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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6023. tarps3
Hr 132

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What's happening is when a portion of the left side of the storm if over land the angular momentum tends to grab the storm and pull it west. The motion should become true once the entire center comes ashore. Then the opposite will occur as the storm exits the island. The angular momentum will shift and pull the storm towards the right until most of the storm's center clears the coast.
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Quoting Unfriendly:


you would wonder that...

I rather enjoy how you are always careful to word your posts so that people don't think you are doomcasting... but you always do.

That quote may as well say "ITS GONNA BEA CAT 5 HITTING MIAMI".




have you evere seen that show on TV on what if a cat 5 hit Miami
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
Quoting tennisgirl08:

And worse...the models keep trending west...


So much for the 11 pm news saying they've trended east.
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6019. nigel20
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/eumet/eatl/avn-l.jpg

O_o ....you are right my friend....WOWZA!

Potent looking tropical wave.
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6018. Torgen
Quoting Bielle:


Love "all intensive purposes"!


I grind a little more tooth enamel off every time I see that. :P I've become numb to the millions of your/you're and its/it's mistakes made every day, though.

(It's "all intents and purposes," btw) ;)
Member Since: June 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
Quoting SavannahStorm:



ARGGHH



*calls insurance agent*
hello, State Farm
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LOL- this never happens

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Quoting tennisgirl08:

And worse...the models keep trending west...


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?
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 497 Comments: 3688
6014. Drakoen
The NAM 00z pulled the GFS 00z west. lol
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Quoting sullivanweather:


.



Thank you! Much easier to understand!
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A disturbing possibility is that if Irene stalls/slows down ANY while moving over/under Haiti that ridge could build back too quickly to allow Irene to push up the Florida coast too much.

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6011. nigel20
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Ok...that infrared image to me really looks like Irene has made landfall in east-central PR...anyone else see this?

I think you may be right.
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Quoting SavannahStorm:



ARGGHH



*calls insurance agent*




LOL
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
Quoting atmosweather:


No thank you I don't want 90 mph winds again lol.
You're on the eastern Florida coast too?
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Quoting extreme236:
Irene is the definite focus, but another big one coming off Africa.


http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/eumet/eatl/avn-l.jpg

O_o ....you are right my friend....WOWZA!
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 497 Comments: 3688
Quoting Seasidecove:


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


The only thing on these models defense is that they are very accurate once there is formed system. Actually they are some of the most accurate. That said the consensus in the other models still tells me that this is an East Coast event. I'm not really too concerned about it making it to the GOMEX. I just hope I'm not about to eat the crow.
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6004. hahaguy
Irene could do a 1928 hurricane type track.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Sorry Aqua lol.




ARGGHH



*calls insurance agent*
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
I see...so the GFS still threatens the east coast (darn for me too)...and moreover...its shows a track closer to Florida's east coast...this stinks for a lot.....

And worse...the models keep trending west...
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Sorry Aqua lol.



ouch lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Very close to making a south/central Florida landfall.



No thank you I don't want 90 mph winds again lol.
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5999. msphar
Fajardo 33 Kts. NE gusting to 40 Kts.
Esperanza 34 Kts. SE gusting to 49 Kts.
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5998. tarps3
Hr 120 (basically landfall)

http://mag.ncep.noaa.gov/GemPakTier/MagGemPakImag es/gfs/00/gfs_wnatl_120_10m_wnd_precip.gif
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I see that the gfs model has shifted west
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Sorry Aqua lol.

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5995. emguy
Quoting FloridaToz:
are the UKMET & GFDL model runs drinking? They still have the storm heading quite a ways west, where every other model has NW to NNW to N solutions? It has the forecast cones pretty broad.


No. They are not drinking. They are still in rhelm of possibility, with some variation to a more realistic scenarion, such a more of a track along the northern edge of the islands or just north of them over open water.
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Why is the gfdl models showing Irene going into the gulf?
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This GFS run is really close to NHC's 11pm.
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 447
just pissed off my neighbors by starting generator
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Slowly scraping up the Florida coast as a decent hurricane. Very plausible solution.

like Freddy Kruger's nails on a chalkboard
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Quoting nigel20:


Ok...that infrared image to me really looks like Irene has made landfall in east-central PR...anyone else see this?
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 497 Comments: 3688
She looks to be south of the forcast points and moving more W then NW,maybe the GFDL is onto something.Link
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Irene is the definite focus, but another big one coming off Africa.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Last center fix and current center...

272 degree heading
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Quoting Dennis8:


ABOUT TO MAKE LANDFALL and begin weakening..lets hope it stays over land enough to bring down intensity and rainfall


Landfall on a landmass as small as Puerto Rico hardly ever weakens a storm unless it's a cat 3-5.

In fact, the frictional component of the land may act to tighten the center/build torque in the storm, which will be released in a burst of intensification once the center moves back over water.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Interesting that they took 989.9 as 989. I would have thought 990.

Anyway, back in the morning. Good night.


The 989 comes from the dropsonde not the extrapolated pressure from the plane.

You can click on the dropsonde image in google instead of the vortex and see the readings.
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5984. Dennis8
Quoting scCane:
Hmmm, the FIM model seems to have captured this west trend quite well

Link


Right over Nasaau where I have a big group-250 people arriving tomorrow for a big corporate event at Atlantis..returning Thursday
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 446
Quoting tarps3:
Hr 96



Hr 102

hour 102 looks like landfall in PBC/Martin County area
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5982. j2008
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
09L/H/I/C1
MARK
17.80n/65.39w


Hurricane Irene????? Wonder how accurite that is.
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5981. GetReal
Quoting tarps3:
Hr 96



Hr 102



Like I just stated a stall would occur if that pattern was to occur. Ref hours 96 and 102.
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I see...so the GFS still threatens the east coast (darn for me too)...and moreover...its shows a track closer to Florida's east coast...this stinks for a lot.....
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 497 Comments: 3688
5979. tarps3
Hr 108



Hr 114

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5978. Tygor
Quoting FloridaToz:
are the UKMET & GFDL model runs drinking? They still have the storm heading quite a ways west, where every other model has NW to NNW to N solutions? It has the forecast cones pretty broad.


Which is weird because for storms already formed I put the most credence in the UKMET model.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
The GFDL Model and UKMET just might be correct.....


Based on what factors??? Not saying your wrong, just curious as to what you base this on?
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Slowly scraping up the Florida coast as a decent hurricane. Very plausible solution.

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This was posted by the NHC...same coordibates but pressure down to 989

000
WTNT54 KNHC 220408
TCEAT4

TROPICAL STORM IRENE TROPICAL CYCLONE POSITION ESTIMATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
1200 AM AST MON AUG 22 2011

AT 12 AM AST...0400 UTC...THE CENTER OF STRENGTHENING TROPICAL
STORM IRENE WAS ESTIMATED BY DOPPLER RADAR AND RECONNAISSANCE
AIRCRAFT TO BE NEAR LATITUDE 17.9 NORTH...LONGITUDE 65.5 WEST
OR ABOUT 50 MILES SOUTHEAST OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO.

SUMMARY OF 1200 AM AST...0400 UTC...INFORMATION
------------------------------------------------- -
LOCATION...17.9N 65.5W
ABOUT 50 MI...85 KM SE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
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
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5974. hahaguy
Quoting Drakoen:
GFS 00z has shifted a little to the west and is now dangerously close to the treasure coast of Florida.


guess that's me.=/
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i wounder if this will pull a anderw anderw did pull a RI when it was comeing too S FL
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244

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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.