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 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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Quoting MississippiWx:
Pretty close to landfall in PR.



That band about to come on shore eastern PR is going to dish the heaviest action yet...
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Harvey still a TD.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10156
Quoting MississippiWx:
Pretty close to landfall in PR.



You can tell on that radar loop that she is wrapping her convective bands around the SW edge now. Definite strengthening going on....might be tinkering between strong TS and low end cat 1
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
5269. dezli
Quoting alvarig1263:


They're finding 76 MPH surface winds, and 993 MB pressure.


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


Hey!!!


You resemble that remark eh press....roflmbo
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Irene is going to get ripped up over Hispanola; it's as simple as that..
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5264. ackee
Quoting TampaSpin:
With the ULL developing, i'm beginning to believe a South Carolina land fall is looking more likely.
agree HATI would be greaful if it stays NORTH of them
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evening all
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Quoting BahaHurican:
LOL.... Snap... only thing I forgot to get last night.... I don't usually buy them here. But I am hoping to have a battery operated fan by Wednesday... just in case.... so I need more batteries.... lol


Baha..what is your usual method to get to and from the mainland? Are you perhaps a pilot with your own aircraft?
Member Since: October 26, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 363
5261. Swede38
Quoting alvarig1263:


They're finding 76 MPH surface winds, and 993 MB pressure.


Svensk?
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Quoting victoriahurricane:


I don't need to see another man in a dress thank you very much, please be wrong GFDL!


Hey!!!
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f5 f5 f5 f5 f5
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20686
seem like at litttle dora shove back to west may be in order here -flagler to vilano beach landfall stong cat 2 -thoughts any on

i base this on minnimal interaction with dr and trough pulling system to north then ridge builing back in am i worng ???
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Pretty close to landfall in PR.



Radar also shows a partial eye wall NW of center....no full eye right now...

...thus...it will weaken back to TS when it gets over PR and make take a bit of time to recover back to hurricane strength after PR and some land interaction right after with the DR...
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5256. nigel20
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

A couple of days ago people were saying that the I storms have a way of making mischief, Irene is trying to make mischief of her own.
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Quoting RukusBoondocks:
poll time what will Irene be at 11?

A) 60mph
B) 70mph
c) 75mph hurricane
D) dissapated
70 MPH. I don't think we got enough to name this hurricane IMO, but I won't be suprised if this was named either.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 23 Comments: 7445
With the ULL developing, i'm beginning to believe a South Carolina land fall is looking more likely.
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Justalurker, thanks! :)
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Quoting tropicfreak:


I've already had him on ignore for a while when he said Charley was only a cat 2 at landfall.


Is now on my ignore list as well, I missed marking that person at that time. I remember the post you are referring to as well.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Pretty close to landfall in PR.




with it going W i think it will stay this off shore
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114040
Quoting P451:
PR will see some strong winds over night.


re you hh google post
I'm curious if you drew the arrows (pink) , to indicate what direction you believe it to be moving or is that part of the google/hh product?
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1547
Quoting atmoaggie:
If these western outlier GFDL tracks verify, I'll take a picture in a dress.


I don't need to see another man in a dress thank you very much, please be wrong GFDL!
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5248. ackee
Quoting RukusBoondocks:
poll time what will Irene be at 11?

A) 60mph
B) 70mph
c) 75mph hurricane
D) dissapated
c
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Quoting Tazmanian:




LOL


You know what...you can count me in on that....I don't think GFDL (the current runs toward the GOM)...will verify at all at this point...
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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
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Pretty close to landfall in PR.



No eye from what I can see
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Irene likes to keep fit by jogging frequently.


A little scary it seems. PR is going to have a rough night.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
I know the casinos are open and running.
Just spoke with a friend in one.



well...Is he winning?!?!
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5241. JRRP
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Blog is in warp speed, lol. Waiting on dat advisory...

lol... el mas esperado de la tempórada ??
the most expect advisory of the season ?
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Pretty close to landfall in PR.



Wicked thunderstorms near the CoC!
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5239. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DEPRESSION XX
9:00 AM JST August 22 2011
============================

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression In Sea East Of Philippines

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression (1004 hPa) located near 14.0N 127.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving northwest slowly

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression In Sea Near Ogasawara Shoto

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression (1006 hPa) is located near 24.6N 141.9E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving west at 8 knots
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Quoting Jedkins01:


Ehhh be careful saying major threat, I would say it poses a potential threat, in that people should prepare to be safe, but models are continuing to trend east away from Florida, which may contnune to be the trend based on more recent data.

At any rate, Floridians should carefully watch it and do some preparations like making sure they have a hurricane kit/plan, but its not something to lose sleep over yet at all.

The fact that model consensus has shifted away from the West Coast of Florida is why I always stress that people shouldn't hype tropical cyclones in long range. If the models shift back west and stay west, and Irene has 72 hours left of landfall, then we can call Irene a major threat to Florida.

There will always be those who say that until Irene clears latitude 31N.
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Quoting RukusBoondocks:
poll time what will Irene be at 11?

A) 60mph
B) 70mph
c) 75mph hurricane
D) dissapated


C. 75MPH Hurricane
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Quoting SouthDadeFish:
they still have time. They took off virtually in the center of the storm, so there was no travel time to get there.


True, I saw that but three center fixes are probably all that this mission will look for especially if the next one shows no deviation from the present.

Looks like a turn from the SW to the East by recon is coming up shortly.
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By 11 pm update, this storm is 70-75 MPH IMO. 75% it'll be hurricane before 5 am update.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 23 Comments: 7445
5234. nigel20
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

A couple of days ago people were saying that the I storm have a way of making mischief, Irene is trying to make mischief of her own.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


I've already had him on ignore for a while when he said Charley was only a cat 2 at landfall.


Yeah I had to tell him that I was 160 miles inland from Charley's landfall point and even we received Category 2 winds at multiple NOAA reporting stations. He's a troll.
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5232. trey33
Quoting justalurker:


how about in front of a curtain..


a shower curtain with fish on it?
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Quoting charlottefl:


ABOUT 90 MI...145 KM ESE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO

And that's on the northern coast, so it's like 50 miles south of Puerto Rico Roughly..

P451 was being sarcastic, anyways.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5519
lots of pensacola folks on here, Bellview here
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Quoting EastCoastMove:


As a resident of Tallahassee the GFDL run = disaster. I am glad to see it as the outlier but very early and the tracks/Irene could shift west with time.
Tallahassee has not had a Hurricane since 1985 Kate sure hope this is not your next Storm!
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Pretty close to landfall in PR.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10156
5227. ackee
Quoting CosmicEvents:
I know the casinos are open and running.
Just spoke with a friend in one.
THAT GOOD hope PR was prepared for IRENE
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


how is it 100 miles south? if PR is like 40 miles from north to south, and you can see that the eyeish feature is less than half that distance...just askin


ABOUT 90 MI...145 KM ESE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO

And that's on the northern coast, so it's like 50 miles south of Puerto Rico Roughly..

EDIT: Based on the 8PM advisory position
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2685
poll time what will Irene be at 11?

A) 60mph
B) 70mph
c) 75mph hurricane
D) dissapated
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Quoting atmoaggie:
If these western outlier GFDL tracks verify, I'll take a picture in a dress.


how about in front of a curtain..
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We got a new play developing......an ULL is developing in the Caribbean.....this will keep Irene North of the big Islands.
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About JeffMasters

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