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 Drakoen:
The HWRF 00z think that Irene is inland over PR already:

It is believe me, i'm feeling her,not a pretty girl at all...
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6322. emguy
GFS did well with initialization at 00Z
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WTNT64 KNHC 220530
TCUAT4

TROPICAL STORM IRENE TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
130 AM AST MON AUG 22 2011

AT APPROXIMATELY 125 AM AST...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL
STORM IRENE MAY LANDFALL ALONG THE EAST COAST OF
PUERTO RICO NEAR PUNTA SANTIAGO.
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Quoting Seasidecove:


ok thanks, btw I didn't mean to rile you up, I'm just trying to understand the forecast tracks. I mean with the NHC and other computer guidance showing or forecasting an run up the Fl east coast, I was just wondering why you think that Irene would track into the gulf as suggested by the UKMET & GFDL models.




The GFDL starts Irene off at 1004 mb with 35kt winds a much weaker system that's not vertically stacked so it takes it further west. The 00z CMC also initializes the storm too far to the south and its run is also further west. The chance of it going into the gulf is very very low. This is a east coast storm all the way.
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This storm is most likely to be a record breaker.

Weather it hits Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach or Charleston.

I Could very much end up being wrong, but this is looking like an epic storm.

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Quoting TampaFLUSA:

That pressure is not at the surface.


Yes it is.
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6317. 7544
Quoting Levi32:


At the 850mb flight level they generally take 80% of the flight-level wind to estimate the surface wind. Here that is 62.4kts. Hurricane intensity is 64kts. They could call it either way, but with a slightly higher pressure, they may keep it a tropical storm, barring any hurricane-force reports out of Puerto Rico.


thanks im still learning
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:

That pressure is not at the surface.
oh. Well, how strong is it suggusting?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
Quoting MississippiWx:
Irene is choosing to go the northern route. Doesn't look like she'll stay over PR for very long.



not surprised, these things love to stay over water as much as conditions possibly allow.
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6314. JRRP
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6313. Levi32
Quoting 7544:
MAX FL WIND 78 KT NE QUAD 05:02:30Z

isnt that a hurricane nowwwwwwwww


At the 850mb flight level they generally take 80% of the flight-level wind to estimate the surface wind. Here that is 62.4kts. Hurricane intensity is 64kts. They could call it either way, but with a slightly higher pressure, they may keep it a tropical storm, barring any hurricane-force reports out of Puerto Rico.
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Difference between 18z and 00z HWRF

18z



00z

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
For Florida, Thanks Levi
Quoting swflurker:
So Levi, Got home ok I see. My posts were reset like many others. I used to be one of those moron's that thought I saw something new? But learned to sit back and wait it out. But when a radar image is posted, best for tracking, I'll skip my thought on that, what solution do you think may be most likely? thanks, bkh
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Um... 922 mb at 114 hr? Charleston in big trouble.

That pressure is not at the surface.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Irene is choosing to go the northern route. Doesn't look like she'll stay over PR for very long.



Could pass directly over the radar site.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Night Taz. I'm out as well...gotta wake up in a few hours.





have a good night 09
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6307. 7544
MAX FL WIND 78 KT NE QUAD 05:02:30Z

isnt that a hurricane nowwwwwwwww
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Irene is choosing to go the northern route. Doesn't look like she'll stay over PR for very long.





that wont be good more time overe water and more time too get stronger


right ?
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6305. jonelu
Quoting ChrisDcat5Storm:



does this make sense, the reason why the models may be further east is due to the fact thay the are underestimating the weakening of the storm over land thus, they r predicting a stronger more poleward storm after hispaniola
Thats exactly what I was thinking...
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6304. luigi18
Quoting benirica:
One of the memories that has stuck with my related to tropical systems was the second we got the eastern eyewall of Georges in 1998.
The complete calm, dead calm... the least anyone could ever imagine is the vengeance these storms have waiting for you on the other side of that eye.

So tonight.... and with every storm since then... awaiting the infamous "virazón".

Como esta palmas?
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Quoting Relix:
NHC should have a special advisory and declare it a Hurricane over PR.


What good would it do at this point?
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:


She's never been out of the Atlantic.



Well, currently Irene is in the NE Caribbean Sea. Once Irene goes N of the islands she'll be in the Western Atlantic.....To be specific :-/
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
VDM indicates that Irene is probably a hurricane.
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6300. Levi32
Quoting ChrisDcat5Storm:



does this make sense, the reason why the models may be further east is due to the fact thay the are underestimating the weakening of the storm over land thus, they r predicting a stronger more poleward storm after hispaniola


