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.

Links
Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico

Jeff Masters

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7173. Drakoen
Quoting scott39:
where do you get that? TIA


On this site Link
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Oh, yeah, the storm surge all the way. Sure the winds would be bad, but I could not image a surge of even a large category 2 coming in 30 miles south of the bay down to say Hilton Head or even Savannah. I stay periodically in the Isle of Palms (on the coast) and Goose Creek (well inland), but did not experience Hugo either.

Hugo luckily for Charleston came in well north of the city and the bay, keeping Charleston the so-called "clean side" of the storm. However, Hugo was so intense and large that a system that size really took it's toll on Charleston.

And yeah, you are correct about the water markers. Market street would be inundated.


Market Street is actually built directly over an old creek bed....it floods if it rains in Atlanta...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting WeafhermanNimmy:
Oh man...you guys are horrible and no fun. I really want to experience hurricane. At least once in my life.


Let me guess---you are 12 years old huh?
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Quoting scott39:
where do you get that? TIA


PR NEXRAD Radar
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7169. 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.
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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


more wnw but it could be
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only on this blog, have I seen people talking about hurricanes pumping, humping and bumping ridges. Still have no idea what it means and what they are talking about and I lurk here daily.

btw I'm waiting for all of today's missions and data input before I begin to take further action here in South Florida. They are mentioning on tv news we could start to feel effects from Wednesday night thru Saturday.
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I think this is setting up to be the worst case scenario right now for SC and maybe North FL. I don't like to scare people, but if it was me and I was in that area I would wake up early and start getting ready. There might be still hope for this to skip the US, but advisory after advisory I see it is less likely, so Time to get ready is NOW.
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7163. scott39
Quoting Drakoen:
where do you get that? TIA
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Quoting nash28:


WOULD be disasterous! I fear the surge more than the wind. Downtown Chas. would be underwater. I was not here for Hugo, but you can see the waterline markers on the old brick. It's quite stunning how much water was downtown.


it's quite stunning how much water is downtown after a spring shower...a hurricane is a whole other level of stunning...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting WeafhermanNimmy:
Oh man...you guys are horrible and no fun. I really want to experience hurricane. At least once in my life.
No you don't friend, trust me.
Member Since: February 14, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 663
7160. Drakoen
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:



Thanks; heading out in about two hours so gotta pack. Actually, the Bahamas needs to to hunker down for the possibility of a Cat 3-4 if it threads the Gulf Stream.
the next big threat looks to be the one coming off africa right now
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4476
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
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7156. vince1
Quoting LightningCharmer:


Well said...


Youth is wasted on the young.
George Bernard Shaw

Yikes, the Fabian socialist and eugenics fanatic himself (Shaw)...well, at least the quote holds some relevance. ;)
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7155. nash28
Quoting cat5hurricane:
I'm beginning to have a bad feeling about this for coastal SC, particular the Greater Charleston Region. If Irene does indeed take a track similar to what the GFS is suggesting, a landfall between Savannah, GA and 30 miles to the south of the Charleston Harbor could be disastrous, particular with a large system like Irene.


WOULD be disasterous! I fear the surge more than the wind. Downtown Chas. would be underwater. I was not here for Hugo, but you can see the waterline markers on the old brick. It's quite stunning how much water was downtown.
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the hyped up tw is moving off africa some spin there
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4476
Quoting doabarrelroll:

because i said parts of this blog like you become useless. not the whole thing. not people who post accurate info.
thanks for the complaints very helpful.
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Quoting doabarrelroll:


why 9 and not 8 like usual?


A few explained it a few comments up from yours.
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Oh man...you guys are horrible and no fun. I really want to experience hurricane. At least once in my life.
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well...I was waiting on the 8a update...but have just been disabused of that notion
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting islander101010:
safe trip take alot of cds



Thanks; heading out in about two hours so gotta pack. Actually, the Bahamas needs to to hunker down for the possibility of a Cat 3-4 if it threads the Gulf Stream.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9017
At 5 am, they said they would issue an intermediate at7am and 9am.
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7147. scott39
Quoting presslord:


I thought it was 'humping' the ridge
I think both is involved.
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7145. MahFL
I wonder if there will be looting in Miamii when the power does out ?
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Quoting Drakoen:


Pumping the ridge? lol


LMFAO!!
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Quoting interstatelover7165:
Oops.


Lol, there is for most storms, but when they are very close to land, and looking like they may strengthen, they have two intermediate advisories, and to space them evenly between the full advisories they are at 7am and 9am, then 1pm and 3pm, etc.....
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Quoting interstatelover7165:
POLL TIME!

What will be Irene be at 8?
A.80 mph(CAT1)
B.95 mph(CAT2)
C.115 mph(CAT3)
D.135 mph(CAT4


Sorry, no update at 8AM.

