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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45Hrs GFS 00z
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She better start NNW track soon, or she will follow the west side of cone

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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?
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2465. 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.
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2464. scCane
Quoting weatherman566:
0z GFS 42 hours:


Thats quite a bit far west compared to the last run, makes me wonder if the Euro is going to be even further-west given the trends....
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2463. CCkid00
Quoting CosmicEvents:
or an appendage.
.
.
Anyone worried about those BAM models, don't be. Those are for weak systems, exactly the opposite of the beast we're dealing with here. There's ZERO chance of Irene coming anywhere near to Florida. Any forecaster who knows the teeniest bit about forecasting(like me) knows that the Bam's are moot.
.
This is an historic storm, potentially the biggest weather event we'll see in decades. All eyes should be peeled on the Northeastern cities and the heavily populated suburban areas and any coastal area from NC on up. And all of us should be sending out the warning to everyone we know in the area.


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.
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2462. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #12
TROPICAL STORM TALAS (T1112)
12:00 PM JST August 25 2011
============================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon In Sea Near Mariana Island

At 3:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Talas (998 hPa) located near 18.6N 141.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north at 10 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Gale Force Winds
=================
150 NM from the center in southeast quadrant
60 NM from the center in northwest quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================

24 HRS: 20.5N 140.6E - 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
44 HRS: 21.5N 140.5E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
69 HRS: 23.2N 140.0E - 70 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
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2461. Torgen
Quoting TampaSpin:


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?
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Quoting weatherman566:
0z GFS 42 hours:




thats not good
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115439
Gotta start logging some more hours in the sleep category, night all.

Got this feeling the marine warnings below will be coming inland a bit.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK FOR SOUTH FLORIDA
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
610 PM EDT WED AUG 24 2011

FLZ063-066>075-168-172>174-251000-
GLADES-HENDRY-INLAND PALM BEACH-METRO PALM BEACH-COASTAL COLLIER-
INLAND COLLIER-INLAND BROWARD-METRO BROWARD-INLAND MIAMI DADE-
METRO MIAMI DADE-MAINLAND MONROE-COASTAL PALM BEACH-
COASTAL BROWARD-COASTAL MIAMI DADE-FAR SOUTH MIAMI DADE-
610 PM EDT WED AUG 24 2011

...TROPICAL STORM WARNING PALM BEACH WATERS OUT BEYOND 20 NM...
...TROPICAL STORM WATCH REMAINDER ATLANTIC WATERS...
...THUNDERSTORMS ATLANTIC WATERS AND EAST LATE TONIGHT...
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Area of ultimate growth for Hurricane Irene within the next 48 hours is between 26-33n and 75-80w for Irene to max out in intensity. I expect landfall on the Outer Banks as a category three hurricane max sustained winds of 125mph. I expect a secondary landfall location over Montauk pt, NY as a category two hurricane 110mph winds. Anyone east of Montauk, NY in SE MA/RI and CT should all experience category two to three hurricane wind gusts, heavy, heavy rainfall and sustained winds probably between 90-110mph. Wind shear will likely be the main cause for weakening of Irene as SSTs along the Gulf Stream are quite warm for this time of year. The ultimate peak in intensity for Irene shoul occur within the next 48 hours. Anywhere between 150-175mph is the potential peak, although I would stay conservative and officially say 145mph would be my max given that there was not a whole lot Irene could have done with her smaller eye she had this afternoon. Time will tell on the size of her future eye and eyewall and this could help to determine if she can reach category five status. Wind shear shoul be light 5-15 knots over the next 48 hours and then increase thereafter with SSTs in te 28-30C range over the next 48 hours along with a lot of moisture present there should be no negative factors keeping Irene from strengthening besides time and EWRCs. Wind shear should increase as Irene reaches 33n and nears Hatteras, NC and therefore weakening is forecasted.
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Carolina land fall, most likely North

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2455. Remek
Quoting RedrumATL:


Regardless - wobbles do count when we're splitting hairs on this projected NHS track. Am I wrong?


If you're within 50-100 miles or so, wobbles can be really important. 500 miles or several days away, overall direction and speed take precedent.
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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.
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11:00pm Advisory
*Click image for larger version
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Quoting CosmicEvents:


or an appendage.
.
.

kinda glad you didn't elaborate.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Oceansat caught 90L 3 hrs later...pulling together..



Circulation looks closed for the most part...NE part is questionable, but probably would pass the test.
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


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



FLORIDA OF COURSE LOL
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Stupid double post..sorry.
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Quoting Skyepony:
ASCAT caught 90L


That almost looks like a closed circulation, let's see what comes of this at the next full update.
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Quoting Floodman:


LOL...let's not down Florida too much; some of my favorite people live there...


