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 zparkie:
Thats funny , no birds here in south florida, must be knowing something we dont, my cat is acting funny too, keeps looking outside at the sky.


An ant said said hello to me today while I was on the phone. Whoops! I mean aunt.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3784
4072. HCW
There will be no change in the Track at 11pm
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Appears to be right on track.. which is a great thing.... means PR/Haiti will be spared.
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Looks as though Irene has resumed a more westerly track or 270 degrees At 8:15PM eastern time it appears that it is located at 17.5N 65.0W and that the center is just SW of a recent blow-up of thunderstorms. Please confirm this observation if anyone would care to do so.
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4068. Ryuujin
Quoting Levi32:
Recon last went through the center 98 minutes ago, and Irene traveled about 19 miles in that time. That is a forward speed of about 12mph.


So Levi, what do you think? Above Hispanola or through it? What's your gut telling you, looking at the info and being a hell of a good forcaster?
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4067. aquak9
Quoting zparkie:
Charleston? that would mean the NHC would be about 800 miles off, I dont think they make that big of mistakes.

They had Ike making landfall in Miami as a Cat 3 at one point, I believe....
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 177 Comments: 26641
Quoting Levi32:
Recon last went through the center 98 minutes ago, and Irene traveled about 19 miles in that time. That is a forward speed of about 12mph.


It looks like it may have sped up just a hare in the last few radar frames.
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Recon confirms WNW movement towards Puerto Rico.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Levi32:
Recon last went through the center 98 minutes ago, and Irene traveled about 19 miles in that time. That is a forward speed of about 12mph.


Which is sufficiently slower than earlier today.
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Quoting tornadolarkin:
Random, but has anyone noticed that Harvey has exploded in its possibly less than 3 hours over the gulf?


Yes, I saw that. For a system that was so reluctant to start up, it seems to also be reluctant to knock it off.
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4061. zparkie
Charleston? that would mean the NHC would be about 800 miles off, I dont think they make that big of mistakes.
Member Since: August 25, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 54
Time: 00:05:00Z
Coordinates: 17.85N 65.0167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.5 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,448 meters (~ 4,751 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 995.1 mb (~ 29.39 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 139° at 4 knots (From the SE at ~ 4.6 mph)
Air Temp: 19.1°C (~ 66.4°F)
Dew Pt: 18.0°C (~ 64.4°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 7 knots (~ 8.0 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 19 knots (~ 21.8 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 0 mm/hr (~ 0 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data

New center fix, just guessing
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That darn GFDL model just wont let me relax!
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4058. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129841
4057. NCSCguy
Hi this is my first post but I have been lurking for several years now. I currently live in Charleston and was wondering about how far out does a storm have to be before they start issuing evacuation notices? I can't get off work to head for higher ground until they do.
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Quoting HurricaneIrene:


Oh really? I was not aware of this? But do you agree with my statement about the aforementioned models, though?



Yea well I don't think they want to discount the model, because it does perform fairly well for the most part. They're probably waiting to see consistency in the models, and maybe surface obs from the SE... They have one of the best track error rates, and a lot of experience in dealing with hurricanes. They know what they're doing. We'll see what ultimately comes out of Irene, it has to clear Hispanola before I'm gonna make any analysis about track though. That's a big player.
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Darn it, with the models trending east I was breathing a sigh of relief (live near Tampa) and now the GFDL spoils the picture. I have a business trip planned on Tuesday, coming back on Thursday and trying to decide if I should go or not. Well I guess we will know better tomorrow. Levi, what do you think of the GFDL run?
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The lowest pressure is further north than it was on the last pass, Irene is moving WNW.
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Quoting weatherguy74:
For those of you who are looking for the GFDL model and a good representation of it . . .

Link

is that new or is that old?
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4051. Levi32
Recon last went through the center 98 minutes ago, and Irene traveled about 19 miles in that time. That is a forward speed of about 12mph.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Time: 00:05:00Z
Coordinates: 17.85N 65.0167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.5 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,448 meters (~ 4,751 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 995.1 mb (~ 29.39 inHg)
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Irene doing some nice strengthening...Link
Persistent convection along with an almost complete eye, PR in my prayers!
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4048. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129841
Quoting lucreto:
Wow it dropped a fraction of a mb, who cares let's move on to something else.


