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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Quoting BobinTampa:


them's fightin' words!


What a strange thing to say...
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Quoting P451:
Last night's motion:





:p




Been moving at 270 for the last day. You're wrong.

Oh wait...
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9:00 AM Advisory NHC has 80 mph winds, 990 mb. hmm. interesting,Irene worries me with that new cone shift:/
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7720. Patrap

Plan of the Day
------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------


HH POD

000
NOUS42 KNHC 201500
WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
1100 AM EDT SAT 20 AUGUST 2011
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 21/1100Z TO 22/1100Z AUGUST 2011
TCPOD NUMBER.....11-081

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. SUSPECT AREA (NEAR LESSER ANTILLES)
FLIGHT ONE -- TEAL 72
A. 21/1200Z,1800Z
B. AFXXX 0209A CYCLONE
C. 21/1100Z
D. 15.8N 61.8W
E. 21/1130Z TO 21/1800Z
F. SFC TO 10,000 FT

FLIGHT TWO -- TEAL 73
A. 22/0000Z,0600Z
B. AFXXX 0309A CYCLONE
C. 21/2300Z
D. 16.5N 65.00W
E. 21/2330Z TO 21/0600Z
F. SFC TO 10,000 FT

2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY:
A. CONTINUE 6-HRLY FIXES ON SYSTEM IF STILL A THREAT.
B. POSSIBLE G-IV SURVEILANCE MISSION FOR 23/0000Z.
3. REMARK: IF A CLOSED CIRCULATION IS NOT FOUND ON TODAY'S
MISSION NEAR THE ANTILLES, THE 21/1200Z MISSION WILL
SLIP TO A 21/1800Z INVESTIGATIVE MISSION.




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
I really beleive that it is going to start trending east, and if there is landfall it will be between Charleston S.C., and the OBX. I wish it would curve out to sea because if it stays off land that long it will probably make landfall as a strong 3 or right on the verge of a 4. I know the SE states could use the rainfall but not at the price that would cost.
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7718. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
So as a Wilmingtonian, would it be wise to start really warning about a possible threat here or is it too early?
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400mb analysis (Irene is getting that deep, if not already)



Not the dip due East of Jacksonville, well off shore. Irene is probably feeling that pretty well now and until it lifts she may get her north on a little more.
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Quoting TheF1Man:


Agree with you there, I'm up in CT and who knows if this will be one that rides up the coast. Doesn't take much to do damage up here.


What's good for Florida could be bad for you. Don't take comments personally.
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irene will hit the coast of the dom rep and haiti..the bahams and then south fla are really in for the big blow...i would have everything ready guys you been preparing for this all season long...
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7713. P451
Last night's motion:





:p


Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
If you were a storm chaser,my best guess would be to head for Cape Hatteras,N.C. Bring a lunch!LOL
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Quoting jeffs713:

Irene is too far from Cuba to be picked up by radar.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH
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Quoting jeffs713:

Irene is too far from Cuba to be picked up by radar.
Link
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7709. Patrap




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Wow brock please back up that post #7673 with factual info
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Quoting interstatelover7165:
haS anybody found a cuban radar yet? i cant find one.

Irene is too far from Cuba to be picked up by radar.
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Quoting Vincent4989:

What did the scouter say about the blog comments level?

IT'S OVER 9 THOUSAND!!!!!!!

lol
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Quoting USAFwxguy:
With a strengthening cyclone and the steering flow depicted below, it could be entirely possible to get Irene to recurve and avoid CONUS (landfall) altogether



That weakness is already beginning to impart a vector to the north of 290.

Unless the high build in quick and strong, CONUS may avoid this Irene lady.


them's fightin' words!
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Quoting USAFwxguy:
With a strengthening cyclone and the steering flow depicted below, it could be entirely possible to get Irene to recurve and avoid CONUS (landfall) altogether



That weakness is already beginning to impart a vector to the north of 290.

Unless the high build in quick and strong, CONUS may avoid this Irene lady.


That trough is digging..
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Centre of the projected track



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haS anybody found a cuban radar yet? i cant find one.
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Quoting NJ2S:


Lol seems like once a storm is forecast to impact Florida it becomes a crime to say otherwise! There are people living NOrth of FLorida, floridians! We deserve a little attention too!!!' NOW FOR THE 3rd TIME , any info on what to expect in the mid Atlantic and northeast


Agree with you there, I'm up in CT and who knows if this will be one that rides up the coast. Doesn't take much to do damage up here.
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7700. srada
Quoting USAFwxguy:
With a strengthening cyclone and the steering flow depicted below, it could be entirely possible to get Irene to recurve and avoid CONUS (landfall) altogether



That weakness is already beginning to impart a vector to the north of 290.

Unless the high build in quick and strong, CONUS may avoid this Irene lady.


We can only hope for a miss, but I dont think a recurve out to sea is gonna happen.
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7699. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting BrockBerlin:


Yeah I jumped the gun a bit lol


Lol, PR passage disrupted the core a little, but it'll sort itself out and continue to strengthen soon.
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Quoting USAFwxguy:
With a strengthening cyclone and the steering flow depicted below, it could be entirely possible to get Irene to recurve and avoid CONUS (landfall) altogether



That weakness is already beginning to impart a vector to the north of 290.

Unless the high build in quick and strong, CONUS may avoid this Irene lady.


I concur and I hope it is true. Actually radar shows it taking a more northerly track. Lets hope the scenario hold or improves and that no one in the US sees this Hurricane which will be one for the books by the way.
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Quoting P451:


It's common. Look at how many people yesterday insisted all day long Irene was moving due West? Would stay south of PR and Dominica? It was an all day long event. Yet she kept coming WNW.

