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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7822. kaiden
Quoting P451:





Yup. Due West. 270.



If you sit on the sofa with your Right leg crossed over your left it will put a tilt in the lap top to make the map you did on #7713 look due West.
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At least the deforest mountains of Hispanola appear to be out-of-the-woods.
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Any damage reports from PR???
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7819. 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.

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7818. 7544
nam has her further west this run the ridge is stronger
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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....


They say bahamian doctors get a trill out of performing heart surgery during a Cat 5, gets the blood really pumping. "They" being no one of course.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3710
Quoting PrivateIdaho:


Lot of power out...sunlinepr reported dozens of bruised avocados.


LOL!! There goes the guac!
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7815. Gorty
She might just skirt the northern coast of Hispanola. She is going wnw with some jogs to the nw.
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7814. NCSaint
Quoting CothranRoss:
So as a Wilmingtonian, would it be wise to start really warning about a possible threat here or is it too early?


I live in Jacksonville and NO, it is absolutely NOT too ealry to start getting prepared. Even at a week out and the possibility it may do something surprising, you have to be ready for the worst-case. Look at it this way, even if this one misses us, we haven't even gotten into the season peak yet.

At any rate, with potential impact anywhere from NE Florida to OBX, we will almost certainly get SOME effect from the storm, so you may as well get things ready.

JMO
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7775. atmoaggie

Any other inhibitors?


Latest SHIPS has a warming upper level
200 MB T (C) -52.5 -52.1 -52.2 -52.2 -52.0 -51.2 -51.1 -50.6 -50.5 -49.6 -49.1 -47.8 -47.4


That would be what the 06Z GFS indicates
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7812. Patrap
Latest Frame from 14:23

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Quoting tropicfreak:
Morning guys, so any damage reports from PR??


Lot of power out...sunlinepr reported dozens of bruised avocados.
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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.


Great advice Floodman but you know as well as I do there are those that just like to throw stuff out there to start an argument! I used to get suckered in but now I just sit back and watch. This storm will probably go somewhere between South Florida and North Carolina and right now nobody can say for certain exactly where that will be!
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Alright 8k posts are enough, a new blog is needed about now.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3710
7807. Drakoen
The 500mb height reading over Bermuda has only dropped 1 decameter since the 00z reading 12 hours ago:

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7806. divdog
Quoting Patrap:
hope u choke on that dry air Irene.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 755
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.
What are u trying to say? LOL
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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.


Well said. I live in S. FL... and until NHC says I'm in the clear, I function as though I'm not.

Signs are encouraging that it will not be a catastrophic event here, but all anyone can really do is watch and wait.
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Interesting. I have a doctor's appointment on Thurday, so I called the office to find out when they were going to reschedule 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....
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No new blog?
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7801. Patrap
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7800. 7544
ridge is stronger on the nam dips her sw into cent cuba then waiting lol
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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:

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7797. NCCANE
for those with questions about the weakening of the High Pressure, here is an excerpt from the 5am NHC update.

TRENDING THROUGH ALL OF THE WOBBLES IN THE TRACK OVER THE PAST 6
HOURS YIELDS AN AVERAGE MOTION OF ABOUT 290/10 KT. UPPER-AIR DATA
AT 00Z INDICATE 500 MB HEIGHTS HAVE NOT CHANGED AT BERMUDA IN THE
PAST 24 HOURS...WHICH SUGGESTS THAT THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE TO THE
NORTH OF IRENE REMAINS QUITE STRONG. THE RIDGE IS EXPECTED TO
CHANGE LITTLE FOR THE NEXT 48 HOURS OR SO...
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7796. Gorty
Quoting atmoaggie:
Yep. Just seems that Pittsburg would of the least useful among those, but what do I know?

Emanuel's CHIPS intensity models:

All but one ensemble member keep Irene below cat 2 for the indefinite future. Only one member resembles HWRF-type intensity. While HWRF has it's tendency to Hyper-cane, what does everyone seem that could keep Irene from significantly intensifying?



High SST / OHC: check
No stalling: Check.
Low shear: Check.
Minimal issues with dry air: Umm, not-check, maybe.



If she cannot shield the mid-level dry air by having a solid core, she may never strengthen beyond cat 1.

Any other inhibitors?


