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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2618. nigel20
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
ASCAT showed a well-defined circulation. Could get classified at any time tbh.

Yea
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
00z GFS is worse than the 12z ECMWF.

I get pummeled by 93 hours.

Wow.


I thought you lived in FL.
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Wow

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2615. nigel20
Quoting AllStar17:


I'm curious to see what the 2:00pm Tropical Weather Outlook reads.

It could become a TD at the 2pm TWO.
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Quoting vince1:

Almost 4 days out...how accurate have the models traditionally been at ~4 days?


I typically ignore anything after 5 days. Within 5 days, it's worth noting. There's still room for error.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


As far as I can tell from their data... its basically been a consistent course of 312. BUT... I am no forecaster, I am just connecting the dots trying to draw a puppy :)


Well, I sure ain;t Levi, but I'm no slouch either (actually, I'm a tremendous slouch, but that's a story for another time) and I know that given the amount of atmosphere she's effecting and her mass will take a whle to turn effectively...it won't take much variation for the track to change tragically at this point. It would juast about take an act of God to for Florida to be in dnager at this point, but too nuch of this and Wilmington is very much back into the picture...another half a degree and this is very much a different storm for the folks in N&S Carolina
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00z GFS is worse than the 12z ECMWF.

I get pummeled by 93 hours.

Wow.
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WOW WOW the 00 GFS is showing Landfall in NYC and riding up through the Chesapeake and Jersey shore prior. Imagine 100mph winds with those high rises and small bays. This could rival and even beat out Katrina in terms of $$$ damages
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Current....




6 hours ago



DAng the opening has narrowed over the last 6 hours.....HUM
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123...Ridge builds back in over 90L and forces it W.

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Quoting atmosweather:


GFDL/Euro/GFS all aiming at the general NYC/W-ern LI area...lord almighty.


Well, there goes our economy...lol
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2607. vince1
Quoting atmosweather:


GFDL/Euro/GFS all aiming at the general NYC/W-ern LI area...lord almighty.

Almost 4 days out...how accurate have the models traditionally been at ~4 days?
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Quoting nigel20:
Hey guys?

90L is looking like a T-storm
ASCAT showed a well-defined circulation. Could get classified at any time tbh.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting nigel20:
Hey guys?

90L is looking like a T-storm


I'm curious to see what the 2:00pm Tropical Weather Outlook reads.
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2604. Gorty
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Makes landfall over Boston and continues to move northward (inland).


Which model is saying that? The GFS is way west of Boston.
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Question: Please remember I know nothing!
On the NHC page Latest Satellite Imagery. SAys it updates every 30 minutes? & is that best info on current location. I was looking at latitude & longitude. Looking at rainbow image & going from what looks like the center of the storm, would she be at about +24 long. and apx -75.5 or so Lat. ?? Trying hard, but I'm an artist. My head dosent do technology or math well. Have watched this blog for yrs.. IS that the best indication of where she really is ??
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2602. kabloie
That's at the very least a strong Cat 1 heading up the Hudson River.

I'm starting to believe the East Coast really is in for a big one.
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once 90L develops it goes nw cause there is no ridge in place.
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Quoting thedawnawakening3:
The disturbance in SE MT is the real kicker to watch over the next 2 days in determining how far west Irene can really go.


For the Northeast and New England, the more land interaction the farther south, the better...and the weaker Irene will be. Obviously offshore and out to see is the best, but that does not seem likely.
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2599. nigel20
Hey guys?

90L is looking like a T-storm
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Quoting Remek:


I found Enya because they started playing "Sail Away" for the local forcasts in the mid-80's. I wanted to know what that song was!



Member Since: August 29, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5236
this is vary bad news for new york
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
2596. Gorty
Quoting redux:


so basically it imposes trop to hurricane force winds on a large swath from Outerbanks --> NYC while not losing any energy whatsoever?

good god. that could be 3 days of hurricane force winds!


No forecasters are saying anything about dry air...

Well TWC did say dry air wont be a problem much for the system in the NE cause it's early in the season...
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2595. ncstorm
Quoting ecupirate:


New GFS is showing a Cape Lookout landfall


cape lookout is a 127 miles from wilmington..we would be feeling strong tropical winds and possibly hurricane gusts..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16223
You can expect me to be in NE NJ if the 00z GFS happens.
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Quoting RevInFL:



HI there. I am CT yankee who lives in FL now. I hope you all are paying close attention to the happenings. Not looking very good for New England.

