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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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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Quoting coffeecrusader:
ZERO chance that Irene gets into GOM!!!
That's kind of limiting...How much money would you back that up with???
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ZERO chance that Irene gets into GOM!!!

Thanks for that tidbit. Worthless but thanks.
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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.
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Quoting Hurricanes12:


Honestly, when you book a cruise during the busy months of hurricane season, cruise lines make you "accept" a contract where they can divert to a different port if the aimed port is being threatened by any type of tropical depression/storm & or hurricane. He shouldn't have anything to worry about.
Thanks Hurricanes12.I didnt know how all that worked.I have never been a cruise before,So I wasnt sure,I hope Irene doesnt strengthen to much.
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Product: Air Force Temp Drop (Dropsonde) Message (UZNT13 KNHC)
Transmitted: 21st day of the month at 15:37Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 300)
Storm Number: 09
Storm Name: Irene (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 2
Observation Number: 13

Part A...

Date: Near the closest hour of 15Z on the 21st day of the month
Highest Mandatory Level For Which Wind Was Reported: 850mb
Coordinates: 16.9N 63.1W
Location: 221 miles (356 km) to the ESE (118°) from San Juan, Puerto Rico (USA).
Marsden Square: 043 (About)

Level Geo. Height Air Temp. Dew Point Wind Direction Wind Speed
1007mb (29.74 inHg) Sea Level (Surface) 24.6°C (76.3°F) 23.1°C (73.6°F) 170° (from the S) 11 knots (13 mph)
1000mb 61m (200 ft) 24.2°C (75.6°F) 22.9°C (73.2°F) 155° (from the SSE) 11 knots (13 mph)
925mb 742m (2,434 ft) 21.0°C (69.8°F) 18.9°C (66.0°F) 155° (from the SSE) 12 knots (14 mph)
850mb 1,473m (4,833 ft) 17.2°C (63.0°F) 14.4°C (57.9°F) 190° (from the S) 4 knots (5 mph)

Information About Radiosonde:
- Launch Time: 15:28Z
- About Sonde: A descending radiosonde tracked automatically by satellite navigation with no solar or infrared correction.

Remarks Section...

Dropsonde Location: Dropped in eye.

Splash Location: 16.93N 63.13W
Splash Time: 15:31Z

Release Location: 16.92N 63.13W
Release Time: 15:28:49Z

Splash Location: 16.93N 63.14W
Splash Time: 15:31:09Z

Mean Boundary Level Wind (mean wind in the lowest 500 geopotential meters of the sounding):
- Wind Direction: 160° (from the SSE)
- Wind Speed: 10 knots (12 mph)

should be the next center fix
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Buoy 42060 measuring *some* winds from Irene.

(Note: These are 8-minute averages, thus a reduced, somewhat, wind speed. Multiply by ~1.2, I think.)


Located here (to the right):
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Quoting popartpete:
My fortune cookie once read, "Those who take an Atlantic cruise from June to November should take insurance, or be at the mercy of the Gods."


No need to be at the mercy of the Gods. Just avoid storm and revise cruise itinerary. Still cruise and have a wonderful time!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Oh your crazy.

LOL

LOL
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Alright, GFDL, now join up with your modeling brethren and take away all of the confusion so some can sigh in relief and others can begin act accordingly with decent confidence. They are counting on you, given your history as a capable prognosticator.

As of right now, I'd consider GFDL an outlier...
then what would you consider the UK...seems mighty drunk to me
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Just a quick note I have set up a blog to keep track of where everyone is. Just comment with your Town, County, State. Or if your outside of CONUS add Country also. Thanks for taking the time, this info can be very handy if any severe wx or Hurricane situation.
Cheers AussieStorm.

Thanks to the 92 people that have already done this.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
24 hr. 1008 mb storm toward Hispanioa (don't have time for spell check)

low is still to the south of the islands at this point.
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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..
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Quoting Walshy:
Jeff Masters was quoted in the MSNBC News Article on Irene.

Link



People still watch that network??!!
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Quoting coffeecrusader:
ZERO chance that Irene gets into GOM!!!


As much as you emphasize it with your statement, lol, I would have to agree. However, look for the models to continue shifting from West to East.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Alright, GFDL, now join up with your modeling brethren and take away all of the confusion so some can sigh in relief and others can begin act accordingly with decent confidence. They are counting on you, given your history as a capable prognosticator.

As of right now, I'd consider GFDL an outlier...


And the UKMET...
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she looks better every hour no doubt strenthening will occur now we just gota see how much she strenthens
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Course if you believe the ECWMF, Savannah is in trouble. Next image after that shows the storm over near Atlanta.

Link
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Quoting hunkerdown:
look at dat wave about to roll off Africa...

