Hurricane Irene pounds Puerto Rico, heads for Hispaniola

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:40 PM GMT on August 22, 2011

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Hurricane Irene strengthened into the season's first Atlantic hurricane at 5am EDT this morning as the eye moved over San Juan, Puerto Rico, and crossed into the ocean just north of the island. Overnight, Irene held its own as the eye passed over the most mountainous portion of Puerto Rico, the El Yunque region. Winds in the higher mountains likely reached Category 2 strength, 96 - 110 mph, according to measurements from the San Juan Terminal Doppler Radar, and the hurricane pounded the island with damaging winds and flooding rains, resulting in widespread tree damage and power failures that hit 800,000 people. The San Juan Airport recorded top winds of 41 mph, gusting to 55 mph, and 2.87" of rain, as of 9am AST. Tropical storm conditions affected the Virgin Islands, with St. Thomas recording sustained winds of 40 mph, gusting to 67 mph, and 4.03" of rain as of 6am AST today. At 7am EDT, the ship Horizon Trader measured sustained northeast winds of 69 mph and wave heights of 11.5 feet at 19°N, in the northern eyewall of Irene. Latest observations from an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that Irene is slowly intensifying, with a central pressure of 989 mb observed at 9:42am EDT. The eyewall is not fully formed yet, with a gap on the south side. This gap will need to close off before the hurricane can undergo rapid intensification.


Figure 1. A direct hit: the center of Hurricane Irene passed directly over the Terminal Doppler Radar at San Juan, Puerto Rico between 4am and 5am AST this morning.

Track forecast for Irene
The computer models show good agreement that Irene will pass along the north coast of Hispaniola today, but just a slight wobble in Irene's track to take it farther offshore--or push it onshore, over the mountains--will have major impacts on the ultimate path and strength of the hurricane. A trough of low pressure is expected to move across the Eastern U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday, turning Irene more to the northwest by Wednesday. 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 popular solution among the models is to take Irene to the northwest through the Bahamas on Wednesday and Thursday, then into the Southeast U.S. coast in South Carolina or North Carolina on Saturday. Irene would then travel up the mid-Atlantic coast, arriving near Long Island, New York on Monday morning as a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane. One of the models proposing this solution is our best model, the ECMWF. However, we have two other of our very good models suggesting a landfall near Miami on Thursday night is likely (the GFDL and UKMET models.) NHC forecaster Stacy Stewart gave some good reasons in this morning's discussion to favor a track close to the east coast of Florida, but just offshore. Last years' worst performing major the model, the NOGAPS, predicts that Irene will pass out to sea, missing the Southeast U.S. coast. Keep in mind that the average error of a 4-day forecast from NHC is 200 miles, and just a small deviation in the path of a storm moving roughly parallel to the coast will make a huge difference in where it ultimately makes landfall. The NOAA jet will be flying its first dropsonde mission into Irene today, which should result in a more reliable set of model runs first thing Tuesday morning.

Intensity forecast for Irene
Irene is embedded in a large envelope of moisture now, and wind shear is expected to remain low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. With water temperatures very warm, 29 - 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification except when land is interfering. Satellite loops show that Irene is steadily growing in size, which will protect the storm against major disruption by its passage along the north shore of Hispaniola today. The storm is lacking much development on its southwest side, where dry air is interfering with development. This dry air may help keep southern portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti from receiving more than 3 - 6 inches of rain. There is at least a 30% chance that passage of the eye over Hispaniola will reduce Irene to a tropical storm tonight and into Tuesday. Due to Hispaniola blocking inflow of moist air from the south, Irene will likely compensate by building an even larger region of heavy thunderstorms to the north, offshore. Thus, when Irene's center finally moves well away from the coast on Tuesday, it will be a bigger storm, with the potential to spread hurricane conditions over a wider area later in the week when it intensifies. One limiting factor for intensification may be in the upper-level outflow pattern. The hurricane is lifting a huge amount of air from the surface to the upper atmosphere, and all that mass has to be efficiently transported away in order for the hurricane to intensify. Right now, upper level outflow is only well-established to the north and east, and the forecast outflow pattern for the coming five days is only moderately favorable. Overall, I think the official NHC forecast of a Category 3 hurricane by Thursday is the right one, though Irene could easily be a Category 2 or Category 4 storm.