I kept posting imagery, both loops and analyzed static images, to show those suggesting west that the storm was steadily moving WNW and could possibly exit PR to the north.

All I got was blank stares followed by "It's heading west. Due 270."

So it should be of no surprise you will now see some new form of "It's going here not there." today.

Just got to analyze the imagery for yourself and formulate an idea for yourself and only trust the comments of the handful of true experts on here.



+1000
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Im not to sure that a stronger Irene will have any difference in track vs. a weaker Irene. The BAMD isn't wide right nor is the BAMS heading W/WNW.

Best to follow the NHC cone, where a good chunk of the reliable models (including the GFDL and UKMET) lay inside.
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Either the models will shift back to the west in the next couple of days or the NHC will have to start to take into account what the models are showing if they continue to go near the mid-Atlantic regardless of how rare a situation it may be.
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Quoting Patrap:


If most of the action stays in the NE quadrant, even if Irene skirts the E Coast of FL, it may not be a rough ride--except for those poor Bahamians!
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Once again for the fishcasters.. Irene is NOT going to recurve out to sea!
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Quoting Dem86Mets:

Yes Reed it happens but lets use our eyes and not our hearts, she is on the north side of the forecast points and getting stronger. I would not be surprised to see a re-curve.


THAT would make a lot of people on here UNHAPPY
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Quoting Jax82:
The Doc will prob update the blog at 11am when the new forecast comes out, that is if the blog doesnt choke at 9,000 comments first.

What did the scouter say about the blog comments level?
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Quoting NICycloneChaser:


Eyewall is not collapsing, it's tightening, just a little open on the south.


Yeah I jumped the gun a bit lol
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7688. P451
Quoting BobinTampa:


Looks due west to me! :)


Absolutely!

lol.

Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
I know I'm going to take a beating for this, but Irene seems to be moving North of the forecast point. I would never say that Florida is out of the woods yet, but I will say that those in South Carolina need to add 10% to the 100% of attention required for this storm, because my feeling is that it is heading that way. Hopefully it will just stay Away but at least Floridians although they need to be on high alert, there might be hopw of no impact to you if this trends I see prove true.
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With a strengthening cyclone and the steering flow depicted below, it could be entirely possible to get Irene to recurve and avoid CONUS (landfall) altogether



That weakness is already beginning to impart a vector to the north of 290.

Unless the high build in quick and strong, CONUS may avoid this Irene lady.
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Quoting P451:


Cuban Radars followed by Miami.

thanks. gonna check if they can detect Irene.
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Quoting BrockBerlin:
Eyewall is collapsing could be weakening which may cause a direct westward track straight into Hispanola causing further weakening leaving a shell of a system to dissipate over cuba.


Eyewall is not collapsing, it's tightening, just a little open on the south.
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7683. Patrap
Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Offshore winds in the North, good surf swell energy.... For sure, Pine Grove or La punta will be crowded today....
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7681. P451
Quoting interstatelover7165:
What's the next radar site to the TDWR?


Cuban Radars followed by Miami.

Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
7680. barbamz
Time: 13:42:30Z
Coordinates: 18.9833N 67.35W
Acft. Static Air Press: 696.6 mb (~ 20.57 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 3,034 meters (~ 9,954 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 986.0 mb (~ 29.12 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 330 at 3 knots (From the NNW at ~ 3.4 mph)
Air Temp: 13.8C (~ 56.8F)
Dew Pt: 8.9C (~ 48.0F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 6 knots (~ 6.9 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 25 knots* (~ 28.7 mph*)
SFMR Rain Rate: 0 mm/hr* (~ 0 in/hr*)
(*) Denotes suspect data

Edit: Lol, I'm much too slow. Won't try it again to beat you :)

HH found center to the northwest of the older fix.
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Quoting reedzone:


Yeah, Northern Florida... Cut that last comment, the radar shows the position is correct. Sorry for the misinformation. I understand a stronger system moves more north, but even stronger systems have in the past moved west.

Yes Reed it happens but lets use our eyes and not our hearts, she is on the north side of the forecast points and getting stronger. I would not be surprised to see a re-curve.
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Quoting BobinTampa:


computer models and the NHC must also really annoy you then.


just right now 9:53 am proffesor Knob of TWC ,showed a path of Irene and the westernmost point is heading to Charleston,and FL is still in danger.
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Quoting cloudburst2011:



i think fla should beplaced under hurricane watch late tonight...the NHC knows something is up thet havent shited the cone east once...

Hurricane Watch is 48 hours out, iirc. Irene is more than 48 hours out.
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7676. Skyepony (Mod)
Recon hit 986mb..
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Time: 13:42:30Z
Coordinates: 18.9833N 67.35W
Acft. Static Air Press: 696.6 mb (~ 20.57 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 3,034 meters (~ 9,954 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 986.0 mb (~ 29.12 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 330 at 3 knots (From the NNW at ~ 3.4 mph)
Air Temp: 13.8C (~ 56.8F)
Dew Pt: 8.9C (~ 48.0F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 6 knots (~ 6.9 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 25 knots* (~ 28.7 mph*)
SFMR Rain Rate: 0 mm/hr* (~ 0 in/hr*)
(*) Denotes suspect data
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Quoting Jedkins01:


Yeah I mean. as a weather freak, I would love to see a full force hurricane, but as Ive grown into an Adult, I can't justify getting excited over a storm that will ruin so many lives. Its just so selfish I can't do it. Its down right wrong, as much as I want to be excited.

My thoughts exactly bud.
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Never mind that southern portion is actually filling in.
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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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