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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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...WHICH WOULD IN TURN KEEP IRENE A
LITTLE CLOSER TO THE FLORIDA EAST COAST.



What does this mean for florida... curious i am in ft lauderdale
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7922. 7544
nam shows land fall in so fla will the gfs follow later ?
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7921. hahaguy
Quoting P451:



Please understand.

That line is to be ignored. The Weakening Flag has ALWAYS been on. I've seen it on when storms are undergoing RI.

I don't know why, but it always is, ignore it. ENTIRELY.



Also why would she be weakening if the pressure dropped.
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Quoting Grothar:



What do you think of the GFDL solution?


The gfdl is slow with trends. With that being said, expect it to be caught up with the rest of the major models within the next 2-3 runs. It has already moved east, just slow to do so.
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Quoting USAFwxguy:
Go here and select all the models, step it out to the final frame which is for 25/12. It depicts 500mb ht

You can see why FL is not in the clear.

Link

Thanks! That graphic made the reasons for the back and forth a lot clearer.
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Quoting snotly:


STORMTOP OUT.. err, excuse me, I mean, cloudburst...


Put STORMTOP on ignore, err I mean cloudburst. Same goes for lucreto.
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Quoting cloudburst2011:



AND U HAVE NO AUTHORITY SAYING IRENE WHICH IS GOING TO BE A CAT 2 BEARING DOWN ON FLA HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY FLA WILL GET NOTHING FROM IT...THATS A REAL ASSININE STATEMENT ON YOUR PART...I HAVE BEEN FORCASTING HURRICANES FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND I THINK YOU NEED TO LEARN THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE.....YOU HAVE CALMED DOWN THE WHOLE STATE OF FLA AND WHEN IRENE HITS I HOPE YOU ARE PROUD OF THE CASULTIES YOU ARE GOING TO CAUSE BECAUSE PEOPLE TOOK YOUR WORD A 20 YEAR OLD WET BEHIND THE EAR KID...


Oh crap, Master Chief you still around huh?
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Quoting cloudburst2011:



AND U HAVE NO AUTHORITY SAYING IRENE WHICH IS GOING TO BE A CAT 2 BEARING DOWN ON FLA HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY FLA WILL GET NOTHING FROM IT...THATS A REAL ASSININE STATEMENT ON YOUR PART...I HAVE BEEN FORCASTING HURRICANES FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND I THINK YOU NEED TO LEARN THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE.....YOU HAVE CALMED DOWN THE WHOLE STATE OF FLA AND WHEN IRENE HITS I HOPE YOU ARE PROUD OF THE CASULTIES YOU ARE GOING TO CAUSE BECAUSE PEOPLE TOOK YOUR WORD A 20 YEAR OLD WET BEHIND THE EAR KID...
,wow jed used "the force"to calm down the entire state with one blog post,thats a powerful jedi ifvive ever seen one,mayb he's using his force to push irenen away,lol,youve ben reported!!
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Preparations are underway here in The Exumas. Although we historically do not get affected by hurricanes this time of year (last hurricane to impact Exuma was Lili in 1996), it definitely bears watching since it is coming from the south.
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Quoting depalma13:


The storm is not ragged at all. It's out of radar coverage. If anything it is getting stronger around the core.

Please don't quote the troll(s). Do not respond to the troll(s). Do not feed the troll(s). If we ignore the troll(s), they will go bother someone else on some other blog (hopefully). Thanks. Shutters are now sorted and ready to place..just need a definite track. You all stay safe and have a great day.
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Quoting Grandpato4:


Where are you getting this information? I do not see any of this while monitoring recon.
Easy Grandpa,don't listen to him,he likes attention and it is not in your best interest!
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Quoting Ryuujin:
What I'm more concerned with is that in the WV imaging is that Low looks like it might transition into a cutoff low and then all bets are off on how Irene will react with it, because models can't deal with cutoff lows. Anyone else seeing that in the last few frames over the CONUS?


Your so called cut off low is high tailing it to the Canadian Maritimes and then North out over the Atlantic up and over the Ridge. This is why I think the NHC keeps FL in the crosshairs. As soon as that Ridge builds back in the further West she's going to go IMO.
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7906. snotly
what if we put a bunch of tubes in the way of Irene and funnel off some of her energy?
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A lot of things are coming into play and I think that she will weaken due the the dry air and possible land interaction. IMO there is still a chance for further track shift to the West. I won't be convinced until I see the GFDL model trend to the East. Recall when that model IS RIGHT. It has been dead on.
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Quoting Grothar:



What do you think of the GFDL solution?



I do not like that GFDL, I do not like that GFDL (sorry was reading green eggs and ham to the kids last night)
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Quoting FLdewey:


I will... if Irene kills me I am totally going to blame him.


you've always been more of a grudge holder than me.
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Based in the last few frames of the IR3 sat, it looks like she is sluffing off her outer bands again and concentrating on her center.

Just popped in to see how she was doing this morning. Will be back later to catch up. Hopefully Dr. Masters updates, so we have fresh space to postulate.
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Quoting USAFwxguy:
Go here and select all the models, step it out to the final frame which is for 25/12. It depicts 500mb ht

You can see why FL is not in the clear.

Link


they all show a direct hit her in south florida i am confused now
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Quoting Grandpato4:


Where are you getting this information? I do not see any of this while monitoring recon.


UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 22 AUG 2011 Time : 134500 UTC
Lat : 19:07:00 N Lon : 67:33:39 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.5 / 978.7mb/ 77.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.9 3.9 3.9

Center Temp : -72.5C Cloud Region Temp : -63.4C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : SPIRAL ANALYSIS

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

C/K/Z MSLP Estimate Inputs :
- Average 34 knot radii : 85km
- Environmental MSLP : 1012mb

Satellite Viewing Angle : 23.9 degrees
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7898. Ryuujin
Stop Quoting Lucreto

He is a TROLL and nothing more.

- and ignore him and be on your way.
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I will say this.. Hurricane can be attracted to Hispaniola.. Take Hanna in 2008 for example, was forecast to move north of the Island, instead it was drawn into the Island. I will not be surprised if Irene is drawn a bit into Hispaniola, then back in the water, entering the Bahamas.
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@Lucreto.

Wasn't Charley a cat 1 or 2 at landfall?
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Quoting cloudburst2011:



AND U HAVE NO AUTHORITY SAYING IRENE WHICH IS GOING TO BE A CAT 2 BEARING DOWN ON FLA HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY FLA WILL GET NOTHING FROM IT...THATS A REAL ASSININE STATEMENT ON YOUR PART...I HAVE BEEN FORCASTING HURRICANES FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND I THINK YOU NEED TO LEARN THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE.....YOU HAVE CALMED DOWN THE WHOLE STATE OF FLA AND WHEN IRENE HITS I HOPE YOU ARE PROUD OF THE CASULTIES YOU ARE GOING TO CAUSE BECAUSE PEOPLE TOOK YOUR WORD A 20 YEAR OLD WET BEHIND THE EAR KID...


by 'the whole state of Florida,' you mean the 50 people on this blog from Florida who read his statement?

For the record, if Irene kills me, I DO NOT blame Jedkins.
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7890. snotly
Quoting cloudburst2011:



AND U HAVE NO AUTHORITY SAYING IRENE WHICH IS GOING TO BE A CAT 2 BEARING DOWN ON FLA HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY FLA WILL GET NOTHING FROM IT...THATS A REAL ASSININE STATEMENT ON YOUR PART...I HAVE BEEN FORCASTING HURRICANES FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND I THINK YOU NEED TO LEARN THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE.....YOU HAVE CALMED DOWN THE WHOLE STATE OF FLA AND WHEN IRENE HITS I HOPE YOU ARE PROUD OF THE CASULTIES YOU ARE GOING TO CAUSE BECAUSE PEOPLE TOOK YOUR WORD A 20 YEAR OLD WET BEHIND THE EAR KID...


STORMTOP OUT.. err, excuse me, I mean, cloudburst...
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7888. Ryuujin
What I'm more concerned with is that in the WV imaging is that Low looks like it might transition into a cutoff low and then all bets are off on how Irene will react with it, because models can't deal with cutoff lows. Anyone else seeing that in the last few frames over the CONUS?
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7887. MahFL
Quoting 7544:
nam has her further west this run the ridge is stronger


Yey !!!! FL hit FL hit :P........
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Quoting ElConando:


They say bahamian doctors get a trill out of performing heart surgery during a Cat 5, gets the blood really pumping. "They" being no one of course.
Course that was the receptionist... my doc still has a very posh Brit accent after many years here... lol
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Quoting lucreto:
Looks like a decent possibility Irene could be downgraded to a TS with the next advisory she looks very ragged.


The storm is not ragged at all. It's out of radar coverage. If anything it is getting stronger around the core.
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Quoting lucreto:


It will probably be a lot weaker than forecast it is currently getting choked by dry air and will likely crash into Hispanola and Cuba and emerge as an open wave over the Yucatan Channel.
Like your Doctorate degree!LOL
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7879. 7544
looks like we might see model wars again today
nam has her very close to so fla can anyone post the final results tia its worth a look at
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So will you guys explain whats happening and what forces are deciding where Irene will go?

What ridge will do what? How long do ridges usually take to beging to break down?

Im seeing posts about a ridge to the North East and another over texas and then irene will squeeze between both of them and take the path of least resistance?

I read the NHC reports but im simple folk and dont get all the big words... wish they had a update that was for the non-weather peeps.

Thanks.
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Quoting TampaBayWX:


How can you say that?
its called my opinion,and i just type in what i want to appear on the blog,lol..really though jmo
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Outflow looks great on the northern half of Irene, western and southern sides are severly lacking any appreciable outflow, with a lot of restrictions. By the way, radar imagery suggests Irene is heading WNW not W like some are still saying. Explain to me how radar shows her moving west?
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7875. Gorty
Quoting vortextrance:


I found it interesting that the NHC did not mention the dry air, as an inhibiting factor, this morning. It is obvious on radar, and satellite images. I would think the steady intensification will stop soon unless Irene is able to better shield her core.


She's doing a good job

Link
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7874. Grothar
Quoting atmoaggie:
If GFDL is still mailing it in and UKMET, likewise (I am convinced that they have been, thus far), seems to me, at this moment, at least, that Irene might miss FL by a lot more than the OFCL track. She might even miss GA and SC, if the other models are to be believed, although, I'd put as much stock into NOGAPS and N-GFDL solutions as the GFDL one, based on past performance.



The simple models also support the above notion:




What do you think of the GFDL solution?

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7873. nash28
Quoting weathers4me:
The weaker Irene is the more West and toward Florida she will go as depicted by the GFDL. That is why the NHC is being very conservative about their analysis. IMO.


Irene is not weak. She is a vertically stacked system with excellent outflow channels. Just going to continue to deepen. This is all about the squeeze between the two highs. The Rockies High and the ST High. Where that weakness sets up is where she is going...
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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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