How's the crow? ;)
Member Since: June 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 528
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Still

9-0-0
But for how much longer???

What's it like down ur way? I mean hysteria-wise... lol
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4044. msphar
So far it seems like more of rain event than a wind event for the Eastern tip of Puerto Rico.
Member Since: August 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 289
4043. TheMom
Quoting BahaHurican:
Well, I dunno about the fort part, but concrete, yes. Biggest problem here is roof loss.

However, we do still have some wooden structures which are vulnerable to high winds. And flooding is always a problem.
Our thoughts are with you. Be safe!
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For those of you who are looking for the GFDL model and a good representation of it . . .

Link
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4041. jonelu
Quoting Levi32:
Water Vapor imagery shows an upper trough diving into the eastern United States. With this in mind, I find it unlikely that Irene will be able to maintain a nearly due west motion all the way to Cuba as the 18z GFDL depicts.
I think the NHC track is pretty close through tomorrow. We shall see.
Member Since: October 31, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 884
Quoting presslord:
OK...I've gotta vent...the Charleston-casters have just about worn me out today...we're a long way from needing to get our knickers in a knot over this...


agreed ... +1 :)
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Quoting Dennis8:
ROOSEVELT ROADS, PR

7:53 PM 80.1 F 85.4 F 75.9 F 87% 29.72 in 5.0 mi NE 29.9 mph 47.2 mph 0.01 in Rain Light Rain
Haven't heard that name in a long time. There in 1967.
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Quoting presslord:
OK...I've gotta vent...the Charleston-casters have just about worn me out today...we're a long way from needing to get our knickers in a knot over this...



LOL, ok then, let us know when our knickers should be knotted. :-)
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Quoting weatherh98:
""

Wait hold on breaking news the dry air that was inthe center maybe getting epelled and possibly the coc is under the newly developed hot tower otherwise the coc is moving wsw


you are correct sir! yes!
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I expect an update from the Doc in the next 1/2 hour or so...
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4033. WxLogic
Quoting Levi32:
Water Vapor imagery shows an upper trough diving into the eastern United States. With this in mind, I find it unlikely that Irene will be able to maintain a nearly due west motion all the way to Cuba as the 18z GFDL depicts.


That's the dilemma... how far S will it be able to reach to allow Irene to start feeling it.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5038
4032. zparkie
Thats funny , no birds here in south florida, must be knowing something we dont, my cat is acting funny too, keeps looking outside at the sky.
Member Since: August 25, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 54
4031. Patrap
Quoting CothranRoss:


So is that Q2 cell or the C2 cell the potential eyewall?


its morphing nto a Whole New Cycle seems .
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129841
Quoting yesterway:
Many of the homes in the Bahamas are built like concrete forts.
Well, I dunno about the fort part, but concrete, yes. Biggest problem here is roof loss.

However, we do still have some wooden structures which are vulnerable to high winds. And flooding is always a problem.
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Quoting Levi32:
994.9mb pressure:

000
URNT15 KNHC 220009
AF302 0309A IRENE HDOB 13 20110821
235900 1754N 06521W 8433 01500 0015 +180 +162 024044 044 050 004 00
235930 1753N 06520W 8436 01493 0007 +180 +172 017043 044 048 005 00
000000 1752N 06518W 8429 01494 9995 +194 +166 009042 045 047 003 03
000030 1751N 06516W 8438 01479 9988 +198 +166 003041 042 048 000 03
000100 1751N 06515W 8435 01479 9981 +201 +163 004040 041 049 000 03
000130 1751N 06513W 8426 01482 9973 +203 +163 004038 039 047 000 00
000200 1751N 06511W 8432 01471 9967 +205 +160 002035 036 044 001 00
000230 1751N 06510W 8433 01465 9963 +204 +166 004033 033 034 001 00
000300 1751N 06508W 8433 01461 9959 +201 +167 002029 030 028 000 00
000330 1751N 06506W 8430 01458 9953 +197 +182 356024 027 024 000 00
000400 1751N 06504W 8434 01452 9949 +199 +180 006015 016 018 001 00
000430 1751N 06503W 8430 01453 9951 +192 +177 044007 009 015 001 03
000500 1751N 06501W 8435 01448 9951 +191 +180 139004 007 019 000 00
000530 1750N 06500W 8435 01448 9955 +187 +177 176009 011 019 000 00
000600 1749N 06458W 8429 01459 9959 +187 +177 196015 016 022 001 03
000630 1747N 06458W 8428 01464 9964 +185 +184 206022 027 027 001 00
000700 1746N 06457W 8440 01460 9970 +184 //// 208029 032 039 003 05
000730 1745N 06457W 8431 01471 9978 +180 //// 211030 031 039 002 01
000800 1743N 06456W 8433 01477 9983 +186 +177 219029 030 038 002 00
000830 1742N 06456W 8436 01479 9988 +189 +163 221029 030 037 001 00
$$
;



