Dangerous Tropical Storm Irene headed for the Dominican Republic

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:38 PM GMT on August 21, 2011

Share this Blog
48
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 3823 - 3773

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 134 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160Blog Index

Looks like Irene is still fighting dry air on the west but a new semi-circle appears to be tightening up inside the circulation center. If this is the case then the center has been over St. Croix with little movement for the past few hours.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting rkay1:
All the models have this thing well off the coast of FL for nearly 24 hours now.  Why hasn't the NHC updated their cone? 
they are not WELL off shore they are still very close
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3820. JLPR2
Quoting Skyepony:
I'm in awe how the Hurricane Hunters took off from the COC of Irene..


Was wondering what's going on there, weird.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8733
3819. msphar
Esperanza on the South side of Vieques is reporting 8 kts out of the NE with gusts to 18 kt
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3818. ncstorm
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Well, Wilmington is not on coast, but 20 miles upriver on Cape Fear. Carolina Beach/Wrightsville Beach will get destoryed... it's on sea level and no hurricane wall.


actually wilmington is 15 miles from carolina beach and with the cape fear river running right through wilmington, it would have a storm surge of its own from the river alone, anything to the magnitude being portrayed by the HWRF would cause devastation as far as Charlotte..where would people evacuate to?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15666
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Lol, same here. They found a 995.4mb reading on the north end of the island.
Miami how is it looking for South florida model wise any changes with the new runs
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nola70119:
Looks like the storm either being sheered or taking in dry air.......combined with the land masses approaching, I think Irene's best chance is late track, if it makes it that far.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grandpato4:


I'm on Atlantic Beach.
well, I'll keep the eye on this storm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dry air was impacting her earlier today, doesn't seem to be the case later today, this evening.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3812. Patrap
Quoting Skyepony:
I'm in awe how the Hurricane Hunters took off from the COC of Irene..


Kinda brings this into focus skyepony.



Marooned - 1969 Gene Hackman
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128639
we will probably see a 60MPH TS in the next Advisory and additional watches/warnings
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Moving WNW to me :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Joanie38:


Thank you for you answer..:) Is that high pressure suppose to weaken?
well, I don't know sadly. It have been there for months.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Skyepony:
I'm in awe how the Hurricane Hunters took off from the COC of Irene..
Lol, same here. They found a 995.4mb reading on the north end of the island.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
st croix radio struggling to stay on the air
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3806. Levi32
Quoting Patrap:


That loop perfectly captures what I mean about her slowing down a bit during the last little while.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
3805. gugi182
southwest part of PUERTO RICO it is 7:36pm a little bit of rain expecting winds to clock in at 50 to 70MPH by 2 or 4am as it exits the western part of the island it will or probably classified as a Category 1 hurricane. Still got power up to now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3804. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
09L/H/I/C1
MARK
17.78N/64.90W

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:


Still has to work on that western side of the circulation.


Hey Drakoen.

Whats your thinking on Irene track?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
just lost the St Croix station
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Looks like the storm either being sheered or taking in dry air.......combined with the land masses approaching, I think Irene's best chance is late track, if it makes it far.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Whats the pressure they are finding and the wind speeds???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i say Irene is the best storm of the sea so far
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
what is intresting to note is the large TS force wind field in Irene mainly to the North
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


The kind of observation I just made is one of those meso-analysis comments about something that occurs in a very short time interval. It only becomes significantly relevant to longer-term behavior if it persists for a long while.


In layman's terms don't try and extrapolate long term consequences of of small changes in track, intensity, forward speed etc, look for persistence :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CothranRoss:


Don't forget about Wilmington man.
Well, Wilmington is not on coast, but 20 miles upriver on Cape Fear. Carolina Beach/Wrightsville Beach will get destoryed... it's on sea level and no hurricane wall.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3793. 7544
shes got to be a cane at this hour imo
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3792. Skyepony (Mod)
I'm in awe how the Hurricane Hunters took off from the COC of Irene..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bluestorm5:
High pressure over Texas that is causing drought is blocking entry into GOM.


Thank you for you answer..:) Is that high pressure suppose to weaken?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Strongly suggest you read RandyB's blog... posted about 5:30 p.m. today from St. Croix.... it's in the Blogs list at the top under Meteorology Blogs.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Look at the PR radar. I think an eye is developing, starting to close off with heavy rotating thunderstorms on all sides
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wow, Irene is a big girl. Too many trips to the buffet methinks.
Member Since: June 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 886
Quoting Drakoen:


Still has to work on that western side of the circulation.
still has work to do but that eastern side looks good
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3786. K8eCane
Hurricaneirene specifically the screw the carolinas part?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
""


Definitely an eye now
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3784. Drakoen
Quoting Seflhurricane:
quickly closing off the eyewall


Still has to work on that western side of the circulation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3783. Patrap
itsa still moving <----- dat way
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128639
Quoting CothranRoss:


Don't forget about Wilmington man.


Wilmington may be in the bullseye if northward trends continue.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
quickly closing off the eyewall
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Dakster:
I bet we have a slight westward shift with the 8pm advisory...
I bet not as there is no update of the tracks for the intermediate advisories
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Was RandyB due to fly today? Does anyone know?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Joanie38:
Hello everyone from Central Louisiana...I have been watching Irene everyday, What is keeping Irene from going into the central GOM??
High pressure over Texas that is causing drought is blocking entry into GOM.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3775. K8eCane
Quoting HurricaneIrene:



Absolutely, screw the Carolinas, because Florida will be impacted first. Besides, according to Pressy, FEMA will never ever let them down during a time of need, ^_^. Besides, Craig Fugate is a much better director as oppose to the ding-dong that existed back in 05 after Big K, =).



excuse me??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3774. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128639

Viewing: 3823 - 3773

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 134 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160Blog Index

Top of Page

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.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
68 °F
Mostly Cloudy