55 mph soon
Yeah the storm is moistening up and intensifying at a fair clip. The hurricane warnings on PR may be quite apt.
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There starting to finsd some stronger winds.

Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 56 knots (~ 64.4 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 44 knots (~ 50.6 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 4 mm/hr (~ 0.16 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 21st day of the month at 15:47Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 300)
Storm Number & Year: 09L in 2011
Storm Name: Irene (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 2
Observation Number: 12
A. Time of Center Fix: 21st day of the month at 15:28:50Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 16°55'N 63°08'W (16.9167N 63.1333W)
B. Center Fix Location: 219 miles (352 km) to the ESE (118°) from San Juan, Puerto Rico (USA).
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,473m (4,833ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 34kts (~ 39.1mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 28 nautical miles (32 statute miles) to the E (99°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 189° at 29kts (From the S at ~ 33.4mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 32 nautical miles (37 statute miles) to the ESE (104°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 1007mb (29.74 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,525m (5,003ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,523m (4,997ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp & Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Wind and Pressure
N. Fix Levels (sfc and flt lvl centers are within 5nm of each other): Surface and 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 6 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 53kts (~ 61.0mph) in the northeast quadrant at 13:34:30Z
latest center fix confirm a due west movement again!
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Quoting AussieStorm:

I see a few red wind flags NE of the last Dropsonde off the coast of Heldens, St Kitts and Nevis.
Last one was,
Time: 15:44:00Z
Coordinates: 17.5833N 62.7167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.4 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,541 meters (~ 5,056 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 137° at 55 knots (From the SE at ~ 63.2 mph)
Air Temp: 14.9°C* (~ 58.8°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 56 knots (~ 64.4 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 44 knots (~ 50.6 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 4 mm/hr (~ 0.16 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 21st day of the month at 15:47Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 300)
Storm Number & Year: 09L in 2011
Storm Name: Irene (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 2
Observation Number: 12
A. Time of Center Fix: 21st day of the month at 15:28:50Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 16°55'N 63°08'W (16.9167N 63.1333W)
B. Center Fix Location: 219 miles (352 km) to the ESE (118°) from San Juan, Puerto Rico (USA).

C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,473m (4,833ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 34kts (~ 39.1mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 28 nautical miles (32 statute miles) to the E (99°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 189° at 29kts (From the S at ~ 33.4mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 32 nautical miles (37 statute miles) to the ESE (104°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 1007mb (29.74 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,525m (5,003ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,523m (4,997ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp & Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Wind and Pressure
N. Fix Levels (sfc and flt lvl centers are within 5nm of each other): Surface and 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 6 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 53kts (~ 61.0mph) in the northeast quadrant at 13:34:30Z
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468. wpb
can one of our model guys post some of the 12z hmrf positions
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2km Storm Relative IR Imagery with BD Enhancement Curve

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Quoting 7544:
they might up here to 55 mph soon



they dont do 55mph winds any more i dont think can any one help me out on this part plzs


i think they go with 60mph
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Quoting Tazmanian:



looks like they found the center
If the wind is SE at 60 how would that be the center???

the center is SW of there. Hence the SE wind.
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Quoting chrisdscane:



they round that of to 60 or keep it at 55?


I don't think the NHC use the 55MPH increment. That would go straight to 60 MPH.
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On track
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Sounds like wishcasting, LOL. Follow the models. they are all in tighter agreement off the East Coast!

nope,not at all, just have seen too many storms do the same thing for years is all...let's see what she decides to do...
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45HR:



Bermuda High starting to build back W as the TROF lifts.
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Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 21st day of the month at 15:47Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 300)
Storm Number & Year: 09L in 2011
Storm Name: Irene (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 2
Observation Number: 12
A. Time of Center Fix: 21st day of the month at 15:28:50Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 16°55'N 63°08'W (16.9167N 63.1333W)
B. Center Fix Location: 219 miles (352 km) to the ESE (118°) from San Juan, Puerto Rico (USA).
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,473m (4,833ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 34kts (~ 39.1mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 28 nautical miles (32 statute miles) to the E (99°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 189° at 29kts (From the S at ~ 33.4mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 32 nautical miles (37 statute miles) to the ESE (104°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 1007mb (29.74 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,525m (5,003ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,523m (4,997ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp & Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Wind and Pressure
N. Fix Levels (sfc and flt lvl centers are within 5nm of each other): Surface and 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 6 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 53kts (~ 61.0mph) in the northeast quadrant at 13:34:30Z

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Quoting NOLALawyer:
This girl needs to get her act together, and do it fast. I am really tired of the "dry air intrusion" that has plagued every single system this season. I really thought I was going to wake up to at least a Cat 1 Hurricane, breaking this incredibly cursed season of 2011.

She needs her strength if she is going to have to hold it together and traverse Hispanola. Perhaps she will miss that island, sparing Haiti. They really don't have the rresources to deal with a strong storm on their doorstep.

It seems pretty clear that Irene has her sights set on the East Coast. Hopefully she will arrive there with a little more to offer than a fart in the wind and a light misting of rain.

This season is unreal.


Are we about to go to work?
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Quoting Grandpato4:


Get your insurance quote before you buy. I know people with insurance that costs more than their monthly mortgage.
Well, I'm paying cash, so I won't have a mortgage or an insurance policy. $40K...I'll take my chances at or above flood level. If it's damaged, I'll rebuild. No money worries here.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

I see a few red wind flags NE of the last Dropsonde off the coast of Heldens, St Kitts and Nevis.
Last one was,
Time: 15:44:00Z
Coordinates: 17.5833N 62.7167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.4 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,541 meters (~ 5,056 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 137° at 55 knots (From the SE at ~ 63.2 mph)
Air Temp: 14.9°C* (~ 58.8°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 56 knots (~ 64.4 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 44 knots (~ 50.6 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 4 mm/hr (~ 0.16 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data



ok
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Jinkies lots to catch up on. I may or may not be present in a bit. Lots and lots to read
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Quoting stormpetrol:
Time: 15:42:30Z
Coordinates: 17.5333N 62.7833W
Acft. Static Air Press: 842.7 mb (~ 24.88 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,541 meters (~ 5,056 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 144° at 50 knots (From the SE at ~ 57.5 mph)
Air Temp: 15.1°C* (~ 59.2°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 51 knots (~ 58.6 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 48 knots (~ 55.2 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 3 mm/hr (~ 0.12 in/hr)



they round that of to 60 or keep it at 55?
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Quoting LADobeLady:


You forgot to run around, screaming this with your hands in the air.


Also, forgot to incorporate the word DOOOOOOM...but a pretty good first effort.
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449. 7544
they might up here to 55 mph soon
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Irene moving due west again imo , lets see if the new center fix confirms
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Quoting weatherman12345:
recon finding a bunch of 50 knot wind barbs
did they drop their barbs again...I bet they hate every time they have to go retrieve them :)
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What time does Levi wake up. It would be nice to get an analysis from someone who is educated and not a wishcaster. Its amazing watching this board....

Its going to Miami (guess what their from Miami)
Its going to North Carolina (from NC)
Its going to the Panhandle (from Pensacola)
Its going to Texas (from Texas)

get the picture
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Quoting P451:
So they are generally finding this...




...well, RGB does show a ragged center of circulation but you don't quite see such an elongated one on imagery.

Regardless this will tighten up. May even fold up on itself, get drawn up, ingested, etc... and the northern extent of it will be the dominant area.

This is delaying intensification which would be a good thing down the road.

The last thing the Bahamas and Florida would want is a system to cross PR and find itself over open waters north of Dominica.

We want it to traverse the whole of Dominica. Keep the intensity down.


No matter what occurs it is obvious that PR is in for strong winds and very heavy rains.

