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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Never mind that southern portion is actually filling in.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting E46Pilot:


Put your mouse pointer in the center of the eye at the beginning of the radar loop. Then watch where the eye goes. You can clearly see the WNW movement.


i was joking w/ P451. He fought that battle yesterday to exhaustion.
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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: 13.8°C (~ 56.8°F)
Dew Pt: 8.9°C (~ 48.0°F)
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

This is the centre. Moving WNW, still.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

LOL! Yeah, I can live without them her here in the sunshine state, as much as I love these things.


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.
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Quoting jeffs713:


Wishing a storm to hit you is a pretty sad thing. Aren't you supposed to be in school?


uh
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7668. NJ2S
Quoting mcmurray02:


I believe that Irene will make landfall in SC/NC coast, based off of the models. However, if it should miss the coast, and head farther east than expected, I don't see this as being a threat to the upper east coast/New England area.


Thank u for your response
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7667. P451
Quoting Orcasystems:
Complete Update

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI







A lot of folks need to make use your busted ts forecast alibi list this morning.

24 hours of steady WNW motion in the face of "ITS GOING WEST. SOUTH OF THE ISLANDS".

lol.

A few dozen heaping plates of crow await some folks.

I think they will end up going to waste.
Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Quoting atmoaggie:
Yay, more upper air data.

SENIOR DUTY METEOROLOGIST NWS ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NWS NCEP CENTRAL OPERATIONS CAMP SPRINGS MD
0730Z MON AUG 22 2011

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS REQUESTING SPECIAL 6-HOURLY UPPER
AIR RELEASES BEGINNING AT 18Z TODAY (MON AUG 22) FROM THE
FOLLOWING STATIONS: KEY WEST, MIAMI, TAMPA, JACKSONVILLE,
TALLAHASSEE, SLIDELL, JACKSON, BIRMINGHAM, PEACHTREE CITY,
CHARLESTON, MOREHEAD CITY, GREENSBORO, NASHVILLE, WILMINGTON,
PITTSBURGH, BLACKSBURG, STERLING AND WALLOPS ISLAND.


atmo: Umm, Pittsburg? I suppose that's related to trough passage and it's characteristics, I guess. The rest obviously make sense.

Pittsburgh, Nashville, Blacksberg, Sterling, and Wallops Island are all related to the trough.
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986.0 mb
(~ 29.12 inHg)
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Quoting newportrinative:


When the NHC thinks they need to....



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


Looks due west to me! :)


Put your mouse pointer in the center of the eye at the beginning of the radar loop. Then watch where the eye goes. You can clearly see the WNW movement.
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Quoting ncstorm:
Tweet from Big Joe

BigJoeBastardi Joe Bastardi
Track now much closer to Floyd in 1999.. 1999,1954 was in preseason hurricane analog package issued by my company in May


Honestly I can't stand the guy. Every update he changes his forecast so yes eventually he will be get it right after trying several times.
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Quoting SpicyAngel1072:


Are you in Florida Reed?


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.
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Yay, more upper air data.

SENIOR DUTY METEOROLOGIST NWS ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NWS NCEP CENTRAL OPERATIONS CAMP SPRINGS MD
0730Z MON AUG 22 2011

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS REQUESTING SPECIAL 6-HOURLY UPPER
AIR RELEASES BEGINNING AT 18Z TODAY (MON AUG 22) FROM THE
FOLLOWING STATIONS: KEY WEST, MIAMI, TAMPA, JACKSONVILLE,
TALLAHASSEE, SLIDELL, JACKSON, BIRMINGHAM, PEACHTREE CITY,
CHARLESTON, MOREHEAD CITY, GREENSBORO, NASHVILLE, WILMINGTON,
PITTSBURGH, BLACKSBURG, STERLING AND WALLOPS ISLAND.


atmo: Umm, Pittsburg? I suppose that's related to trough passage and it's characteristics, I guess. The rest obviously make sense.
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7659. NJ2S
Quoting BobinTampa:


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


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
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7657. Gorty
Any radar from down there so we can see which way shes going?
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Quoting jbplefty:
When do you think any watches or warnings will be posted for Florida?


