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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6273. Dunkman
CMC grazes most of FL and finally goes inland at Savannah at 120h.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Irene is going to be a force to be reckoned with once in the Atlantic. Thoughts and prayers to those in PR tonight as she is starting to let loose.



She's never been out of the Atlantic.
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Quoting Levi32:


Recon on Google Earth shows no landfall, not that it really matters.

I imagine Irene hasn't really intensified during the last 2 hours. Convection is looking lackluster again. Puerto Rico will be a bump in the road, and then some additional strengthening may be possible before interaction with Hispaniola.



Not really landfall but too close to the coastline to send down a dropsonde. Yes I think she has peaked and I believe she is a minimal 75mph hurricane. She is trying to wobble around the coastline though like we have seen with other organizing storms hugging the water rather than moving inland.
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One thing to remember about the maps we are posting about the HWRF is that they are the 500mb heights/mslp...not at the surface.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
6269. Relix
Finally! Tropical Storm conditions over where I live in Levittown, about 10 miles west from San Juan.
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Um... 922 mb at 114 hr? Charleston in big trouble.
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6267. Drakoen
The HWRF 00z think that Irene is inland over PR already:

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6266. Levi32
Quoting lat25five:
Levi,


What impact if any does the shallow water depth of the Bahama Banks have to a tropical system?


The depth of the 26C isotherm is actually very substantial in the Bahamas.

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108 hours

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
crap... stronger run. 924 with lot of warm water to go. 102 hr:

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Irene is going to be a force to be reckoned with once in the Atlantic. Thoughts and prayers to those in PR tonight as she is starting to let loose.

Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5043
6262. Levi32
Quoting atmosweather:


No dropsonde released with this one which means the pressure could be slightly lower and also means we have landfall.


Recon on Google Earth shows no landfall, not that it really matters.

I imagine Irene hasn't really intensified during the last 2 hours. Convection is looking lackluster again. Puerto Rico will be a bump in the road, and then some additional strengthening may be possible before interaction with Hispaniola.

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Levi,


What impact if any does the shallow water depth of the Bahama Banks have to a tropical system?
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6260. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
09L/H/I/C1
MARK
18.01n/66.01w

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Quoting nola70119:


Obviously you are kind of clueless about floods in Louisiana....OK, thanks.



Obviously

I guess you could show me the last time someplace in Louisiana received 10 + inches of rain in 10 hours and had 40 + mph winds for 10 + hours ?

my guess would be that would be part of a tropical system.

The flooding in Louisiana this year had little to do with rain in Louisiana. It was rain in Il KY Mo that pushed the Mississippi up. And yes slow moving super cells can dump rain like that but it is usually very localized.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
102...a little farther west than 18z.

and looking like a strong cat 4 based on that pressure...
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Quoting msphar:
big drop in Fajardo winds.

32 Kts. E gusting to 34 Kts.

Inland probably around Humacao


Yes, it is right over Humacao right now. Calm for a while now. Stepped outside for a look.... Irene decided to do some redecorating, she seems to want the forest IN the pool along with some patio furniture I figured was too heavy to be an issue.
Guess Irene just didn't like it.
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Dunno if anyone is interested, but I did a blog on Harvey and Irene.

Unfortunately, I will not be sticking around. Really tired. Long day.

Good night. All you Puerto Ricans, stay safe.
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6255. msphar
Yabacoa never had much wind at all.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
102...a little farther west than 18z.





eeeek
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102...a little farther west than 18z.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
6252. msphar
Fajardo 22 kts. my mistake
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I would either remains at 70 mph or updates it at 75 mph.
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Quoting Levi32:
The 0z CMC, however, has a big flaw. The center is way too far south in 24 hours from now.



....and it has the whole world crooked.....:^)
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Quoting Levi32:
78kt flight-level winds - 991mb pressure:

000
URNT15 KNHC 220509
AF302 0309A IRENE HDOB 43 20110822
045900 1820N 06523W 8436 01507 0032 164 //// 140053 055 044 009 01
045930 1819N 06524W 8426 01513 //// 153 //// 141056 059 040 008 01
050000 1818N 06526W 8435 01501 0026 162 //// 141060 061 041 005 01
050030 1817N 06527W 8430 01499 //// 155 //// 136057 059 043 014 01
050100 1816N 06528W 8429 01494 //// 145 //// 131060 063 047 010 01
050130 1815N 06530W 8436 01478 0007 152 //// 131067 070 046 007 01
050200 1814N 06531W 8433 01468 9994 159 //// 129074 077 056 005 01
050230 1813N 06532W 8427 01464 9985 157 //// 131072 078 055 010 01
050300 1812N 06534W 8439 01442 9962 168 //// 132055 057 058 001 01
050330 1811N 06535W 8432 01440 9939 186 //// 132047 049 054 001 01
050400 1810N 06536W 8436 01427 9929 187 //// 131041 044 045 002 01
050430 1809N 06537W 8436 01417 9918 189 //// 128034 038 033 003 01
050500 1808N 06538W 8432 01417 9914 186 //// 126024 029 029 002 05
050530 1806N 06539W 8437 01413 9908 197 176 139014 016 016 001 03
050600 1805N 06540W 8436 01415 9913 194 182 168004 007 014 001 03
050630 1804N 06541W 8432 01424 9919 193 179 240006 008 016 001 00
050700 1803N 06542W 8433 01431 9932 185 //// 261015 020 016 003 05
050730 1801N 06542W 8433 01440 9937 190 173 249026 028 041 004 03
050800 1801N 06540W 8436 01434 9942 183 //// 239033 034 045 002 01
050830 1800N 06538W 8432 01447 9954 175 //// 230038 040 050 002 01


No dropsonde released with this one which means the pressure could be slightly lower and also means we have landfall.
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However, it still only 55 kts at surface...
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HWRF seems to me about the same track so far...doom prediction as well.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
6246. msphar
big drop in Fajardo winds.

