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 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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Quoting weatherman566:
Uh oh...

0z GFS 60 hours...




look like land fall too me lol
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2516. Remek
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #12
TROPICAL STORM TALAS (T1112)
12:00 PM JST August 25 2011


Just want to say thanks for keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest Pacific reports. :)
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2515. will40
Quoting ecupirate:


Hey will, Im thinking if this pans out like they are predicting we may get a new inlet or two between Cape lookout and Nags Head. :-(



yes im following the 00z GFS looks like it showing a lil shift to the West have to see a few more frames.
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I would venture to say that 90L becomes a TS right away, perhaps around a 60mph TS upon first advisory. satellite imagery suggests that 90L is developing an intense low level circulation which is centered underneath the deepest convection right now. There is almost an eye like feature in the middle of the circulation but again it could be dry air. Anyways convection is beginning to organize into spiral banding on the eastern side of the circulation seen on satellite imagery as the convective band is trying to wrap around the eastern semi circle. Very interesting trends going on this evening with this system. Our former 98L disturbance is showing signs of organization, lack of deep convection is do to the presence of strong southwesterly shear and a large dry air mass. It would appear that 98L has paved the way for future waves to develop taking away all of the dry air that was formerly present over this part of the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the dry air is now over the central North Atlantic Ocean, primarily above 15n in which case most disturbances and cyclones up at this latitude is by far and away out to sea and no longer a US threat. 90L appears to becoming a potential long term threat to the US and Caribbean Sea with every passing image showing a general west to WSW track. Long range models show this system moving into the North Atlantic Ocean graveyard, something this system wants no part of right now.
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Quoting Floodman:
One other thing...I think I see what SotrmPetrol was talking about...if she doesn't start a little jog east, she's going to the miss the next forecast point by about .5 of a DEGREE WEST...the forecast point is 76.5W25.5N and she will end up 77W25.5N...or are my eyes just getting bleary from gazing at IR maps and funktops?



I don't see a lot of turning going on

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Quoting CCkid00:


There was ZERO chance of the Titanic sinking, too....according to those who knew the most about it! Until the storm is NORTH of Florida.....those people have every reason to be concerned. To not be at all, would be foolish.
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.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5608
57Hrs GFS
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
Uh oh...

0z GFS 60 hours...
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Quoting will40:
Link


live pier cam on island where i live on the NC coast


Tks for posting tht link Will. I tried to find it the other night. Hope you are doing well and preparing. Thoughts and prayers for you and all others in Irene's path.
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Quoting IFuSAYso:


I've family in Crestview (Military that call it affectionately Crestucky where the toothbrush must have been invented or they would call it a teethbrush) and I love the Destin area.


Grew up in Central FL, Winter Park, Sorrento, Mt Dora.

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I have question... what will the shockwave that's is crossing Midwest do to Irene?
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Noticed a couple westerly outliers on the latest runs...


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if irene gets strong enough could she resist the pull from the trough?
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Will40

I happen to live a little Southwest from you in Sneads Ferry/North Topsail Beach.
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2503. hahaguy
Quoting IFuSAYso:


Someone in an earlier post(not SP) said their local met said if she didnt turn by 77w look out.


I think it was either zoo or foggymist
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Quoting will40:
Link


live pier cam on island where i live on the NC coast


Hey will, Im thinking if this pans out like they are predicting we may get a new inlet or two between Cape lookout and Nags Head. :-(
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Quoting Torgen:


Could you explain why Irene compresses against the east coast of Florida like that? Does the land heating up during the day cause that much high pressure, that the outer bands of low pressure can't get over land?


Those are Wave Actions not Wind.........but, Surf waves..Irene has over 26ft waves near the center.......OUCH.
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Checking in from New London CT.....
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Quoting UpperLevelLOL:


To America, like so many others


Let's not get racist.
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Quoting weatherman566:
0z GFS 48 hours:





poor GA and NC
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All day long, even with the wobbles by the time the center got to each forecast point it was pretty much right on target.
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0z GFS 54 hours:

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Quoting Floodman:
One other thing...I think I see what SotrmPetrol was talking about...if she doesn't start a little jog east, she's going to the miss the next forecast point by about .5 of a DEGREE WEST...the forecast point is 76.5W25.5N and she will end up 77W25.5N...or are my eyes just getting bleary from gazing at IR maps and funktops?


Someone in an earlier post(not SP) said their local met said if she didnt turn by 77w look out.
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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.
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Quoting CCkid00:


There was ZERO chance of the Titanic sinking, too....according to those who knew the most about it! Until the storm is NORTH of Florida.....those people have every reason to be concerned. To not be at all, would be foolish.


