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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good lord a goshins
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:


Is that another jog?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
66 knots on the VDM. Looks like we might have a hurricane.

000
URNT12 KNHC 220213
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL092011
A. 22/01:59:00Z
B. 17 deg 53 min N
065 deg 19 min W
C. 850 mb 1376 m
D. 66 kt
E. 024 deg 13 nm
F. 105 deg 67 kt
G. 024 deg 17 nm
H. 993 mb
I. 14 C / 1533 m
J. 22 C / 1522 m
K. 17 C / NA
L. NA
M. NA
N. 12345 / 8
O. 0.02 / 2 nm
P. AF302 0309A IRENE OB 07
MAX FL WIND 67 KT NE QUAD 01:53:40Z
;




about time
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
Quoting kmanislander:
Dropsonde for 993 mbs and a track between 270 and 275, due West motion.


I doubt it will be a continuous motion, will rather just a wobble. General motion of still be WNW.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
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

Hurricane Irene!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:


Hey, Pat, keep posting the Radar, I'm being guided by it...
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5067. lennit
looks like a minor shift coming at 11 pm has it going right ove rwest palm beach
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So they took that vortfix... 993mb...
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66 knots on the VDM. Looks like we might have a hurricane.

000
URNT12 KNHC 220213
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL092011
A. 22/01:59:00Z
B. 17 deg 53 min N
065 deg 19 min W
C. 850 mb 1376 m
D. 66 kt
E. 024 deg 13 nm
F. 105 deg 67 kt
G. 024 deg 17 nm
H. 993 mb
I. 14 C / 1533 m
J. 22 C / 1522 m
K. 17 C / NA
L. NA
M. NA
N. 12345 / 8
O. 0.02 / 2 nm
P. AF302 0309A IRENE OB 07
MAX FL WIND 67 KT NE QUAD 01:53:40Z
;
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Why do hurricanes relocate, and when they go through EWR is it usually north, south, east, west, or is every storm different?
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It's not surprising that she's intensifying while she is still over water.

I think a lot of people here WILL be surprised when she continues west and PR and the Dominican Republic really take a toll. I still think she'll get her act together again though...
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Quoting Patrap:


ok I just got a strange feeling. Irene is up to something and has a tricks up her sleeve. You all better watch out for her because no one should trust this girl lol :-P
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5061. JLPR2
I see 76mph on the recon report.
possibly Hurricane Irene at 11pm
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the two tones!
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5059. 900MB
Chicklit- How about a little gray?
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Quoting amd:


i thought that i saw the same thing, but recon is confirming that Irene is barely gaining any latitude. It looks like in the next vortex message that Irene has gained about 0.05 degrees north latitude or less, and has moved 0.30 degrees to the west
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 17°53'N 65°19'W (17.8833N 65.3167W)
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8392
Dropsonde for 993 mbs and a track between 270 and 275, due West motion.
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5056. Grothar
Quoting Thrawst:


Speaking of skinny islands....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wHMaJ6AtNs


It wouldn't let me open it.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26483
Well to port of suspected track... that's south for you city folks.



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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 original list we made over two years ago had Carolina casters in it.. I thinks we had over 100 casters in the list including but not limited to....

Caster Caster.... LOL
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Quoting tropicfreak:
Our first hurricane of the 2011 season has arrived!

FINALLY!


Don't go off of recon, the NHC may not take it to 75 mph......
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
5052. Dakster
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
In other news...Tripoli about to be overthrown by the rebels.


Finally - would be nice to put the Libya Civil War behind us - let them rebuild and get on with life.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10442
Quoting philliesrock:
lol am I seriously the only person seeing the NW jog? Everybody else thinks it 's to the W or WNW or something.


You're not alone. I see a more N component as well.
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Finding decent winds on the SW side 50 mph.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Quoting BahaHurican:
Things are pretty slow here right now. Between tomorrow and Tuesday there'll be more hype. People buying food and plywood and stuff.



Hi Baha: did my groceries today -- just added a few to the normal weekend stuff. Only thing that I need to check is the battery supply -- can never keep those things in the house.
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Quoting stormpetrol:


Take it like man LOL!!


LMAO !
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Quoting kmanislander:


Remember that radar is probably not capturing the surface position of the center, only the mid levels. Would suggest that the mid levels are offset to the NE of the surface low center.


But that wouldn't make any sense since recon already found a stacked system earlier...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
5046. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128654
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
In other news...Tripoli about to be overthrown by the rebels.


That's very good news.
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5044. Relix
Please power hang till 11PM! I want to see that report! That's all I ask! :P!
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Quoting Patrap:


Sippin a FRESCA and watching the Spinning Yellow and red swirly thingee on da screen here.


wishin i was feeling as easy as you tonight...this spinning yellow and red swirly thingee on da screen is giving me a severe case of indigestion...just glad to know that if we are the target you and press have a good system going....
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993mb is borderline......Hurricane!
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Our first hurricane of the 2011 season has arrived!

FINALLY!
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
5040. JLPR2
Getting intense now.
Probable TS strength gusts.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Dakster:
Can we at least wave goodbye to Harvey?


No, it is expected to become a tropical storm again soon.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Welp we have hurricane force winds and the data is not suspected.

Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 62 knots (~ 71.3 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 66 knots (~ 75.9 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 40 mm/hr (~ 1.57 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
is this confirmed?
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Quoting P451:
Interesting that this fix would be "due west" of the previous fix by recon.... for that would not line up with radar imagery which continues to show a steady WNW movement. The previous fix lined up with the radar imagery which is indisputable now. This one doesn't.

*shrug*



Take it like man LOL!!
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5036. Thrawst
Quoting BahaHurican:
Things are pretty slow here right now. Between tomorrow and Tuesday there'll be more hype. People buying food and plywood and stuff.



Yeah .. no panicking at the moment. We have 2-3 days to prepare. Shutters and battening down the hatches for my house takes .. about 2-3 hours.
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5035. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128654
Looks like the centre's further W than they expected...
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Quoting Dennis8:


IF this is huge what was IKE w/ TS winds 500 miles across???? Hurricane winds 200 miles across? Lets calm down.


Ike was a killer. This one has that potential as well. Maybe not to the scale of the gulf monsters we have seen but a killer none the less.
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5032. Detrina
Thank you for the info! I had not seen that at all. The track should be moved then! Yikes, good luck to all.



Quoting tiggeriffic:


because we are in the cone for one...second, even the mets on tv are saying we could very well be hit, and here is a run to look at

Link
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Quoting Relix:
NNW wobble or... just a constant movement? Who knows!


Didnt want to be the one to say it but noticed the same thing
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In other news...Tripoli about to be overthrown by the rebels.
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I work at a resort in ecfl, looks like it will be retesting generators and transfer switches tomorrow.
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5028. msphar
The Eastern tip of Vieques always has nasty water. I can't imagine what it is like tonight!
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Quoting Patrap:


Sippin a FRESCA and watching the Spinning Yellow and red swirly thingee on da screen here.


Got my co-cola. Watching the posts go screaming by.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5024. ackee
Quoting tiggeriffic:


i mentioned earlier that the mets on tv were saying it looked more like a hit north of hispanolia and was slammed for it...hope they don't do the same to you...
agree this could be another HUGO
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5023. Thrawst
Quoting Grothar:


Are you on Vieques, that small skinny island to the East of Puerto Rico?


Speaking of skinny islands....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wHMaJ6AtNs
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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.