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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3018. Grothar
Quoting scott39:
Will that raise the pressure?


Wish you had not posted that. I made a spelling error. I had to go back and correct it. Give me a B- on this post please.
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3017. jonelu
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Question is now how much the outer bands will affect florida coasts.
We can handle the outer bands here in FL...TS winds and rain are ok...but not more than that since we aren't prepared. I'm putting my full faith and trust in the NHC.
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Quoting TheNewGuy:
00z ECMWF is looking very interesting so far.

I'll let it be a surprise for ya'll.


uh oh his writing seemed to have asmile in it!
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Quoting atmosweather:


Yup, and that 5 degrees further north trend in 6 hr motion has been pretty consistent for every 6 hour period since Tuesday morning. Look at all the NHC complete advisories since then and you'll see that it moves ever so slightly more N every period. This is exactly the type of turn or "bend" that the NHC and models have been forecasting for 3 days.


which is precisely what I was trying to say.
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Man we are about to have T.S. Jose and Hurricane Irene by the 10 am advisory.
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Quoting Kowaliga:
A/B ridge fightin' the trof but but the top hatch is still wide open...




what do the white lines just north of irene mean? they go west or sw. i see the lines around the highs go clockwise,its airflow and steering, right? why aew we paying attrntion to the bermuda high,but it seems the lines that go west dont count? or are they someting else? did that make sense?
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3012. Remek
Quoting victoriahurricane:
Seriously? We're arguing over a freaking turn? WU you never cease to amaze me.


Where you been? People have been posting (yelling) questions and looking for a curve or turn N since early yesterday!
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3011. scott39
Quoting Grothar:


Not really, she just took a bite of dry air and she is trying to fix herself up again. See, they do that many times, especially on the western side, because most of the time they have already moistend their atmosphere to the east
Will that raise the pressure?
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3010. Grothar
Quoting atmosweather:


You sound like a few former college professors of mine lol. "Just a pop quiz that's all."


I am a professor, but not of meteorology. Force of habit.
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Quoting DFWjc:


But the curve i'm talking about is the one that people are saying it's going DUE N not just NW or NNW


The due north isn't supposed to happen for another 12 to 24 hours
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3008. Grothar
Quoting scott39:
That dry air looks pretty bad to me gro and a weakning Irene. But them again LOOKS can be deceiving.


Not really, she just took a bite of dry air and she is trying to fix herself up again. See, they do that many times, especially on the western side, because most of the time they have already moistened their atmosphere to the east
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Quoting Grothar:


I know, just wanted to see if everybody else knew. Good call.


You sound like a few former college professors of mine lol. "Just a pop quiz that's all."
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Seriously? We're arguing over a freaking turn? WU you never cease to amaze me.
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Between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Irene moved 0.4 degrees N and 0.6 degrees W.

When looking at the 12 hour forecast position from the 5 p.m. NHC discussion on August 24 Irene is already 0.2 degrees west of the forecast position for 5 a.m.

I still don't think this is a Florida, Georgia or even South Carolina threat. But it's going to be very hard for Irene not to hit North Carolina. Already 0.4 degrees west of Cape Hatteras.
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3004. scott39
Quoting atmosweather:


Yup, and that 5 degrees further north trend in 6 hr motion has been pretty consistent for every 6 hour period since Tuesday morning. Look at all the NHC complete advisories since then and you'll see that it moves ever so slightly more N every period. This is exactly the type of turn or "bend" that the NHC and models have been forecasting for 3 days.
Irene looks sick to me.
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Quoting Ryuujin:


She's ingested some of the dry air that's been lingering and will work it out, but in the meantime she'll head a bit more west?
A couple of us were talking today about the ULL in the GOM that was developing, and if it would influence the models any. It looks like more than one of us were right on. That's where the dry air is coming from, and that's probably helping pull it just a little bit to the west.

I assumed the models had this figured in, but apparently they didn't.

It's still moving generally northwest, but that ULL in the GOM is influencing it. This thing is pulling to the west a little.

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00z ECMWF is looking very interesting so far.

I'll let it be a surprise for ya'll.
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3001. DFWjc
Quoting Remek:


Note the phrase "further NW then N".

Probably should have said NNW then N. Still, it won't be like suddenly turning a corner.


Ah okay, now i've got ya, thanks...
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Quoting Grothar:
The western side is really breaking up. Do you know what this means?



TELL ME
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2999. scott39
Quoting Grothar:


I know, just wanted to see if everybody else knew. Good call.
That dry air looks pretty bad to me gro and a weakning Irene. But them again LOOKS can be deceiving.
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2998. DFWjc
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


18 hours ago it was moving at 290 degrees, now it's at 315. That is a curve and a change in mean direction in progress.


But the curve i'm talking about is the one that people are saying it's going DUE N not just NW or NNW
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Question is now how much the outer bands will affect florida coasts.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Had a 1 1/2' water moccasin at my back door at 1:50am. Kinda odd.


Uh, that's not good under any circumstances! =:0
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2995. Remek
Quoting DFWjc:


Going NW is not a curve... that'd be a straight line since that's what it has been doing. The only curve would be when it goes in a different direction...


Note the phrase "further NW then N".

Probably should have said NNW then N. Still, it won't be like suddenly turning a corner.
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Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 315 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H

That is 5 degrees more to the north in terms of mean movement than 6 hours ago.