When the NHC thinks they need to....
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7655. aimetti
well gee, looks like we actually have to watch this one from up here on the SE CT coast.
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7654. 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.
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Quoting jeffs713:


Wishing a storm to hit you is a pretty sad thing. Aren't you supposed to be in school?

LMAO
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7652. 7544
its going to be one of those stroms where u hear irene still continues to go west west west and then the panic will start on no time to do much watch i can feel it
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6871
7651. P451
Quoting scott39:
Anyone making comments that Irene WILL NOT hit Fl. just shows hom much they know about tracking a TC? Those flipid comments are annoying.


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.

Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
7650. srada
Quoting weatherguy03:
To me decision day for Florida is tomorrow. With the more Hurricane Hunter data we are feeding into these models we should have more of a consensus by then. But again I still believe the major threat with Irene will be further up the Southeast Coast from Savannah, GA to Wilmington, NC. as of my forecast today.


With the ECWMF calling for landfall near Wilmington, I am watching this storm path every chance I get.
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What's the next radar site to the TDWR?
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Quoting scott39:
Anyone making comments that Irene WILL NOT hit Fl. just shows hom much they know about tracking a TC? Those flipid comments are annoying.


Wishing a storm to hit you is a pretty sad thing. Aren't you supposed to be in school?
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7647. 900MB
Quoting NJ2S:
What about points north of North Carolina ..... the shift in the models is not looking good for VA MD DE NJ NY ..... Anythoughts about that... Irene maybe impacting the most unprepared population on the east coast


Growing more concerned for the NorthEast. Just a Cat 2 would devastate us.
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I believe the center of Irene is actually a bit south of where the NHC has it.. 18.7N .. around there.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


At least you're living and Florida and not dying in pain for hurricanes to hit Florida. Thanks for not getting heart broken because Irene will most likely miss Tampa By ;)


I live in the Tampa Bay area, every freaking rime a hurricane threatens, people either think some voodoo magic or some dome crap like that keeps them away, or everyone just runs around panicking

"ZOMG LIKE OH CRAP GUYS TAMPA IS OVERDOOOOO THIS ONE WILL DEFINTIELY BE ARE STROM I CAN FEEL IT!"



lolol

LOL! Yeah, I can live without them her here in the sunshine state, as much as I love these things.
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While I really don't like it I think she takes a track similar to David in 79. Which sux for me :(
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Quoting P451:
Good Morning.

Irene continued her steady WNW movement throughout the night.

She is now NW of PR and she will intensify.








Looks due west to me! :)
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Morning!

For those of you wondering what happened to the San Juan radar:

FTMJUA
MESSAGE DATE: AUG 22 2011 03:26:00
THE FAA SAN JUAN WSR-88D DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR (TJUA) HAS GONE
DOWN...MOSTLY LIKELY DUE TO A LOSS OF POWER AT THE CAYEY RADAR
SITE...AS RAIN BANDS ASSOCIATED WITH TROPICAL STORM IRENE MOVED
ACROSS THAT AREA. WE ARE UNABLE TO RESTART THE RADAR AT THIS TIME
AND FAA AOCC HAS BEEN NOTIFIED. RESTORATION TIME IS UNKNOWN.
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7641. Patrap
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Quoting cloudburst2011:




come on bob its a given if irene misses the his and haiti she becomes a major hurricane...still a chance of RI in the central bahamas also....bob get on the ball..


I hear ya and I expressed that in my blog today. But intensity forecasting is where we fail most times and we really wont know how strong she may get until she clears the Hispaniola coast. But yes the ingredients are there for a Major.
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When do you think any watches or warnings will be posted for Florida?
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Quoting Jedkins01:
Guys people in Florida should still closely watch Irene, but more and more data supports that Irene will not be a Florida storm at all. Heck, you can even see how Irene is already turning more north already ahead of forecast.

