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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6073. Levi32
I feel like I should point out that the GFS shifting a 132-hour forecast by 70 miles is extremely minor, and certainly not a major shift. Don't expect the same exact city to get the hit on every run.
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62 knots/71 MPH SURFACE.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
6071. msphar
Farjardo winds 35 Kts. ENE gusting to 45 Kts.
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6070. tarps3
Hr 150

http://mag.ncep.noaa.gov/GemPakTier/MagGemPakImag es/gfs/00/gfs_wnatl_150_10m_wnd_precip.gif

Hr 156

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Quoting tennisgirl08:
This thing is either going to the carolinas or the gulf....lol. But, seriously, when has GA ever been directly hit by a hurricane?




or



or



or



or

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00z GFS says we won't have much time to breathe after Irene makes landfall as another system is gathering strength in the Eastern Atlantic...
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
levi did the modles shift west
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The last MAJOR HURRICANE hit for Savannah was the Storm of 1893.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Hurricane Dora 1964....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Dora


Well, they're overdue! Lookout GA!
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Quoting will40:




GFS has her stalling between SC and NC





is that a new storm on the GFS?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Does anyone have the water temp map for the GOM/W. Caribbean? How hot are the waters off Eastern Florida?
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6061. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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6060. will40




GFS has her stalling between SC and NC
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Quoting Abacosurf:
is it green?




sure why not lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Quoting tennisgirl08:


Been saying it all day Tampa...the eastern Gomex is not out of the woods yet.




<<<>>>
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Quoting doabarrelroll:

in Gaineville fl just bought a new house... bummer



lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Quoting Tazmanian:




they can stay out all night



and i give them some gas LOL my kind of gas
is it green?
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 532
Quoting tarps3:


Hurricane David in 1979 was the most recent to make landfall on the Georgia coast, south of Savannah.


I recede...yeah..David is the better answer...Dora also made landfall just south of the GA/FL border and not in GA...
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 539 Comments: 3712
6053. tarps3
Hr 138



Hr 144

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Quoting TampaSpin:



Are you throwing out one of the most reliable models........i certainly am not!! When you have 2 very reliable models like the GFDL and the UKMET doing something different and now the GFS just moved a bit more West........i am certainly not discounting those 2 models yet.


Been saying it all day Tampa...the eastern Gomex is not out of the woods yet.
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6000 and more!!!!
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Quoting Tazmanian:




have you evere seen that show on TV on what if a cat 5 hit Miami


Yea. I was 10, and watching the radar of Andrew come ashore.

Been watching canes ever since.
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Quoting sullivanweather:


Plenty of times and by plenty of really big ones too. Just none in recent times which makes this a particularly dangerous situation.
Overdue !
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6048. Levi32
Good evening. I see PR radar is down. That's unfortunate. I also see Irene's pressure continues to fall and is now at 989mb. She is probably awfully close to hurricane strength now.
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Quoting Tygor:


Which is weird because for storms already formed I put the most credence in the UKMET model.


I would put very little confidence in the UKMET for Irene, neither UKMET or the GFDL has been initializing I rene correctly, and it just so happens they are the only major models left of the group to still show the eastern gulf solution, but even they have shifted east from where they were.

That being said, why would you trust an outlying model that can't initialize properly? That sounds like a bad idea honestly. In fact the UKMET solution can be thrown out right now unless we get new data in that suggests a more westerly path may again be the case. The GFS run really didn't shift west either, maybe a tiny bit west, but not significant enough to indicate the start of a new model trend again.
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6046. msphar
Esperanza winds 39 Kts. SSE gusts to 46 Kts.
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
This thing is either going to the carolinas or the gulf....lol. But, seriously, when has GA ever been directly hit by a hurricane?


Hurricane Dora 1964....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Dora
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 539 Comments: 3712
Winds starting to rise as they head into the northeast quadrant.

041030 1854N 06551W 8427 01556 //// 138 //// 086051 054 050 014 01
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6043. tarps3
Quoting tennisgirl08:
This thing is either going to the carolinas or the gulf....lol. But, seriously, when has GA ever been directly hit by a hurricane?


Hurricane David in 1979 was the most recent to make landfall on the Georgia coast, south of Savannah.
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6042. GetReal
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when will the new noodle runs come up
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
This thing is either going to the carolinas or the gulf....lol. But, seriously, when has GA ever been directly hit by a hurricane?


Plenty of times and by plenty of really big ones too. Just none in recent times which makes this a particularly dangerous situation.
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61 knots/70 MPH flight winds.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
6038. Drakoen
Let's see if the rest of the 00z models follow the suite.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Winds rising again... man this plane had been out there for 5 hours now.




they can stay out all night



and i give them some gas LOL my kind of gas
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
6036. emguy
Quoting Drakoen:
The NAM 00z pulled the GFS 00z west. lol


LOL, That was funny. Truth though, the 00Z GFSS will pull numerous other models west, since they initialize off of it.
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This thing is either going to the carolinas or the gulf....lol. But, seriously, when has GA ever been directly hit by a hurricane?
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Well...without being selfish as best I can...doesn't a more westward shift increasingly suggest I am better off in NC...but Florida isn't?
with a shift West, Florida would be better off in N. Carolina also...
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6033. GetReal


Maybe the UKMET will be the better model after all?
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about Savannah
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Winds rising again... man this plane had been out there for 5 hours now.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
6030. msphar
Storm center has moved West beyond Esperanza! Moving to the main island now.
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Quoting Drakoen:
The NAM 00z pulled the GFS 00z west. lol
can we unhook the chain, please
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Makes landfall over Savannah. Let's see if it moves inland or continues to scrape the east coast.

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Quoting Seasidecove:


Based on what factors??? Not saying your wrong, just curious as to what you base this on?



Are you throwing out one of the most reliable models........i certainly am not!! When you have 2 very reliable models like the GFDL and the UKMET doing something different and now the GFS just moved a bit more West........i am certainly not discounting those 2 models yet.
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Quoting SavannahStorm:
LOL- this never happens



I got a friend in savannah, been keeping her updated... good luck to you guys down there
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
You're on the eastern Florida coast too?


25 miles inland directly E of Orlando
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
hate to do this to pr but

RI FLAG (FLAG)


its the witching hour


im so fkn anxious, i live in the south center of the island and a leaf hasnt stirred ALL DAY LONG (and night) jesus.
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6023. tarps3
Hr 132

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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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