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 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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06Z GFDL still on the western side of the cone


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Quoting WxLogic:


Not going N anytime soon.


These dogmatic statements amuse me...
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Quoting Drakoen:


Pumping the ridge? lol
LOL .... first thing Isaid when I got up this morning...
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Quoting vince1:

Yikes, the Fabian socialist and eugenics fanatic himself (Shaw)...well, at least the quote holds some relevance. ;)


You can make lemonade out of lemons sometimes. Don't necessary agree with Mr. Shaw as a whole but love that particular quote.

From the first person accounts on this blog from Puerto Rico, 'better take Irene seriously.


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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:


Let me guess---you are 12 years old huh?



Well maybe you guys are right. I will just sit there in Greensboro, NC watch it from afar.
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Quoting WxLogic:


"Good Solution" statement was not to imply that is set in stone, but to convey a favorable track for everyone. Hope that takes care of your inquietude on that part.

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.
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Quoting HCW:


No 9am update either :)


the official NHC advisory says update @ 9AM, so no offense but I don't know what your talking about. Unless your just kidding then it's all good. ;-)
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I am raising my personal doom level to Elivated!
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Quoting vince1:

Have you noticed the flash mobs that have been occurring over the country while the power is still on?

You better believe it. A martial law situation could easily be on our doorstep.


Please explain "flash mob"
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Quoting presslord:
Ocean Moan...see post 7191...I trust Drak implicitly...he does not get all emotionally over wrought about this stuff...based on that response, we should govern ourselves accordingly...


ok, thanks. :-)
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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!!??
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7210. HCW
Quoting NICycloneChaser:


Yes there is.


you are correct I guess it's cause P.R is a US territory
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Quoting Drakoen:
500Mb height contour map at 00z. Notice the 500mb geopotential height reading at Bermuda of 592dm.

And that means?
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7208. WxLogic
Quoting Drakoen:
500Mb height contour map at 00z. Notice the 500mb geopotential height reading at Bermuda of 592dm.



Not going N anytime soon.
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Ocean Moan...see post 7191...I trust Drak implicitly...he does not get all emotionally over wrought about this stuff...based on that response, we should govern ourselves accordingly...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
7206. SQUAWK
Quoting presslord:
the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't


Don't forget about Oz.
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I'm surprised they are forecasting Irene to remain a CAT 1 across these waters.
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7204. scott39
Quoting Drakoen:
I think the NHC has a very good track at the moment given the system's current position taking Irene dangerously close to South Florida and riding up the eastern seaboard. As Stewart noted, the subtropical ridge to the north of Irene is strong and the upper level confluence create by the meeting of the mid-latitude westerlies with Irene's upper level outflow could push the system a bit further west before she heads up in a more poleward direction.
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?
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Quoting FSUstormnut:
I find it funny that news 5 in WPB says we may TS force winds out of this and news 12 is indicating at least a Cat. 2.  Very interesting.


I know, right?? All about ratings isn't it...rather than the safety of people. I'm on the Treasure Coast (Palm City), been thru Jeanne and Frances. Seems like we're gonna get at least Tropical Force winds and rain, but people need to be prepared for the worst. Now. And, oh...btw...good morning everybody!
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7202. WxLogic
Quoting Waltanater:
You make it sound like it is a fix or something, which it is not.


"Good Solution" statement was not to imply that is set in stone, but to convey a favorable track for everyone. Hope that takes care of your inquietude on that part.
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Def do not want to be in the eye wall of another Charley. That kind of wind is nothing to play around with.
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7200. Drakoen
500Mb height contour map at 00z. Notice the 500mb geopotential height reading at Bermuda of 592dm.

Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489
7199. vince1
Quoting MahFL:
I wonder if there will be looting in Miamii when the power does out ?

Have you noticed the flash mobs that have been occurring over the country while the power is still on?

You better believe it. A martial law situation could easily be on our doorstep.
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Quoting HCW:


No 9am update either :)


Yes there is.
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Quoting presslord:
the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't

And once they do, they don't want to experience one again.
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Quoting HCW:


No 9am update either :)


Really? Guess I misunderstood. I am not a morning person so will blame it on that.
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Quoting CaneHunter031472:


+1000


been through 5 or six eventually ulosecount but they are awesome till you have toclean up the mess like a two year old
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Quoting presslord:
the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't

yes!
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Quoting presslord:
the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't


I went through Charley, Wilma, and others. And I'm always excited for the next one. lol
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7192. myrtle1
press what can i expect in myrtle beach tia
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7191. Drakoen
Quoting presslord:


You think I need to start taking this seriously?


Yes you should. I don't think you will escape some sort of impact once Irene passes through the Bahamas.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489
Quoting presslord:
the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't


+1000
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7189. HCW
Quoting OceanMoan:
Hello Everyone, I logged on for the 8am update but now see it won't be until 9. I am choosing not to "panic" until Press says its time, LOL.


No 9am update either :)
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Quoting presslord:


You think I need to start taking this seriously?
LOL

Might not be a bad idea....
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Quoting presslord:
the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't



My son is in that category. He is 15 and doesn't know any better, and too hardheaded to listen to what I have to say.
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Quoting Drakoen:


I think she will skirt the northern coastline.


You think I need to start taking this seriously?
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7184. hydrus
Quoting Drakoen:
looks like an an big green ape over Peurt Rico....
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the only people who wanna experience a hurricane are the ones who haven't
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Quoting WxLogic:
06Z NGP... whole US coast is spared. Good solution.
You make it sound like it is a fix or something, which it is not.
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7181. Drakoen
Quoting cat5hurricane:

You see her staying north of Hispaniola?


I think she will skirt the northern coastline.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489
Hello Everyone, I logged on for the 8am update but now see it won't be until 9. I am choosing not to "panic" until Press says its time, LOL.
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7179. dader
Quoting WeafhermanNimmy:
Oh man...you guys are horrible and no fun. I really want to experience hurricane. At least once in my life.


I've been through five. The intensity and power of it is amazing and I can understand wanting to see that. The aftermath us one of the most depressing times I've been through.
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Quoting shadoclown45:
QUESTION: Why does it look like irene is heading north north west, is it because she pulled the convection to the north closer to her center while intensifying? please tell me if i am right. TIA


In order to get a true motion you have to use more than just a few radar or satellite frames. Storms don't move in a straight line. They wobble back n forth on an average heading. So if you just watched a few frames or radar it may appear to be moving in a direction that it's not.
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Wow. Really impressive this morning.

Just talked to my maintenance/caretaker in Abaco.

They are taking all necessary measures for Irene.

I wish I could get over for this one but my daughter is starting school this week.

Even though we will most likely have Thursday off here....lol
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Quoting WeafhermanNimmy:
Oh man...you guys are horrible and no fun. I really want to experience hurricane. At least once in my life.


Exhilarating at first, like a really scary roller coaster. but then you realize that you have absolutely no control over the events and cannot get off of the ride. You are under the complete control of an inhuman monster.
You wish with all of your being that you could have left when you had the chance.
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Quoting presslord:


it's quite stunning how much water is downtown after a spring shower...a hurricane is a whole other level of stunning...
Stunning indeed...I was in Galveston Sunday at the Opera house. In the lobby there is a high water marker from Ike's surge. 6.5 feet in the lobby, and the lobby is at least 2 feet above street level.
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7173. Drakoen
Quoting scott39:
where do you get that? TIA


On this site Link
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.