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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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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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.


good morning...I couldn't agree more...still alot of time left for her to do whatever..who ever posted about her going sw, yep seen that model also..sure it don't make sence...but has anything this year?? or any year for that matter..they will go where they go...all we can do is watch, wait and see...
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7871. DVG
>Quoting P451:
A lot to ponder here today folks. A little early in the game to make a call.

I want to see more imagery before I'd even bother. See how the trof progresses - how sharp will it get.

Irene is already quite far north mind you so no matter what the trof does she will feel more of it's influence.

Looking forward to Levi's thoughts on the trough.
It appears the the low from which the trough extends will be in the N Atlantic within 24 hours.

What his thoughts are concerning the ridge and this trough should be incitefull. I hope the NHC comments on this as well.
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G'day all,

Hmmm, well that sure was a definitely more NW jog over / across PR last night as Irene has had more NW wobbles to it's WNW track than W the last 24 hrs... thought it would crash into the S side, exit over the W half island, so for being in such error of about 1 or 2 10th's degree latitude off, I guess I'm resigned to some tabasco crow omlette with coffee this morn...
;)

Nice big center Irene has created, matches it's mammoth size... do not see what could keep our 1st hurricane from becoming a major.
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from the augusta chronicle when earl came by:

But if history is any guide, Georgia is safe from potential harm. Why? Georgia's curved coastline makes it harder to attract a direct hit, and our state has fewer miles of coast than neighboring Florida or South Carolina, both of which have endured their share of Atlantic hurricanes. In fact, Georgia hasn't taken a direct hit from a major hurricane in more than a century, and only four minor storms made landfall here during the 1900s. Georgia's three worst hurricanes all occurred during the month of August and all made came ashore in the Savannah vicinity in 1881, 1893 and 1898, with the Augusta area's most catastrophic impacts occurring in the 1881 storm in which 700 people died, including some deaths in our town.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Yep. Very good example.

*Some* of the lagging convection to the south due to PR's presence, but moreso due to dry air, clearly.

Will be interesting to see if the has a long-term issue with the dry air or fights it off enough to start shielding it better.


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.
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Quoting cloudburst2011:



YOU ARE BEING WISHY WASHY WITH YOUR PREDICTIONS...YOU NEED TO COME CLEAN WITH THE FOLKS IN FLA AND APOLOGIZE FOR THE DUMB STATEMENT YOU MADE SAYING FLA WOULD GET NOTHING FROM THIS....
As I am sure (not) that the entire population of FL is hanging on his every word. Chill out, take a breath, take a break. We are all human, we all have egos, and we are all wrong at some point.
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Quoting Ryuujin:
Stop quoting lucreto. He is a troll, nothing more. Ive got him ignore so I don't have to see his inane posts. Please do us the favor and don't quote trolls!


I know he is, I just wanted to get my kicks lol
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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.
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Quoting Dunkman:


Recon dropsonde in the NE eyewall was 80mph at the surface 30 minutes ago....I'm going to say a downgrade is pretty unlikely.

don't pay any attention to that guy.
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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


Nice graphic. Thanks for the insight. The weakness between the two highs continues to be the spine of Florida.
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7857. Dunkman
Quoting lucreto:
Looks like a decent possibility Irene could be downgraded to a TS with the next advisory she looks very ragged.


Recon dropsonde in the NE eyewall was 80mph at the surface 30 minutes ago....I'm going to say a downgrade is pretty unlikely.
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7855. 7544
nam very close over andros island
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7854. divdog
Quoting BiloxiGirl:
Pretty much breathing a sigh of relief here in Biloxi....It's no too early to do that right?
never too early to breathe
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
At least the deforest mountains of Hispanola appear to be out-of-the-woods.



hey you got me laughing, as terrible as it is hahahaha
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Quoting BahaHurican:
The timing on this trough and how much it impacts the ridge is going to be a nailbiter...

sure is.

what Bahamian Island are you on again?
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Quoting kwgirl:
Yeah, I was doing fine until I turned around and discovered I had gotten considerably older than my self image LOL. I guess that happens to us all. Key West is doing as well as can be expected in these tough financial times. If you haven't visited since 1973, you wouldn't believe the changes! Just remember, it is hard to remove a Conch from the Rock to which it's attached. Even with Wilma flooding the chain of Islands, we dryed ourselves off and kept going. Even when the State calls for mandatory evacuations we stay put. I am still waiting for the plane ticket and hotel reservations compliments of our government. I ain't holding my breath! There will be a lot of people, no matter how strong a hurricane is heading to the Keys, who will not evacuate. And our Island chain is very vulnerable. It could happen that a bridge is taken out and we will be without water, electric and any way to get help except by boat. It has happened before. But like the rest of mankind, we all think it won't happen to us. So all decisions need to be made with the local factors involved. How long to get away, where to go, how to get there, and last but not least how to get back. Life is more important than material things and everyone needs to keep this in mind. Now, I think I will put my soapbox away and get back to work. I will be lurking on and off all day.
Thanks, I lived in Sigsbee park,Of course my dad was in the Navy,I will make it back soon,my kids want to visit and I can show them around,but like you said,it has changed! Talk later,and be safe!
Member Since: June 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1457
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:



Well at the moment the NHC has low confidence in those models but I would imagine that could change as the situation progresses.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3710
Quoting stillwaiting:
is she pumping it yet???expecting a landfall near islmorada,north fl keys


How can you say that?
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7848. Gorty
Looks like the GFDL went slightly east.... no surprise there.
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7847. Patrap
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7846. wxhatt
Quoting wxhatt:

Quoting TampaBayWX:
How is it that many expert weather scientists across many countries, combined years and years of experience, hundreds of powerful computer systems, and access to all the data from hurricane hunters, satellites, buoys, and ship vessels since the 1800's DO NOT know where the hurricane is going....

