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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Recon on the way to the SW again and will probably do a new center fix for pressure and direction.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4722. bappit
Quoting lat25five:
lurking for yrs rarely post but need concesus from all,

trying to decide how long to stay at beach house in Palmcoast(
S.of St. Augustine)or return to Miami. I had a bad feeling about Ireane so prepped properity and boats before I left.
quantry is how much time do you think before I have to make the decision to return or stay, Miami is a fortress after Andrew
w/ generator on a barrier island now w/o genset,partial shutters and not totally comfortible with structual stability in a mid 900 mlbr H. I figure to wait to see models after Hispanalo.
sound like a plan?









On the beach during a hurricane is not a plan.
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Quoting P451:
17.85N, 65W - Center located below. (green)






The dry feature (circled purple) that was followed on radar imagery the past 3 hours which had an apparent wsw motion was rotating around the circulation center.

The true surface circulation has continued on a WNW motion.

PR is in a bit of trouble with this one now.

Large wind field, intensifying system, hot towers exploding over the center.



yep!
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I see Tropical Storm Irene moving between 275 and 280 degrees or slight north of due west. Also I see no reason to change the forecast track much at all.
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...THIS TRACK KEEPS IRENE OVER HISPANIOLA
FOR 6-12 HOURS WHICH SHOULD WEAKEN THE SYSTEM BACK TO A TROPICAL STORM BEFORE EXITING INTO THE WARM ATLANTIC WATERS.
--From NHC 8 p.m. Discussion


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Irene looking much more organized. I agree with everyone that is saying we will have a hurricane soon enough. If not at 11 PM it will likely be a 70 MPH storm then.
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Good evening everyone....Irene might be taking the best track to be the most intense it appear......DAM
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Gotta ready the little one (and all the supplies) for first day of 5th grade tomorrow.............Let's hope Irene spares Puerto Rico from any major damage.

Good Night All.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I read somewhere that if you put a dryer sheet hanging out of a pocket it keeps bugs away. Don't know if it works but I guess it's worth a try.

Not sure either, but at least you get no static and smell fresh.
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Quoting heretolearninPR:


Glad you are enjoying the thought of PR getting smacked. We aren't.


Yes, we all need to pick our words carefully out of respect for what others may be dealing with.
Member Since: October 26, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 363
4713. bwat
bwat here, most of ya older folks have seen me. mostly lurk. can one of you guys or gals post me a link to radar either via blog or wmail? thanks.
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looks like she will miss hispanola. this is very bad news for the east coast of the U.S. this scenerio could lead to an historical event for the SE coast. Times like this are only few in ones life. Take precautions please
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4711. 900MB
Funky Green in center of funktop!
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4710. msphar
Esperanza 11 Kts. NE gust 26 Kts.
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FWIW, my new blog entry. Enjoy.
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Quoting Mucinex:

Well, your palms will probably be missing more than a few fronds in the morning, but thats okay. Palms are designed to loss their frond in high wind. They will be back in a few months and look just like new.
not if the crowns are damaged...
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According to Cantore's twitter post he is not going to decide to go anywhere until Tuesday.
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Quoting justalurker:
does Irene have a chance making it italy?

thanks


Yes...the models continue to shift east like they have been and I can see Rome in the cone of DOOM!!
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Quoting heretolearninPR:


Glad you are enjoying the thought of PR getting smacked. We aren't.
Wow that is not what she ment chill out.
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


most parts of charleston sc are joined together by bridges...if we have sustained winds of 40mph or greater all bridges are closed down and we are at a stand still...no one execpt emerg personelle go to work


Well, Category 4 is BAD for Charleston. My mom told me it was 5 feet below sea level, but I don't think it's true. This storm might challenges that huge new bridge that goes over Cooper River.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7880
lurking for yrs rarely post but need concesus from all,

trying to decide how long to stay at beach house in Palmcoast(
S.of St. Augustine)or return to Miami. I had a bad feeling about Ireane so prepped properity and boats before I left.
quantry is how much time do you think before I have to make the decision to return or stay, Miami is a fortress after Andrew
w/ generator on a barrier island now w/o genset,partial shutters and not totally comfortible with structual stability in a mid 900 mlbr H. I figure to wait to see models after Hispanalo.
sound like a plan?








