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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Yeesh Irene just let out a big fart(gust) at my house. How inappropriate of her!
Angry Irene Is Angry
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
Quoting muddertracker:
Reed Timmer just f/b'd that a large tornado has reportedly destroyed an Ontario town...crazy!
Canada?
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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.




How is the terrain in PR??
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4420. Patrap
Tampa has fans?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667
Quoting CaneAddict:


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


And there is one now!!..LOL Sorry CaneAddict.
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Quoting Drakoen:
GFDL continues to be adamant with its western solution. That should at least help keep the NHC from dramatically shifting more to the east.


Yeah that's always something to consider...the NHC trusts the GFDL model as much as any since it has typically performed very well every year compared to the other models. Also there isn't much chance of the NHC shifting their track east until the 2 NE-ern troughs begin to erode the W-ern part of the suptropical high. The storm physically cannot move too far N until the influence takes shape.
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Quoting Patrap:
00z Irene Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Irene Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)



Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)







Would you stop it?!?!
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4415. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667
4414. Mucinex
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 bring them out but they are annoying me. Not that it really matters, but I'm central west coast florida. These things are monsters!

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.
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Quoting Relix:


I've just had 3 Medallas and a Yellow Vodka shot. I am fine! XD!


i just drank my yellow Ciclon :(

i have a green monster waiting in the wings. that's not for now, tho.
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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 bring them out but they are annoying me. Not that it really matters, but I'm central west coast florida. These things are monsters!
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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LOL. I just disappointed all the Tampa Fans!!! Hit me with the minus button!
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:




Good evening Press. I can't travel too far from Jupiter however, should Irene stick to the current track and you guys plan to come down, My wife, daughter and myself would like to help out. Let me know how we can do that.


Many thanks! We'll keep ya posted...
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Quoting MississippiWx:


UKMET is doing it as well. Still not sure what those two models are seeing.


They Both got drunk and dont have a ride home :D
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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..


remember shes going over PR, its not florida we do have mountains lol
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4405. Patrap
00z Irene Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Irene Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)



Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)





Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667
Quoting Neapolitan:

You sure they're not swarming termites?


Or dragonflies, or BATS!!!!!

;)
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4403. Relix
Quoting serialteg:


how drunk are you? :D


I've just had 3 Medallas and a Yellow Vodka shot. I am fine! XD!
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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)
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Wow, almost 4400 comments already! This blog is gettin busy!
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Quoting MississippiWx:


If by Western you mean Eastern, then yes.

LOL i fail i ment east :(
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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 bring them out but they are annoying me. Not that it really matters, but I'm central west coast florida. These things are monsters!
Rain coming.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8392
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:


as good as the formation of an eye looked earlier....it doesnt look so great now. i think the posters who said there was dry air in there were correct and Irene might not make it to hurricane strength b4 Puerto Rico. JMO
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Quoting weatherguy03:


Yes.


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.
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Quoting presslord:


+!




Good evening Press. I can't travel too far from Jupiter however, should Irene stick to the current track and you guys plan to come down, My wife, daughter and myself would like to help out. Let me know how we can do that.
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Quoting Relix:
Toa Baja getting gusty. No rains at all though. Still solid power.


how drunk are you? :D
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4394. eye
Looks like several dry slots around the center, especially southern portion.
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Quoting Drakoen:
GFDL continues to be adamant with its western solution. That should at least help keep the NHC from dramatically shifting more to the east.


it'll stay the same at 11
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Quoting Drakoen:
GFDL continues to be adamant with its western solution. That should at least help keep the NHC from dramatically shifting more to the east.


The newer 00z models shifted a tad bit west.
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Quoting Drakoen:
GFDL continues to be adamant with its western solution. That should at least help keep the NHC from dramatically shifting more to the east.


UKMET is doing it as well. Still not sure what those two models are seeing.
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4390. ncstorm
Quoting weatherguy03:


Yes.


um..I'm sure your post was minus a thousand times..LOL!!
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4389. Relix
Toa Baja getting gusty. No rains at all though. Still solid power.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

You sure they're not swarming termites?


many years ago I had an experience with talking rocks...I was....well...nevermind...
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Quoting weatherguy03:


Yes.


That's why he isn't the NHC...LOL. No the eastern GOM is not in the clear.
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Quoting weatherguy03:




N/A
Member Since: October 26, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 363
4385. Drakoen
GFDL continues to be adamant with its western solution. That should at least help keep the NHC from dramatically shifting more to the east.
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Quoting InTheCone:


Link


Thanks! That's exactly the one I was looking for!!
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Quoting 7544:
she sure is getting tighter isnt she


Mhmm...as soon as she gets done wrapping her self..she has potential to get strong and possibly have a period of rapid intensification..
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Quoting scott39:
So you would say without a doubt that the Eastern GOM is in the clear?


Yes.
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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?
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Quoting punkriffic:
I figured somebody on here would know where to look for this. On the NHC site's 5-day cone graphic, there used to be an animate button that would show where previous cone tracks had been in relation to where it was in the most current update. Does anybody know if they ditched that feature or if I'm just missing it somewhere on the page?
(I liked to see how the cone moved from update to update as they got more confidence in the track.)
Check the graphics archives for the particular storm you want to view. Link should be at the top of the storm specific page.
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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 bring them out but they are annoying me. Not that it really matters, but I'm central west coast florida. These things are monsters!

You sure they're not swarming termites?
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Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


OMG Press, dont even reply to that sh*t


that is probably exceedingly good advice
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Quoting GoWVU:

Press, WELL SAID!! My 15 year probably says the same about me, lol


Ditto! That's why you have kids... so you can terrorize them! :-D

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4375. msphar
Farjardo 30 kts. NNE gusting to 36 kt.
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We should have some new ground observations of central pressure in a hour or two, please post what you see!

FYI I made a screenshot of the low 29.38 pressure observed on ground thus far, because it was a 1-min update (bottom of graphic) that won't appear in the hourly data table. here it is:

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Quoting Ameister12:

Another one? Springfield, Mass. was hit very hard earlier this year.
Springfield is Far from Greenfield, Springfield is a town away from the Conn. Border, While Greenfield is a Town awy from the Vermont Border, so its not really the same area, up around Greenfield is much more rural.
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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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