Category 3 Hurricane Irene tracks northwest through the Bahamas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:55 PM GMT on August 24, 2011

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Hurricane Irene remains a powerful category 3 this afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. Irene is moving northwest through the Bahamas at 12 mph, and its center has cleared the northern edge of Crooked Island. The next islands in the path of Irene are Rum Cay (population 80) and Cat Island (population 1700), which it will encounter later tonight. Irene will track northeast of Long Island (in the Bahamas) over the next 24 hours. George Town has been reporting wind gusts up to around 40 mph this afternoon, and wind speed will likely increase during the next 12 hours as Irene's center passes about 30-40 miles to their northeast. Long Island in the Bahamas will likely see category 1 winds, which begin at 74 mph. Shelters on New Providence and Grand Bahama are open and ready for business, and Grand Bahama International Airport will remain closed until Irene passes.

Irene continues to look well-organized on satellite, especially compared to yesterday afternoon. Since then, intense upward motion, and therefore strong thunderstorm activity, has encompassed the center on all sides, which has led to a well-defined eye. Throughout the morning, Irene's eye wall has shrunk, and a new eye wall could be developing, although it remains unclear at this point. If this is the case, it could lead to some temporary weakening of the hurricane, which would be good for the Bahamas. This afternoon, Irene's hurricane-force winds extend 50 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extend up to 205 miles from the center. Earlier this morning, an Air Force Hurricane Hunter mission investigated Irene and a NOAA Gulfstream (Gonzo) is currently collecting data around the hurricane.


Figure 1. Microwave satellite imagery of Irene captured at 8am this morning. Image source: Naval Research Laboratory.

Track forecast for Irene
NOAA has continued dropsonde missions today, scouring the atmosphere for data as far north as the waters off of South Carolina. Every bit of upper-air data that the models can ingest will lead to better forecasts and decreased uncertainty. These missions are an investment that pay off. Irene will track through the central Bahamas today, the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday, and approach the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday. Beyond this there is a bit of divergence in the models. Both the GFDL and the HWRF are forecasting a landfall on Long Island, New York, and the ECMWF continues to suggest a landfall even further west than that. NOGAPS is still the eastern outlier, which misses the U.S. all together and makes landfall in Canada. Today the official track forecast from the National Hurricane Center agrees with the GFS forecast through Saturday morning, and then diverges ever so slightly to the west of that through Monday. It has become clear over the past 3 days that everyone on the East Coast from North Carolina to Maine should be prepared to feel impacts from Hurricane Irene.


Figure 2. Official track forecast provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Intensity forecast for Irene
Irene continues to be embedded in a large envelope of moisture, and wind shear is expected to remain low to moderate, 5 - 20 knots, for the next three days. With water temperatures very warm, 28 - 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification to a category 4 hurricane (winds of 131 to 155 mph). The only reliable model that's not forecasting this intensification is the GFS, and this is likely due to its relatively course spatial resolution. The National Hurricane Center expects Irene to intensify to a category 4 tomorrow, with a decrease in intensity back to a category 3 on Friday.

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

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

Our Wundermap is also a great resource for tracking hurricanes, with the ability to turn on multiple layers of data, including satellite, official track forecast, and current weather observations from not only the U.S. but the Caribbean and Bahamas, as well. Here's a link to get you started.

Angela

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Quoting Tazmanian:



ok


dos any one no how strong the white house can with stan a hurricane like cat 1 cat 2 cat 3 cat 4 cat 5 ???




One way to find out.
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GFS



Where I could be...

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she missed a trop point, that's not good
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Is there anything that could weaken Irene by the time it makes it up the the New York area (dry air, colder water, etc)? (if that is where it ends up going)
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New worries about a New York nuclear plant's vulnerability to earthquakes could hand the state's governor an opportunity to try to close the plant, but New York City's huge power needs could stall any such moves. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/17/us-japa n-quake-nuclear-indianpoint-idUSTRE72G92720110317

and hurricanes?
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Quoting nigel20:
On the TWC, they are saying that the front will stall, what are the implications?
if I'm not mistaken, Irene will go more west... I'm not an expert, so...
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


No problem.

You should have some intense conditions in Morehead. Might see a Hurricane Watch tomorrow.