Irene's impact on the Dominican Republic
Heavy rains from Irene have already reached the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, where Punta Cana has seen wind gusts up to 29 mph this morning. The northeast coast of the country near Samana will receive the worst of Irene's wrath, with sustained winds of 50 - 70 mph and gusts above hurricane force likely to cause widespread tree damage and power outages today. Passage along the coast of the island may weaken Irene to a tropical storm by Tuesday morning, and wind damage in Puerto Plata may be less severe than at Samana. The capital of Santo Domingo will see lesser winds, perhaps 30 - 50 mph, with gusts to 60 mph. The main danger to the Dominican Republic will be Irene's torrential rains, which are likely to reach 20 inches in some mountainous regions, causing dangerous flash floods and mudslides.

Irene's impact on Haiti
No nation in the Caribbean is more vulnerable to hurricanes than Haiti, whose northern reaches are expected to receive torrential rains of 5 - 10 inches from Irene. During the 2008 hurricane season, four storms--Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike--dumped heavy rains on Haiti, leaving over 1,000 people dead or missing. The path and intensity of Hurricane Irene are very similar to that of Hurricane Jeanne of 2004, which dumped 13 inches of rains on the nation's northern mountains. The rugged hillsides, stripped bare of 98% of their forest cover thanks to deforestation, let flood waters rampage into large areas of the country, killing over 3000 people, mostly in the town of Gonaives, the nation's 4th largest city. Jeanne ranks as the 12th deadliest hurricane of all time on the list of the 30 most deadly Atlantic hurricanes, and Irene's rains are capable of causing a similar disaster. During 2004 and again this year, ocean temperatures off the coast of Haiti were 1 - 1.5°C above average, one of the top five values seen in the past 100 years. Since more water vapor evaporates into the air from record warm waters, the potential for devastating floods from hurricanes is much higher in these situations. However, satellite images of Jeanne show the storm had much more moisture on its south side when it hit Hispaniola than Irene currently has, so I am hopeful that Irene's rains will not be as intense as Jeanne's were.


Figure 2. Track of Hurricane Jeanne of 2004, which followed a path very similar to what is expected from Hurricane Irene along the north coast of Hispaniola. Irene is not going to do a big loop like Jeanne did, though.

As bad as the hurricanes of 2004 and 2008 were, the January 2010 earthquake was far worse. Up to 316,000 may have been killed, and the capital city of Port-Au-Prince was devastated, leaving over 1.5 million people living under tarps during the 2010 hurricane season. Fortunately, Hurricane Tomas missed making a direct hit on Haiti, and Haiti escaped major loss of life during the 2010 hurricane season. This year, approximately 595,000 Haitians still live underneath tarps outdoors thanks to the earthquake, and these unfortunate people will be at risk of being swept away by flash flooding from Irene's torrential rains. However, Port-Au-Prince lies to the south of where Irene's main rains will fall, and I doubt the earthquake refugee camps will suffer from a major flooding disaster.


Figure 3. Hospital admissions (black bars) and death rate in percent (red line) for Haiti's cholera epidemic of 2010 - 2011. The cholera epidemic surged out of control after Hurricane Tomas dumped heavy rains on Haiti on November 4, 2010, with hospitalizations increasing by a factor of three for over a month. Over 3% of all people who contracted cholera died after Tomas' rains. However, sanitation and medical care improved in the following months, and the death rate fell by a factor of five to 0.7% by the summer of 2011. Another surge in cholera cases occurred in June 2011, doubling after heavy rainy season rains occurred. Cholera deaths doubled during the surge, but the death rate remained constant at 0.7%. Image credit: Pan American Health Organization.

Another danger is that Irene's rains will worsen the cholera epidemic that surfaced after the earthquake. Cholera is a water-borne disease, and spreads readily after heavy rains. As of August 12, 2011, the 2010 - 2011 cholera epidemic had infected 419,000 Haitians, killing 5,968. After Hurricane Tomas passed on November 5, 2010, cholera cases exploded, with hospital admissions more than tripling for over a month. Similarly, heavy rains in June 2011 during the country's usual rainy season caused doubled cholera cases and deaths for several weeks. We can expect that Irene's rains will cause at least a doubling of cholera cases for a month or more. This will lead to several hundred additional cholera deaths, given the disease's 0.7% mortality rate this summer in Haiti (during June and July 2011, 95,212 cases were reported, with 626 deaths.) An increase in cholera deaths due to Irene's rains is also a concern in the Dominican Republic, where cholera has sickened 14,000 people and killed 92 as of the end of July.