Yup, and that 5 degrees further north trend in 6 hr motion has been pretty consistent for every 6 hour period since Tuesday morning. Look at all the NHC complete advisories since then and you'll see that it moves ever so slightly more N every period. This is exactly the type of turn or "bend" that the NHC and models have been forecasting for 3 days.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Things don't look good for RI or Cape Cod. I think I'd move to higher ground Fri or Sat.
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Have a great night everyone!

Please do me a favor Irene - go EAST
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
2991. Grothar
Quoting atmosweather:


Dry air being ingested due to her reorganization of the inner core in the eyewall replacement cycle. That should be temporary.


I know, just wanted to see if everybody else knew. Good call.
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2990. nigel20
Quoting Grothar:
The western side is really breaking up. Do you know what this means?


What?
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the flattening out of the west side of the storm indicates that it should begin to make its turn to the n-nnw
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Quoting DFWjc:


Going NW is not a curve... that'd be a straight line since that's what it has been doing. The only curve would be when it goes in a different direction...


18 hours ago it was moving at 290 degrees, now it's at 315. That is a curve and a change in mean direction in progress.
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2987. Remek
Quoting swflurker:
LOL, it still amazes me with the tools we have on hand to predict the storms path, we still have idiots saying it will go somewhere else. I have a ton of crow for you moron's. Go back to lurking!!!!


Wishcasters. Many, many wishcasters, some jumping thru hoops trying to justify what they want to see.
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Quoting charlottefl:
Microwave pass shows well what'a going on with the eye:



Thats going to be horrible for Nassauf it does not turn north,just horrible
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Quoting Floodman:


Hey, I didn't start it, honest!


I know you are 100% innocent! ;)
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2984. jonelu
Quoting oceanblues32:

I am feeling the same way ft lauderdale here where r u?
West Palm Beach..
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2983. DFWjc
Quoting Remek:


There is no "turn". It will be a gradual curve further NW, then N.


Going NW is not a curve... that'd be a straight line since that's what it has been doing. The only curve would be when it goes in a different direction...
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I believe the disorganized appearance of Irene on it's western side might be a sign of it begining to turn more northward
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PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 315 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H

That is 5 degrees more to the north in terms of mean movement than 6 hours ago.
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2980. Ryuujin
Quoting oceanblues32:
ok she moved more west than north from 11 am so please tell me she is not going to get any closer to florida....


She's ingested some of the dry air that's been lingering and will work it out, but in the meantime she'll head a bit more west?
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LOL, it still amazes me with the tools we have on hand to predict the storms path, we still have idiots saying it will go somewhere else. I have a ton of crow for you moron's. Go back to lurking!!!!
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2978. nigel20
A 1007 MB LOW IS CENTERED SW OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS NEAR
12N28W WITH SCATTERED/NUMEROUS STRONG CONVECTION FROM 11N-14N
BETWEEN 29W-33W. THIS SYSTEM IS BECOMING BETTER ORGANIZED AND A
TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD BE FORMING. IF CURRENT TRENDS
CONTINUE ADVISORIES WILL LIKELY BE INITIATED LATER THIS MORNING.
THIS SYSTEM HAS A HIGH CHANCE OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE
DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES WESTWARD OR
WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT 9-13 KT.
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00z Euro slightly west at the 24 hr point.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
2976. Grothar
Quoting jonelu:
I'm going to have to stay up til I see the turn...or I won't be able to sleep...she is too close for comfort.


I think they have a good handle on it. Get some rest. I am turning in. Have fun guys. May all your days be trolless ones.
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2975. jonelu
Quoting Twinkster:
you know I notice something. Every time a storm is near the conus everyone thinks the nhc track is going to be wrong. for example: it isn't turning it is continuing nw towards florida. I have yet to see the NHC get a forecast this short term wrong. I trust the experts at the NHC and I fully expect the turn to begin soon. The weakness is clearly there and it should follow the weakness n-nnw within the next 12 hours
I agree...but it's scary with her so close. I should just trust it and go to bed.
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Does anybody know if NYC will get hurricane force winds?
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2973. Remek
Quoting zuglie:
I agree it's getting too closebto Florida ! When did they think it was going to turn ?


There is no "turn". It will be a gradual curve further NW, then N.
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2972. NCSCguy
Quoting Twinkster:
you know I notice something. Every time a storm is near the conus everyone thinks the nhc track is going to be wrong. for example: it isn't turning it is continuing nw towards florida. I have yet to see the NHC get a forecast this short term wrong. I trust the experts at the NHC and I fully expect the turn to begin soon. The weakness is clearly there and it should follow the weakness n-nnw within the next 12 hours
Yes she will turn north-nnw but the timing within those 12 hours can make a huge difference to the south-eastern coast.
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Quoting Grothar:
The western side is really breaking up. Do you know what this means?

I dunno, Dry Air entrainment?
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i believe that the track will move to left because each advisory since 10 am this morning is beginning to shift to the left ever so slowly left. That ridge is really building in and pulling irene a whole lot west than i thought. Could be interesting in the morning for the 4am and 10 am track.
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I understand these are reliable models and all....and I understand that PROFESSIONAL meteorologists are predicting a path.....but personally I will be alot happier when this thing has passed me by in Georgia....I am not saying its gonna hit anywhere near me but its just a little nerve racking....a tropical storm or maybe CAT 1 I am not concerned but this thing is HUGE and people will die in the coming days with a direct or indirect hit....It happens all the time and alot of people will not take it seriously......While the storms are interesting to watch in the ocean it is a different story when people lives are in danger!!!!
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2968. tj175
WOW 90L is at 90% chance for development. Does anyone know where its headed?
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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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