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 7544:


just north of pr in the water look

Link


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Her COC is just about to emerge into the Atlantic near San Juan, PR. Her southern spiral bands are intensifying while over the mountainous region of PR, this suggests that she has plenty of moisture and oceanic heat around to compensate for being over land for a few hours. This is extremely worrisome. Dry air will be a problem on her southern side as well as restricted outflow on this side for another 12 hours or so.
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Quoting QPhysFTW:


Actually, I wasn't saying that either, but thanks for sticking up for me :P I kind of explain myself in post 6623 how, as a physicist, but I should clarify further: I was not even talking about Irene. In context, I mentioned how Irene might be an example, but I was really just trying to understand how a circulation skirting a coastline might be affected by nearby mountainous terrain. Just a simple, hypothetical scenario that happened to be not so hypothetical, since it's pretty much happening right now!


I would say skirting would not have much of an effect. It may cause it to stop strenghtening, but I dont see how it would really hurt it too bad.
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Quoting thedawnawakening3:
Radar suggests that she is over San Juan, PR and ready to get into the Atlantic Ocean. Nice curved band structure on her eastern side.


next stop,hopefully is dominican republic
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Quoting 7544:


just north of pr in the water look

Link


I see a tiny gret dot in the middle of the clouds... not enough for me to say thats an eye. Sorry bro....
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Quoting thedawnawakening3:
Making any comparisons to any storms is foolish. She could be a lot more intense than Hugo, or she could be a weaker storm. Right now it depends upon what happens in the next 24 hours that could tell us whether or not she wants to be the monster we all fear, or just another hurricane that hits land.


How could Irene be a lot more intense than Hugo? Hugo was a cat 4 from the Antilles to landfall in S. Carolina, briefly reaching cat 5 status out at sea.
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Quoting 7544:


yeap been saying that for the last hour but peeps say its dryair idk

dont believe in that silly downcasters
Quoting TampaBayWX:


Where do you see an eye?

Just north of PR.






Sheesh, blog still faster than usual.
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Radar suggests that she is over San Juan, PR and ready to get into the Atlantic Ocean. Nice curved band structure on her eastern side.
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6665. 7544
Quoting TampaBayWX:


Where do you see an eye?


just north of pr in the water look

Link
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6689
6664. LargoFl
Quoting thedawnawakening3:
Irene's COC is kind of becoming somewhat disorganized, however radar still shows that spiral banding features are intensifying and becoming more and more organized with time. This suggests that it won't take much time over water for her COC to redevelop and intensify. This is worrisome news, plus I don't think she will come close to the coastline of Hispaniola.
Not a good sign, once back over warm water she can get her act together again and grow stronger
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Quoting Bobbyweather:

Yeah, I know, but if this trend continues, rapid intensification is possible. According to SHIPS,
Prob of RI for 25 kt RI threshold= 42% is 3.3 times the sample mean(12.8%)
Prob of RI for 30 kt RI threshold= 27% is 3.2 times the sample mean( 8.4%)
Prob of RI for 35 kt RI threshold= 16% is 3.2 times the sample mean( 5.0%)
Prob of RI for 40 kt RI threshold= 9% is 2.8 times the sample mean( 3.4%)



Its a very well organized storm with a tight low level core and an excellent environment to work with. If she stays away from major land interaction I can certainly see a period of rapid intensification at some point.
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Quoting thedawnawakening3:
Irene's COC is kind of becoming somewhat disorganized, however radar still shows that spiral banding features are intensifying and becoming more and more organized with time. This suggests that it won't take much time over water for her COC to redevelop and intensify. This is worrisome news, plus I don't think she will come close to the coastline of Hispaniola.
hope she hits the D.R. and goes thru the mountains
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Quoting TampaBayWX:


Where do you see an eye?


you are being baited...don't take it
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Quoting TropicalWeatherGrl88:


I think you are sort of contraditing yourself in a way LOL... What he is saying is, it is disastrous for Puerto Rico


Actually, I wasn't saying that either, but thanks for sticking up for me :P I kind of explain myself in post 6623, but I should clarify further: I was not even talking about Irene. In context, I mentioned how Irene might be an example, but I was really just trying to understand how a circulation skirting a coastline might be affected by nearby mountainous terrain. Just a simple, hypothetical scenario that happened to be not so hypothetical, since it's pretty much happening right now!
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Quoting Relix:
Caguas was also feeling that calm until a few minutes ago.