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4700. Lizpr
Quoting serialteg:


hi liz! long time no see. good to have u back


Heya!! I moved to Southern Oregon a year ago so less active. Even though I'm so far away I get all nervous about this stuff.
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Irene shows a great presentation on satellite and radar imagery. Her core is getting tighter, shown by the convection on the western side wrapping around the coc and the deep convection is expanding and showing a better organization on IR right now with a counter clockwise rotation seen on satellite imagery. Her core is getting a lot better organized.
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4698. RJT185
Quoting HuracanTaino:
Not a U.S. land fall, Puerto Rico belongs to the U.S as a property,in other words a territory, but is not part of the U.S. as Hawaii or Alaska, since we are not an state.


Puerto Rico is a COMMONWEALTH just like PENNSYLVANIA, for example. It is not a PROPERTY. While not a State, it does have all of the other rights and responsibilities.

So there's about 3.967 million US citizens who will be affected by the landfall of this TS in the immediate future.
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


Yep..PR is about to get smacked!!


Glad you are enjoying the thought of PR getting smacked. We aren't.
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4696. Patrap
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4695. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
09L/H/I/C1
MARK
17.75N/64.93W

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
Irene wide open on the SW side. She definitely won't make cane status before hitting PR. It will be interesting to see how much she weakens over land...

Any idea when HH are flying in?
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4693. 900MB


Navy Blue!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Recon starting to find some stronger winds as they head into the northeastern quadrant. Wouldn't be surprised if they found 50-60 knot winds in the [north]eastern eyewall.

010930 1814N 06353W 8426 01573 0104 +154 //// 140040 044 041 010 01
keep us posted
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
4669. CaneHunter031472 1:31 AM GMT on August 22, 2011

next advisory is 3:00 AM UTC / 23:00 PM EDT..


thanks
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Quoting barotropic:


Irenes radar presentation has deteriorated. Ever since she inhaled that dry air from the slot in the NW quadrant she seems to be struggling. I believe she is also starting to feel the effects of puerto rico. She may very well have a tough night.


she, or us the living - breathing people? lol

altough she might just be a living entity herself

but im pulling for us
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4687. tarps3
first time poster. What are the odds this becomes a major cane?
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


most parts of charleston sc are joined together by bridges...if we have sustained winds of 40mph or greater all bridges are closed down and we are at a stand still...no one execpt emerg personelle go to work


OK but we are talking about PR right? In Orlando a tropical storm really is just another rainy day with some wind. The theme parks dont even close. Strong hurricane different story.
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Quoting Grandpato4:
I am in Atlantic Beach, NC and have a place down in SE FL as well. I guess I would evacuate to my daughter's house in Raleigh.
Wait 2 more days and if the models stay in place, LEAVE right away before Floyd-style traffics hits. You may want to go to Greensville instead of Raleigh because Raleigh is going to get slammed if it landfalls in SC.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7880
Quoting portcharlotte:
.1 degree is hardly a strong wnw motion unless you want it to be


thank you port, i mean some people grasp at straws and some grasp at thin air
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4681. Hhunter
Quoting Grandpato4:
I am in Atlantic Beach, NC and have a place down in SE FL as well. I guess I would evacuate to my daughter's house in Raleigh.
yes sir, inland is the place to be..
Member Since: August 19, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2973
4680. Drakoen
Irene is currently on top of the NHC forecasted track.
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Quoting TCIGolfer:
Hi Kman,

HOw is your golf game?? What do you think for us here in TCI??

Hope all is well in Cayman


Lost $2.00 today but the winners had to buy the beers LOL.

Watch Irene very closely, it has your address, or close to you , written all over it. Earlier I thought it would pass South of PR but the pressure has fallen quite quickly and with that deepening of the system the steering flow has changed. Now looking like over PR and to the N side of Hispaniola.

Still a preliminary conclusion but this looks like it is ramping up tonight. PR will not pose much of an obstacle for Irene.
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4678. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
4669. CaneHunter031472 1:31 AM GMT on August 22, 2011

next advisory is 3:00 AM UTC / 23:00 PM EDT..
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Quoting Grandpato4:


If I had accounts there I would close them and tell them why I was doing it also. I had accounts at Bank of America and closed them recently due to some of the actions they have taken with foreclosures.


u have to stand by what u believe in! +1000
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does Irene have a chance making it to italy?

thanks
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4675. msphar
Fajardo 29 Kts. NE gusting to 37 Kts.
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Good luck, y'all who are in the path.
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4673. 900MB
Quoting 7544:


agree


I base my hurricane call on the massive blowup in convection over the center. It is obvious that Irene is far more organized than I'll ever be!
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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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