Exactly. I've said that several times here today. I live on the FL east central coast just north of Melbourne. You can have as many models and projections as possible, but until Irene either makes turn more to the north than west or passes by to my north, I'm not taking my eyes off her....she will go where she goes...period. Stay safe everyone and special prayers for those in the Bahamas tonight! Goodnight all!
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Quoting Levi32:
The fact that Irene's pressure has not risen yet during the EWRC is actually fairly impressive, as almost all hurricanes exhibit some pressure rises during their replacement cycles. This means that Irene may be getting ready to really put on a show after the cycle completes, which is not good news for the northwest Bahamas.


Little bit like how Katrina's central pressure only rose from 940 mb right before its EWRC to around 945 mb during the cycle itself. Larger storms tend to resist large pressure rises while undergoing these cycles.
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


Future Jose...where's he going??


To America, like so many others
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2488. will40
Link


live pier cam on island where i live on the NC coast
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2487. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:
Levi, you still up? Got a question.


Sure.
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2486. Remek
Quoting NYBizBee:
Ive lived in NYC my whole life. People will walk around 42st like nothing and the cabs will still be picking up those fares...:) Should be interesting to say the least if this goes over cen Long island. Chaos with 100mph winds.


"Hey, look lady... you want me to drive, or bail water?"
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2485. Grothar
Levi, you still up? Got a question.
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Quoting Thrawst:


We're prepared... but according to satellite imagery... if these wobbles to the west (like what it's doing now) continue... it's quite possible that this could come 20-40 miles closer than what the NHC forecast has.


stay safe.
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0z GFS 48 hours:

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how many mils in tell the storms come too FL it looks vary vary close
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51Hrs GFS
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2479. jonelu
Quoting Skyepony:
Oceansat caught 90L 3 hrs later...pulling together..

impressive!
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the new guy here in browaard and miami dade county said she may get a little closer than anticipated and we may feel more thaan anticipated now what does that mean I am in ft lauderdale
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:


Most all my relatives live there.


I've family in Crestview (Military that call it affectionately Crestucky where the toothbrush must have been invented or they would call it a teethbrush) and I love the Destin area.
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2475. Levi32
Quoting MississippiWx:


Irene's core has been strange for most of her life anyway.


I wouldn't call it strange. She has looked like a hurricane struggling with dry air entrainment, but with enough positive factors to keep intensifying. We may finally see a solid eyewall with her after this EWRC is complete, as outflow has expanded nicely to the west, really filling out the storm into a more symmetric shape, the best-looking of her life so far, though still not perfect.
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2474. Thrawst
Quoting Levi32:
The fact that Irene's pressure has not risen yet during the EWRC is actually fairly impressive, as almost all hurricanes exhibit some pressure rises during their replacement cycles. This means that Irene may be getting ready to really put on a show after the cycle completes, which is not good news for the northwest Bahamas.


Lovely news Levi, lovely. :P

Btw, I lied, I'm staying up a lil longer.
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Quoting Levi32:
The fact that Irene's pressure has not risen yet during the EWRC is actually fairly impressive, as almost all hurricanes exhibit some pressure rises during their replacement cycles. This means that Irene may be getting ready to really put on a show after the cycle completes, which is not good news for the northwest Bahamas.


I agree, and Irene will be moving over the Gulf Stream too. Irene could easily intensify overnight into Thursday.
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2472. owntime
Quoting Levi32:
The G-IV plane is sampling the upper low in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, as well as the environment around Irene. They obviously understand the difficulties that models have with cut-off upper lows, and are thus making sure some data is collected in that area as well. 25 of these dropsondes got into the 0z GFS, which is now running.

looks almost like a Dos Equis label on the bottom right of the screen. LOL
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Quoting TexasGulf:
A "hurricane barrier" on the Providence River in Rhode Island is a long earthen & rock dike, concrete lined in some places and also has three large closeable steel gates that span the river. During a hurricane, the barrier gates can be closed and pumps kick on to pump the river water over the barrier (so the river keeps flowing downstream and it doesn't back up).

Providence has a low lying downtown area, with some elevations only 8-9 feet above sea level, that would normally flood in a major storm surge. Since the "hurricane barrier" was built, it has protected the city from storm surges and they haven't flooded due to storm surge. I don't believe the barrier has ever been tested by more than an 8-foot storm surge.



The current barrier in place would not have been tested by anything like the storm surge that Providence could receive on Sunday. A track right over the area or just to the W could pose a serious problem.
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Quoting Levi32:
The fact that Irene's pressure has not risen yet during the EWRC is actually fairly impressive, as almost all hurricanes exhibit some pressure rises during their replacement cycles. This means that Irene may be getting ready to really put on a show after the cycle completes, which is not good news for the northwest Bahamas.


Irene's core has been strange for most of her life anyway.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
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



If u didn't have the rich u wouldn't have the money in the first place.
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45Hrs GFS 00z
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267

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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.