Yea time to be vigilant.
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Wow, so the models are shifting east again. We need to be prepared now along the southeast atlantic coastline now!
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Quoting mrsalagranny:
I am very concerned for my Manager at work.He has booked a cruise for Mexico and is suppose to leave tomorrow morning from Mobile.And of all things he didnt take the insurance out to protect his ticket in case of Tropical threats.Is this something he needs to worry about being he is going to Couzamel?Hope I spelled that right .LOL......TIA
My fortune cookie once read, "Those who take an Atlantic cruise from June to November should take insurance, or be at the mercy of the Gods."
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Quoting hunkerdown:
with his history of tropical "forecasts"...there you have it, direct hit on the islands.


yeah, TWC had an awful day yesterday with their forecasting of Irene..I hope they had an office meeting this morning and got their ducks in a row..in the following days, people will be referring to them for information and they have to be on point
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Just as I suspected, the center is somewhere near St. Kitts. Pressure is 1004 mb. and dropping.



same here so it could be even more N
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ZERO chance that Irene gets into GOM!!!
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Quoting Walshy:
Jeff Masters was quoted in the MSNBC News Article on Irene.

Link

Cool.
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30 hours out

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Quoting mikeylikesyouall:
Phew the center relocated to the north, so there should be more land mass interaction with Irene now, a minimal hurricane is easier to deal with rather than a major hurrricane.


if it goes too far north then there would be considerably less land interaction if she goes north of Hispaniola
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Someone may have to continue it for me... lunch is ready :\

Link

here is where I'm getting it from.
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Quoting mrsalagranny:
I am very concerned for my Manager at work.He has booked a cruise for Mexico and is suppose to leave tomorrow morning from Mobile.And of all things he didnt take the insurance out to protect his ticket in case of Tropical threats.Is this something he needs to worry about being he is going to Couzamel?Hope I spelled that right .LOL......TIA


The cruise will still leave but just go to different ports to avoid the storm if needed. The cruise line will post a notice on thier home page to let passangers know if there are any changes to the ports they visit.
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Quoting mikeylikesyouall:
Phew the center relocated to the north, so there should be more land mass interaction with Irene now, a minimal hurricane is easier to deal with rather than a major hurrricane.

\
no its less interaction
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Quoting presslord:


and I'm gonna make a sincere effort to take you up on it...
Thanks for the sincerety and effort:) Shoot me an E-mail on what i need to know. Ive got family to stay with in Palm Bay Fl. IF i can get vacation days from work and square up some people issues at work in time. I will know more Monday. I live in Mobile so it looks like I wont be to many states away. And if comes in this direction it should be even easier to help.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6706
Can anyone tell me when the death ridge is supposed to weaken or move out of tx/la?
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Quoting P451:


With the short bit of imagery I've looked at I think a PR landfall anywhere from the SE point to the central southern coast --- traverse the island - and emerge on the NE coastline of DR...exiting DR not to far afterwards -- and being free of land north of Haiti.

That would spell Major Hurricane for the Bahamas.


This, of course, is loosely based on some short imagery watching, and the connecting of the dots of the vortex messages.
I can buy it.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:



Oh your crazy.

LOL
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Quoting nigel20:

The SAL is pretty weak at the moment, could spell danger in the coming days.
look at dat wave about to roll off Africa...
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Jeff Masters was quoted in the MSNBC News Article on Irene.

Link
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24 hr. 1008 mb storm toward Hispanioa (don't have time for spell check)

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Quoting mrsalagranny:
I am very concerned for my Manager at work.He has booked a cruise for Mexico and is suppose to leave tomorrow morning from Mobile.And of all things he didnt take the insurance out to protect his ticket in case of Tropical threats.Is this something he needs to worry about being he is going to Couzamel?Hope I spelled that right .LOL......TIA


Honestly, when you book a cruise during the busy months of hurricane season, cruise lines make you "accept" a contract where they can divert to a different port if the aimed port is being threatened by any type of tropical depression/storm & or hurricane. He shouldn't have anything to worry about.
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Just as I suspected, the center is somewhere near St. Kitts. Pressure is 1004 mb. and dropping.
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Recon finding 25kt due South winds 20 miles north of the Vortex they just found....

Ummm.... odd.
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381. MahFL
There is a lot of water between irene and Peuto rico, she could easily make Hurricane status.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 2906
Phew the center relocated to the north, so there should be more land mass interaction with Irene now, a minimal hurricane is easier to deal with rather than a major hurrricane.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Recon going to investigate the St. Kitts area right now...


could have the center re from?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I agree.


Me as well.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Recon going to investigate the St. Kitts area right now...

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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?


LOL
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Quoting ncstorm:
just watched TWC with Rick Knabbs and he is thinking Irene will go north of the islands..
with his history of tropical "forecasts"...there you have it, direct hit on the islands.
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METAR TNCE 211500Z AUTO 06031G47KT //// RA ////// 25/25 Q1004 (St. Maarten, Dutch Antilles)

1004 mb and dropping fast. She may be sub 1000 by now.
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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.


Live near Largo for last 9 years- 2005 was kind of annoying- but not too, too bad... also a former jersey girl- 1992 in Manasquan was the worst storm I encountered, ha-ha!
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About JeffMasters

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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