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 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: 3759
Quoting TampaSpin:


Smart man not too say.......
he used to give opinions...of course the last time he did was for Ike and based on what he said he probably put the entire Dade, Broward and PBC in a complete panic. Maybe he has since been told not to do that...
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Recon close to the center now. Not long for an update from the aircraft.
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if this blog dont slow down this blog will hit 7,000 commets soon lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115237
Quoting CosmicEvents:
lol, true.....but i first used it last night.
It's really not appropriate at this point, and likely in the future. I'm only gonna' use it one last time when she's north of Nova Scotia.


I'll try to act surprised and amused.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Landfall is right now if you ask me....

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5666. tarps3
0z GFS running....
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Quoting BrockBerlin:


Isn't there a guy that often post trajectory info and such he would probably have an approx landfall time.


Landfall in PR should be around 3 hours away.
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Quoting P451:


I'm guessing the surface winds haven't caught up to the convective increase.

Whatever extrapolated surface winds they found were accompanied by high rain rates so I guess they discounted them.

Went with what they could prove: 70mph.

2am could be 75mph.

I haven't bothered to figure out an exact landfall time. Has anyone?



Using GoogleEarth: She's only about 27 miles off the coast with a 282 degree (WNW) heading @15mph... should be landfalling near Maunabo, Puerto Rico by 1am EDT... maybe sooner if she doesn't slow down.

The same straight line trajectory would have it reemerging on the PR west coast around 7am EDT as well.
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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. Updated 10 minutes ago.








wow
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115237
Quoting kmanislander:


Another center fix coming up in half an hour or so. This will update both pressure, wind and direction. New vortex message expected with this pass by recon.


Like you, I'll see if I'm awake for that.
Thanks again for your time and experience you share here!
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5661. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting RukusBoondocks:
just called the nhc but nobody answered I left a message to call me
rufus i just got a call from the NHC they told me to ask you to stop being a dufus rufus
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Btw, is it 00z or 06z?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
5659. Gorty
Irene is looking better and better with each satellite update.
Member Since: November 8, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 1058
this blog is nuts tonight
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115237
Quoting E46Pilot:



Well, looks like I will be up on my roof tomorrow trying to fix these nagging leaks I've had for the last few months.
saw this on tv, might want to get acase of this stuff...sorry, no joke meant. I just saw a commercial for this crap and thought what a complete scam...
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5655. nigel20
Quoting RitaEvac:


Tick tock tock

That's still over three months to go.
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Miami NWS calling for some intense near hurricane force to hurricane force gusts coming onshore south Florida Thursday afternoon/evening. Updated 10 minutes ago.




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Quoting Detrina:
Hrm are we going to add a new category of forecasters now...
we have wish casters, west casters, fish casters, florida casters, looks like now we need carolina casters:)...

Is there some reason that some people think it's going to hit S/NC?

I don't see any track changes.

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


yeah...alot of people live here now who have never experienced one
including me. Never experienced one... however, my mom survived Hugo.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
Quoting Ameister12:

I absolutely agree.




good
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115237
Harvey nearing a landfall and so is Irene. More concern about Irene's future of course. Though hope the people in the way of Harvey in Mexico don't have a too unpleasant Monday from him.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3759
Chicklit,
I know im playing around and talking about a funky track that would have irene going everywhere(like recon this morning), but on a serious note sadly we cant have both in this scenario, it's either Haiti or the US
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Quoting E46Pilot:



Well, looks like I will be up on my roof tomorrow trying to fix these nagging leaks I've had for the last few months.


Guess pilots don't make what they used to.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting Thunderpig75:
I'm right in the middle of the cone. There is a little black circle h above my head. Yay for me!


LOL! I have a target on my roof too! But I am breathing easier now in NE FLA, this track will probably keep shiftin east tomorrow and next day. And to think I almost rushed to the gas station and spent money to fill 5 gallon jugs for the generators lol
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Quoting P451:


I'm guessing the surface winds haven't caught up to the convective increase.

Whatever extrapolated surface winds they found were accompanied by high rain rates so I guess they discounted them.

Went with what they could prove: 70mph.

2am could be 75mph.

I haven't bothered to figure out an exact landfall time. Has anyone?



Landfall is right now if you ask me....
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Quoting P451:


I'm guessing the surface winds haven't caught up to the convective increase.

Whatever extrapolated surface winds they found were accompanied by high rain rates so I guess they discounted them.

Went with what they could prove: 70mph.

2am could be 75mph.

I haven't bothered to figure out an exact landfall time. Has anyone?

Pretty close to 2 a.m... is the centre much more than 30 miles offshore?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22322
Quoting Tazmanian:




i think i would want too deal with a stronger hurricane for the U.S then haveing it hiting Hispaniola, wish they dont need



not wishing a storm on any one or DOOM just saying

I absolutely agree.
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Really close to landfall now...

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Quoting TampaSpin:
The GFS MODEL is sick on the size it is making Irene......WOW!


Irene is already quite sizable, Ive seen several stations frequently reporting 60 to 70 mph gusts away from the inner core.
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:


You've been saving that.
lol, true.....but i first used it last night.
It's really not appropriate at this point, and likely in the future. I'm only gonna' use it one last time when she's north of Nova Scotia.
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5638. Gorty
Quoting AllyBama:


No he isn't...long-time member..:)


I think the way he talks gives it away big time :p
Member Since: November 8, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 1058
Quoting AllyBama:


No he isn't...long-time member..:)



such a cute name
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grrrr dran you blog
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115237
Quoting Bluestorm5:
I agree... my friends are saying it's just another typical weak hurricane we get almost every year. This will be backward of Floyd, with traffic occuring too late. It's going to be CHAOS.


yeah...alot of people live here now who have never experienced one
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Quoting AllyBama:


No he isn't...long-time member..:)



yup vary long time
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115237
http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/avn-l.jpg

Irene making landfall RIGHT NOW in Puerto Rico...strong western PARTIAL eye wall looks to be present onshore using infrared satellite.
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Quoting Chicklit:

rut ro



Let's hope it stays a little north of Dominician Republic so Haiti is spared; they have misery enough.
The downside is then it strengthens and veers right smack into Miami. A Compromise would work.


Yep - not a lot of good options. All we can do is pray for those being impacted...and those that are to be impacted in the coming week.
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Quoting Gorty:


Aren't you a troll too taz?


No he isn't...long-time member..:)
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just called the nhc but nobody answered I left a message to call me
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5626. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting hunkerdown:
well that is scripted, heard a million times. Said nothing of HIS thoughts as to what type/intensity of the conditions he THOUGHT we could expect ?


Smart man not too say.......
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
99 DAYS REMAIN


Tick tock tock
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5623. scott39
PR is getting a good whack. It sure does look like when you follow those cold cloud tops at the center Irene is going due west
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.