What do the white dots mean?
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Quoting Tazmanian:



same here so it could be even more N

I see a few red wind flags NE of the last Dropsonde off the coast of Heldens, St Kitts and Nevis.
Last one was,
Time: 15:44:00Z
Coordinates: 17.5833N 62.7167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.4 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,541 meters (~ 5,056 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 137° at 55 knots (From the SE at ~ 63.2 mph)
Air Temp: 14.9°C* (~ 58.8°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 56 knots (~ 64.4 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 44 knots (~ 50.6 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 4 mm/hr (~ 0.16 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15893
tweet from Jim --thats a lot of rain for those folks
JimCantore Jim Cantore
#PuertoRico expect 40-60mph winds and 6-12 inches of rain tonight. Given how wet it's been flooding risk HIGH
9 minutes ago
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14257
No circulation near St. Kitts, but stronger winds. Dang SFMR instrument wasn't working for half the data set, but the cyclone appears to be near 50kts right now, despite the poorly organized circulation.

154230 1732N 06247W 8427 01541 //// +151 //// 144050 051 048 003 01
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Quoting hunkerdown:
then what would you consider the UK...seems mighty drunk to me
Right. And UKMET.

Not taking the western solutions seriously, myself.
JMO.
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Quoting Nolehead:
the more she goes west (and shes moving pretty fast)the better chance for it to go in the gom, but hey it could shock us all and follow harvey, doubt it, but it could happen...nut if i had to choose, it would be the gom..maybe central but more panhandle i'm thinking...but hey it's just me..


Sounds like wishcasting, LOL. Follow the models. they are all in tighter agreement off the East Coast!
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Quoting weatherman12345:
recon finding a bunch of 50 knot wind barbs

Flight Level or Surface?
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Peak (10 sec. Avg.)
Flight Level Wind 56 knots 64.4 mph
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
12z GFS a lot further north so far as opposed to the 06z run.


Makes more sense given Irene's current location and motion.
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Quoting rkay1:
Geez... this sure doesn't look good for [Where I live] . This reminds me a lot of [Bad Hurricane that Hit where I live] . I think it's heading [Where I live] . Did you see that wobble? Its definitely heading [In my Direction].  I should act really concerned that it might [Hit where I live] but honestly, I am so excited!

Am I doing this right?
For some...not coming my direction. Threatened to in models days ago, but now I'm pretty sure it isn't.
(~nola area)
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850mb vort at 39 hrs.

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Quoting THUNDERPR:
From 137° at 55 knots
(From the SE at ~ 63.2 mph 17.583N 62.717W



looks like they found the center
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Time: 15:42:30Z
Coordinates: 17.5333N 62.7833W
Acft. Static Air Press: 842.7 mb (~ 24.88 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,541 meters (~ 5,056 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 144° at 50 knots (From the SE at ~ 57.5 mph)
Air Temp: 15.1°C* (~ 59.2°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 51 knots (~ 58.6 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 48 knots (~ 55.2 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 3 mm/hr (~ 0.12 in/hr)
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12z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Irene
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)




Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)




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slightly better banding on south side in needs constant convection though she doesnt look bad atm
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12z GFS a lot further north so far as opposed to the 06z run.
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Quoting rkay1:
Geez... this sure doesn't look good for [Where I live] . This reminds me a lot of [Bad Hurricane that Hit where I live] . I think it's heading [Where I live] . Did you see that wobble? Its definitely heading [In my Direction].  I should act really concerned that it might [Hit where I live] but honestly, I am so excited!

Am I doing this right?


You forgot to run around, screaming this with your hands in the air.
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Nice sat
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Minimal land interaction with Hispaniola in this run.

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From 137° at 55 knots
(From the SE at ~ 63.2 mph 17.583N 62.717W
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Quoting Grandpato4:


Get your insurance quote before you buy. I know people with insurance that costs more than their monthly mortgage.


Agreed. I am almost at that point now... My policy has been going up $2k per year for the past several years. If a hurricane hits Florida and does major damage that could change significantly.
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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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