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 P451:
Going back for more...




how long in is recon is end there be for noaa fight takes overe?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115254
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
4 twisters in SE PR so far...


how can u tell
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Quoting yesterway:


The 1700 track has the last point sitting on top of Orlando come Friday as a TS. You feel that this same track will be repeated at the 2300 report?



I doubt they will move it. If they did, it would be no further than the TVCN, just offshore EFL
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Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting CaneAddict:


Dude chill out, maybe you can learn something from her. You don't have to be a jerk about it.


I'm chilled...You're the one who needs to chill. It was also a joke, smart one.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting MississippiWx:


Lol..I'm using presslord's terminology and I'm also being highly facetious. :-D


Gotcha and also respect your opinion.....You think Irene can make Cane status in spite of her pending brush with PR (rather than post-PR)? She really appears to firing on all cylinders at the moment....
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Quoting weatherguy03:


Exactly. I want this storm to move well East of me!! Nice to see you. Didn't know you moved.


Moved about a year ago. Still own my house in Jax.
Can't sell it in this market. Have it rented however. I do have an interest in Jax effects from Irene! Glad to see you blogging here on occasion.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Same here I have a lot of problems with flying roaches and the roaches with the black and brown stripes, I have some old kitchen cabinets that I want to replace soon. Tonight the Bees are singing away...
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Quoting CaneAddict:


You didn't dissapoint anyone. However for you to boldly state that the eastern GOM is in the clear is a quite ignorant statement considering how we all know these storms don't follow a connect the dot sheet of paper all the time.


Well I will say it again. Irene is not going into the Eastern GOM.
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Is there any way the trough will be able to pull her north fast enough to go out to sea before the ridge builds back in? Just wondering I see the models moving east.
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Quoting P451:
Going back for more...


That sounded so...wrong.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5694
4511. txjac
Quoting Methurricanes:
If Irene makes landfall in PR. as a Hurricane, would that count as a US landfall, or does it have to hit a State?


In my opinion that would count!
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4510. scCane
Quoting P451:
Pulling up and away from St Croix now... maybe even moving more northerly than before.

This is definitely getting interesting.

Will be crucial to see interaction with PR as you may see a westward bend take place due to the land interaction and friction that occurs.



If not, I don't know what to say, this could be over water off the north-central coastline of PR with this present movement.



Looks nearly identical to Hugo's track over Puerto Rico. Albeit being more westward.

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Quoting Mucinex:

If they are black flying ants, they are swarming because it mating season.

If they are brown, they are termites...and they are swarming because it is mating season.

If you see the ants or other critters climbing higher, that's when you need to look out.

And if you see them parachuting out of the sky, you are in a bad "B" movie.
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Quoting Relix:
Toa Baja getting gusty. No rains at all though. Still solid power.
Ocea Park very gusty..this will be worst than Jeanne...
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Quoting Neapolitan:

You sure they're not swarming termites?


Thanks. Is it swarming season? I think I've just indentified them on google as carpenter ants. From the pictures carpenter ants bodies look bigger than termites. Guess I have to look at where they are coming from during day light tomorrow. (no big worries as the house is CONCRETE BLOCK with a few wood posts out here on the patio.) Just creepy and annoying. I LIVE out here!
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4506. Thrawst
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

That's...OVER 9,000!
TropicalAnalystwx13 is gonna kill me! LOL XD


We all know how it's his favorite number... :o)
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Quoting presslord:


Would you stop it?!?!


I know. Making me verklempt.
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Getting nasty at my house.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5694
4502. NCSCguy
About my previous evacuation post, what I meant to say was how many hours out do they issue the notices?
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


I'm just not buying this...I think the eastern Gomex is still very much in play here. The first trough is already lifting out and the ridge will strongly build back in. Also, Irene's center could be severely disrupted by Hispaniola...leading to reformation. I think it all depends on timing of 2nd trough and how much Irene traverses Hispaniola...but until then I wouldn't rule out Gomex threat...


Anywhere in the CONE ..is not in the clear.
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


I'm just not buying this...I think the eastern Gomex is still very much in play here. The first trough is already lifting out and the ridge will strongly build back in. Also, Irene's center could be severely disrupted by Hispaniola...leading to reformation. I think it all depends on timing of 2nd trough and how much Irene traverses Hispaniola...but until then I wouldn't rule out Gomex threat...


