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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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.

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Quoting Floodman:


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


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 :)
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Thats DOOM right there

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This is NOT good...

0z GFS 90 hours...

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90Hrs GFS, looks like it's riding the Jersey coast
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
2563. hahaguy
I just walked outside and i felt a warm breeze hmmm....
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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.
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2561. will40
Hi Ally glad i could get the link back for ya
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Quoting will40:


GFS a tad left at 72 hrs


TAD?!?

Zomg.
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Quoting Orcasystems:



I don't see a lot of turning going on




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.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Actually latest imagery suggests that convection is still trying to develop over the inner eyewall still. Doesn't want to let go of its first inner core.
Member Since: July 29, 2011 Posts: 9 Comments: 5
2557. redux
Quoting weatherman566:
84 hours...



that will flatten ocean city maryland.
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NYC gets eaten.

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I hope NYC has a better evacuation plan than Houston did for Rita !
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:


Are you sick of avocados yet?


43 avocados in the floor after Irene... don't know why suddenly my neighbors and family came to visit us....

Still like 12 left on the tree...
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78Hrs 00zGFS
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
Quoting Orcasystems:



I don't see a lot of turning going on



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

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These things can't just start moving EASt immediately........Irene will have to start turning more North very shortly or things will be changing for the Carolinas.....just a tick of a degree will change a lot where she goes.
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2549. Levi32
Quoting jonelu:
Does this run have the dropsond data included?


25 dropsondes from today made it into the 0z run of the GFS.
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Starting to think that earthquake was an OMEN of things to come
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2547. will40
Quoting rhiles2760:
Will40

I happen to live a little Southwest from you in Sneads Ferry/North Topsail Beach.


kewl nice to see neighbors on
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this think if this stays like this for all of tonight and thusday i say by friday AM we could be looking at a land fall in FL lol and if that came too pass then the mode runs had did a vary poor job on this even the nhc



boy this think a hurricane warning would go up at the last sac has a cat 4 or stornger comeing right on land in too FL
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
2545. jonelu
Quoting Levi32:
Impacting outer banks at 69 hours:

You guys do realize NCEP is still faster at updating the GFS than raleighwx is...lol. It seems everyone has fully converted over to that site.

Does this run have the dropsond data included?
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2544. RevInFL
Quoting NewEnglandExpress:
Checking in from New London CT.....



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.
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Quoting ncstorm:


Is that a wilmington landfall?


New GFS is showing a Cape Lookout landfall
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Quoting MiamiGuru:

If you've checked the projected path maybe you can tell us when the storm warnings will be issued for Portugal.
Agree, it looks like a storm, already.Following the models perhaps a strong "fish storm",,, but like my mother use to say: "You never know dear, until is done."
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Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
2540. will40


GFS a tad left at 72 hrs
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Hi Folks,

I know I don't blog much, but I've been watching with you all day from work and while I was getting kids in bed.

I hope people in the Bahamas got their heads down, and people in the North East have their heads up (just up, not up their a**es) about what's coming.

A little tongue in cheek, of course.

I'll check in one more time before bed. (I'm on the West Coast). Are there 6Z models?
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0z GFS 78 hours:

Not looking too good for the east coast...

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Quoting ncstorm:


Is that a wilmington landfall?
Morehead City
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big time dry air gulp,and a big wobble westvas well
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2535. vince1
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


If u didn't have the rich u wouldn't have the money in the first place.

Nothing at all wrong with amassing riches, but how one chooses to use those riches (and, indeed, how they amassed them) is another story altogether. Prostitution (in a figurative sense, though I think the literal trade is also a bit debase...call me a prude if you must), corruption and graft are entirely different animals.
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2534. 7544
another west wobble hmmmmm
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2533. ncstorm
Quoting IceCoast:
69Hrs 00zGFS


Is that a wilmington landfall?
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Nvm...
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Are you sick of avocados yet?
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The fact that the GFS consistently strengthens Irene as it moves northward is rather concerning. Jose in the Atlantic spinning away. 3 days out:

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Quoting hahaguy:


I think it was either zoo or foggymist


wsvn said that we need to watch for a possible curve ball from nature.
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Quoting weatherman566:
Uh oh...

0z GFS 60 hours...
is that 901 mb I'm reading???
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69Hrs 00zGFS
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
0z GFS 72 Hours:

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Yep, it's gonna be a CONUS hit somewhere
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Quoting Orcasystems:



I don't see a lot of turning going on




Yep.......it needs to start turning really soon almost due NOrth........very soon.
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Will Irene intensity peak in 12 hrs??

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2521. Torgen
Quoting TampaSpin:


Those are Wave Actions not Wind.........but, Surf waves..Irene has over 26ft waves near the center.......OUCH.


oh boy! A *heaping* helping of beach erosion!

Do you still have to pay property taxes if the property isn't there any more? Tell the bank to bring a snorkel if they want to foreclose? :P
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2520. Levi32
Impacting outer banks at 69 hours:

You guys do realize NCEP is still faster at updating the GFS than raleighwx is...lol. It seems everyone has fully converted over to that site.

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Quoting Methurricanes:
Look out anyone in Warwick, or East Providene, due to the Fox Point Barrier (assuming it holds) your surge will be amplyfied by the surge that should be in Downcity Providence.


Think I saw the Cantore will be in Rhode Island for Irene
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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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