The Mets must know something we dont... none of them are saying anything about dry air.
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7794. Drakoen
Heading on a true WNW direction. You can see she is dealing with some dry air:

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A Watch should be posted for the Florida East coast b ut with Avila on duty that storm will have to be on his doorstep. He is ultra conservative IMO...too much so
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7792. Patrap
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7791. DVG
USAFwguy.....Watch Levi's video. For days if not weeks, he's pointed out these troughs come and leave very quickly. What you see right now will not be what we see in three days.

The question is how fast and how strong does the ridge move west and block the storm. The NHC is the ultimate authority in this matter. When I first came to this blog I always allowed them to be questioned and discounted. No more. They are flat out the best.

It's ok to try and understand what's going on. Sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous. Read the synopsis from the NHC. Levi and they are on the same page, more or less. ,Levi's tidbits are easy to understand and informative. He makes sense out of what we see.

I was in Ft Lauderdale as Katrina was bearing down. It veered south. Charley veered east. Jeanne did a loop de loop. Floyd veered right just enough for Fl.

Dora turned left.

By wed there will be a general consensus of the track, but even then a 50 mile change is going to make one heck of a difference. It'll be hours away to make a prediction that precise, and even then things may not go as thought.
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7790. divdog
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....
turn off the caps would ya. nobody likes being yelled at
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 755
Quoting TerraNova:
Morning!

For those of you wondering what happened to the San Juan radar:

FTMJUA
MESSAGE DATE: AUG 22 2011 03:26:00
THE FAA SAN JUAN WSR-88D DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR (TJUA) HAS GONE
DOWN...MOSTLY LIKELY DUE TO A LOSS OF POWER AT THE CAYEY RADAR
SITE...AS RAIN BANDS ASSOCIATED WITH TROPICAL STORM IRENE MOVED
ACROSS THAT AREA. WE ARE UNABLE TO RESTART THE RADAR AT THIS TIME
AND FAA AOCC HAS BEEN NOTIFIED. RESTORATION TIME IS UNKNOWN.
They don't have an electric plant? Wow,only in P.R. all the radars in the lesser antilles worked through out the storm perfectly...
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7787. Patrap

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Morning guys, so any damage reports from PR??
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Quoting P451:





Yup. Due West. 270.



Good one P!
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is it just me or is Irene making another jog to the WEST.... She just needs to crank up and move out to sea :)... but then again where's the excitment in that?! lol
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Is this thing getting bigger? dont storms get bigger with lattitude? Thinking we may not get off free this time here in St. Augustine.
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Irene has moved 145 miles to the north of the National Hurricane Center's first projected path.

The 36 hour position on Advisory 1 had Irene at 16.7N. , 67.0W. Irene just crossed 67.0W this morning and it was at 19.0N.
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HURRICANE IRENE TROPICAL CYCLONE POSITION ESTIMATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
1000 AM AST MON AUG 22 2011

AT 1000 AM AST...1400 UTC...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE IRENE WAS
ESTIMATED BY AN AIR FORCE RESERVE UNIT HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT
AND FAA DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR TO BE NEAR LATITUDE 19.0 NORTH...
LONGITUDE 67.3 WEST...OR ABOUT 95 MILES WEST-NORTHWEST OF SAN JUAN
PUERTO RICO.

SUMMARY OF 1000 AM AST...1400 UTC...INFORMATION
------------------------------------------------- -
LOCATION...19.0N 67.3W
ABOUT 95 MI...150 KM WNW OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 295 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...987 MB...29.15 INCHES
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7780. A4Guy
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.



BRAVO!!!!!!!! 10,0000 points for you.

Have said something similar many times in the past...but not in such a funny way. :)
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7779. 7544
nam sends irene south ? anyone can post it tia worth a post
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NAO Continues to tank negative, implying a weaker A/B High.

Yesterday = -0.37752E+00

Today = -0.76617E+00
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5043
7777. Patrap
A Half Juicy WV & Rainbow this morn.




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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.
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Quoting jeffs713:

Pittsburgh, Nashville, Blacksberg, Sterling, and Wallops Island are all related to the trough.
Yep. Just seems that Pittsburg would of the least useful among those, but what do I know?

Emanuel's CHIPS intensity models:

All but one ensemble member keep Irene below cat 2 for the indefinite future. Only one member resembles HWRF-type intensity. While HWRF has it's tendency to Hyper-cane, what does everyone see that could keep Irene from significantly intensifying?



High SST / OHC: check
No stalling: Check.
Low shear: Check.
Minimal issues with dry air: Umm, not-check, maybe.



If she cannot shield the mid-level dry air by having a solid core, she may never strengthen beyond cat 1.

Any other inhibitors?
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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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