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 DontAnnoyMe:


Strange...?


I probably just did it wrong because I woke up and still 1/4 asleep. And if it was a WU glitch there's nothing I can do about it ;) And going back to sleep. The hurricane will still be here tomorrow! Night all.
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Quoting atmosweather:


If the NHC track turns out to be correct then Irene should pass Baltimore around 130-150 miles to the east, which would still give you guys the potential for 1-2 inches of rain and some tropical storm force winds in some of the heavier rainbands.


Thanks, it's kind of hard to get a handle on any information on the news or online because everyone is saying something different.
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Hi bmrc...

Well, we're not experts so please watch your local NWS forecast for the latest information...

That said, the latest computer models seem to show sustained tropical storm force winds by early morning on Sunday.

As far as the worst case scenario? You could still get the eye-wall. The GFS currently has it going about 80 miles east of you as a weakening category two storm. (~100 mph)

*EDIT*
Heck, it's even possible that a pretty good storm surge could come up Chesapeake Bay if several factors line up, so I'd be especially careful if you live near there.
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Quoting HimacaneBrees:


I'm not ignoring you. But I probably couldn't've answered your question, if I'd seen it. Hey what's the deal spell check is putting a red line under couldn't've, but my iphone automatically puts it in when texting.. Who's smarter the comp. or my SMART phone?


You put it in the iPhone manually by overriding the spellchecker twice...

Yeah, I have teh, tge and various other typos created by my fat fingers in the damaned thing. Have to figure out how to reset it one of these days
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Quoting petewxwatcher:


Nope firefox. Let's see if quoting you works!

It did work this time.


Strange...?
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting mikeylikesyouall:
So how acurracte is that euro model anyone?


Up to this point it has performed the best out of all the global models with Irene, both in track and intensity.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting MoltenIce:
Or use Chrome or Firefox. They're way better than IE.


True, but for many reasons, some can't.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting bmrcatgrl:
Hi guys, I am just learning all of this and I was wondering how bad you think it will be here in Baltimore MD? I feel like I should be nervous...


If the NHC track turns out to be correct then Irene should pass Baltimore around 130-150 miles to the east, which would still give you guys the potential for 1-2 inches of rain and some tropical storm force winds in some of the heavier rainbands.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting DFWjc:


LMFAO!! cool thanks again Flood!


No worries...every now and again I achieve a somewhat higher level of lucidity and all the things I've absorbed come out...other times I'm just nuts...LOL
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The Atlantic's pretty moist. Unlike last year.
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So how acurracte is that euro model anyone?
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


IE? Try enabling Tools/Compatibility View, then refresh.


Nope firefox. Let's see if quoting you works!

It did work this time.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
thanks for answering,everyone else must have on ignore. another question at what longtitude would yo start to have concerns if the north turn had not started yet. i know the turn has started from wnw to nw and we waiting on nnw and north.but what longtitude for florida residents to worry


I'm not ignoring you. But I probably couldn't've answered your question, if I'd seen it. Hey what's the deal spell check is putting a red line under couldn't've, but my iphone automatically puts it in when texting.. Who's smarter the comp. or my SMART phone?
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
thanks for answering,everyone else must have on ignore. another question at what longtitude would yo start to have concerns if the north turn had not started yet. i know the turn has started from wnw to nw and we waiting on nnw and north.but what longtitude for florida residents to worry


Unless something very dramatic and unforseen happens with the shortwave trough in the Great Lakes flying by, stalling or vanishing completely (lol), then Florida will not need to worry. She is continuing to bend more and more to the north with every advisory package. She would have to reach at least 78W or 78.5 for anyone in Florida to be worried and that is very unlikely to happen.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
3103. jonelu
Quoting atmosweather:


West side has TS force winds extending out 120 miles in the SW quadrant and 150 miles in the NW quadrant. That could expand a little further though as her EWRC finishes and her outflow continues to ventilate her windfield.
my bad... I meant to say west...Im dyslexic :-)
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Quoting Relix:


I live in the Greater Antilles so I guess by then I'll be out of harms way. More worried about the wave behind after the weakness closes itself.


So far nothing to worry about.
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From SC2007

6z


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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


IE? Try enabling Tools/Compatibility View, then refresh.
Or use Chrome or Firefox. They're way better than IE.
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Hi guys, I am just learning all of this and I was wondering how bad you think it will be here in Baltimore MD? I feel like I should be nervous...
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Quoting petewxwatcher:
Quoting comments is messing up for me. Sorry.