Organizations Active in Haitian Relief Efforts:
Portlight disaster relief
Lambi Fund of Haiti
Haiti Hope Fund
Catholic Relief Services of Haiti

Links
For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

See my 2010 post, Haiti's tragic hurricane history.

An exceptionally active of hurricane season
Hurricane season is only one-third over, and we've already had almost a full years' activity already. Tropical Storm Irene is the 9th named storm this year, and an average season has just 10 - 11 named storms. Irene's formation date of August 20 ties 2011 with 1936 as the 2nd earliest date for formation of the season's 9th storm. Only 2005 was more active this early. However, the first eight storms of the year have done far less damage than is typical. All eight storms stayed below hurricane strength, making 2011 the first hurricane season since record keeping began in 1851 to have more than six consecutive tropical storms that did not reach hurricane strength. As I discussed in Friday's post, a major reason for this is the lack of vertical instability over the tropical Atlantic so far this year. We've had a large amount of dry, sinking air over the tropical Atlantic, and the usual amount of dry, dusty air from the Sahara, both helping to keep the atmosphere stable and stop this year's storms from intensifying into hurricanes. Hurricane activity typically ramps up big-time by August 20, with more than 80% of all the hurricanes and 65% of all the tropical storms occurring after that date. At our current pace, 2011 will become the second busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record, with 24 - 27 named storms. There are only 21 names in the list of names for a hurricane season, so we may have to break out the Greek alphabet again in late October this year, as occurred in 2005. Ironically, this was the last time the current set of names was used in the Atlantic, so 16 of this year's 21 names are repeats of 2005. I'm not too happy about seeing another hurricane season challenge the Hurricane Season of 2005 in any way, and let's hope we don't retire another five names this year, like occurred in 2005! With vertical instability much lower this year than in 2005, and that year having already seen one storm (Dennis) retired by this point in the season, I doubt that will happen, though.


Figure 4. The annual cycle of average hurricane frequency in the Atlantic. Historically, about 35% of all the tropical storms and 15% of all the hurricanes will have occurred by August 20.

Which model should you trust?
Wunderground provides a web page with computer model forecasts for many of the best-performing models used to predict hurricane tracks. So which is the best? Well, the best forecasts are made by combining the forecasts from three or more models into a "consensus" forecast. Over the past decade, NHC has greatly improved their forecasts by relying on consensus forecast models made using various combinations of the GFS, GFDL, NOGAPS, UKMET, HWRF, and ECMWF models. If you average together the track forecasts from these models, the NHC official forecast will rarely depart much from it, and the NHC forecast has been hard to beat over the past few years. The single best-performing model over the past two years has been the ECMWF (European Center model). This model out-performed the official NHC forecast in 2010 for 1-day, 2-day, 3-day and 4-day forecasts, and in 2009 for 4-day and 5-day forecasts. You can view ECMWF forecasts on our wundermap with the model layer turned on. The European Center does not permit public display of tropical storm positions from their hurricane tracking module of their model, so we are unable to put ECMWF forecasts on our computer model forecast page that plots positions from the other major models. As seen in Figure 5, over the past two years, the GFS and GFDL model have been the next best models, with the UKMET model not far behind. Last year, the NOGAPS model did very poorly, forcing NHC to come up with some new consensus models this year, the TCOA and TVCA, that do not include the NOGAPS model. For those interested in learning more about the models, NOAA has a great training video (updated for 2011.)


Figure 5. Skill of computer model forecasts of Atlantic named storms 2010. OFCL=Official NHC forecast; GFS=Global Forecast System model; GFDL=Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory model; HWRF=Hurricane Weather Research Forecasting model; NOGAPS=Navy Operational Global Prediction System model; UKMET=United Kingdom Met Office model; ECMWF=European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting model; TVCN=one of the consensus models that lends together all (or most) of the above models. Image credit: National Hurricane Center 2010 verification report.