Try and get some pics/video if you can!


LMAO

"Dude, your house is like totally on fire...no, really; the whole upstairs is pretty much in flames; could you roast me a couple of marshmallows and a hotdog on your way out?"

Sorry, I know you were serious, but I'm punchy and that just cracked me up
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2711. Remek
Quoting Tazmanian:
can the white house with stan a hurricane


The most important parts above and below ground can.

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 118
Quoting Orcasystems:




Priceless! =)
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2708. nigel20
Quoting tennisgirl08:


Wow! Look how big Irene is in that picture...she cleared out all the dry air and moistened the atlantic. Impressive!!

Yea, can't remember seeing the SAL that weak.
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2707. CCkid00
Quoting FLWaterFront:
I just don't understand this.Expert mets in Florida have already made the following declaration:

"This is NOT Florida's storm, people. This storm is NOT coming to Florida, so please stop worrying about that."

Why would they make such a bold declaration unless there was almost zero chance of Irene coming to Florida? And furthermore, there is more research and analytical data going into the forecast for Irene than there has been for any hurricane in history. You know what that means? It means it is not going to come to Florida, period.


Chances are VERY VERY VERY HIGH that this is correct, that it isn't going to Florida at all. My point, though, was that until it is NORTH of Florida, people should still pay attention and that it was foolish for the poster to say ZERO chance. There is always a chance with a hurricane, until it is away from you. Furthermore, chance ARE that Florida will get some (not alot, but some) rain and winds from Irene so to say "nowhere near Florida" is foolish.
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:

How much can be attributed to man made Climate Change? How much worse will it get in coming years if we even now with under 1 C global mean temperature rise experience such phenomena...


Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
Quoting Grothar:
I don't ever recall seeing anything like this, and believe me I can recall a lot



I'm driving back to my house 55 miles north of NYC Sunday from Vermont- : /
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


Yes...and earthquakes, too. What a rough week for the NE.



ok


dos any one no how strong the white house can with stan a hurricane like cat 1 cat 2 cat 3 cat 4 cat 5 ???


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Irene is getting worried about the SE US first. Right now models take her way east of FL through SC. However satellite imagery is getting me worried that she seems more west tonight. This will be interesting to see when we wake up later this morning, but something to keep an eye on today.
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2702. Levi32
Alright, off to watch a family movie. Later all.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
18 hrs:
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2700. Levi32
Quoting atmosweather:


Usually AVHRR isn't very accurate, I haven't used the LSU analysis much though. AOML also seems to show 26 degree waters as far north as the NE coast of New Jersey.


Still, the differences between those three products is disconcerting. Each one is at least 1.5-2.0C different from the other.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
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2698. zosimo
the bottom line on Irene the way I see it from SOCAL is that there is a decent chance it may skirt the east coast and maybe make a landfall somewhere in New England after its weakend alot. Seem to remember when it was intially being tracked, Charleston SC was the likely area for landfall but since then it has continued to track east well away from the coast. Methinks Irene may not be as awful as some (i.e. the Weather Channel) continues to promote as a definite happening. Oh well, what the heck do I know. Reckon if it goes directly into the NJ area the folks there had better have an ark ready................

-'lets roll'
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2697. nigel20
Quoting LAlurker:


Nope, same eye, different eyewall!

OK thanks.
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Quoting Levi32:
NOAA-15 also says warm right up to Long Island:

And Long Island Sound. Not good.
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Quoting Grothar:
I don't ever recall seeing anything like this, and believe me I can recall a lot


How much can be attributed to man made Climate Change? How much worse will it get in coming years if we even now with under 1 C global mean temperature rise experience such phenomena...
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Quoting Tazmanian:
can the white house with stan a hurricane


Yes...and earthquakes, too. What a rough week for the NE.
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2692. ncstorm
Good night all..if the models keep seeing a westward trend, its going to be chaos here tomorrow..
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2691. nigel20
Quoting Grothar:
I don't ever recall seeing anything like this, and believe me I can recall a lot


WOW!!!
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2690. keisa90
Quoting CosmicEvents:
Worst case scenario. The only good thing is it's happening on a week-end in NYC. That cuts the population in half. There's not much chance of evacuating probably more than 25% of the people who are left. The rest will be in a sea of tall buildings. We've never seen a cyclone hit a metro area like this.