IE? Try enabling Tools/Compatibility View, then refresh.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Good obs jonelu.
Okay, back to bed for me.
Goodmorning. and Goodnight again.
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Quoting jonelu:
and the east side has TS winds extending only 120 miles?


West side has TS force winds extending out 120 miles in the SW quadrant and 150 miles in the NW quadrant. That could expand a little further though as her EWRC finishes and her outflow continues to ventilate her windfield.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
6z suite

TVCN goes over NYC

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3094. Relix
Quoting atmosweather:


Far too early to say that. Global patterns hint that after moving into a CATL weakness the subtropical ridge may force the system back to the W. But until we get a named storm all models are speculation.


I live in the Greater Antilles so I guess by then I'll be out of harms way. More worried about the wave behind after the weakness closes itself.
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Hmm, it's gonna be close for NYC.

Astronomical High Tide at Ellis Island on Sunday night is 8:27 PM at 6.7 feet.

Strongest on shore winds appear to be within 3 hours of that time... though of course there's still plenty of uncertainty.

Hackensack River Tides

Good night and good luck all, especially Nassau! They may be getting a ruder than normal wake-up call in a few hours.
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Quoting petewxwatcher:
Quoting Floodman:
Yo make a very good point...Irene is very large and carries a great deal of atmosphere with her...hard to turn that much mass on a dime. Storms that make fairly drastic aspect changes tend to stall or sloow to a crawl before making a move like that. And again, as I said earlier, she appears to be moving a bit west of the forecast track; Levi made mention of 77W being critical and in looking at the map one has to agree; if she start that tendency northward she will not clear the OBX and in fact would tend to make landfall somewhere between Morehead and Wilmington...Camp Lejeune?



Back in 1991 when watching the weather channel, when it was still good, John Hope was talking about Hurricane Bob which had just passed west of 77 W. John Hope said that if Bob made it to 78 W a landfall on NC was practically inevitable, because hurricanes west of 78 W off the south Atlantic coast almost always make landfall from Cape Hatteras southward. Not always, there are some exceptions. But John Hope considered 78 W to be the key.

And of course, Hurricane Bob never reached 78 W and never made landfall in North Carolina. But he did hit New England.


He was right, but again it has to do with the situation and the steering; if this one gets to say 77.5W a hit on NC is pretty much a given, though is could end up glancing the OBX and then move on to bigger and nastier thing in New England.
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Quoting atmosweather:


Judging by the effects of the shortwave trough now and where it will be by tomorrow night, I'd say the distance of closest approach will be between 160 and 180 miles.
thanks for answering,everyone else must have on ignore. another question at what longtitude would yo start to have concerns if the north turn had not started yet. i know the turn has started from wnw to nw and we waiting on nnw and north.but what longtitude for florida residents to worry
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Quoting NCSCguy:
How windy do yall think it will be in charleston come fri/sat.


Should be a fairly brisk ocean breeze from the east. Possibly.
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Quoting NCSCguy:
How windy do yall think it will be in charleston come fri/sat.


Rainbands will arrive there sometime on Friday with gusty winds, Friday night will see the worst of the conditions and you guys should receive winds to tropical storm force along with 1-3 inches of rain. Saturday will be quite breezy too but with much drier flowing in from the back side of the system so it could be pretty sunny.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
3088. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #19
TYPHOON NANMADOL (T1111)
15:00 PM JST August 25 2011
============================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon In Sea East Of Philippines

At 6:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Nanmadol (965 hPa) located near 16.3N 125.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west slowly

Dvorak Intensity: T4.5

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

Gale Force Winds
=================
180 NM from the center in south quadrant
120 NM from the center in north quadrant

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

24 HRS: 18.0N 124.8E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)
48 HRS: 19.7N 124.8E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)
72 HRS: 21.4N 124.5E - 90 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)
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3087. jonelu
Quoting Chicklit:
Good morning, just woke up and looking for an Irene update. See the satellite is messed up.
East coast of Florida under tropical storm warning, watch, and a flood warning.

I think thats OFF coast. It confused me at first too...but notice how the flood watch in green is on land...
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3086. DFWjc
Quoting Floodman:


The totally miraculous act of an advanced alien race...LOL

Now that's more like it!

