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 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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6972. WxLogic
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???????????!?!?!?!?!??!!?!??!


Most of the WX is to the E and N of Irene which would correlate to the "calmer" WX conditions you're experiencing in Ponce.
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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???????????!?!?!?!?!??!!?!??!
drive on over to the rincon catch us some pictures
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Quoting whepton3:


Well said... and for those who don't remember, here's a link to a noaa synopsis that includes the "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" track that Jeanne ultimately took.

Link
i love that ride!
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Quoting benirica:
How much more could this last???
Still intense rain and horrible winds here in eastern puerto rico, at landfall point.
Expected to wake up to a hurricane, yes, but didn't think it's effects would get to me here. Wrong.
We've been in the thick of it since 10.30pm nonestop except for the calm of the eye. Thought I'd wake up to rain, not this!


no one responds to me. im starting to thing ive been flagged by the whole community lol.

man... can you believe us in ponce not 10mph of wind? everything is STILL.

just non stop rain.

granted it took a NW path (we've been seeing that since guadeloupe radar so no surprise there)

but ... the eyewall passed not far from here, dangnit!
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6968. WxLogic
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Everyone currently within the NHC cone needs to keep their guard up with this system. I want to remind everyone of just how quickly a five day track can change under similar synoptic scenarios as we have with Irene.

Hurricane Jeanne of 2004 track while in the same position that Irene finds herself this morning-

By a day later, the NHC is showing a South Carolina landfall-

Models begin to indicate that the first trof will pull northward too quickly and leave Jeanne being pushed west again by a building high.

By later that same day, the NHC comes to this conclusion. I think we all know what the track ends up doing...

I am in no way forecasting this to happen with Irene, but I am just reminding everyone that these tracks are nowhere near being set in stone. In fact, in Jeanne's case, the NHC was basically following the model consensus the entire time; the models remained in fairly good agreement throughout the duration of the storm while wildly flopping back and forth.


Good example... especially since in this case we still have UKM and GFDL (for the time being) on the W FL coast line instead of the east and we could end up with a similar setup if the bridge is stronger than expected or a high decides to build N of Irene due to its own exit outflow.
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Everyone currently within the NHC cone needs to keep their guard up with this system. I want to remind everyone of just how quickly a five day track can change under similar synoptic scenarios as we have with Irene.

Hurricane Jeanne of 2004 track while in the same position that Irene finds herself this morning-

By a day later, the NHC is showing a South Carolina landfall-

Models begin to indicate that the first trof will pull northward too quickly and leave Jeanne being pushed west again by a building high.

By later that same day, the NHC comes to this conclusion. I think we all know what the track ends up doing...

I am in no way forecasting this to happen with Irene, but I am just reminding everyone that these tracks are nowhere near being set in stone. In fact, in Jeanne's case, the NHC was basically following the model consensus the entire time; the models remained in fairly good agreement throughout the duration of the storm while wildly flopping back and forth.


Well said... and for those who don't remember, here's a link to a noaa synopsis that includes the "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" track that Jeanne ultimately took- including an intriguing loop de loop.

Link
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6966. emguy
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Everyone currently within the NHC cone needs to keep their guard up with this system. I want to remind everyone of just how quickly a five day track can change under similar synoptic scenarios as we have with Irene.

Hurricane Jeanne of 2004 track while in the same position that Irene finds herself this morning-

By a day later, the NHC is showing a South Carolina landfall-

Models begin to indicate that the first trof will pull northward too quickly and leave Jeanne being pushed west again by a building high.

By later that same day, the NHC comes to this conclusion. I think we all know what the track ends up doing...

I am in no way forecasting this to happen with Irene, but I am just reminding everyone that these tracks are nowhere near being set in stone. In fact, in Jeanne's case, the NHC was basically following the model consensus the entire time; the models remained in fairly good agreement throughout the duration of the storm while wildly flopping back and forth.


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.
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6965. WxLogic
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Do you mean the Bahamas region?


Thanks for pointing that out... indeed I meant Bahamas. I have Bermuda in my mind (must be for looking to much and following that Bermuda High) lol. Got it corrected.
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
Everyone currently within the NHC cone needs to keep their guard up with this system. I want to remind everyone of just how quickly a five day track can change under similar synoptic scenarios as we have with Irene.

Hurricane Jeanne of 2004 track while in the same position that Irene finds herself this morning-


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.



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Quoting nash28:
Good morning all.

Well, my eyes are wide open now. Been a while since Charleston took a direct hit. Still a ways out, but definitely in prep mode this week.


