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 scott39:
What is upper-level mass confluence. TIA



Just a fancy way of saying its the point where the winds at the mid latitudes and the outflow from Irene meet..
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7022. bwi
Looks like 6z GFS also stays offshore until nearly up SC -- Cape Fear. Agrees with ECMWF, and has N or NNE motion after.

A track slightly west of the new GFS and ECMWF would have the post-landfall tropical storm or remnants coming right up the large east coast cities, affecting Richmond, DC, Philly, NYC with strong winds (and possible power outages).
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Quoting MahFL:
5 flights scheduled today for Irene, all systems go !




Possibility of ridge pumping and major canes, the NHC is going to be on this like "Stink On, Ya Know"
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Quoting traumaboyy:


+100

10-12000 comments and wishcasting from Texas to Maine..lol
Hey, Tboy... was wondering we hadn't seen u a day or two...

Quite a few of those comments are likely to be from pple in the actual forecast area... dunno how well they'll hold up to the pple posting "Eeeek!!!!" over and over again, though.... lol

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Quoting Autistic2:
Does this mean I need to start my hurricane prep here in saint aug?


Yes
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7018. WxLogic
Notice the following:

Weaker Irene (6HR ago):



HURR Irene (Current, but to update 1HR or so):



It could intensify the Bermuda High further as it moves in tandem with it towards the WNW.
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Quoting MahFL:
5 flights scheduled today for Irene, all systems go !


Yeah, now that she has just escaped most land masses it appears; they will be on this like white on rice...Unless of course we're talkin' red rice...Yum.
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Does this mean I need to start my hurricane prep here in saint aug?
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7015. scott39
Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning everybody.... I see they finally bit the bullet and brought Irene to hurricane status.... finally 9-1-0.... lol

By the way, this

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

is what is meant one says "pumping the ridge"....

What is upper-level mass confluence. TIA
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Well imagine that all the wind you missed out on was amplified greatly over the mountains over the spine of the country. As the sun comes out, we will get a better handle on the amount of damage in the higher elevations.


our easternmost and northern PR peeps are reporting heavy winds rain and damage

im reporting ... - i cant even get it yet lol
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Quoting WxLogic:
Below is a WV snapshot... there are 3 symbols I've placed on it, a Circle (signaling a piece of energy), an Arrow (signaling departing TROF), and a diagonal line (signaling a High pressure periphery).



In the image above you can see that the main TROF is starting to flatten out (which is the one responsible for helping erode the western periphery of the Bermuda High and allow Irene to gain some latitude), but before is fully out you can see another piece of energy trying to provide some additional amplitude to the TROF but won't be strong enough to do so (to the extent the first one did).

Finally, you can see the western periphery of Irene flattening out (cirrus outflow - aloft) N of DR. This represents the a High pressure extension that is going to be building on top Irene and ensuring she stays on a WNW track, but before that happens Irene should be entering a weak steering pattern so fluctuation in speed/direction could be expected while the main driving forces get setup to allow Irene to progress past DR and into the Bermuda region.


Thanks for this WxLogic! Good morning all and thoughts and prayers to those in Puerto Rico.
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7012. MahFL
5 flights scheduled today for Irene, all systems go !
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Quoting gugi182:
Reporting from PUERTO RICO with an update the east and north part of the island got hit HARD by now HURRICANE IRENE where i live i experienced 40-50mph winds up north 80-90 in wind gusts or more. If this HURRICANE is heading to FLORIDA or CAROLINAS my advice is to PREPARE. There is 800,000 people without power. Trees and light poles down in the roads. North part of the island as i write experience HURRICANE FORCE WINDS bordering the north coast.


gugi reports this and im not 50 miles removed from her. the leaves from my backyard trees HAVENT MOVED in like 30 hours. this is insane
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning everybody.... I see they finally bit the bullet and brought Irene to hurricane status.... finally 9-1-0.... lol

By the way, this

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

is what is meant one says "pumping the ridge"....