No, seriously: she's a strong, stacked storm and feels the full effect of trofs (and ridges) and unless the trof miraculously backs up or speeds up to an insane level, she will feel it and move toward it. Stonger she is, the more effect it will have on her (to a point) but again, as big as she is the change won't be immediate, but again, she's already tending muhc more north than she was yesterday...just expect the westward component to fade a bit


LMFAO!! cool thanks again Flood!
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3085. jonelu
Quoting atmosweather:


Judging by the effects of the shortwave trough now and where it will be by tomorrow night, I'd say the distance of closest approach will be between 160 and 180 miles.
and the east side has TS winds extending only 120 miles?
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Good morning, just woke up and looking for an Irene update. See the satellite is messed up.
East coast of Florida under tropical storm warning, watch, and a flood warning.

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Wow that euro model showed Irene at 921 at her Peak intensity, that would make her a strong cat 4 by the very least i do beleive.
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Quoting DFWjc:


Thank you Flood, and i'm not trying to be any kind of caster, but is there any thing to change it from going N and keep it's present track?


The totally miraculous act of an advanced alien race...LOL

Now that's more like it!

No, seriously: she's a strong, stacked storm and feels the full effect of trofs (and ridges) and unless the trof miraculously backs up or speeds up to an insane level, she will feel it and move toward it. Stonger she is, the more effect it will have on her (to a point) but again, as big as she is the change won't be immediate, but again, she's already tending muhc more north than she was yesterday...just expect the westward component to fade a bit
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Meanwhile in the WPAC...
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3080. NCSCguy
How windy do yall think it will be in charleston come fri/sat.
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Quoting Floodman:
G'night, skye!

Wow, have I been posting reasonable, measured thoughts that make sense from a meteorological standpoint and no jokes? Sleep deprivation; that must be it!


My problem is alcohol deprivation. I've not had any reasonable, measured thoughts in quite a while.
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Sunday morning high tide looks dicey at Ocean City Maryland...

84 hours out GFS shows hurricane force winds blowing almost directly onshore at the time of a 4.0 foot high tide.
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3077. Dunkman
Wow recon already back in the air, and "Gonzo" is back out there dropping more sondes...NHC isn't screwing around.
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Quoting Relix:
90L/Future Jose definitely going outwards to sea right?


Far too early to say that. Global patterns hint that after moving into a CATL weakness the subtropical ridge may force the system back to the W. But until we get a named storm all models are speculation.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
3075. jonelu
Quoting atmosweather:


Link to the 00z Euro loop.
Thanks!
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I think Irene will have a near steady pressure until tomorrow afternoon as she fights off dry air and goes through EWRC. Then deepen to mid/high 930s by late tomorrow night.

And cross 78 W by then too.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
how close do you all think she will get to the east coast of florida before shes fully on north trajectory?


Judging by the effects of the shortwave trough now and where it will be by tomorrow night, I'd say the distance of closest approach will be between 160 and 180 miles.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
G'night, skye!

Wow, have I been posting reasonable, measured thoughts that make sense from a meteorological standpoint and no jokes? Sleep deprivation; that must be it!
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3071. DFWjc
Quoting Floodman:


Given the N tendency, you just put everything from Savannah to the OBX in the cone, depending on the timing and strength of the shortwave; it won't happen though; she'll end up west of the track point, the trof will move in start to lift her and the net result will be Wilmington back in the crosshairs, most likely. The high is building in from the east but that pesky little trof will have a pretty noticeable effect (in fact, already is)


Thank you Flood, and i'm not trying to be any kind of caster, but is there any thing to change it from going N and keep it's present track?
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3070. Relix
90L/Future Jose definitely going outwards to sea right?
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Quoting Floodman:


Yo make a very good point...Irene is very large and carries a great deal of atmosphere with her...hard to turn that much mass on a dime. Storms that make fairly drastic aspect changes tend to stall or sloow to a crawl before making a move like that. And again, as I said earlier, she appears to be moving a bit west of the forecast track; Levi made mention of 77W being critical and in looking at the map one has to agree; if she start that tendency northward she will not clear the OBX and in fact would tend to make landfall somewhere between Morehead and Wilmington...Camp Lejeune?
how close do you all think she will get to the east coast of florida before shes fully on north trajectory?
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3068. jonelu
Quoting GaleWeathers:


I don't see any problem with being cautious. I, too, am on the SE coast of Florida and am keeping an eye on it. That doesn't mean we are freaking out, but just wondering what is possible.

Luckily, I'm assuming most SoFla people took care of their preps earlier in the week when the models were pointing at a Palm Beach landfall. With this in mind, most should be able to rest easy. The only sticking point is if it were to come ashore as a Cat 4.

I'm still thinking the most we will get is a swipe up the coast. Still, it doesn't hurt to keep an eye on her.
I agree...you never know...better safe than sorry..
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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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