Morning! Yeah, I would think everybody on the southeast coast of the U.S. will be eyes wide open this morning. Got coffee?
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6962. 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
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Quoting FefiBrevard:
Good Morning everyone!
im a bit curious and worried about where Irene in going at the moment. i live in east central florida, brevard county. and i notice that the models have it coming close to skirting the coast around there. being it's a few days off, would it be possible that it would go through brevard county? im very worried about it. TIA!!


If you're in the cone it's possible.
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GFS has Wilmington, NC in its crosshairs. Seems reasonable
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6959. WxLogic
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???????????!?!?!?!?!??!!?!??!


Most of the WX with Irene is to the N and E. Which correlates to the relatively "calmer" conditions you're experiencing in Ponce.
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Good Morning everyone!
im a bit curious and worried about where Irene in going at the moment. i live in east central florida, brevard county. and i notice that the models have it coming close to skirting the coast around there. being it's a few days off, would it be possible that it would go through brevard county? im very worried about it. TIA!!
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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.
Do you mean the Bahamas region?
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6956. nash28
Good morning all.

Well, my eyes are wide open now. Been a while since Charleston took a direct hit. Still a ways out, but definitely in prep mode this week.
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How much more could this last???
Still intense rain and horrible winds here in eastern puerto rico, at landfall point.
Expected to wake up to a hurricane, yes, but didn't think it's effects would get to me here. Wrong.
We've been in the thick of it since 10.30pm nonestop except for the calm of the eye. Thought I'd wake up to rain, not this!
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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???????????!?!?!?!?!??!!?!??!
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Quoting hahaguy:
This might be a stupid question but could Irene slow down even more?


There are no stupid questions when we are trying to learn something ma friend. With that being the case, the only stupid question is the one you don't ask.

I'm nowhere even remotely able to give you a professional answer, but my thoughts are.. Yes of course Irene can and most likely will slow down more in the next couple of days.
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Quoting aquak9:


You?? Me too!! there's a stinkin' H all the way up my coastline!! WTH???
Better get a generator on those blueberries :)

Good Morning Aqua
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Quoting TampaBayWX:


It appears at this time that South FL will not get a direct hit....that could change, but right now its looking better and better for FL each update. That dosnt mean to not be prepared or ready, just saying im sure people in SE FL are feeling a little better.
I'm feeling better. It's a long haul for us to evacuare living down under the penisula
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6950. 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 Bahamas region.
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Everyone currently within the NHC cone needs to keep their guard up with this system. I want to remind everyone of just how quickly a five day track can change under similar synoptic scenarios as we have with Irene.

Hurricane Jeanne of 2004 track while in the same position that Irene finds herself this morning-

By a day later, the NHC is showing a South Carolina landfall-

Models begin to indicate that the first trof will pull northward too quickly and leave Jeanne being pushed west again by a building high.

By later that same day, the NHC comes to this conclusion. I think we all know what the track ends up doing...

I am in no way forecasting this to happen with Irene, but I am just reminding everyone that these tracks are nowhere near being set in stone. In fact, in Jeanne's case, the NHC was basically following the model consensus the entire time; the models remained in fairly good agreement throughout the duration of the storm while wildly flopping back and forth.
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6948. tea3781
Yeah looks more wnw now....think that was temporary to get off land....
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GOES-E is in RSO.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
looks like she has written all over her " i am going to be a major"
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Quoting charlottefl:
Motion has flattened out now. We should see a more WNW as opposed to NW, now that she's not over land.



I have the heading at 283.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
Quoting charlottefl:
Motion has flattened out now. We should see a more WNW as opposed to NW, now that she's not over land.

yep
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Some radiosonde information will be in the 18Z and 06Z model runs starting this afternoon.


000
NOUS42 KWNO 220734
ADMNFD


SENIOR DUTY METEOROLOGIST NWS ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NWS NCEP CENTRAL OPERATIONS CAMP SPRINGS MD
0730Z MON AUG 22 2011

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS REQUESTING SPECIAL 6-HOURLY UPPER
AIR RELEASES BEGINNING AT 18Z TODAY (MON AUG 22) FROM THE
FOLLOWING STATIONS: KEY WEST, MIAMI, TAMPA, JACKSONVILLE,
TALLAHASSEE, SLIDELL, JACKSON, BIRMINGHAM, PEACHTREE CITY,
CHARLESTON, MOREHEAD CITY, GREENSBORO, NASHVILLE, WILMINGTON,
PITTSBURGH, BLACKSBURG, STERLING AND WALLOPS ISLAND.

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Motion has flattened out now. We should see a more WNW as opposed to NW, now that she's not over land.

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Quoting TampaBayWX:


It appears at this time that South FL will not get a direct hit....that could change, but right now its looking better and better for FL each update. That dosnt mean to not be prepared or ready, just saying im sure people in SE FL are feeling a little better.