Yes, lol, an actual live example of "Pumping The Ridge"

Made me spit out my coffee again this morning.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I'm sure if you could make your way to Aguadilla today that you'd get what you're looking for,
yea go catch a wave for us
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7008. gugi182
Reporting from PUERTO RICO with an update the east and north part of the island got hit HARD by now HURRICANE IRENE where i live i experienced 40-50mph winds up north 80-90 in wind gusts or more. If this HURRICANE is heading to FLORIDA or CAROLINAS my advice is to PREPARE. There is 800,000 people without power. Trees and light poles down in the roads. North part of the island as i write experience HURRICANE FORCE WINDS bordering the north coast.
Member Since: August 3, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 178
Ya'll, all I gotta say is P541 and Drak have been ON with this... Looks like Irene is exiting the coast not too far from Levittown, which is west of San Juan. Any of our PR bloggers still online? Was wondering how badly power grids have been affected....
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7006. WxLogic
00Z ECMWF Ensemble... still a good set of members in the SE FL area too:

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7005. hahaguy
Quoting whepton3:



Got on the blog this morning and totally forgot to check the panic level of glazer and the dude on ch 12.


I actually prefer the mets on channel 12.
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00ZLink CMC rides the entire SE US coastline...

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Quoting serialteg:


well to the east?!?!?!?!

im not in the dominican republic lol

im smack in the center of the southernmost coast

it passed not 20 miles from me

the south - southwest part of the storm was nonexistent

weatherjr, I owe you 2,000,000lbs of crow and an apology!
Well imagine that all the wind you missed out on was amplified greatly over the mountains over the spine of the country. As the sun comes out, we will get a better handle on the amount of damage in the higher elevations.
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Quoting earthlydragonfly:


Young people dont have investments, children and homes. They have no responsibilities or financial interests, I was the same way when I was young but now I have 4 kids and a med sized company in the tourist market with locations in Orlando, the Carolinas and New York. And It (Irene) would and will have a major impact on my business. So I wouldnt mind seeing Irene take a track West of Bermuda.


Well said...


Youth is wasted on the young.
George Bernard Shaw
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Quoting hahaguy:


That's as serious as I've ever seen glenn glazer.



Got on the blog this morning and totally forgot to check the panic level of glazer and the dude on ch 12.
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Quoting NICycloneChaser:


Irene crossed PR well to the east of you, and the large wind radius is mostly to the north of the centre.


well to the east?!?!?!?!

im not in the dominican republic lol

im smack in the center of the southernmost coast

it passed not 20 miles from me

the south - southwest part of the storm was nonexistent

weatherjr, I owe you 2,000,000lbs of crow and an apology!
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning everybody.... I see they finally bit the bullet and brought Irene to hurricane status.... finally 9-1-0.... lol

By the way, this

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

is what is meant one says "pumping the ridge"....



When I read that this morning in the discussion I did get a bit of a chuckle... actually said it out loud staring at the screen.
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Quoting serialteg:


you're pretty much on the money

still its incredible beyond belief

i'll never forget this for sure
I'm sure if you could make your way to Aguadilla today that you'd get what you're looking for,
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6997. hahaguy
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.


That's as serious as I've ever seen glenn glazer.
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Quoting nash28:
Just got to work and noticed the 00z ECMWF shifted a touch to the East.

Not good.
Who's that not good for?
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Fitst day of school for kids. I looked at NHC and said crap-! Yes we need rain but not a hurricane.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning everybody.... I see they finally bit the bullet and brought Irene to hurricane status.... finally 9-1-0.... lol

By the way, this

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

is what is meant one says "pumping the ridge"....

Yes, that is what people on here refer to as pumping the ridge.
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
It's simply because the mountains to your north are blocking the northerly wind from passing over your location at the surface. As the most eastern rainbands move over you, you'll get breezy conditions from the sw.


you're pretty much on the money

still its incredible beyond belief

i'll never forget this for sure
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Good morning Irene.
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Morning everybody.... I see they finally bit the bullet and brought Irene to hurricane status.... finally 9-1-0.... lol

By the way, this

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

is what is meant one says "pumping the ridge"....

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Quoting nash28:
Just got to work and noticed the 00z ECMWF shifted a touch to the East.

Not good.


So did the 06z GFS, Folks in NC are'nt going to like it either

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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.
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Quoting serialteg:
totally unbelieveable.

ponce puerto rico, our winds have been 10mph at the MOST.

i just woke up. can someone tell me what the F happened???????????!?!?!?!?!??!!?!??!


Irene crossed PR well to the east of you, and the large wind radius is mostly to the north of the centre.
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6987. MahFL
Hot tower near the eye.


