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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I remember Hurricane Irene back in 1999 dropped a lot of rain on South Florida. I had waist-high water in front of my home and koi fish swimming all around. History may repeat itself 12 years later it sees.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Same here.
Never mind, LOL, 70mph.
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5321. air360
Quoting MississippiWx:


The flash could have also been a transformer.


LOL...I vote this as the most likely reason!
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Quoting lucreto:
LOCATION...17.8N 64.9W
ABOUT 10 MI...15 KM NW OF ST. CROIX
ABOUT 90 MI...145 KM ESE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...60 MPH...95 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 15 MPH...24 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...995 MB...29.38 INCHES
THIS IS NOT REAL PEOPLE!!!
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Just kidding.
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havent been on in awhile, blog is picking up speed haha
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And there it is!
WOW.
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if they dont upgrade i send in my bears
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G'evening all! Waiting on the latest news and possible upgrade. Hope y'all are safe!
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Imagine if all of WU goes on and overloads the NHC server. ROFLMAO
Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 994
Quoting Tazmanian:



with it going W i think it will stay this off shore


I'm not sure - but either way....not good!
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First hurricane of the season about to make its debut in Puerto Rico,, i think.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Since the advisory is not yet out, I'm willing to bet they are about to upgrade to a hurricane.
Same here.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Since the advisory is not yet out, I'm willing to bet they are about to upgrade to a hurricane.


Me too! and the blog will under go major-RI mode as Taz would say...
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We are having some strong gusts at Cidra PR
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Quoting TampaSpin:
With the ULL developing, i'm beginning to believe a South Carolina land fall is looking more likely.

ULL? Where?
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For you wondering what's really going on these forums, for the most part, are not the place to be!
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Since the advisory is not yet out, I'm willing to bet they are about to upgrade to a hurricane.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Don't feed the trolls.

If you got problems, just click [ ! ]
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5302. nigel20

Not to ignoring the danger of Irene, but the SAL is pretty weak in the eastern Atlantic and may allow favorable conditions for the next tropical wave.
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Quoting ecflweatherfan:
If you think the blog is blowing up now... wait until 11pm, if they upgrade.




yup
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Quoting P451:


Ummmm... you do know sarcasm when you see it I hope.

I figured the all caps screaming back at the all caps troll would give it away...but I guess not.

I've been spending all day responding to the "ITS GOING WEST" crew with countless maps and imagery trying to show that the system is going WNW, as it has been all afternoon.

Haven't had much success with that.



glad u explained...was bout ready to update my iggy list...trolls typically use the bold...so i figured, well, you know...
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I wonder how many of us are hitting refresh on the NHC page...so much anticipation...
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This next advisory is gonna be posted 100 times
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
nhc i send in a bear i send 2 of them in and may be you move a little faster
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If you think the blog is blowing up now... wait until 11pm, if they upgrade.
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I think it's safe to say that the NHC is going to come out with a Godfather like mention of "in respect of". Since they don't have much model support, I suspect it's going to be DON Continuity.
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Quoting kmanislander:
I guess the update will refer to a temporary motion to the West but an expected resumption of WNW later tonight ??
Seems a reasonable expectation.
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I think the better poll is how many times the 11pm will be posted....
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Quoting LongIslandXpress38:
Irene is going to get ripped up over Hispanola; it's as simple as that..
GO AWAY!!!!
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5290. scott39
I feel ya Presslord, If Irene goes due West and takes the scenic Mountain tour over Hispanola and then decides to visit Cuba-- some...its going to take the wind out of her, just enough to go farther W taking aim back at S FL. If she doesnt and goes farther N then she will do what the conversation has been about all day. I have see one thing change on the Tropical Atlantic site though. Since Irene was born. ....the models runs were consistantly clustered. Now they are spread more east and West.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6912
Quoting dezli:


Just as a general question, how do you know what they are finding?


By reading the information that the Hurricane Hunters are sending.
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Any minute now for the advisory- Harvey just got his advisory.
Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 994
Looks like a hurricane to me. Look out South Fla. It might not get enough of Hispaniola or Cuba to weaken it much.
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Quoting atmosweather:


They found a couple of hurricane force surface winds using the SMFR instrument that were not flagged as suspect, which should be enough for the NHC to upgrade her to hurricane status at 11PM
They found 76mph winds at the surface local mets in Puerto Rico said.
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I remember Hurricane Irene back in 1999 dropped a lot of rain on South Florida. I had waist-high water in front of my home and koi fish swimming all around. History may repeat itself 12 years later it sees.
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I guess the update will refer to a temporary motion to the West but an expected resumption of WNW later tonight ??
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Quoting P451:


Yes.

As you know I've been battling the "It's going West" crew since early this morning.

So... I figured to give in for a moment LOL

lol
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5725
Quoting P451:


The one exception is they were accompanied by very high rain rates. So they may be discounted.

We'll just have to wait for the official statement.

70mph TS is a good guess. 75mph upgrade isn't out of the question.



P does it again
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Quoting TampaSpin:
The ULL developing will create much wind Shear the further West Irene moves.......you can see it what i am saying on this loop! http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxlo op.cgi?wv_east_enhanced+12


Well remember a ULL pulling away to the SW of a tropical system (which will be the location of that one once Irene moves towards the Bahamas actually helps ventilate the outflow of the system and will provide less shear.
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Quoting SouthDadeNative:


I can't keep up with a complete sentence


i cant hardly quote without it ending up on the last page cuz ive been having to click it twice lol
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This is for Harvey.

Tropical Depression HARVEY Storm Archive
...HEAVY RAINS ASSOCIATED WITH HARVEY ARE SPREADING WESTWARD OVER SOUTHERN MEXICO...
10:00 PM CDT Sun Aug 21
Location: 19.0°N 95.0°W
Max sustained: 35 mph
Moving: WNW at 12 mph
Min pressure: 1005 mb
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Quoting tornadodude:


evening all


Evening Matt!
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Recon heading East on the South side of the circulation. A long wait ( hour ?? ) for the next center fix
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the ULL is moving west as well so i don't think it will be a player.
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5274. luigi18
Quoting CosmicEvents:
I know the casinos are open and running.
Just spoke with a friend in one.

Wkaq 580 am
Member Since: September 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 483
Quoting Grandpato4:
If you are just coming onto the blog, please read all previous posts before you ask a question. It may have been covered already. (This is a joke. I can't keep up with the blog.)


I can't keep up with a complete sentence
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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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