Next post
There will be 2 - 3 posts per day in my blog this week during Irene, with Angela Fritz and Rob Carver doing some of the afternoon and evening posts.

Jeff Masters

Tropical Storm Irene hits Puerto Rico (lobdellJ)
Tropical Storm Irene hits the north coast of Puerto Rico
Tropical Storm Irene hits Puerto Rico
Tropical Storm Irene from Maunabo, PR (ronmil)
The first bands or Irene approaching Maunabo, Puerto Rico (SE corner)...
Tropical Storm Irene from Maunabo, PR
Irene (reefchild)
Irene @OPkB OceanParkBeach Puerto Rico 7pm
Irene

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337. Gorty
By looking at Satellite, she is affecting eastern Hispanola. Am right? Which also could be why her west and sw side is not looking good. I really don;t think the dry air is affecting her that much, its the land interaction.
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http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/flash-avn.html



Link



latest AVN flash loop (AL09).


looks like it is growing amazingly fast. it is stacking up in the upper levels very quickly and expanding outwards in all quads....very healthy looking outflow and uptake as well.....
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Quoting ncstorm:


He has been forecasting for Wilmington since Bertha, I believe..its a plus to have someone forecasting storms that have experience with it..



He was a weather channel forecaster for a long time. He forecasted for them during Hugo
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The only real thing you can count on is the next 24hrs in the cone. You dont know what will come tomorrow. To many times have I seen a hurricane do what its not supposed to do to rely solely on the models. Irene could stall tomorrow and sit for 2 days. The experts will say "do to unforseen ridging"....blah blah blah. Expect the track to change...It may change from GA, to NC back to FL. If your in front of Irene, please just stay informed to your local stations and be ready. Dont wait for surprises.
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12z gfs at 54hrs.Link
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Quoting saylo2mylilfren:
What is max mayfield saying?
He is saying im glad I dont work at the NHC anymore.
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Quoting K8eCane:



He is one that i trust. Do you remember Bonnie back in 98 that sat over us so long? Well twc AND nhc had her forecast to shoot on out to sea . George looked right into the camera at 11 that night and said " people we got problems". The next day it was all downhill


He has been forecasting for Wilmington since Bertha, I believe..its a plus to have someone forecasting storms that have experience with it..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15286
does anyone have any info on how strong the 1st and 2nd trough would be? just curious because I have been reading about the troughs lifting out quicker, not being deep enough and the high building westward on Friday?

we are on the west coast of florida. seems like we are in the clear?
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Quoting Chicklit:


Jeanne's forecast track in 2004 was a lot further west than Irene's at this point in time, and that hurricane took a hard left and made landfall along the Space Coast, for example.


Actually it made landfall in Martin county, about an hour south of the Space coast. The center of the eye came in the St. Lucie inlet, 3 weeks to the day after Francis at nearly the exact same point of landfall. Not a fun year. I was without power over two weeks between the two storms.
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What is max mayfield saying?
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24 - 48 hours ago Irene looked like it might make Cat 1 at best. No we are looking at a potential Cat 3.

1) Why have conditions changed to allow for such intensification.
2) Coudl this get more intense than a 3 (I'm remembering Floyd as a 5 before moving north and missing Florida).
3) At present this looks a threat to teh Carolina's. What would need to happen for this to hit Florida, is it just a case of not nmaking the turn north in time?
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Quoting thedawnawakening3:
Over the next 24 - 36 hours will help determine potential impacts on FL. What people should watch out for in FL currently is the western side of her circulation and see how that can develop further. Dry air and outflow restriction are hampering RI chances right now. Steady strengthening is more likely in the short term.


Definitely. Even if there isn't a direct strike on Florida, the western side of Irene can still drag all the way up the east coast of the state.

That's not necessarily a better result if her eye is close to shore and the development on that side of the storm strengthens due to the widespread damage.
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That's it she's going southbound between the channel going back to the Caribbean, lol

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remember it could do more overall damage to a larger area if a) the COC builds a humungous diameter and b) it takes a path off shore of florida. sustained cat 1/2 winds are common in a major hurricane 150 miles from the COC. there is a worst case path on one of the runs that does just that very thing, taking it clear into north carolina/virginia and then into the new england states.....affecting 10's and 10's of major cities along the eastern seaboard with sustained hurricane winds for several hours as Irene passes them.....


