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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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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I think there is a decent chance that Irene goes north of Hispanoila
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Let the NHC is already wrong on their forecast begin in earnest too!!
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270. 7544
the cone shows over so fla as cat 1 and on to tampa now ?
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874
Not good for Georgia:



Jax and Savannah are both overdue for a hurricane.
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Has anyone ever seen a circle of uncertainty? Cause I saw one last year.
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Quoting popartpete:
I'm on the Jersey Shore, Seaside Heights, yes, the filming locale of show, don't judge me. I saw the biggest play, I filmed in, in 9/99 with Floyd, but less with Isabel in '03. Ernesto ('06) brought more damage to structures, but it was extratropical by then. Ida brought us A LOT of wind and rain, but it wasn't tropical by the time it reached us: a hybrid at best. Charley ('04) brought a lot of rain. I worry about Irene!


I say go to the beach, fist pump to the sky, and maybe, just maybe you can get Irene's attention :)
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Floater - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129909
Can I posts GFS runs?
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Although winds are not highly impressive yet, Irene is definitely taking on that "Cane" look this morning.
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Quoting P451:


I don't know about 4mb stronger but I agree that it's not where the HH's seem to be placing their vortex messages nor is it that high of a pressure they have it at.

It is also north of the forecast points and continuing on a path right to PR.

The official forecast has it taking an immediate WNW bend from where it is and I don't see how that would happen.

NHC track seems too far south to me. I think that's gotta change.

Unless the cyclone suddenly obeys the lines on the map (Look at HCW's posted image) they are already wrong.




I continue to agree with you, lol.
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It would now appear there is virtually NO chance that Irene gets into the eastern gulf and affects western Florida. Miami is the farthest west that I see her getting.
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Quoting divdog:
east shift, west shift , south shift , north shift .. all I can say is holy shift


LOL
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Quoting divdog:
east shift, west shift , south shift , north shift .. all I can say is holy shift



+1000% you've explained what is going on in this forum right now.Yikes:o
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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.
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east shift, west shift , south shift , north shift .. all I can say is holy shift
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129909
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Quoting Drakoen:
I see Irene is at 17N .1 degree shy of where I had her last night. The storm seems to want to stay to the north and right side of the forecast cone. Folks in Puerto Rico definitely need to be on the lookout for a possible direct hit from Irene.


and i see a NNW moving storm in the martinique radar.
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The UW-NMS model (EXPERIMENTAL!), which had a Nassau-ish solution yesterday, went to a favorable model result at 00 UTC. After Cuba, it never re-attains more than cat 1 intensity:



Loop: http://cup.aos.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/tcget.cgi?time=ir ene09l.20110821_00&field=MSLP%2FWind&hour=Animate

(Not sure if there will be a further update today, tired of waiting for it)
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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.
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UPRM has activated their emergency operations committee, usually a sign that classes will be cancelled, at least for tomorrow.

Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

They probably will. They cancelled for Erika(Half the island) and Omar, both which did nothing.
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Quoting DookiePBC:
OK...now I am getting worried. I am going to start up level one preventative measures:

1. Drain water from my pool.
2. Cancel my Thursday morning tee time.

In most instances the above actions are guaranteed to prevent rain.


Yes, but I just washed/waxed the car, and painted my house.
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Quoting UPRM1CIMA:
Rincon here, NW tip of the island. Dead calm punctuated
by gusts to about 25-30 mph from NE. I don't know about the stores since we did all our preparations pre-Emily and I topped off my tank yesterday. I have my hardest to install tormenteras (shutters) up and the yard cleaned. Waiting to decide on the other tormenteras and whether or not to lower my solar panels. Buena suerte a todos!

good luck and stay safe
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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.
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Quoting JRRP:


here it comes jr
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I see Irene is at 17N .1 degree shy of where I had her last night. The storm seems to want to stay to the north and right side of the forecast cone. Folks in Puerto Rico definitely need to be on the lookout for a possible direct hit from Irene.
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Quoting Surger:


Our thoughts and prayers to all in this storm's path.
Take care down there.


we'll be blogging and i guess if the power goes out i'll use the car inverter to keep up bloggin lol

as per wunderground addicts
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243. JRRP
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PR Radar?
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09L/TS/I/C0
MARK
17.63N/62.45W
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Does anyone have a link for webcam for PR?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16225
Quoting HCW:


It's a software program :) I have been posting the graphics on WU since 2004 and will keep on


Thanks, I'll keep looking for them!
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Quoting DookiePBC:
OK...now I am getting worried. I am going to start up level one preventative measures:

1. Drain water from my pool.
2. Cancel my Thursday morning tee time.

In most instances the above actions are guaranteed to prevent rain.


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
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235. JRRP
muy ventoso aqui en Santo Domingo
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
I'm surprised they issued a hurricane warning in the first place, since this is still a 50mph storm. It's going to strengthen, but still.


you answered yourself ;)
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Quoting gugi182:
I'm writing from PUERTO RICO as i write this in the southwest part of the island it it's mostly cloudy a band of light rain just past by. As i speak i'm in the process of putting storm shutters as everybody is crazy in the gas stations and in the supermarkets as we speak. Well got to go. WE ARE UNDER A HURRICANE WATCH and under a TROPICAL STORM WARNING


Our thoughts and prayers to all in this storm's path.
Take care down there.
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Quoting Grandpato4:


Yes, we have a home in SE FL, and also on the coast of NC. I am very concerned.

If FL home is empty right now I would go ahead and get it taken care of. Then the NC place if necessary. But that's just me.
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230. HCW
Quoting InTheCone:


Great graphics, can I get a link to the site? TIA


It's a software program :) I have been posting the graphics on WU since 2004 and will keep on
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Exactly, land fall still is way off and the cone is bound to shift left and right quite a few times. Though I am leaning towards it not entering the Gulf (partially because I live in the Central-Eastern Gulf region), I still think the margin of error is way off on this with these models. Though the hypecasters are in full force today as they were doing late last night with center reformation.
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With the new information gained from the HH won't the next model runs be a little more accurate?
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this girl is knock knock knocking on serialteg's door

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Quoting ncstorm:
Thanks Dr. Masters..a major in Miami..wow..
no, he said it could become a major IF it does not make landfall in SFla, "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"
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225. 7544
morning all looks like irene is getting stronger at this hour if she miss the moutaiansthis could be big trouble for fla today could be the deciding day on where around fla she could be either way looks like fla will not be dodging this bullet and will get all if not some affects from irene imo could be a cat 1 latter on tonight
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874
OK...now I am getting worried. I am going to start up level one preventative measures:

1. Drain water from my pool.
2. Cancel my Thursday morning tee time.

In most instances the above actions are guaranteed to prevent rain.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Rincon here, NW tip of the island. Dead calm punctuated
by gusts to about 25-30 mph from NE. I don't know about the stores since we did all our preparations pre-Emily and I topped off my tank yesterday. I have my hardest to install tormenteras (shutters) up and the yard cleaned. Waiting to decide on the other tormenteras and whether or not to lower my solar panels. Buena suerte a todos!

Quoting Relix:
Puerto Rico Wugggers... post your conditions and how are things around! As said before... lines in gas statios and super markets slowly getting packed here in Levittown. Cloudy and just now sightly windy
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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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