Lol...When have you ever not said the GOM is in play?
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting Levi32:
This is the kind of convection that Irene has been lacking in her core all day, but it is now blooming.





yup and now look at it it looks like it will olny pass overe a small part a PR be for heading back in too open water
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115254
Quoting atmosweather:


East Orlando for me...we have a ton of people here that live in E central FL.


Sure do... Merritt Island here! All eyes on Irene of course, because it could have some big implications in our neck of the woods at the end of the week.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Less than half as high as Hispaniola's, though.
Quoting P451:


This is true.

NE region of PR



Present heading the surface circulation would pass just to the left of those mountains.

Pretty big disruptors looming there.


shes pulling a Georges, only 50mph less
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4496. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128874
COC on the move again and appears to be heading for the south PR coast.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:


"Pumping" the ridge..........


it is a "joke" between a select few in here...lol...
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
I'm wondering what will get more attention, Libya rebels' victory OR Category 3/4/5 going toward Charleston?


Have you finished your homework?!?!?!?!
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4492. Mucinex
Actually, we do have many mountains in Florida.
It just seems like we don't because we've given them all the same name...Mount Trashmore.
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4491. trey33
Quoting shfr173:
hot off the press cantori headed to TB


in the clear then
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4490. HCW
Quoting shfr173:
hot off the press cantori headed to TB


Well they are 100% safe and it will be sunny
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Quoting Levi32:
This is the kind of convection that Irene has been lacking in her core all day, but it is now blooming.



Finally shed the dry air from the W. Although as she gets closer to Hispanola its possible she will have to mix some more out since many storms suffer from the dry air flowing down the mountains and off the island.
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test
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7935
The radar presentation has really improved in the last 3 hours. Convection is starting to wrap around the south side of the center along with a movement slightly north of due west. If this misses the mountains of Hispaniola (very close call here), it could strengthen and remain a hurricane till landfall on the SE coast.
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4485. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Patrap:


Reality reminds us with a gentle SLAP !
or a good kick in the arse either way its reality
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Quoting Levi32:
This is the kind of convection that Irene has been lacking in her core all day, but it is now blooming.



I have only one comment on that picture HAZZAH!!!!
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I'll join you with the minus posts and also say that the GOM is pretty much out of harm's way at this point.


I'm just not buying this...I think the eastern Gomex is still very much in play here. The first trough is already lifting out and the ridge will strongly build back in. Also, Irene's center could be severely disrupted by Hispaniola...leading to reformation. I think it all depends on timing of 2nd trough and how much Irene traverses Hispaniola...but until then I wouldn't rule out Gomex threat...
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4482. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128874
Quoting weathermanwannabe:


"Pumping" the ridge..........


Lol..I'm using presslord's terminology and I'm also being highly facetious. :-D
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
I'm wondering what will get more attention, Libya rebels' victory OR Category 3/4/5 going toward Charleston?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8032
4479. Relix
P I'll have to disagree. I still believe its at a 285 heading, perhaps another northerly wobble. I do believe its gonna landfall over Yabucoa or a bit more to the north of there but not really go North of the Island.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



SFWMD still hasn't updated Irene yet, others have though, coming soon.


The 1700 track has the last point sitting on top of Orlando come Friday as a TS. You feel that this same track will be repeated at the 2300 report?
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4 twisters in SE PR so far...
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5694
Quoting RMM34667:
As far as the bird, bug, ant thing... I've spent most evenings on my patio for the last 8 years. Tonight was my first encounter with giant flying ants. I've killed four so far and if another one comes near me I'm going to have to head inside. I have no clue as to what is bringing them out but they are annoying me. Not that it really matters, but I'm central west coast florida. These things are monsters!
Um, they are running away from the east coast??? lol
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If Irene makes landfall in PR. as a Hurricane, would that count as a US landfall, or does it have to hit a State?
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Quoting ejstrick:


Didn't disappoint me Bob...
I live in Tampa now. Keep that storm East of here!


Exactly. I want this storm to move well East of me!! Nice to see you. Didn't know you moved.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Woah...just last week we were struggling to reach 2000 comments in 24 hours. Now:

8225 comments and 31 entries posted by all members in the last 24 hours.


DOOMCON increase = commenting increase

:p
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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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