....clears throat.....((((igor under breath)))......
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Quoting atmoaggie:

You've got a couple of issues, there.
First, the wind field characteristics:

Irene's strongest wind stayed away from the available observation platforms.
Additionally, only the western end of Irene would have induced a direct on shore flow on northern PR. All of the observation platforms would have measured land roughness-reduced wind speeds outside of the short period of direct on-shore winds, and only then if they are truly directly at the coasts.
Then, the type of land features come into play. In our storm surge modeling areas of marsh grasses leave about 90% of the former, open water wind speeds. Pine forests, less than 70% of the former wind speeds. These are based on peer-reviewed works and real-world data.

Oh, and two more. A great many surface observation platforms do not actually have an anemometer AT 10 meters, but a lower one with some reasonable adjustment. While reasonable, the adjustment isn't always accurate and very rarely accounts for the roughness upstream by the specific direction of the wind.

(Obviously the airport official ASOS should be 10 meters).

And, the issue of time averaging. ASOS is a 2-minute average, I think. NDBC buoys, 8-minute average. C-MAN coastal stations vary. Other weather stations, mixed bag of who know what.

All time averaging acts to reduce the magnitude below that of 1-minute. The longer, the less.
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Quoting E46Pilot:
GFDL model is bringing the storm over Fl. Isn't that on of the more reliable models?


Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's out to lunch.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
uh oh



A few more frames could confirm a slight shift south.
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Quoting ncstorm:


I'm sure George will be all over it starting at 5..



He is one that i trust. Do you remember Bonnie back in 98 that sat over us so long? Well twc AND nhc had her forecast to shoot on out to sea . George looked right into the camera at 11 that night and said " people we got problems". The next day it was all downhill
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Quoting reedzone:


Looks like the eye may be jogging a bit west on that frame.


I knoew someone would claim this. It is a possibility, but imo the convection that just fired up to it's west is causing that effect. Unless you are looking at radar. Nevertheless given this trac and the history of storms having their own dang minds and not following the tracks, Wednesday will be a big descisive day for tracking because it is then when it is supposed to take a more northerly track so the timing of this turn will decide whther it hit FL or SC.
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Northen Fort Lauderdale here feeling better and better about the track. Feeling sorry for the northern states...
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Quoting DVG:


After measuring the current track, the center of the current track places the storm @150 mi E of Jax as it travels north.


Isn't the margin of error at this point about 250 miles?
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Did some more Hurricane Deflecting over the weekend:

1. Sent Hurricane Preparedness Guide to my coworkers (I am the Safety Officer)
2. Bought more D batteries
3. Bought more water
4. Bought more non-perishables (on sale!)
5. Cleaned out/restocked emergency kit

So my husband thinks I'm crazy, but I'm doing my duty to deflect! And I'm also glad that although we're still in the cone, the 5 day dot is no longer directly over my house:)

Thanks for all the helpful information here, I really appreciate you all.
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GFDL model is bringing the storm over Fl. Isn't that on of the more reliable models?
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Quoting 7544:
hmm looks like the gfs is also showing that sw jog over dr as the nam did could it follow the nam on this run and head more west
where are you getting this info?
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uh oh

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Latest IR imagery suggests potential development of the southern outflow channel. Stronger convection is trying to develop south of PR and DR.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
You've got a couple of issues, there.

First, the wind field characteristics:


Irene's strongest wind stayed away from the available observation platforms.

Additionally, only the western end of Irene would have induced a direct on shore flow on northern PR. All of the observation platforms would have measured land roughness-reduced wind speeds outside of the short period of direct on-shore winds, and only then if they are truly directly at the coasts.

Then, the type of land features come into play. In our storm surge modeling areas of marsh grasses leave about 90% of the former, open water wind speeds. Pine forests, less than 70% of the former wind speeds. These are based on peer-reviewed works and real-world data.


Ok, that clears things up a lot for me, which is why I mentioned I was just talking, not declaring anything. I take notice of all kinds of details, so that's why.
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Quoting Drakoen:


A lot of people were saying Florida would definitely get hit. Even the people that are now saying that she will go east of Florida.