What would you call Houston? It is a very large metro area and has seen the likes of Ike, Alicia and TS Allison.
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I think Irene has the potential to be a category four storm by noon tomorrow.
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0z HWRF 12hrs:
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


No problem.

You should have some intense conditions in Morehead. Might see a Hurricane Watch tomorrow.

Try and get some pics/video if you can!


Definitely! I've chased 7 storms now, and every single one has hit at night... Not only do the current forecasts point to a daytime landfall/close pass... But the winds look likely to be offshore, decreasing storm surge threat. Higher terrain than the TX gulf coast doesnt Burt either...
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Quoting nigel20:

The SAL is almost non existent.


Wow! Look how big Irene is in that picture...she cleared out all the dry air and moistened the atlantic. Impressive!!
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963 over NYC

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Quoting MississippiWx:
GFS basically takes 90L north, stalls it and kills it out. Still not convinced as the GFS has it moving WNW already...It's moving SW.


Plunging toward 10N if it is not careful.
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can the white house with stan a hurricane
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2682. Grothar
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2681. nigel20
On the TWC, they are saying that the front will stall, what are the implications?
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HWRF appears to be up to 12 hours into run.
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Quoting Remek:


Nope, but I sort of understand...

1) It's the first major hurricane to threaten CONUS this year.
2) Close enough to more easily gather lots of extra data to evaluate/refine models and forecasts.
3) Starting early yesterday it became a major threat the nation's capital.
4) It also became a threat to the dense E.coast major population centers.
4) It also threatened one of the world's major financial centers.
5) The threat to DC and Wall St. (ie- very important/rich people) is probably the major reason. Aiding everyone else on the East US coast is a convenient side effect. ;P


And to add:
We have learned from past mistakes;
We have more scientific resources.
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Quoting LAlurker:
For the sake of future confidence in NHC forecasts, I hope Irene starts moving due North soon. I'd sure hate to be the guy in charge when they change shifts and he gets told he needs to tell all the Emergency management people on the East coast of FL that they need to issue evacuation orders. Sounds like that would be a serious case of indigestion.


Given the current steering, that ain't going to happen; at this point the furthest south this will be is the NC/SC border, and more likely nearly on the NHC track...
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Quoting stormpetrol:
Link

anyone else see what i see in this? Goodnight!


what do you see?
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Quoting Levi32:
Well this is not good....recent AVHRR SST passes indicate that 27C waters extend right up to the coast of Long Island. This is strange because other analysis I have seen (such as LSU) says that SSTs drop below 25C rapidly north of the Gulf Stream there, but upon using a photo-editing program to figure out what temperature on the scale that the colors near Long Island correspond to, this image indicates 27C. I wonder which analysis is correct.



LSU SSTs:



Usually AVHRR isn't very accurate, I haven't used the LSU analysis much though. AOML also seems to show 26 degree waters as far north as the NE coast of New Jersey.
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:


" Don't sell yourself short Judge...you're a tremendous slouch."

;^)

googaly moogaly
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2674. Levi32
Quoting redux:


does lake ontario get that hot in summertime??

I am suspicious of the first data.


I am suspicious as well, as no other analysis agrees with it, but I would love to know why. A discrepancy of 4 degrees is unacceptable.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
..
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Quoting Levi32:


Well the TS wind field at maximum is 225 miles to the east of the center, but it extends out only 120 miles to the west. With that in mind, the center is forecasted to pass 180 miles east of Florida, which is why only offshore TS warnings are in effect.

The continued NW motion is nothing to be concerned about unless the storm ends up west of 77W tomorrow morning. The turn right now is very gradual, and honestly it's not really deviating significantly from the forecast track at this time. We'll have to see where it is in the morning.


I'd use Nassau as the benchmark then.
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Quoting nigel20:
When Irene's EWRC is completed, will she form a new eye?


Nope, same eye, different eyewall!
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2670. Grothar
I don't ever recall seeing anything like this, and believe me I can recall a lot

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Anyone seen this?

Link
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GFS basically takes 90L north, stalls it and kills it out. Still not convinced as the GFS has it moving WNW already...It's moving SW.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10156

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.