Santurice gives the true location, watch the windshift from NNE to SE, meaning the storm is coming up from the SE and moving to its SW and W. It cannot possibly be over water. Also it is pretty calm and the pressure is 992 mb.
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6658. 7544
Quoting Vincent4989:
Irene has an eye- needed to be upgraded into cat 1


yeap been saying that for the last hour but peeps say its dryair idk
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6689
Quoting WCSCTVCharleston:



Hugo came in at a different angle once it hit PR it moved nnw then nw right into Charleston. Storms that come from the south due north always hook and miss us plus on the west side of the circulation we get nothing from it cept maybe floyd and that is cuz the wind field was so big. Bertha passed within 100 miles of Charleston and it was sunny at times that day.
i feel your pain
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Quoting Vincent4989:
Irene has an eye- needed to be upgraded into cat 1


Where do you see an eye?
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She is still on land for a little bit longer.
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6654. Relix
Cupey and Carolina receiving now the seemingly stronger East side of Irene.
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Irene has an eye- needed to be upgraded into cat 1
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Irene's COC is kind of becoming somewhat disorganized, however radar still shows that spiral banding features are intensifying and becoming more and more organized with time. This suggests that it won't take much time over water for her COC to redevelop and intensify. This is worrisome news, plus I don't think she will come close to the coastline of Hispaniola.
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6651. 7544
she in the open water now or still on land
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6689
Most of Puerto Rico will not feel the impacts of the most intense part of Irene, the NE quadrant, which is for the most part been staying over water, this has allowed Irene to stay at her current intensity and move more northwestward as she tracks over the island.
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Quoting atmosweather:


The ADT estimates are always a little off while a system is inland.

Yeah, I know, but if this trend continues, rapid intensification is possible. According to SHIPS,
Prob of RI for 25 kt RI threshold= 42% is 3.3 times the sample mean(12.8%)
Prob of RI for 30 kt RI threshold= 27% is 3.2 times the sample mean( 8.4%)
Prob of RI for 35 kt RI threshold= 16% is 3.2 times the sample mean( 5.0%)
Prob of RI for 40 kt RI threshold= 9% is 2.8 times the sample mean( 3.4%)

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6648. Relix
Toa Alta is also calm

Sorry for the flood, I am just reposting from reports online so we have a good idea where the actual COC is.
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6647. Gearsts
Quoting TropicalWeatherGrl88:

http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxlo op.cgi?wv_east_enhanced+12

And looking at that image ^^ it is just a dry spot...
Dude just look at the water vapor loop, center is over San Juan.Link
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6646. Relix
Caguas was also feeling that calm until a few minutes ago.
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Irene has the complete potential to become a monster storm to be feared.
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6644. Relix
Rio Grande and Canovanas feeling the effects of the east side of the Hurricane/Storm. The COC is at least moving WNW.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
why is it naturally disastrous if the circ is completely over land? we want it over land to dissapate, before it kills people and destroys property!!


I think you are sort of contraditing yourself in a way LOL... What he is saying is, it is disastrous for Puerto Rico
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center is almost back over water I thought it would spend more time over PR that is just not good down the road
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I'm actually beginning to change my opinion that, this is a dry spot, seen with the latest imagery I am siding with the opinion that this is a dry spot as convection developing over the COC is pushing this dry air away from the circulation. The Northern outflow channel is really helping to sustain Irene's intensity while the southern side of the storm will remain choked off until she can reach 20 - 22N latitude.
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6640. Relix
Quoting thedawnawakening3:
Irene's COC is over San Juan, PR now, also it is filling in, suggesting that that dry spot is actually the developing COC.


Incorrect. Right now calm is being felt from Guaynabo to parts of Toa Baja (like where I live). The COC must be west of San Juan in this case and hasn't yet gotten to the shore. Perhaps the north part of the COC has actually come off shore but the rest is over land. Should exit near Dorado.
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Quoting heretolearninPR:
Just woke up. No electricity and completely calm in Miramar, San Juan, Puerto Rico.Even the rain has stopped for now.


How is it that you are able to be online?
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Quoting Bobbyweather:
Wow. Raw T's are 5.5!
UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 22 AUG 2011 Time : 061500 UTC
Lat : 18:31:58 N Lon : 66:04:45 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.8 / 990.1mb/ 61.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.8 4.9 5.5

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 24 km

Center Temp : -19.4C Cloud Region Temp : -63.9C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

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

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 1.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

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

Satellite Viewing Angle : 24.0 degrees


The ADT estimates are always a little off while a system is inland.
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Quoting thedawnawakening3:
Making any comparisons to any storms is foolish. She could be a lot more intense than Hugo, or she could be a weaker storm. Right now it depends upon what happens in the next 24 hours that could tell us whether or not she wants to be the monster we all fear, or just another hurricane that hits land.




This is very true
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Quoting Gearsts:
Just a dry spot

http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxlo op.cgi?wv_east_enhanced+12

And looking at that image ^^ it is just a dry spot...
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6635. 7544
Quoting thedawnawakening3:
Irene's COC is over San Juan, PR now, also it is filling in, suggesting that that dry spot is actually the developing COC.


thanks i knew i wasnt going krazzzzzzzzzzzy

whats rthis mean
Scene Type : EYE
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6689
Quoting TomTaylor:
Evening/morning everyone.