Jeanne's forecast track in 2004 was a lot further west than Irene's at this point in time, and that hurricane took a hard left and made landfall along the Space Coast, for example.
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305. 7544
hmm looks like the gfs is also showing that sw jog over dr as the nam did could it follow the nam on this run and head more west
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Quoting K8eCane:



Ha! Well that explains it for me


I'm sure George will be all over it starting at 5..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15286
Quoting CaneHunter031472:


Dude, come on man. Quit being a sore looser it's not going to hit New orleans sorry no Weather Channel hype on the levees you guys never fixed.em>


The levees we never fixed? What's your problem?
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I wouldn't call it an eye yet as convection has yet to close off the southwest portion of the coc. Right now dry air is interfering with the outflow on the NW side and southern semi circle of Irene, this will likely preclude significant strengthening until she begins to pull away from Hispaniola. Until this can occur steady strengthening seems most plausible. Imagine her steadily strengthening with the parameters in place now, but as the conditions get better as she approaches the Bahamas watch out, she could explode.
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Quoting jeffs713:
So if all the bloggers wishcasting a FL landfall were to blow hot air to the east, would it make Irene stronger, or just push her to the east?
It would "pump the ridge"
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Quoting DookiePBC:


OK...before I wasn't willing to say South Florida is in the clear...but seeing this, I think we may be clear by 300-400 miles. (SARCASM FLAG = ON before anyone rakes me over the proverbial coals)


Yes, thats good news!!..LOL He will work his way up the coast until he gets to South Carolina!:-)
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at 42hrs out.Link
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Quoting ncstorm:


He does the morning news..



Ha! Well that explains it for me
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So, to sum up, anywhere between Miami and Newfoundland, with the Carolinas in the middle of the cone.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Just a lil wobble would mean a world of difference...



LOL -- both typing at the same time.
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I've seen my first jogging west post of the day. So here we go. Will it shift west or will it shift north. If anything changes in the track we will be hearing alot of holy shifts in here. Will it interact with dr or will it miss dr.Heck if I know. will it wrap in dry air and stay weak and move to the west (did I really just say that) or will she strengthen more than expected and get swept out to sea ( we can only hope but what the heck do I know). Just be prepared and be prepared for alot more holy shifts before this is over.
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Quoting K8eCane:



Oh Dear....who is that forecaster? Havent seen him much


He does the morning news..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15286
Quoting weatherguy03:
Mike Seidel from TWC headed for West Palm Beach tomorrow morning to start coverage.


OK...before I wasn't willing to say South Florida is in the clear...but seeing this, I think we may be clear by 300-400 miles. (SARCASM FLAG = ON before anyone rakes me over the proverbial coals)
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So if all the bloggers wishcasting a FL landfall were to blow hot air to the east, would it make Irene stronger, or just push her to the east?
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Quoting DookiePBC:


Actually what will make the blog explode is when Irene "makes the turn". That first time that the NHC discussion says "and Irene should begin a turn to the NW later today" you will see a few hundred posts saying that she's missed the turn or is turning much later and (insert local area here) should make preparations.


That always is the fun part ;)

The turn is supposed to happen at ____ hrs. and 15 minutes past that when it hasn't, well, you know what happens.

Freak out time!!!

Time will tell with this one.

Member Since: July 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 645
Looks like the 12z gfs initialized at 1004, waitting to see were the new runs take her.
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Quoting oceanblues32:
Ok so it looks like we here in ft lauderdale and south florida are out of danger!!! But if it tracks over Hispanolia would that mean differently for south florida just curious... i do hope someone takes the time to answer!!


If it were to interact more with the land and that interaction causes it to weaken, the motion could be west more, and change the path some.

I would not stop watching it until it is past us, although the NHC 2-3 day track is pretty good.

But if it is suppose to go up the coast between the Bahamas & Florida, a wobble of 100 miles could put the storm directly on top of Florida.

And the other thing that bears repeating -- this storm is not just a dot 40 miles wide -- at the moment the tropical force winds go out up to 150 miles. Do you know how many miles it between Naples & Miami? Not 150. Its also not 150 miles to the bahamas either.

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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.