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.

Links
Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico

Jeff Masters

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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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4472. Levi32
This is the kind of convection that Irene has been lacking in her core all day, but it is now blooming.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting presslord:


that is shoe enough a possibility


Lol...I was waiting for you to comment.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10244
Quoting shadoclown45:


Possibly 10,000 by tommorrow at 10 if there isnt a new blog, Its going crazy tonight!!!




youp
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Quoting MississippiWx:
I think we are all forgetting about the possibilities of Irene humping the ridge.


"Pumping" the ridge..........
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Anyone have a link to the dvorak scans?
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Quoting MississippiWx:
I think we are all forgetting about the possibilities of Irene humping the ridge.
This is true. In which case it'll inevitably hit Miami as a category 6.
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4465. shfr173
Quoting FLdewey:
What we need is a Cantore Cone.
hot off the press cantori headed to TB
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Quoting MississippiWx:
I think we are all forgetting about the possibilities of Irene humping the ridge.


that is shoe enough a possibility
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Quoting CaneAddict:


Oh I know but the size of PR shouldn't really do much to affect the storm..imo.


well since i remember, hurricanes do behave differently when tracking over here when it gets to El Yunque and la Cordillera Central (our highest peaks).

I mean, rain does not fall where I live, period, because it gets held up in the mountains nearby. Over there its almost always stormy.

East Dominican is another story. Over there they have snow in the highest peaks.
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.
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Quoting Orlando11:
so did atmo ( he is in osceola i believe).. a lot of people live in the orlando area on this blog..


East Orlando for me...we have a ton of people here that live in E central FL.
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4460. trey33
Quoting Patrap:
Tampa has fans?


Yes.........
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4459. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128261
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.

Less than half as high as Hispaniola's, though.
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Quoting weatherguy03:
LOL. I just disappointed all the Tampa Fans!!! Hit me with the minus button!


Didn't disappoint me Bob...
I live in Tampa now. Keep that storm East of here!
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osceola county got the beat down in 2004 does anyone have that map? charley, frances, jeanne.

also I agree with P451, irene will exit just off the NORTH coast of puerto rico. doesn't look good for whoever gets this lady.
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Quoting Jax82:
IMO Irene is going to cross right down the middle of PR. Just the way it looks on radar now.


The circulation look's pretty large..and I think this is why PR won't do much to affect Irene..half the circulation will probably remain over water.
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I think we are all forgetting about the possibilities of Irene humping the ridge.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10244
The current NHC track has her at TS until past Puerto Rico; anyone here think that she will make Hurricane status before or during her pass of the Island?....She is really looking good on the loops right now but I don't know how much interaction with PR (vs Haiti or Cuba) would hinder intensification when she clearly wants to go there very soon.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
A track up the East Coast of the state, slightly moving inland like say the Orlando area would seem reasonable, right?


Yep, thats still on the table. But for Irene to go between they Keys and Cuba and then bending up through the Eastern GOM, I just don't see that happening.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:
i think this blog will be up too 6,000 commet be for 11pm tonight and 7,000 too 9,000 in the AM


Possibly 10,000 by tommorrow at 10 if there isnt a new blog, Its going crazy tonight!!!
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4448. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
09L/H/I/C1
MARK
17.75N/64.93W

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4447. msphar
Esperanza reporting 12 Kts. ENE gusting to 26 kt.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i think this blog will be up too 6,000 commet be for 11pm tonight and 7,000 too 9,000 in the AM

That's...OVER 9,000!
TropicalAnalystwx13 is gonna kill me! LOL XD
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i think this blog will be up too 6,000 commet be for 11pm tonight and 7,000 too 9,000 in the AM


whats the record, taz? ive seen it go up to the hundreds of pages i think (i have like 100 maximum posts per page IIRC)
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4444. Jax82
IMO Irene is going to cross right down the middle of PR. Just the way it looks on radar now.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
Quoting chrisdscane:


it'll stay the same at 11
Probably a wise decision. Models have been going back and forth; can't change the cone too frequenlty without folks questioning reliability. If the cone is all over the place, most people would lose confidence.
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Quoting Patrap:
Tampa has fans?