I see Irene has now made landfall in PR as a strong tropical storm and looks like it could be near re-entry into the Atlantic and back over water.




Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti will all experience heavy rainfall totals over the next couple of days (12-36hr QPF 24-48hr QPF).

The big story, however, is that Irene continues to track further north/east/right of the forecasted track. This has mostly been due to center re-locations, however, that is not the case tonight. Regardless, the model consensus has once again shifted east/right (compare 0z consensus to 6z consensus). Furthermore, the 0z ECMWF and GFS global models support this trend. Such a track currently puts the Carolinas at greater risk than Florida, as well as far less land interaction with Hispaniola. Additionally, since Irene (based off radar) appears to be spending less time over PR than expected, and Hispaniola's north east side is actually not very mountainous, the core and surface circulation will not suffer nearly as much as forecasted. The upper level environment (upper level anticyclone, light shear, good divergence) and ocean (SSTs and TCHP) are both favorable for continue intensification. The only issue is land, and the time it will take afterwards for Irene to reorganize herself.



Very informative summary. Thanks...
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Irene's COC is over San Juan, PR now, also it is filling in, suggesting that that dry spot is actually the developing COC.
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Making any comparisons to any storms is foolish. She could be a lot more intense than Hugo, or she could be a weaker storm. Right now it depends upon what happens in the next 24 hours that could tell us whether or not she wants to be the monster we all fear, or just another hurricane that hits land.
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Evening/morning everyone.

I see Irene has now made landfall in PR as a strong tropical storm and looks like it could be near re-entry into the Atlantic and back over water.




Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti will all experience heavy rainfall totals over the next couple of days (12-36hr QPF. 24-48hr QPF).

The big story, however, is that Irene continues to track further north/east/right of the forecasted track. This has mostly been due to center re-locations, however, that is not the case tonight. Regardless, the model consensus has once again shifted east/right (compare 0z consensus to 6z consensus). Furthermore, the 0z ECMWF and GFS global models support this trend. Such a track currently puts the Carolinas at greater risk than Florida, as well as far less land interaction with Hispaniola. Additionally, since Irene (based off radar) appears to be spending less time over PR than expected, and Hispaniola's north east side is actually not very mountainous, the core and surface circulation will not suffer nearly as much as forecasted.





The upper level environment (upper level anticyclone, light shear, good divergence) and ocean (SSTs and TCHP) are both favorable for continue intensification. The only issue is land, and the time it will take afterwards for Irene to reorganize herself. Intensity in the long run (days 3-7) will depend on how Irene is looking after passing PR and Hispaniola, however, given the current model trends and the radar observations, a major hurricane is looking quite likely...

The SE US states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, as well as the mid-Atlantic states need to begin preparing now. Especially given the tight model consensus (not the same thing as the model track consensus trending in certain directions) which favors a gradual curve northward through a weakness (NOT a recurve out to sea). Of course, for now, PR and Hispaniola are the main areas of concern. Winds shouldn't be too much of an issue, but rainfall certainly will.

Stay safe out there
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6630. Gearsts
Quoting TropicalWeatherGrl88:


Is there a way to tell the difference? In the end of that loop it looks really round shaped as well
Just look at the radar,dry spot is north of Arecibo.
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http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxloop .cgi?wv_east_enhanced+12

Did everyone who is saying it's dry air look at this?
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Quoting Relix:
Calm is being reported in BAYAMON, CUPEY AND GUAYNABO, while windshift has been noted in Gurabo, Rio Grande and Maunabo. Which means the center should be over the main metro area of PR. TOA BAJA, a few miles west of that area, is sightly calmer as well.


Barometric pressure at Carolina down to 992 mb, still N-erly winds suggesting the center has not made it N of there to the coastline.
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6627. Relix
TOA BAJA is completely DEAD CALM. Dorado meanwhile is receiving strong winds. The center HAS to be in this north area.
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Wow. Raw T's are 5.5!
UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 22 AUG 2011 Time : 061500 UTC
Lat : 18:31:58 N Lon : 66:04:45 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.8 / 990.1mb/ 61.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.8 4.9 5.5

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 24 km

Center Temp : -19.4C Cloud Region Temp : -63.9C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

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

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 1.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

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

Satellite Viewing Angle : 24.0 degrees
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Making any comparison to Hugo is just foolish
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Just woke up. No electricity and completely calm in Miramar, San Juan, Puerto Rico.Even the rain has stopped for now.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
why is it naturally disastrous if the circ is completely over land? we want it over land to dissapate, before it kills people and destroys property!!


First of all, if the circulation is strong enough, it WOULD be completely disastrous if it were completely over populated land. But that aside, what I meant was disastrous in the context of maintaining a circulation, as I was in physics discussion mode. A poor choice of words, I'll admit.

And thanks to all (particulary dawnawakening) that have been so helpful in providing detailed information regarding land interaction, particularly in the context of what Irene is doing this very moment. Keep it up!
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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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