With the new 6Z gfs run rest assured it is very likely that the official forecast will place the track offshore thru the central and NE Bahamas near the abacos on its way to SC/NC. The truth is the upcoming days in south florida will likely be very nice weather but quite hot and humid as Irene goes thru the Bahamas. My guess based on what is becoming a very tight consensus is that we will have almost no effect as we didnt when floyd passed to our east less than 200 miles away. Very similar to where Irene will likely end up. One thing though. Despite the models, anytime a storm is making a turn...just a 6 to 12 hour delay can change the track significantly. But based on the radar information the center of Irene is already well over water and rapidly getting itself together. So a more north track seems likely IMO
Member Since: August 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 652
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.

This will be one to remember, in that respect.


yes, QPhysicsFTW, pointed that out earlier. Interesting explanation and it makes sense in all honesty
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6939. hydrus
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.

This will be one to remember, in that respect.


Great post.
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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.
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Quoting RussianWinter:


South FL appears to be safe from a direct hit, but the rest of the state isn't. If north and central Florida decides to evacuate before we do however, you could have a serious problems if there are people on the high way and the storm nudges a bit to south Florida.

The fact is the entire eastern seaboard could make the decision to evacuate, and with a state like Florida, we could see another situation similar to the evacuation for Floyd. Except this time people might not be so lucky.


Oh I agree 100% bro, I am all for early evacuations and early watches/warnings so people have time to get out of dodge. Everyone is welcome to come over to Tampa to escape the madness. :-)
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Quoting atmosweather:


That's 8PM Eastern time, but the information will not be inputted into the models until the 12z runs tomorrow (8AM EST).


The information from this afternoon's high altitude flight will go into the 00Z run this evening. The flight starts at 1:30 PM EDT this afternoon.
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Quoting OminousCloud:
is it posible that the trough might miss Irene?


The trough is not actually forecast to pick up Irene, just create a weakness in the high pressure which will cause a turn to the NW, then N. The highs will bridge above Irene though, so it is unlikely that she will be able to escape to sea.
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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.


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is it posible that the trough might miss Irene?
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Good morning, from the Ft. Lauderdale area! Looks like Irene's gonna blow us a big wet kiss in a few days as she passes by! (at least that's ALL I hope she does!)
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Quoting aquak9:


You?? Me too!! there's a stinkin' H all the way up my coastline!! WTH???


Maybe she'll get strong enough to just go fishin' I would think this kind of jump N would have to warrant at least some shift in model guidance...Although they are all pretty tightly clustered now. Even the Ukmet & GFDL have come east a good bit.

Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
Quoting TampaBayWX:


It appears at this time that South FL will not get a direct hit....that could change, but right now its looking better and better for FL each update. That dosnt mean to not be prepared or ready, just saying im sure people in SE FL are feeling a little better.


South FL appears to be safe from a direct hit, but the rest of the state isn't. If north and central Florida decides to evacuate before we do however, you could have a serious problems if there are people on the high way and the storm nudges a bit to south Florida.

The fact is the entire eastern seaboard could make the decision to evacuate, and with a state like Florida, we could see another situation similar to the evacuation for Floyd. Except this time people might not be so lucky.
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Quoting BenBIogger:


How accurate are these TDWR radars?


TDWR radars are basically HD radars, so if anything they are more accurate than the standard ones. Also interesting that the main radar is down, Irene must be doing a number on PR. Hope our PR friends on here are okay.
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6928. tea3781
I would not worry to much on the exact location of the center once it get nears Florida. Even if it rides right up the coastline much of Florida is going to feel Tropical Storm force winds. Now we are dealing with a stronger storm because of less land interaction.
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Quoting BenBIogger:


How accurate are these TDWR radars?


Pretty darn accurate...about as good a product as any that is currently available to the public.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Well did not expect to find that when I woke up this am...

IR makes it look like she's off the coast, but that could be the sleep in my eye's or that I haven't looked enough yet.


Nope you're right she's offshore by about 30 miles now.
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Quoting atmosweather:


Air Force plane scheduled to depart in about half an hour and will reach the storm by 8AM Eastern.
Great!
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Well did not expect to find that when I woke up this am...

IR makes it look like she's off the coast, but that could be the sleep in my eye's or that I haven't looked enough yet.


Look at the past few posts...
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
6923. aquak9
Quoting StormJunkie:


Well did not expect to find that when I woke up this am...

IR makes it look like she's off the coast, but that could be the sleep in my eye's or that I haven't looked enough yet.


You?? Me too!! there's a stinkin' H all the way up my coastline!! WTH???
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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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