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.

Links
Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico

Jeff Masters

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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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Quoting Levi32:
The 0z CMC, however, has a big flaw. The center is way too far south in 24 hours from now.





so is the 0Z gfs... too far south right away
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Landfall!! US just have been hit. Between Ceiba and Yabucoa Also GFS joine the west cam as well Hope this is not a trend.
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6220. JLPR2
Getting stronger winds now, mostly in gusts.
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Quoting Relix:
Local Meteorology Office informing that Irene made landfall between Fajardo and Yabucoa.


that's the whole east of puerto rico :)
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Quoting benirica:
My bad, yes Humacao, Puerto Rico. Smack in the middle of the east coast of Puerto Rico.
In the eye right now for sure. Complete calm. Just the sound of the accumulated water going down the gutters off the roof, the coquis (tree frogs) singing, and the smell of broken branches.
Worst yet to come? What reports has the eastern eyewall left on other islands (Vieques/St. Croix)?
I think your assumption is correct. Stronger on the eastern side.

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Quoting Jedkins01:
Well I'm gonna hit the sack, College is starting and I have day one of Calc 2 and chem with qualitative analysis to hit within 24 hours, so I don't wanna be losing sleep over Irene :)
Hey Good luck with Calc. 2 & Chem! I'm taking Calc. 1 & Physics w/ Lab tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to it :) Goodnight everyone!
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Quoting FrankZapper:
Anybody got a PR Radar link? Thanks



look in dr m blog
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114649
6215. Levi32
The 0z CMC, however, has a big flaw. The center is way too far south in 24 hours from now.

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My bad, yes Humacao, Puerto Rico. Smack in the middle of the east coast of Puerto Rico.
In the eye right now for sure. Complete calm. Just the sound of the accumulated water going down the gutters off the roof, the coquis (tree frogs) singing, and the smell of broken branches.
Worst yet to come? What reports has the eastern eyewall left on other islands (Vieques/St. Croix)?
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6213. 7544
this is getting interesting dont go to bed yet 1 hour to damx
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Quoting CypressJim08:


Completely normal around here...I have learned to listen to a few, and be entertained by the rest.


Tell me about it. It's almost like the models are reading the blog. They (models) keep reading the different wishes of some, then it confuses them (models) as to what they should do LOL. It's almost like some people here think that the storm actually follows the models. I don't like to see the term "model guidance" the models don't "guide" the storm.
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Anybody got a PR Radar link? Thanks
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TROPICAL STORM IRENE INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 6A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
100 AM AST MON AUG 22 2011

...IRENE BEARING DOWN ON EASTERN PUERTO RICO...


SUMMARY OF 100 AM AST...0500 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...18.0N 65.7W
ABOUT 35 MI...55 KM SE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
ABOUT 65 MI...105 KM WNW OF ST. CROIX
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...70 MPH...110 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 15 MPH...24 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...989 MB...29.20 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY...

NONE.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Center still stuck east of PR. Which way will it go??

looks like she wants to "walk" around the coast of PR, on the North side
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00z NOGAPS very similar to the GFS, scraping the Florida coast. 96 hours:

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Doesn't Irene have plenty of time to grow between now and a possible graze or hit in Florida? Why do most have it barely a hurricane?
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Quoting Dunkman:


Just keep in mind that the GFS has a reduction in resolution this year compared to last, and it's done a really poor job so far this year, especially compared to last year when it was just as good as the Euro.
Why did they do that?
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6205. msphar
Fajardo winds 32 Kts. ENE gusting to 40 Kts.
Esperanza winds 46 Kts. SSE gusting to 55 Kts.
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6204. 7544
cmc joins the west camp hwrf and eruo is next
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6203. Levi32
Quoting uncljbnd:
sure looks like it is going to go south of PR.


Great job to those who insisted all day it would because it was heading due west.


Many of you need to learn to read more and post less.



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

This is a direct hit.
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Center still stuck east of PR. Which way will it go??

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
6201. Relix
Local Meteorology Office informing that Irene made landfall between Fajardo and Yabucoa.
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Levi what do you think about suriving Hispaniola?
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Quoting Drakoen:
Just east of PR now. Northern eyewall conditions going into Fajardo and Carolina.



Still looking like the average movement for the afternoon/evening is still WNW. (that loop looks NW but prabably a wobble).
Member Since: August 29, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5236
Well I'm gonna hit the sack, College is starting and I have day one of Calc 2 and chem with qualitative analysis to hit within 24 hours, so I don't wanna be losing sleep over Irene :)
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Quoting msphar:
Fajardo winds 31 Kts. ENE gusting to 41 Kts.
Esperanza winds 44 Kts. SSE gusting to 62 Kts.




do you most keep doing that?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114649
6196. Drakoen
500mb graphics on that new 00z GGEM looks similar to the GFS and NAM. Trough pulling out faster and ridging ensuing.
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Im thinking ... Coc reform east of pr..
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hh found that shes moving west guys
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Quoting nola70119:


I see thunderstorms worse that that here in NOLA every other month....that radar has almost all yellow in there, not even much red.



Really you have 10 hour long thunderstorms with torrential tropical rain all the time in Louisiana ?
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sure looks like it is going to go south of PR.


Great job to those who insisted all day it would because it was heading due west.


Many of you need to learn to read more and post less.