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6986. scott39
Goodmorning, Looks like Hurricane Irene has the potiential to strengthen, depending on how much land interaction it has with Hispanola. The NHC also thinks Irene could get a little bit closer to the Fl. East Coast due to the mid to lower level ridge holding for a little longer. I would encourage anyone that is responsible for yourself and a family to stay tuned to your local news and the NHC. One thing to really note: Do not keep your eye on just the middle track of Irene. I hope that all the people of PR are staying safe and everyone else is ready.
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Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:
I think this jog north we saw over Puerto Rico, was simply due to the friction of the land, because in essence, Irene was forced to climb a hill, and she did it the easiest way she could, which was not up and over, but to circle around it with her torque. Now that she's free of that friction, she's being thrown somewhat like a slingshot around the back side.

This will be one to remember, in that respect.




i just think this confirms the wnw we've been consistently seeing since guadeloupe radar picked up irene's rotation

im used to seeing storms be deflected by PR mountainous terrain, but im startin to believe this had more to do with a continuation of steering

cant believe the effects it DIDN't leave behind on the south PR tho

its like nothing - nothing happened. meanwhile folks on the east say this is a monster that hasnt left yet
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Quoting LightningCharmer:


Even if you are in the cone and then not in the cone as this post illustrates. Katrina in Florida 2005, many were not in the cone, and the cone kept changing. Ask people in the Florida Keys and mainland Monroe County, and even Homestead if Katrina got them by surprise. Many of them will answer, yes.

Basically don't wait till you're in the cone to start preparing.



The answer is Yes I caught us all by surprise. So it anit over until it's over and the fat lady sings!
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6983. bassis
Morning WU Universe. Not that it really matters but what time this morning was she upgrade to Hurricane?
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Quoting serialteg:


im tellin u atmos this thing just came by so close to me and not a whisp of wind...

how is this possible lol

i mean i know the SW/S was the weaker part of the storm, but this?

cant complain on rainfall tho... not torrential, just steady rain
It's simply because the mountains to your north are blocking the northerly wind from passing over your location at the surface. As the most eastern rainbands move over you, you'll get breezy conditions from the sw.
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6981. GoWVU
Nice Monday morning here in Charleston, the base is pretty quiet as well. I bet by noon today we will be going into Hurricane mode. I just hope Irene goes farther East and becomes a fish storm, BUT looks like she wants to visit the South East Coast...
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6980. WxLogic
HH is out:

Product: Air Force High Density (HDOB) Message (URNT15 KNHC)
Transmitted: 22nd day of the month at 10:30Z
Date: August 22, 2011
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 302)
Storm Number: 09
Storm Name: Irene (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 4
Observation Number: 01
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6979. nash28
Just got to work and noticed the 00z ECMWF shifted a touch to the East.

Not good.
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Quoting drj27:
im sure the GOM wishcasters are hating this i cant believe anyone would want a storm coming there way praying for the people in the path of irene


Young people dont have investments, children and homes. They have no responsibilities or financial interests, I was the same way when I was young but now I have 4 kids and a med sized company in the tourist market with locations in Orlando, the Carolinas and New York. And It (Irene) would and will have a major impact on my business. So I wouldnt mind seeing Irene take a track West of Bermuda.
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Quoting islander101010:
drive on over to the rincon catch us some pictures


im stunned
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Quoting emguy:


You have absolutely nailed it. In fact, I cannot remember which discussion it occurred in, but I distinctly recall them commenting on the wrap around ridge factor at least once. Irene is currently booking forward, but has more surprises in store. Thats a fact.
All depends on forward speed at this point...
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You should have prepared for a possible hurricane before June 1st. When a storm is getting closer, it is time to make final preperations. It amazaes me how many people run to Lowe's or the Home Depot, only to find there are no more supplies. Hurrican season lasts six months, get prepared well before it even begins.
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. Once Irene pops off the coast of Cuba Wednesday or Thursday into the Florida Straits, Irene will likely be a tropical storm

From DR. Masters forecast above. Don't think its going anywhere near Cuba.
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Quoting atmosweather:
Almost a completely closed eyewall now with extremely strong convection on the N-ern side. RECON information is going to be very interesting. I think she is strengthening pretty steadily now.


im tellin u atmos this thing just came by so close to me and not a whisp of wind...

how is this possible lol

i mean i know the SW/S was the weaker part of the storm, but this?

cant complain on rainfall tho... not torrential, just steady rain
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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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