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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Fix Coordinates: 1753'N 6519'W (17.8833N 65.3167W)

11pm was 17.9

and 65.5 oops
that is backing up ....not good for me
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Looking down the conveyor belt...
that train is dipping mighty far South, wonder if the "cars" are derailed...
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Quoting benirica:
East Puerto Rico reporting (Humacao)
Lost power about an hour ago just as the 11pm bulletin came out and that "eye wall" hit me. Pretty strong winds and heavy rain falling horizontally.
I'd say winds sustained at 40 and gusting to 50ish or a bit more.


Hope you are doing ok. It looks like the "eyewall" is very close if not over you.
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Decent winds in the southeast eyewall.

033730 1743N 06526W 8434 01472 0002 +154 //// 245062 063 053 010 01
033800 1744N 06527W 8438 01457 //// +149 //// 245060 062 058 027 01
033830 1746N 06528W 8422 01465 //// +153 //// 240045 052 062 020 01
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Quoting hulazigzag:
agreed.. looking at many scenarios living on the water in northeast FL that type of a storm is bad. Im about 125miles north of where francis hit and we got more damage than I expected. No thanks to another big storm


I understand. I am located 20 miles east of Gainesville in the middle of the state. I was very concerned for a while when a gulf/west coast entry was looming. If this thing had indeed come in from the Gulf and we had to endure the northeast quadrant of this storm it would have been a completely different animal than what we expect now.
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Full power here, good work up to now AEE...


in ponce not a leaf stirs
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1988
satellite appearance is improving, as well as looks like pushing a tad southwestward.
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Well gonna finish off my night will end with recon going over irene's center... Good night
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Irene from Fantail to Buzz Saw in 24 hours.
LinkIRLoop
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5713. RevInFL
Our local weather guy said Brevard County, FL will be out of the cone by 5am. Is the current trend of the models all shifting east going to continue?
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"D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 66kts (~ 76.0mph)
"
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Pr radar is down (F_C_)
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1988
Jupiter, FL

Thursday: Tropical storm conditions possible. Rain likely. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Thursday Night: Hurricane conditions possible. Rain likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 86. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
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Quoting Relix:
Still power here


Full power here, good work up to now Elect. Co. ... and my ISP
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Landfall is when the eyewall comes ashore. About an hour till Irene make her first landfall.


San Juan radar is down.

The image you posted is old.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
PR is well into the bad stuff now.



..and to think 36 hours ago that Irene didn't exist yet...that is why it is important to watch the tropics daily when you live down there....this one spun up fast on them...
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 539 Comments: 3712
Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Irene's "Eyewall" is roaring ashore in PR now, landfall in about an hour or two(probably an hour) could see a special update(or CORRECTED) to hurricane right before landfall

Landfall is when the eyewall comes ashore. About an hour till Irene make her first landfall.
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5703. tarps3
0z GFS Hr 12

Link
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5701. 7544
70 mph looks like irene is still getting stronger as we blog could be up to 80 by dmax time imo looking good at this hour and fla should not let the gaurd down yet
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Quoting bappit:

Can see the elongated circulation well on that pic. Thanks!


Its not elongated, its just a large circulation.
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Looking down the conveyor belt...
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Miami NWS calling for some intense near hurricane force to hurricane force gusts coming onshore south Florida Thursday afternoon/evening. Updated 10 minutes ago.




guess its time to get the shutters in order in case it pans out...
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5696. Relix
Still power here
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5694. Drakoen
PR experiencing western eyewall conditions as we speak.
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The only time i got off from a storm here(in Texas), is when Ike came through and we left the school at noon to allow evacuees to shelter there... nothing else.
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Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 22nd day of the month at 02:13Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 302)
Storm Number & Year: 09L in 2011
Storm Name: Irene (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 3
Observation Number: 07
A. Time of Center Fix: 22nd day of the month at 1:59:00Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 17°53'N 65°19'W (17.8833N 65.3167W)
B. Center Fix Location: 61 miles (98 km) to the SE (127°) from San Juan, Puerto Rico (USA).
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,376m (4,514ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 66kts (~ 76.0mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 13 nautical miles (15 statute miles) to the NNE (24°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 105° at 67kts (From the ESE at ~ 77.1mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 17 nautical miles (20 statute miles) to the NNE (24°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 993mb (29.32 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 14°C (57°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,533m (5,030ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 22°C (72°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,522m (4,993ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 17°C (63°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 2 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 67kts (~ 77.1mph) in the northeast quadrant at 1:53:40Z
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5691. bappit
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Really close to landfall now...


Can see the elongated circulation well on that pic. Thanks!
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East Puerto Rico reporting (Humacao)
Lost power about an hour ago just as the 11pm bulletin came out and that "eye wall" hit me. Pretty strong winds and heavy rain falling horizontally.
I'd say winds sustained at 40 and gusting to 50ish or a bit more.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Not even out to 9 hours...

Das poof!


Initialized as a 1007MB Low...
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5687. Drakoen
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5686. Bonz
It does in Broward, one county up.
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Looks like they are going back for one more fix before landfall.

Is the Plymouth radar sourced out of the same location / equipment as the NOAA radar?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22736
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this blog is like a chat room
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Quoting RukusBoondocks:
just called the nhc but nobody answered I left a message to call me
I hope you told them it was RukusBoondocks calling...with that I am sure you would be put at the top of their urgent call back list :)
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PR is well into the bad stuff now.

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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
the ridge is going to be too strong for irene togo up to the carolinas.


are you looking at your crystal ball
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Quoting ElConando:


Doesn't school start this week in Dade?
Yup...might get some days off lol.
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Quoting rkay1:
The GFS model just shifted to the GoM! Watch out Texas!


Not even out to 9 hours...

Das poof!
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Quoting yesterway:


As long as we are on the west side of it...
agreed.. looking at many scenarios living on the water in northeast FL that type of a storm is bad. Im about 125miles north of where francis hit and we got more damage than I expected. No thanks to another big storm
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Come on Irene....oh, I swear well she means....at this moment....you threaten ever-y-thing!! Lol...I must be getting tired...
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Irene's "Eyewall" is roaring ashore in PR now, landfall in about an hour or two(probably an hour) could see a special update(or CORRECTED) to hurricane right before landfall
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Miami NWS calling for some intense near hurricane force to hurricane force gusts coming onshore south Florida Thursday afternoon/evening. Updated 10 minutes ago.






Doesn't school start this week in Dade? Just curious
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3784

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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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