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 Levi32:
St. Croix has basically given us the center position of Irene:



Hopefully this clears it up for the folks who thinks its heading WSW...
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Intense run of the GFS.



Wow! that doesn't look good at all. I am in NE FLA and that doesn't even look good for us here.
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Levi...quick question...What does post3255 say? Thanks!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
WeatherNerdPR, is the weather fine in your place?
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3268. Levi32
Quoting presslord:
Levi...quick question...Who do you like in the national League East this year? Thanks!


NFC East? I probably am a fan of the Eagles more than the darned Cowboys. Let's put it that way.
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This is going to be INTERESTING recon mission...
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7880
Quoting Levi32:
St. Croix has basically given us the center position of Irene:



Makes it very likely that at least the Southern half of Puerto Rico will take a direct hit. The whole island will get it bad though.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
Quoting MississippiWx:
Recon couldn't have been in a better place to start this mission.

lol
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5618
Quoting mrpuertorico:



oh and dont forget we dont have cellars or basements or attics in PR
I love Shpongle btw
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3263. Dakster
Quoting MississippiWx:
Recon couldn't have been in a better place to start this mission.


I am betting that is why they took off EARLY...
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Quoting amd:


Buiy CHSV3

Read the wind direction from 12 pm to now. It has gone from ENE to WNW. That means it has gained latitude, and is currently just to the NNE of St Croix.


Ok.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Not really a bad thing.



Oh I know, its a good thing.
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Quoting Dakster:
Press. It should open up...

It should open up, unless a model change happens during the london session...
It could go down due to Irene, it does not take much for it to go down, someone could say boo.
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3259. Gorty
I really don't know why her NE side looks so much thicker than her SW side.
Member Since: November 8, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 1058
my bad they found 999.0 ooops
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Recon couldn't have been in a better place to start this mission.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
3256. Levi32
St. Croix has basically given us the center position of Irene:

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3253. xcool
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3251. Hhunter
Quoting NICycloneChaser:


This run of the GFS will parallel the Florida Coast a couple of hundred miles offshore and make a bee line for the Carolinas, or slightly west of there. The run might be wrong, but that's what it will show.


sadly he is correct current ground zero is the carolinas it is early but a great time to look at your plan if your in the cone
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looks to me like the circulation finally found one that worked... slightly north of northern coast of St. Croix?

Anyone else agree? I know the previous circ was in the hook feature on the SE side, but it looks like bands closed that off.
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Quoting Patrap:


looks like due west or slightly south of west movement based on that radar feed...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Thought they weren't supposed to take off for another hour...

Well, a tropical storm has become increasingly organized and is nearing landfall in a territory of the USA. What did you expect? lol
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5618


If these are the current steering layers for the strength that Irene is can someone please tell me how she can go WNW when it looks clearly West or even a little WSW. Also, is the line with the arrows on it a ridge or if not what is it ?
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Quoting Vincent4989:
Don't know why, but why is the NHC still reporting Irene as having winds of 50 mph when it looks like a 65 mph?


They''ll up it later on tonight when recon goes out and winds stronger winds. With a pressure of 996 mb. I expected them to find 65-70 mph winds.

Recon has indeed taken off.
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LOL


recon this found 990mb

999.0 mb
(~ 29.50 inHg)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Thought they weren't supposed to take off for another hour...


Not really a bad thing.

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Quoting presslord:
Levi...quick question...Do you expect the market to open up or down tomorrow morning? Thanks!!


LMBO!

Also - what are this week's lottery numbers?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Thought they weren't supposed to take off for another hour...


They weren't lol. Obviously couldn't resist popping up considering how it was over their heads.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


But what if you guys have a Cat 5 crossing directly over you? Where the heck do you guys go? Cellars?



Oh, concrete buildings. Gotcha!



oh and dont forget we dont have cellars or basements or attics in PR
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its safe to say she moved wsw in the past few frames
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Back from doing chores... aroud how low is Category 1 in terms of MB pressure usually?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7880
Quoting amd:


Buiy CHSV3

Read the wind direction from 12 pm to now. It has gone from ENE to WNW. That means it has gained latitude, and is currently just to the NNE of St Croix.



Radar out of PR seems, and I emphasizes seems, to show a slightly south of west motion the last hour, Time will tell
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Quoting Levi32:
996.5mb and light west winds.



Means it is north of the buoy now?
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Recon has taken off!

Fire up Google Earth.


My guess is they took off early since St. Croix is in the dead spot right now.
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3234. LargoFl
Quoting TerraNova:
Strong supercell crossing Southern NJ...



yes the weather guys are saying this is a very dangerous situation up there..stay safe
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Governor giving press conference in Puerto Rico.

Link
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any hurricane wind reports yet?
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3231. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
09L/TS/I/C0
MARK
17.80N/64.86W
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Center is passing just to the north of St. Croix
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We just hit a gust of 45mph and heavy rain in SE Puerto Rico
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3228. Dakster
Press. It should open up...
Quoting presslord:
Levi...quick question...Do you expect the market to open up or down tomorrow morning? Thanks!!


It should open up, unless a model change happens during the london session...
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Don't know why, but why is the NHC still reporting Irene as having winds of 50 mph when it looks like a 65 mph?
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Quoting Tazmanian:
AM HAPPY TOO REPORT THAT THE RECON HAS TAKE IN OFF


Thanks for that info, I asked the question when they were going back in and all I got was a smarty answer.

Thanks Taz
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3225. 7544
irene looks like a hurricane at this hour
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Quoting Littleninjagrl:
I posted earlier but the blog moves so fast I think it got missed. Can someone please tell me what if anything Irene might throw at Tampa? The reason I ask is we have had a lot of rain lately and our street has been flooding a little every time it rains. The ground really hasn't had a chance to dry up so we were thinking of tying back a few trees in our front yard just in case. Any help would be appreciated.


Depends on the track, but it is a big storm, and even if it rides up the coast you could get a bunch of rain.

If it goes up the center of the state, a lot more rain!
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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.