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Well...I am out...heading to bed...I am thinking Irene will be leaving from N coast of PR, moving WNW and poised to go parallel to N coast of the DR....that is when I check back in the morn'

Good night all...
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 426 Comments: 3580
6190. Levi32
Recon may be going in for one more shot at the center before returning to base.
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Irene has been moving basically west for a while now.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
6188. 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?
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6187. msphar
Fajardo winds 31 Kts. ENE gusting to 41 Kts.
Esperanza winds 44 Kts. SSE gusting to 62 Kts.
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6186. Dunkman
Quoting TampaSpin:
You all know why the GFS stalls the system on shore of South Carolina.......its HIGH Pressure building back in over head.......if the GFS is a little fast......it pushes Irene back on to Florida.....the next run of the GFS will be very interesting.


Just keep in mind that the GFS has a reduction in resolution this year compared to last, and it's done a really poor job so far this year, especially compared to last year when it was just as good as the Euro.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
00z CMC into south Florida, 84 hours:

that is a major shift from what it had been showing
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6184. Drakoen
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
00z CMC into south Florida, 84 hours:



Shifted west.
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044530 1847N 06449W 8432 01555 //// 139 //// 113040 045 071 036 01

Most likely rain contaminated.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
Quoting Levi32:
It will be interesting to see whether Irene tracks a little north of the NHC forecast points and emerges along the northern coast of Puerto Rico instead of the west coast. It's conceivable that frictional effects could cause her to "roll" around the northeast corner of the island somewhat. We will see. Wobbles are occurring often within the overall motion right now.



El Yunque would disrupt her significantl;y if that happens.
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Quoting benirica:
Hello from Humacao again.
Power is back on! Wooho!!
Still impressive winds and powerful gusts here until recently. Keep in mind my house is on the side of a mountain facing the ocean, so we get the wind uninterrupted and probably a lot stronger than other spots nearby.
Once in a while a strong gust right now but much less rain... I'm guessing we are getting at the eye.
From what I see is going on at Vieques from msphar (which during the day I can literally see from my balcony), the worst is yet to come.



Glad you got power back. Is it that in PR...do they have power crews working out during Irene or something? LOL

...when I got hit by Fran in 1996...the power crews took way longer to get us power back...
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 426 Comments: 3580
00z CMC into south Florida, 84 hours (a tropical storm however, nowhere as intense as the GFS or Euro):

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Quoting benirica:
Hello from Humacao again.
Power is back on! Wooho!!
Still impressive winds and powerful gusts here until recently. Keep in mind my house is on the side of a mountain facing the ocean, so we get the wind uninterrupted and probably a lot stronger than other spots nearby.
Once in a while a strong gust right now but much less rain... I'm guessing we are getting at the eye.
From what I see is going on at Vieques from msphar (which during the day I can literally see from my balcony), the worst is yet to come.


keep us posted. i *think* i feel a breeze in ponce. and hear some rain. finally
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Hmm, Irene's progress has just slowed dramatically, this could mean something significant if this trend continues.
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6177. Levi32
It will be interesting to see whether Irene tracks a little north of the NHC forecast points and emerges along the northern coast of Puerto Rico instead of the west coast. It's conceivable that frictional effects could cause her to "roll" around the northeast corner of the island somewhat. We will see. Wobbles are occurring often within the overall WNW motion right now.

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6176. 7544
the hwrf going west too ?
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Quoting Jedkins01:


Its certainly not out of the woods but its looking less and less likely at least for now. However, there is still time for that to change. The gulf stream IV I think will be flying out tomorrow which helps to improve model forecasting quite a bit. If the gulf stream IV is going out tomorrow, then the subsequent model runs to follow will likely be the start of Irene final path of movement. The models could shift back west again, or even further east is possible too.

Apparently I'm the only dude living in Tampa Bay that doesn't think every tropical cyclone that "could" threaten Central Florida will be a major threat. Really guys, Tampa Bay hasn't been hit in something like 80 years, that comes out to a low probability, so don't be surprised when another one comes and goes without striking.


However with all that said, people in Tampa Bay should ALWAYS be prepared and never blow off storms just because the chances are low. But people in Tampa Bay have no reason to lose sleep over this right now, that is for sure though.
No, you are not the only dude who lives in the Tampa Bay area and who does notthink that every storm that could threaten will threaten, will become a Cat4 or Cat5 and devastate the region.

I live in the Tampa Bay area and have a long enough memory, combined with enough knowledge on the subject, to know that only a fraction of those tropical cyclones which look like a possible threat five days out will in fact become a very real threat.

The Tampa Bay area is not a likely location for a direct hit by a major hurricane in late August or early September, even though it can certainly happen then. It is just unlikely to happen because of climatology and typical atmospheric dynamics this time of year.

A storm passing off our coast between say 75 and 150 miles offshore and moving in a NW or NNW direction is much more likely to happen this time of year. A storm skirting directly along the coast as it is recurving N and then NNE is also possible, though less likely. But a direct impact from a Cape Verde storm would require some gymnastic movements that are simply not very plausible. Possible, yes but probable, no.

Then again, wish-casting will never go out of fashion, so there you go. Also, the excitement of potential danger is another factor in the human condition which does not necessarily correlate with meteorological science, but is relatively common. ;-)
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Quoting Jedkins01:


Don't be fooled by the colors, many of those bands you see are far worse than NOLA thunderstorms :)


It has to due with the fact that convective processes are different in tropical convection, causing the radar beams to think its weaker than it is, and often times convection with lots of ice cores looks worse than it is too.

I had a great article from NOAA explaining all that a while ago, I wish I remember where i found it, cause I don't fee like explaining all the details right now, especially at this time of night.


So far there are no reports to confirm anything more than a marginal tropical storm....considering the possibilities, PR is getting off pretty well.
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F5...F5...F5...Comming to the GOMEX I read...I LOL...Yawn...Time to go to bed an pray a bit for those folks in South Carolina. It's comming your way sorry guys.
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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.