This is why I told people yesterday that it was ridiculously too early to say Irene was an extremely dangerous threat to Florida. lol



jedkins you are a very irresonsible person to make statements like that when irene is on flas back porch...i would think twice about being a met my man...
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Looks to me that the jog to the NW was due to Irene wrapping around the mountainous terrain on the west side of PR. Se will continue W-WNW now.
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Quoting weatherguy03:
To me decision day for Florida is tomorrow. With the more Hurricane Hunter data we are feeding into these models we should have more of a consensus by then. But again I still believe the major threat with Irene will be further up the Southeast Coast from Savannah, GA to Wilmington, NC. as of my forecast today.

Agree completely. Will know for FL tomorrow. I paint Savannah up to Myrtle beach--and perhaps even up as far as Wilmington, NC as my potential landfall zone.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

I agree with you Jed.


At least you're living and Florida and not dying in pain for hurricanes to hit Florida. Thanks for not getting heart broken because Irene will most likely miss Tampa Bay ;)


I live in the Tampa Bay area, every freaking time a hurricane threatens, people either think some voodoo magic or some dome crap like that keeps them away, or everyone just runs around panicking

"ZOMG LIKE OH CRAP GUYS TAMPA IS OVERDOOOOO THIS ONE WILL DEFINTIELY BE ARE STROM I CAN FEEL IT!"



lolol
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Quoting reedzone:
Just because Irene is moving more north doesn't mean she can't turn west again due to the strengthening ridge to the north. It's not time to call Florida off the hook. We will know more info by tomorrow. I am checking my generator out today and buying packs of water.


Are you in Florida Reed?
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7633. P451
Good Morning.

Irene continued her steady WNW movement throughout the night.

She is now NW of PR and she will intensify.






Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Quoting sunlinepr:
I had no avocado's in my tree since Jean... I just went to the backyard and I've got 32 wind blown avocado's...


They blew in from St Croix....;^)
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7631. Ryuujin
MississippiWx,

So, my call of Irene heading N of Hispanola seems to be panning out. What do you think of the impact of that Shortwave trough on her movement? Or will the High build back in and steer her far more west?
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To me decision day for Florida is tomorrow. With the more Hurricane Hunter data we are feeding into these models we should have more of a consensus by then. But again I still believe the major threat with Irene will be further up the Southeast Coast from Savannah, GA to Wilmington, NC. as of my forecast today.
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7629. 7544
morning all 80mph looks like shes going more west at this hour
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6871
7628. Skyepony (Mod)
Climo has been beating the models this year. Looking at climo..this most liking isn't staying way offshore.

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7627. scott39
Quoting scott39:
Know just the comments!
No-- lol
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7626. ncstorm
Tweet from Big Joe

BigJoeBastardi Joe Bastardi
Track now much closer to Floyd in 1999.. 1999,1954 was in preseason hurricane analog package issued by my company in May
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16016
7625. FLdewey
Patience has always been a weak point of das blog.

Relax ladies and gentlemen... wait for it.
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Quoting weatherguy03:


Good point. "Pumping the Ridge!"..Just had to say it!..LOL Yes, these stronger Hurricanes can do that, we would just have to see how strong she gets. She would have to be a Major for something like that to happen. I don't believe it affects them as much as some may think, but when you have a storm moving parallel to the coast like Irene will be doing 50 or 100 miles could make a big difference. We will have to watch for that.




come on bob its a given if irene misses the his and haiti she becomes a major hurricane...still a chance of RI in the central bahamas also....bob get on the ball..
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Quoting NJ2S:
What about points north of North Carolina ..... the shift in the models is not looking good for VA MD DE NJ NY ..... Anythoughts about that... Irene maybe impacting the most unprepared population on the east coast


I believe that Irene will make landfall in SC/NC coast, based off of the models. However, if it should miss the coast, and head farther east than expected, I don't see this as being a threat to the upper east coast/New England area.
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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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