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 Bluestorm5:
Can I posts GFS runs?
sure, why not...
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6 hr out.
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patrap, so was i correct about the center riding along 17? just seeing if i need glasses or not..
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Quoting MrstormX:
The most tropical looking thing we have had all year:


Well...Arlene and Bret at peak intensities looked pretty tropical to me as well...
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Although winds are not highly impressive yet, Irene is definitely taking on that "Cane" look this morning.


Structure looks good, but a weak inner core...very large system, though...
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Quoting JGreco:



+1000% you've explained what is going on in this forum right now.Yikes:o
to sum it up, "a whole lot of shift from a whole lot of people"
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GFS 12z 0 hrs.

Anyone want me to continues?
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Quoting DookiePBC:


Hey Gro...

My bad...forgot to turn my SARCASM FLAG = ON.
:-)



Great...now I'll have to do those things just to offset what you've done!!


Just didn't want to see you with an above ground pool. LOL
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Quoting WxLogic:
12Z GFS Init:



Looks like it was initialize well.
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Quoting HCW:


HCW I love yur map. What site can I find it at?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I continue to agree with you, lol.


I also have been agreeing with P451 as well...this hasn't stopped regenerating ever so slightly to the north....
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Quoting DookiePBC:


Hey Gro...

My bad...forgot to turn my SARCASM FLAG = ON.
:-)



Great...now I'll have to do those things just to offset what you've done!!


Good thing I didn't re-do the landscaping yet...
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The most tropical looking thing we have had all year:
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Quoting Matt1989:
I don't see why everyone is pumping this up to be a huge storm when it is going to be passing over land that is known to destroy storms.. Florida will see a little rain and breezy cond. Jmo. No need to scare everyone. Even if it does survive it will be so torn up it probably won't recover. Look at Emily. Fay. Ernesto. All were very weak.


That's the main function of this blog. Its been that way for years and will never change. Wishcasters come out of the woodwork to stir the pot and polish their chicken-little routines.
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Hello everybody

Well Irene is proving to be the storm I thought she would be. I agreed totally with masters when he said that this was a storm that isn't fooling around. I think we should hope she gets stuck over land because if she doesn't we are going to have trouble.

I actually was thinking this mourning that she almost looks like she wants to move north of the Carribean but I am not going to say that is what she is doing. I still think she is headed for the GOM.
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When does Irene slow down and stop moving west?
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Quoting yonzabam:
Any chance Irene's centre could actually go north of PR?

The models all take it through or south of PR, but the loops seem to be hinting at a more northerly track.


true my friend

we shall see, tis the only thing certain

maybe in 100 years we'll be able to tell for sure
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Yes.



Not going to lie, it looks pretty scary, even though it's winds are at (only) 50mph.
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Quoting MrstormX:
Not good for Georgia:



Jax and Savannah are both overdue for a hurricane.

You can leave Jacksonville out of it, thank you very much! ;0)
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302. 7544
gfs coming out soon stay tuned
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874
if irene goes north of hispaniola or over the north coast South florida is going to deal with a possible major hurricane , Could this be a Wilma type event of that track verifies
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Quoting Drakoen:


Yes, that is possible. Sullivanweather noted that yesterday that Harvey was helping to sharpen the upper level trough off the eastern seaboard, allowing for Irene to possible pull more poleward than originally thought.

So if it goes North of Hispaniola, where would it end up making landfall?
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Quoting Grothar:


Do not ever drain water from your pool. If you do, do not bring the level down more than 1 foot. If you drain is too much. the pool can pop out of the ground. T


Hey Gro...

My bad...forgot to turn my SARCASM FLAG = ON.
:-)

Quoting Dakster:


Yes, but I just washed/waxed the car, and painted my house.


Great...now I'll have to do those things just to offset what you've done!!
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Although winds are not highly impressive yet, Irene is definitely taking on that "Cane" look this morning.


Yes.

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Irene moving right along 270 true the last hour
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I agree.



that comes ture then it could be come a march stronger strom
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Quoting InTheCone:
Animated Graphic Archive - NHC 5 day tracks for Irene


Conservative and slight rightward shifts with each cone is what I see in that loop....
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Quoting P451:


I don't know what the deal is with the forecast track from the NHC but I do know what I see on imagery and it appears this would be more in line with that imagery.




Sorry to mangle your nice graphics :)


I mean, it is moving in line with the first red arrow I drew as we speak.


We know steering calls for a modest bend more westerly for a spell before resuming the more northerly track.

Yet that bend is not happening as far as we can see. It would have to happen right this moment, if not 15-30 minutes ago, for that track to verify.



At it's current movement, I cannot agree more with your forecast.
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12Z GFS Init:

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Quoting Hurricanes101:
I think there is a decent chance that Irene goes north of Hispanoila


Yes, that is possible. Sullivanweather noted that yesterday that Harvey was helping to sharpen the upper level trough off the eastern seaboard, allowing for Irene to possible pull more poleward than originally thought.
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But what are the ants doing???
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guys however you put it SE Florida is more than likely going to receive either a direct hit or a very close call, the models have been very consistent since yesterday and i would expect hurricane watches for south florida sometime tuesday
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isnt the center around 17 62 ?? to me thats where the center looks but i'm sure i'm wrong, just looks like it too me and if it is it's going due west just above 17..
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287. BVI
Winds picking up here in Tortola, British Virgin Islands and our airports just closing:
The BVI Airports Authority has advised that all three airports will close at 12:30pm today with an estimated opening time of 10am tomorrow.
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Quoting MrstormX:
Not good for Georgia:



Jax and Savannah are both overdue for a hurricane.


Don't you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby!
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285. Relix
Quoting yonzabam:
Any chance Irene's centre could actually go north of PR?

The models all take it through or south of PR, but the loops seem to be hinting at a more northerly track.

The High Pressure will block it. It cannot go north of PR.
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Morning guys?
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Quoting scott39:
I hope that I continue to see a shift to the E away from the Gulf Coast. Sorry East Coasters. If it does make a SE coast strike, I am going to make a sincere effort to volunteer my help.


and I'm gonna make a sincere effort to take you up on it...
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
I think there is a decent chance that Irene goes north of Hispanoila


I agree.
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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.
Which is supported by this.



Steering still west with the weakness off the west coast of Florida.

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Quoting Hurricanes101:
I think there is a decent chance that Irene goes north of Hispanoila


Which isn't good.. for her intensity.. (stronger system)..
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Given Irene's current movement overnight, combined with that significant center relocation to the north, I believe Irene's track needs to be shifted eastward quite a bit.


We'll have to watch the path over the next 6 hours or so. Just recently (past hour or so),it looks as if Irene is trying to correct the Northward shift and get back closer to the NHC's forecasted path.

This is based on the last couple frames of Vis sat. and the NWS long range P.R. radar.



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P451, you got the developing tropical cyclone right yesterday. What does the developing hurricane look look like?

LOL.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Has anyone ever seen a circle of uncertainty? Cause I saw one last year.
remember it well.
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Quoting scott39:
I hope that I continue to see a shift to the E away from the Gulf Coast. Sorry East Coasters. If it does make a SE coast strike, I am going to make a sincere effort to volunteer my help.


Me too:) I just fear a storm that enters the Gulf with those conditions currently. Some crazy RI would happen. If these East coasters want this storm so badly they can have it. We've dealt with enough from the oil spill of last year:) Especially in the Panhandle.
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Any chance Irene's centre could actually go north of PR?

The models all take it through or south of PR, but the loops seem to be hinting at a more northerly track.
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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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