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 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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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.)


Click archive and it'll take you to graphic archive. :) Link
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4371. JLPR2
Quoting iamtheman99:

quit it the blog cant


..handle it?

Was that the ending of the sentence? XD
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Can anyone tell me if this would be the right steering layer for Irene? It's the 500-850 mb. layer...TIA







I think so. And I think it is laughing at us.

That is creepy.

Aqua....stuffing muffins in a bottle....throws bottle in the ocean... :)
Member Since: September 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 638
Quoting Dirtleg:
No worries Taz...as you can see I've been around for awhile. Just like to lurk and stir the pot on occasion. :)


ok
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
4368. Patrap
.."I wanna be a NHC forecaster"...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129795
Quoting presslord:


What in the world are you talking about?!?!


OMG Press, dont even reply to that sh*t
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Getting real gusty here in South-Eastern Vega Alta. Not much rain though.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5725
Quoting Bretts9112:
so the gfdl takes it to the western GOM?


Why is that?
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4364. Thrawst
LAWL. This blog moving so fast it just crashed on my webpage. LOL.
Member Since: July 18, 2010 Posts: 50 Comments: 1909
Quoting Bretts9112:
so the gfdl takes it to the western GOM?


If by Western you mean Eastern, then yes.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting PRweathercenter:
Yes things going down hill, winds already gusting 35mph NW of Puerto Rico at 9:00PM this Sunday ,the COC is supposed to exit our Region, Aguadilla towards the PUertorican Island of "El Desecheo", in the Mona Canal, at 4:00 AM, so it is only beginning...
Member Since: May 31, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1008
4361. Dirtleg
No worries Taz...as you can see I've been around for awhile. Just like to lurk and stir the pot on occasion. :)
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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!
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Fajardo, Puerto Rico reprting 35mph winds and gusts of tropical storm-force. Stay safe guys, Irene is here.

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so the gfdl takes it to the western GOM?
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4356. 7544
she sure is getting tighter isnt she
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874
Quoting IFuSAYso:


except for the racist comment about peeps worried about self preser5vation. IE Haiti. I bit my tongue whe Press made that statement, but as the night goes on.... Dude, wish casting that a storm is killed over the mountains near Haiti is not racist, Jackwagon!


What in the world are you talking about?!?!
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The center will stay south of PR, at best skirt the coast!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8134
Quoting weatherguy03:


Its going to be hard for the models to shift too far East with the Subtropical High locked in place. Once we finally got a definite center with Irene, when it was organizing last night and this morning it relocated farther North, that's when we saw that bit of an Eastward shift. I really don't see many more big shifts coming with this track unless Irene really dies over Hispaniola and then maybe the track changes a bit. But that I don't see happening either. So for the next 48 hours for the U.S its going to be tweaking that forecast and seeing if Irene will make it all the way to Florida or East of Florida, and then is trouble for points North(Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina). Intensity is an entire different matter and that will depend on its interaction with Hispaniola.



Thanks for your input Bob and I agree. Hopefully we're not kissing a major up here in Jupiter.
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anyone live in volusia county for fay and get to witness it sit off our coastline for 24 hours nearly stationary... how crazy was that
Member Since: August 17, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 22
Quoting Patrap:
San Juan Radar
NEXRAD Radar
Velocity Azimuth Display Wind Profile



Sorry, but can you help a newbie learn how to interpret these? TIA
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Quoting P451:
WEST - NORTH - WEST




Hope you're ready, PR... here she comes.
we are..im in near the beach a Metro Area..is getting ugly :(..more than Jeanne..
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So it's official! GOM not in the picture!
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Quoting Methurricanes:

A Tornado was also Spotted around Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Another one? Springfield, Mass. was hit very hard earlier this year.
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Quoting ncstorm:


it never fails but there is ALWAYS someone that stays on the beach when there is a CAT 3 or more heading their way..I remember the images from GUSTAV with the big waves hitting their sea wall and people were just standing there watching as if they had nothing else to do..and please dont get me started on the surfers..it tones down the seriousness of the storm and people watching think.."oh well, they out there so I dont need to leave" (I'm only talking about the beaches)


Hey now :)
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Quoting Dirtleg:
I'm banned??




ooopes nevere mine then but it did look like they did re move your post but not banned


soory for the mix up
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4342. JLPR2

Meanwhile over at the Western Africa coast...
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
Quoting Bluestorm5:
yea, but making me do summer AP homework when it was CANCELLED a week ago. My parents didn't believe me. I have to do 150 questions in 3 day.