Most all my relatives live there.
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0z GFS 42 hours:

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Quoting Torgen:


Where he can be FREE!

(oops, sorry, someone got a Jimi Hendrix song stuck in my head.)


Where you can wave your freak flag high...

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39Hrs Gfs
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2443. Skyepony (Mod)
Oceansat caught 90L 3 hrs later...pulling together..

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2442. hahaguy
Quoting JNCali:

so close.... " As the hurricane turns"


I like your title better.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838

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2440. Patrap
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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.



That's good. I noticed that upper low earlier today and was wondering if it could give a little extra tug to the west...the extra tug that could be devastating for NC.
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Quoting sarahjola:
not looking good for irene either. may i ask for a link to this map? thanks!
Quoting sarahjola:
not looking good for irene either. may i ask for a link to this map? thanks!


Link
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2437. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #18
TYPHOON NANMADOL (T1111)
12:00 PM JST August 25 2011
============================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon In Sea East Of Philippines

At 3:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Nanmadol (975 hPa) located near 16.3N 125.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 65 knots with gusts of 95 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest slowly

Dvorak Intensity: T4.0

Storm Force Winds
=================
50 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
=================
150 NM from the center in south quadrant
100 NM from the center in north quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================

24 HRS: 17.6N 125.0E - 75 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
45 HRS: 19.3N 125.0E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
69 HRS: 20.9N 124.5E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
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2436. njdevil
I'm not worried about W movement. Except from the rain perspective. I don't want this thing going over my head even if it's been over land for a day and a half. Do not need 15+ inches of rain

The further W it goes the more likely it is to hit something first, even if it curves before hitting.

My biggest concern would be if it stays out and doesn't bend as tight. Then it's sitting over LI and a little jog or two and oops.

HWRF is an outlier so it doesn't interest me alot right now.


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Quoting victoriahurricane:


90L LOOKS like a tropical storm already.

If you've checked the projected path maybe you can tell us when the storm warnings will be issued for Portugal.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Yeah, subtle deviations one way or the other are going to be huge in Irene's case. Any slight movement to the west is a much bigger deal than it normally would be because once Irene starts her move north, she's going to go north or just east or north for a long time. It won't take much for her to be right on top of North Carolina, but it also won't take much for her to be offshore either.


About the worst case scenario (aside from a direct hit on the Bight) would be the mouth of the Chesapeake; 20 feet of surge into DC and it's environs, not to mention the hell the wind would cause...and all the happiness on up the coast, but just a little inland. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is that not the most heavily populated corridor in the US?
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For EastCoast watchers:

H.Irene was headed toward passage over PalmValley,Florida ~1 day 23hours from now


Thanks a lot for this image - as nice as these graphics are, since I live just to the east of Palm Valley (on the same barrier island) but much closer to the beach, I certainly hope Irene does not decide to follow this path!
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2431. Remek
Quoting keisa90:


Not a conspiracy guy, but have to agree. Have never seen this much recon.


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

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2429. Skyepony (Mod)
ASCAT caught 90L
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2428. jonelu
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.

Wow they are pulling out all the stops on this one...I guess with a possible strike on NE as a Cat 2 they wanna know as much as possible.
Member Since: October 31, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 884
00z GFS at 30 hours a little bit to the W of the 12z run same time frame. Little less of a mid level weakness shown between the two ridges.
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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.

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worst case setup irene comes to within 75 miles of florida coast makes turn goes up the east coast,how many people would be affected,more than 55 million.and the damage would be more than a couple of Katrina's.Just my thoughts.and I'm not doomcasting
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2424. JNCali

Quoting hahaguy:


It's almost like we will find out on next weeks episode of "where will the hurricane turn".
so close.... " As the hurricane turns"
Member Since: September 9, 2010 Posts: 5 Comments: 1034
2423. Thrawst
Quoting charlottefl:


Yeah well I was trying be optimistic. :) Stay safe.


Thanks for the optimism! Imma try to get some sleep now... you all have a good one! Stay safe!!!!!!!
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Latest microwave pass shows that the EWRC is almost over already... just a tiny piece of the northeast flank of the inner eyewall still hanging on.

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30Hrs GFS
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Well, I guess it's pretty obvious why 90L is moving SW.

not looking good for irene either. may i ask for a link to this map? thanks!
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2419. Skyepony (Mod)
Historical Tracking map..
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2418. Torgen
Quoting RitaEvac:


Mexico


Where he can be FREE!

(oops, sorry, someone got a Jimi Hendrix song stuck in my head.)
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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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