yup
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
Quoting GoWVU:


Press I am with you, just saying the wildlife is acting strange and the ants are building big homes as well..
I have just moved from NW Florida to Hendersonville, North Carolina. So throw that in also with the ants and wildlife....lol.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
994.9mb.

000400 1751N 06504W 8434 01452 9949 +199 +180 006015 016 018 001 00



wish means its still droping
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
4026. Levi32
994.9mb pressure:

000
URNT15 KNHC 220009
AF302 0309A IRENE HDOB 13 20110821
235900 1754N 06521W 8433 01500 0015 +180 +162 024044 044 050 004 00
235930 1753N 06520W 8436 01493 0007 +180 +172 017043 044 048 005 00
000000 1752N 06518W 8429 01494 9995 +194 +166 009042 045 047 003 03
000030 1751N 06516W 8438 01479 9988 +198 +166 003041 042 048 000 03
000100 1751N 06515W 8435 01479 9981 +201 +163 004040 041 049 000 03
000130 1751N 06513W 8426 01482 9973 +203 +163 004038 039 047 000 00
000200 1751N 06511W 8432 01471 9967 +205 +160 002035 036 044 001 00
000230 1751N 06510W 8433 01465 9963 +204 +166 004033 033 034 001 00
000300 1751N 06508W 8433 01461 9959 +201 +167 002029 030 028 000 00
000330 1751N 06506W 8430 01458 9953 +197 +182 356024 027 024 000 00
000400 1751N 06504W 8434 01452 9949 +199 +180 006015 016 018 001 00
000430 1751N 06503W 8430 01453 9951 +192 +177 044007 009 015 001 03
000500 1751N 06501W 8435 01448 9951 +191 +180 139004 007 019 000 00
000530 1750N 06500W 8435 01448 9955 +187 +177 176009 011 019 000 00
000600 1749N 06458W 8429 01459 9959 +187 +177 196015 016 022 001 03
000630 1747N 06458W 8428 01464 9964 +185 +184 206022 027 027 001 00
000700 1746N 06457W 8440 01460 9970 +184 //// 208029 032 039 003 05
000730 1745N 06457W 8431 01471 9978 +180 //// 211030 031 039 002 01
000800 1743N 06456W 8433 01477 9983 +186 +177 219029 030 038 002 00
000830 1742N 06456W 8436 01479 9988 +189 +163 221029 030 037 001 00
$$
;
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4025. jonelu
Quoting jonelu:
Quoting nymore:
Presslord I don't know about the wedding because I am not GAY
I am and I didnt watch it.
Member Since: October 31, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 884
Quoting Seflhurricane:
not buying the sharp n turn yet


I think the models that are making the sharp turn are just over reacting to trough and ridge expected to create a weakness and draw Irene north.
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Quoting P451:


Up to 60.
WNW 15.

The large open feature on radar apparently is not the pinpoint center according to the NHC.


17.8N, 64.9 W




If correct....
That would mean the open feature is rotating around the LLC, which would explain it's westward and then west south westward motion.

The storm heading itself remains on a WNW, 285 degree, heading.

This would also place the surface center underneath the hot tower.



Its on the south side of the hot tower. The COC the HH have found is in the ENE quadrant of the larger clear area we have been seein on radar. Its a small area trying to close off just under and south of that hot tow. That clear area may close in on it. Also dry air entered on W side of COC.
Member Since: August 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 652

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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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