Out of curiosity..what topic?

AP/IB classes...oh so many years ago. I turned out fine.
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Quoting Ameister12:
Reed Timmer
Reported large tornado has just destroyed the town of Goderich, Ontario.. More soon
44 minutes ago

Via Twitter


That IS bizarre!! Especially noting it is located right on Lake Huron....I worked Joplin and Tuscaloosa this yr...not fun.
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4339. scott39
Quoting weatherguy03:


Its going to be hard for the models to shift too far East with the Subtropical High locked in place. Once we finally got a definite center with Irene, when it was organizing last night and this morning it relocated farther North, that's when we saw that bit of an Eastward shift. I really don't see many more big shifts coming with this track unless Irene really dies over Hispaniola and then maybe the track changes a bit. But that I don't see happening either. So for the next 48 hours for the U.S its going to be tweaking that forecast and seeing if Irene will make it all the way to Florida or East of Florida, and then is trouble for points North(Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina). Intensity is an entire different matter and that will depend on its interaction with Hispaniola.
So you would say without a doubt that the Eastern GOM is in the clear?
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Quoting P451:


Yes.

So does Recon.

That is the true surface center.

The large open region that was being followed was not the true surface center. That's why as the large area appeared to move WSW on radar the storm continued to move WNW....because the true surface center continued WNW.

If you recall earlier, Levi32 mentioned the true center was in the south east corner of the large open region that many were calling an eye and used to extrapolate storm heading.

He was correct and that is the feature that has now shown itself NNW of the western tip of St. Croix. That is the feature Recon dropped a vortex message on. That is the feature adjacent to the hot tower. That is the feature the NHC and ATCF has labeled as the center.

All have WNW/285 movement. This is confirmed in radar loops.

You can see the larger feature has lost it's rotation and is filling in and sagging to the SW now. On satellite imagery it's being filled in as well.



That IS the feature!!!
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Can anyone tell me if this would be the right steering layer for Irene? It's the 500-850 mb. layer...TIA








for the storms current intensity yes
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Vieques also showing similar conditions.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5725
4334. Patrap
San Juan Radar
NEXRAD Radar
Velocity Azimuth Display Wind Profile

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129795
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.)


Link
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4332. Levi32
Quoting chrisdscane:



levi if u can take a look at this (if you can) the ridge appears to be alittle stronger and could move back quicker what do u think


The strength of ridges and troughs are not easily gauged on those maps - only their general shape. To me the models have a decent handle on the trough coming down over the northeast U.S., and much of the long-term track will depend on how much interaction Irene has with Hispaniola. The location at which she emerges from the island, as well as how much it weakens her, will determine how fast she tries to move into the weakness left by the trough.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting violet312s:


You'll appreciate what they do now when you're all grown up and a successful and happy well adjusted person.


Or you could end up hating yourself like some in here. :|
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Quoting PRweathercenter:
Bye guys, stay safe, it's bad outside



Hoping you will weather Irene alright. Be safe!
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Quoting violet312s:


You'll appreciate what they do now when you're all grown up and a successful and happy well adjusted person.
Or paying your therapist for couch time...LOL
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Quoting PRweathercenter:
Bye guys, stay safe, it's bad outside

Be very careful.
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4327. Dirtleg
I'm banned??
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4326. scCane
According to the xtrap; if Irene continues the same motion for the next couple of days, it will pass Haiti to the north.
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look at patrap's radar loop very little northward motion
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Quoting tinkahbell:
So...we finally get action in the Atlantic and it is the week that I take help my freshman daughter move into her dorm at Catholic University. How typical...she moves in Thursday LOL


+!
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Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5725

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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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