I don't really think so. The global models don't really strengthen the storm during its dance with northern Hispaniola, and thus aren't really unrealistic.
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924 mb at end of run.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
Quoting Tazmanian:
you boys have a good night am off has well


well see where the storm is at 4am when i wake up
Night Taz. I'm out as well...gotta wake up in a few hours.
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Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 22nd day of the month at 05:20Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 302)
Storm Number & Year: 09L in 2011
Storm Name: Irene (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 3
Observation Number: 14
A. Time of Center Fix: 22nd day of the month at 5:06:10Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 18°05'N 65°40'W (18.0833N 65.6667W)
B. Center Fix Location: 34 miles (55 km) to the SE (131°) from San Juan, Puerto Rico (USA).
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,352m (4,436ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 55kts (~ 63.3mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 11 nautical miles (13 statute miles) to the NE (43°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 130° at 78kts (From the SE at ~ 89.8mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 11 nautical miles (13 statute miles) to the NE (43°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 991mb (29.26 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 16°C (61°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,522m (4,993ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 20°C (68°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,516m (4,974ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 17°C (63°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 1 nautical mile
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 78kts (~ 89.8mph) in the northeast quadrant at 5:02:30Z
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Very large shift West with the CMC....Heck of a lot more then 50miles.
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Irene is choosing to go the northern route. Doesn't look like she'll stay over PR for very long.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
I guess the center relocated?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
After landfall, Irene may weaken; Last 3 storms in PR history say so...

Hurricane Hugo passed over Puerto Rico as a strong category 3 hurricane. Further weakening occurred several hours after re-emerging into the Atlantic, becoming downgraded to a category 2 hurricane

Georges strengthened a bit before making landfall near Fajardo, Puerto Rico as a 115 mph (175 km/h) Category 3 hurricane later that day. Over the mountainous terrain of the island, the hurricane weakened again, but over the Mona Passage it again re-intensified to hit eastern Dominican Republic with winds of 120 mph (195 km/h) on September 22".

Jeanne passed south of the U.S. Virgin Islands on September 15,[3] making landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico later the same day.[4] After crossing Puerto Rico, Jeanne reached hurricane strength on September 16 near the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola,[5] but fell back to tropical storm strength later that day as it moved across the mountainous island.
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6292. Relix
NHC should have a special advisory and declare it a Hurricane over PR.
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923 mb at 120 hr. Going toward just north of GA/SC border.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
you boys have a good night am off has well


well see where the storm is at 4am when i wake up
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6289. msphar
Esperanza has been hammered this past hour. I hope any boats there have held.
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Oops they did send down a sonde after all.

Vortex comes in with 991mb and 1352m at 850 mb. She is done strengthening for now.
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6287. Levi32
Quoting swflurker:
So Levi, Got home ok I see. My posts were reset like many others. I used to be one of those moron's that thought I saw something new? But learned to sit back and wait it out. But when a radar image is posted, best for tracking, I'll skip my thought on that, what solution do you think may be most likely? thanks, bkh


What solution are you asking about? Something to do with Puerto Rico?
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Quoting Levi32:
I'm seeing a lot of initialization issues with the 0z model suite tonight.



does this make sense, the reason why the models may be further east is due to the fact thay the are underestimating the weakening of the storm over land thus, they r predicting a stronger more poleward storm after hispaniola
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6285. msphar
Fajardo 28 Kts. E gusting to 40 Kts.
Esperanza 42 Kts. S gusting to 58 Kts.
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6284. Drakoen
The HWRF was initialized correctly, but it is too fast with Irene. The image I posted was of the 6hr.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
102...a little farther west than 18z.



Move that over a little bit more to the west and we'd have a Cat. 4 hitting South Florida with in 100 hours. Incredible how warm those waters are and how quick irene could really intensify. Watch out FL! (including myself)
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um... new center location is NW of past location... folks, this is bad for East Coast, but it's still early.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
irenes going over hispanoila next,expect the westward shifts in thevtrackbover the next 24hrs as landinteraction weakens her and she continue just north of west imo
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Reminder folks, models do change.

BTW, I also did a blog on Irene, if anyone's interested.
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000
WTNT64 KNHC 220519
TCUAT4

TROPICAL STORM IRENE TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
110 AM AST MON AUG 22 2011

CORRECTED DAY AND TIME

AT 1236 AM AST...A SUSTAINED WIND OF 52 MPH...85 KM/H...
WITH A GUST TO 71 MPH...115 KM/H WAS REPORTED ON VIEQUES..

$$
FORECASTER STEWART
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Quoting Levi32:
I'm seeing a lot of initialization issues with the 0z model suite tonight.


Particularly the CMC and GFS.
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One of the memories that has stuck with my related to tropical systems was the second we got the eastern eyewall of Georges in 1998.
The complete calm, dead calm... the least anyone could ever imagine is the vengeance these storms have waiting for you on the other side of that eye.

So tonight.... and with every storm since then... awaiting the infamous "virazón".
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
So Levi, Got home ok I see. My posts were reset like many others. I used to be one of those moron's that thought I saw something new? But learned to sit back and wait it out. But when a radar image is posted, best for tracking, I'll skip my thought on that, what solution do you think may be most likely? thanks, bkh
Quoting Levi32:


It's already north of the PR southern coast...

This is a direct hit.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
108 hours



Horrendous. But unlikely to be that strong even if it missed Hispanola and Cuba completely.
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6274. Levi32
I'm seeing a lot of initialization issues with the 0z model suite tonight.
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6273. Dunkman
CMC grazes most of FL and finally goes inland at Savannah at 120h.
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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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