Yet people sitting online at home on their couch eating cereal in their PJ's KNOW exactly where the hurricane will make land fall?

How does that add up?

I don't understand.


I don't either. When I first got on this blog and was chainsawed by some on my comments of those whom may only have their GED equivilent, I was flabbergasted.
I could at least say I have completed college course in Meteorology with a heavy cirriculum in math and science.

Go figure, LOL.



Quoting Floodman:
Fasten your safety belts; it's going to be a bumpy week...

For thsoe of you saying Irene is going ____, or Irene is going to make landfall at ____ please stop; you have no better idea than anyone, least of all the NHC, so be like the rest of us who have been doing this for a while: be patient and watch how the steering plays out.


Thank you for your wisdom...
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expect hurricane watches for sefl coastline tonight 11pm
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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.
Is that what the MacDrivel numbers say?
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The timing on this trough and how much it impacts the ridge is going to be a nailbiter...
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Quoting Drakoen:
Heading on a true WNW direction. You can see she is dealing with some dry air:

Yep. Very good example.

*Some* of the lagging convection to the south due to PR's presence, but moreso due to dry air, clearly.

Will be interesting to see if the has a long-term issue with the dry air or fights it off enough to start shielding it better.
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is she pumping it yet???expecting a landfall near islmorada,north fl keys
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Pretty much breathing a sigh of relief here in Biloxi....It's no too early to do that right?
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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.


Your face looks ragged, OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

lolol
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Either way you look at it,it appears a major is on the way! NO?
Member Since: June 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1457
7835. ncstorm
Who is nervous right now? I know I am..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14556
7834. ph34683
Quoting PrivateIdaho:
At least the deforest mountains of Hispanola appear to be out-of-the-woods.


Terrible, terrible pun for so early in the day.
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Quoting cloudburst2011:



YOU ARE BEING WISHY WASHY WITH YOUR PREDICTIONS...YOU NEED TO COME CLEAN WITH THE FOLKS IN FLA AND APOLOGIZE FOR THE DUMB STATEMENT YOU MADE SAYING FLA WOULD GET NOTHING FROM THIS....


Oh I'm cringing in my freaking boots because you speak with such authority!


;) LOL
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Interesting. I have a doctor's appointment on Thurday, so I called the office to find out when they were going to reshedule me for. Conversation went like this:

"Hurricane? What hurricane?"

"You know I thought I heard something about that on the news...."

"But these things does divert... one minute."

After a brief consultation...

"We ga be here. Of course if the storm really come, we won't... but we'll call you to reschedule afterwards."

Things that make you go HMMMM....


Yep, those are the average Joe's most people are oblivious to their surroundings, which puts people like us way ahead of the curve
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7829. Gorty
She has dry air in the short term, but dang, shes looking good with it. Beyond that, the atmosphere is not as dry.
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Quoting wxhatt:
Quoting TampaBayWX:
How is it that many expert weather scientists across many countries, combined years and years of experience, hundreds of powerful computer systems, and access to all the data from hurricane hunters, satellites, buoys, and ship vessels since the 1800's DO NOT know where the hurricane is going....

Yet people sitting online at home on their couch eating cereal in their PJ's KNOW exactly where the hurricane will make land fall?

How does that add up?

I don’t understand.


I don't either. When I first got on this blog and was chainsaw by some on my comments of those whom may only have their GED equivilent, I was flabbergasted.
I could at least say I have completed college course in Meteorology with a heavy cirriculum in math and science.

Go figure, LOL.



Nice :-)
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7826. kwgirl
Quoting overwash12:
You are right,they need to find out what pushed/pulled Irene farther north than expected! How are things in Key West,I lived there in 1972 and 3,Wow where has the time gone?
Yeah, I was doing fine until I turned around and discovered I had gotten considerably older than my self image LOL. I guess that happens to us all. Key West is doing as well as can be expected in these tough financial times. If you haven't visited since 1973, you wouldn't believe the changes! Just remember, it is hard to remove a Conch from the Rock to which it's attached. Even with Wilma flooding the chain of Islands, we dryed ourselves off and kept going. Even when the State calls for mandatory evacuations we stay put. I am still waiting for the plane ticket and hotel reservations compliments of our government. I ain't holding my breath! There will be a lot of people, no matter how strong a hurricane is heading to the Keys, who will not evacuate. And our Island chain is very vulnerable. It could happen that a bridge is taken out and we will be without water, electric and any way to get help except by boat. It has happened before. But like the rest of mankind, we all think it won't happen to us. So all decisions need to be made with the local factors involved. How long to get away, where to go, how to get there, and last but not least how to get back. Life is more important than material things and everyone needs to keep this in mind. Now, I think I will put my soapbox away and get back to work. I will be lurking on and off all day.
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Quoting TheF1Man:


Agree with you there, I'm up in CT and who knows if this will be one that rides up the coast. Doesn't take much to do damage up here.
was living in ct for gloria and bob,big trees down everywhere,we lived 10 miles inland and their was salt dried up on our windows!!!,lived in swfl 10 yrs and experiencd far worse tc condition living 15 yrs in ct,odd huh???
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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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