The panic has started with tonights local stations calling for a direct hit in this area.....I really hope it take a hard right.
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Wow, the steering flow Graphics sure show a very narrow opening.......and that short wave trough sure is not coming very far south......its still up in Canada and appears will never push much into the ConUs.
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right now beginning the "mother of all EWRCs"?
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The disturbance in SE MT is the real kicker to watch over the next 2 days in determining how far west Irene can really go.
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00z GFS

93Hrs


96Hrs


99Hrs
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
Makes landfall over Boston and continues to move northward (inland).
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2587. Gorty
GFS is staying consistent with its westward track for the NE states.... very concerning... LOL IF the other models stays east and the others stays west, it will be a model battle and we will see which ones will win.
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Irene is going to be an interesting one to watch. Have the Yankees become complacent? I say Cat 1 at landfall up North. The OBX is going to take the brunt of Irene...with Cat 3 or 4 conditions.
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Click for bigger image
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2584. CCkid00
Quoting CosmicEvents:
The people in Florida have ZERO chance of being hit by IRENE. Just like the people in Texas have ZERO chance. If you call someone in oh...Daytona Beach a fool then you'd have to call the fellow in Houston who wasn't worried about IRENE a fool as well.


The people in Texas don't have a major hurricane headed right at them, unless it turns. The people in Florida do. The NHC is usually right and the storm will probably make the turn in time, but they are not God. It would be just as foolish for the people of Florida to not be a little concerned, as it is foolish for you to make a statement of "ZERO" chance for Florida to be hit by Irene. If you were standing in the middle of the road with an 18 wheeler within sight, headed right at you, even if there were a road for it to turn on, would you be so foolish as to not take note and watch it really close, JUST IN CASE it didn't turn in time, so you could get out of the way??
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WV imagery suggests there is still some southwesterly shear present restricting appreciable outflow in the southwest quadrant.

Irene wants to out do future Jose. There is a competition going on tonight between the two systems.
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Quoting aasmith26:


TAD?!?

Zomg.


how ya doin aa, looks like it might be closer than we thought.
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2581. Levi32
Quoting AllStar17:
Levi:

What is your benchmark longitude that Irene needs to start turning NW before areas farther south (than NC) get back into the "fray"? TIA.


Well if she doesn't gain a more northerly component by 77W then she will be west of the next NHC forecast point, at which point the short-term track may have to shift west a tad and possibly put the storm farther inland from the outer banks, but we will see. The turn really is gradual at this point so there's still a lot of time for Irene to make it to the next forecast point.
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Quoting Floodman:


If that's the case then the shortwave better be pretty damned peppy

Neapolinish like
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2579. will40
well it is just one run from one model have to see if others follow. btw Levi did mention the dropzodes would be in there
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Quoting Levi32:
0z GFS is over eastern Jersey, one of the worst tracks possible for Irene to take. This is farther west than previous runs.



what dos this mean for DC and new york?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
Let's hope that Irene ingests a lot of dry continental air (very possible) on her way to New England. Otherwise, Irene could be the hurricane they have feared.
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2576. redux
Quoting weatherman566:
This is NOT good...

0z GFS 90 hours...



so basically it imposes trop to hurricane force winds on a large swath from Outerbanks --> NYC while not losing any energy whatsoever?

good god. that could be 3 days of hurricane force winds!
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2575. Remek
Quoting reedzone:
So the local forecast music on TWC was playing a Christian song by DC Talk called "In the Light", no words, but just the instrumental.. Thought that was interesting and cool.


I found Enya because they started playing "Sail Away" for the local forcasts in the mid-80's. I wanted to know what that song was!

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



I tell ya man, it's freaking nerve racking for sure. Someone said it earlier, the "Primal Instinct". Seen too many of these things buck the models to not be worried. It's like Cujo tied up on a 10ft chain and your standing 15ft away. Better hope that dam dog doesn't break the chain, lol.

Sorry for the rant, had to blow some steam, lol.


Awesome example! It would be more funny if it were not true!
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96 hours...

This run is scarier than before in my opinion. ...

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2572. Torgen
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



I tell ya man, it's freaking nerve racking for sure. Someone said it earlier, the "Primal Instinct". Seen too many of these things buck the models to not be worried. It's like Cujo tied up on a 10ft chain and your standing 15ft away. Better hope that dam dog doesn't break the chain, lol.

Sorry for the rant, had to blow some steam, lol.


If this hasn't started shifting north big time by tomorrow, I'm gonna have to change my avatar to that "Kitty DOES NOT WANT" one.
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90Hrs GFS 500Mb Ht and Vort
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
NYC gets eaten.



GFDL/Euro/GFS all aiming at the general NYC/W-ern LI area...lord almighty.
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2569. Levi32
0z GFS is over eastern Jersey, one of the worst tracks possible for Irene to take. This is farther west than previous runs.
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CNN pick the right time to talk about NOAA's satellites... at this rate, NOAA may not have enough money to replace dying satellites in 2016.

Link
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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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