Ha Ha!!! Maybe??
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Quoting CaneAddict:


That's why he isn't the NHC...LOL. No the eastern GOM is not in the clear.


Unless there is quite a bit of a shift in thinking by the global models in the evolution of the two NE-ern troughs then its extremely unlikely. Also it would take a weak and shallow storm to continue WNW for that period of time.
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Quoting Orlando11:
Fishhead.. I am in seminole county and we got 17 inches of rain at my house. porch 1 foot under water. alsy went through eyewall of charlie, no power for 8 days, blew down brick walls, tore part of our roof and had a piece of aluminum blew out neighbors window. then frances, jeanne. fun season if you were renting lol. 111mph gust at my nearest local station (UCF)
lol yep was here for all of that . was actually in deltona for charlie and we couldn't get out of our neiborhood for a week . 3 weeks without power. So many pine trees. not no more :)
Member Since: August 17, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 22
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Yeesh Irene just let out a big fart(gust) at my house. How inappropriate of her!
Angry Irene Is Angry


shes also reforming further N, just like P said
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so did atmo ( he is in osceola i believe).. a lot of people live in the orlando area on this blog..
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Quoting weatherguy03:


Well let me rephrase that..LOL If Irene weakens considerably across Hispaniola, and I mean it almost kills her, then she could move farther West. But as it stands now, yes I don't see her moving into the Eastern GOM. But that doesn't take Florida out of the equation.
A track up the East Coast of the state, slightly moving inland like say the Orlando area would seem reasonable, right?
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Quoting weatherguy03:
LOL. I just disappointed all the Tampa Fans!!! Hit me with the minus button!


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.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10244
Quoting bythegraceofgod:
What would happen if Irene decides to just slow waaaay down? Will that weak spot still catch her and move her north? Or will that weak spot get out of here and she moves more west?


Good question. Weird things happen with hurricanes.
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i think this blog will be up too 6,000 commet be for 11pm tonight and 7,000 too 9,000 in the AM
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4433. scott39
Quoting weatherguy03:


Well let me rephrase that..LOL If Irene weakens considerably across Hispaniola, and I mean it almost kills her, then she could move farther West. But as it stands now, yes I don't see her moving into the Eastern GOM. But that doesn't take Florida out of the equation.
LOL You Met guys know how to handle yourselves. Is the deepness of the trough set in stone, where it picks up Irene?
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4432. eye
I wonder if this blog will be as active if she does not hit FL and pays NC/SC a visit instead? The early model runs yesterday always shift, when they showed FL I knew it probably will not happen as everyone remembers Katrinia and her first couple paths that the NHC showed.
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If you're in this cone, you're not in the clear. That's what it exists for, to alert you to the possibility of the storm threatening your area.

Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
4430. Patrap
Quoting presslord:


Would you stop it?!?!


Reality reminds us with a gentle SLAP !
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128261
Quoting serialteg:


remember shes going over PR, its not florida we do have mountains lol


Oh I know but the size of PR shouldn't really do much to affect the storm..imo.
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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.



we are all watching and learning
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What a day. Irene has come a long way folks.

Look at that Wind Field!
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4426. rv1pop
Quoting serialteg:


i got 2 energy drinks, 6 bags of ice on the freezer (power's still on), 400W inverter hooked up to the car battery, lots of water stored, gas stove check, light sources check.

gonna blog and post videos today - a puerto rican version of Oz lol
Be careful not to let your car battery go dead. I like to have a deep cycle battery with the inverter with jumper cables ready. I start the car and hook up the jumpers & recharge the deep cycle in about 10 to 20 minutes. Be safe.
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Quoting CaneAddict:


Mhmm...as soon as she gets done wrapping her self..she has potential to get strong and possibly have a period of rapid intensification..


Sounds sexy.
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IMO.. she will skirt the coast 25 miles of east coast of florida cruising the beachline while intensifying and hit sc
Member Since: August 17, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 22
Yeesh Irene just let out a big fart(gust) at my house. How inappropriate of her!
Angry Irene Is Angry
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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.