Advisories now being released at 5AM, 7AM, 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, 3PM, 5PM, and so forth. NHC gives more updates and every 2 hours while Irene is effecting land areas.

BULLETIN
HURRICANE IRENE INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 7A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
700 AM AST MON AUG 22 2011

...IRENE GRADUALLY MOVING AWAY FROM PUERTO RICO...


SUMMARY OF 700 AM AST...1100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...18.8N 66.8W
ABOUT 55 MI...90 KM WNW OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
ABOUT 105 MI...165 KM E OF PUNTA CANA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 295 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...987 MB...29.15 INCHES


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...900 AM AST.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1100 AM AST.
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Quoting interstatelover7165:
POLL TIME!

What will be Irene be at 8?
A.80 mph(CAT1)
B.95 mph(CAT2)
C.115 mph(CAT3)
D.135 mph(CAT4
There is no advisory or intermediate at 8. Its at 9:00. To answer, I will say A.
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Quoting Thunderpig75:


Folly beach is an island...one way on, one way off. Not a good idea. I wrecked a surfboard there during Ophelia.


yup...I'm with nash...I live at Folly...but will be leaving for parts north and/or west
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting NICycloneChaser:


E. 270 mph (CAT 8)

You know there isn't even an 8am update, right?
Oops.
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Quoting Drakoen:


I thought it was 'humping' the ridge
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting nash28:


I'd say Folly Beach, but I can tell you this much.... If Irene is coming for a visit here as a major, I will NOT be chasing anything except for the car in front of me on I-26 getting the hell out of here. LOL!


Folly beach is an island...one way on, one way off. Not a good idea. I wrecked a surfboard there during Ophelia.
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7133. HCW
Quoting WeafhermanNimmy:
Guys where are some good places to hurricane chase if it makes landfall in SC?


Don't chase a major cane unless you know what you are doing and don't ask me about chasing Andrew back in 1992 :) We will be chasing Irene and streaming live video.
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7132. ncstorm
Good Morning,

In about every eastern model that calls for Landfall, Wilmington, NC is on the eastern side of the storm..if these scenarios come into play with a possible Cat3/4 hurricane, it would be devastating for our area and all points afterward
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7131. Drakoen
Quoting A4Guy:
the NHC clearly notes the following...which should be considered when relying so heavily on the Eastern outlier models:

WHAT IS NOTEWORTHY IS THAT ALL OF THE GLOBAL AND REGIONAL MODELS AGREE THAT THE OUTFLOW OF IRENE WILL CONVERGE WITH WESTERLY TO NORTHWESTERLY UPPER-LEVEL
MID-LATITUDE FLOW OVER THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES BY 96 HOURS AND BEYOND. THIS UPPER-LEVEL MASS CONFLUENCE COULD MAINTAIN THE MID- TO LOW-LEVEL RIDGE A LITTLE BIT STRONGER AND LONGER THAN WHAT NOGAPS AND THE ECMWF ARE FORECASTING...


Pumping the ridge? lol
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7130. nash28
LOL!!!!!

Yeah, what Press said.
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I cn't say i agree with the nhcforecast strength but theyare the mets
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7128. tea3781
The GFS has actually trended back to the west in the 6Z run. It was actually further off the coast of Florida earlier.
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7127. scott39
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


Interesting only bc I still feel no level of threat whatsoever in Wilmington! Not me, but the general public seems very disconcerned, or unknowing. I realize this may be due to our location being further north and Irene taking longer to get here....

but if she doesnt cross Hispanolia I see nothing stopping her from gaining strength and am worried we could quickly have a major hurricane coming our way. Guess we'll find out the next couple days, but people here seem to still be in "watch and wait" mode... if theyve even heard about Irene
Still too far off. If it starts heading more that way, then you will see it. Also alot of the population are not on the NHC and WU site to get all the latest updates.
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Quoting interstatelover7165:
POLL TIME!

What will be Irene be at 8?
A.80 mph(CAT1)
B.95 mph(CAT2)
C.115 mph(CAT3)
D.135 mph(CAT4


E. 270 mph (CAT 8)

You know there isn't even an 8am update, right?
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Quoting mcluvincane:


Not going to happen...



more and more likely every hour my friend...
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7124. nash28
Quoting doabarrelroll:

Florida


I'd say Folly Beach, but I can tell you this much.... If Irene is coming for a visit here as a major, I will NOT be chasing anything except for the car in front of me on I-26 getting the hell out of here. LOL!
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Quoting WeafhermanNimmy:
Guys where are some good places to hurricane chase if it makes landfall in SC?


tie yourself to the Folly Beach pier...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480

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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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