22 Kts. E gusting to 34 Kts.

Inland probably around Humacao

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6245. jonelu
Quoting Jaxen:
I'm just east of Orlando and have an infant. When the track comes clearer later in the week and if it looks like an East coast scraper, thinking of heading to the in-law's in Naples on Thursday night if my Friday work gets canceled. Think travel down I-4 to 75 will be okay at that point?
That would depend on how strong and how close she is to the coast and whether evacuations have been issued. Its wait and see...I know.... its frustrating.
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The eye feature seems to be going onshore.
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6243. 7544
irene looks like a 80 mph hurricane at this hour getting stronger
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Flight Level Wind (30 sec. Avg.)

From 129° at 74 knots
(From the SE at ~ 85.1 mph)



Peak (10 sec. Avg.)
Flight Level Wind


78 knots
(~ 89.7 mph)
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Quoting Levi32:
The 0z CMC, however, has a big flaw. The center is way too far south in 24 hours from now.




FLAW????
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6240. Levi32
78kt flight-level winds - 991mb pressure:

000
URNT15 KNHC 220509
AF302 0309A IRENE HDOB 43 20110822
045900 1820N 06523W 8436 01507 0032 164 //// 140053 055 044 009 01
045930 1819N 06524W 8426 01513 //// 153 //// 141056 059 040 008 01
050000 1818N 06526W 8435 01501 0026 162 //// 141060 061 041 005 01
050030 1817N 06527W 8430 01499 //// 155 //// 136057 059 043 014 01
050100 1816N 06528W 8429 01494 //// 145 //// 131060 063 047 010 01
050130 1815N 06530W 8436 01478 0007 152 //// 131067 070 046 007 01
050200 1814N 06531W 8433 01468 9994 159 //// 129074 077 056 005 01
050230 1813N 06532W 8427 01464 9985 157 //// 131072 078 055 010 01
050300 1812N 06534W 8439 01442 9962 168 //// 132055 057 058 001 01
050330 1811N 06535W 8432 01440 9939 186 //// 132047 049 054 001 01
050400 1810N 06536W 8436 01427 9929 187 //// 131041 044 045 002 01
050430 1809N 06537W 8436 01417 9918 189 //// 128034 038 033 003 01
050500 1808N 06538W 8432 01417 9914 186 //// 126024 029 029 002 05
050530 1806N 06539W 8437 01413 9908 197 176 139014 016 016 001 03
050600 1805N 06540W 8436 01415 9913 194 182 168004 007 014 001 03
050630 1804N 06541W 8432 01424 9919 193 179 240006 008 016 001 00
050700 1803N 06542W 8433 01431 9932 185 //// 261015 020 016 003 05
050730 1801N 06542W 8433 01440 9937 190 173 249026 028 041 004 03
050800 1801N 06540W 8436 01434 9942 183 //// 239033 034 045 002 01
050830 1800N 06538W 8432 01447 9954 175 //// 230038 040 050 002 01
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75 kt flight level winds...should be upgraded this time.
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78 KNOTS FLIGHT LEVEL?!?!
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6237. Relix
Finally! Getting some real action!
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6236. Drakoen
Irene about to make landfall. NHC should declare it soon.
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The wind is yelling Loud....

My wood terraza is holding on....

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Quoting FrankZapper:
Thanks



at the end of the blog


and your welcome
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sarcasm levi.

All day people have been saying it was going due west and south of PR.


those folks have been completely wrong and need to read more and post less.


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Quoting Jaxen:
I'm just east of Orlando and have an infant. When the track comes clearer later in the week and if it looks like an East coast scraper, thinking of heading to the in-law's in Naples on Thursday night if my Friday work gets canceled. Think travel down I-4 to 75 will be okay at that point?


I live in Naples and as long as I'm in the cone I'm going to brace for whatever the NHC is predicting. Models should be clearer as it gets closer....

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Quoting Tazmanian:



look in dr m blog
Thanks
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Quoting nola70119:


Obviously you are kind of clueless about floods in Louisiana....OK, thanks.


Seems to me you're pretty clueless about what's going on in Puerto Rico.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
Quoting nola70119:


Obviously you are kind of clueless about floods in Louisiana....OK, thanks.
ahh, no, you are, as have all of your posts
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TLink Showing a tight COC, looks like and eye feature as it makes land fall near Fajardo and Humacoa, PR
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Quoting Barkeep1967:



Really you have 10 hour long thunderstorms with torrential tropical rain all the time in Louisiana ?


Obviously you are kind of clueless about floods in Louisiana....OK, thanks.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Center still stuck east of PR. Which way will it go??

north wobble due north imo
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Winds getting stronger as plane goes toward the center.
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6224. JLPR2
Vary close to sustained TS winds.

39.0 mph from NNE Wind Gust 45.0 mph
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Lol...Yellows in a tropical system are much different than yellows in a normal summertime thunderstorm. Radar doesn't pick up the rain rates of tropical systems as well.
,maybe because itscfalling horizontally ??
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.