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 Levi32:
Well this is not good....recent AVHRR SST passes indicate that 27C waters extend right up to the coast of Long Island. This is strange because other analysis I have seen (such as LSU) says that SSTs drop below 25C rapidly north of the Gulf Stream there, but upon using a photo-editing program to figure out what temperature on the scale that the colors near Long Island correspond to, this image indicates 27C. I wonder which analysis is correct.







from EMC Marine Modeling and Analysis Branch - not sure if this is the same as LSU. Not showing 27 all the way in, but it's close.

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2867. scott39
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:

What's your point?

Study: Stronger hurricanes loom
Fewer expected but bigger storms to bring more damage

WASHINGTON — Top researchers now agree that the world is likely to get stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming, seeming to settle a scientific debate on the subject.


Exactly as has been predicted..
Look for an outer space ALIEN attack any day now!
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000
URNT12 KNHC 250519
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL092011
A. 25/05:07:40Z
B. 24 deg 03 min N
075 deg 49 min W
C. 700 mb 2665 m
D. 75 kt
E. 050 deg 11 nm
F. 137 deg 96 kt
G. 045 deg 30 nm
H. 950 mb
I. 8 C / 3060 m
J. 16 C / 3044 m
K. 15 C / NA
L. OPEN W-NE
M. C32
N. 12345 / 7
O. 0.02 / 1 nm
P. AF302 1709A IRENE OB 21
MAX FL WIND 96 KT NE QUAD 04:57:50Z
MAX FL TEMP 17 C 135 / 9 NM FROM FL CNTR
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Quoting Grothar:
Issued by The National Weather Service
Miami, FL
Wed, Aug 24, 2011, 11:50 PM EDT
Local Satellite Map
Updated Aug 25, 2011, 1:10am EDT
Before a Tropical Storm or Hurricane
Protect Your Home from Hurricane Damage
What to Do if a Hurricane Watch or Warning Is Issued
Video: Create a Hurricane Supply Kit
Complete Storm Coverage
... MAIN IMPACTS EXPECTED DANGEROUS SURF... RIP CURRENTS... AND MODERATE TO SEVERE BEACH EROSION...

... WINDS... TROPICAL CYCLONE WATCHES OR WARNINGS ARE CURRENTLY NOT IN EFFECT... NOR ARE THEY LIKELY UNDER PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES. WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE INTO THE BREEZY TO WINDY RANGE FROM EARLY THURSDAY THROUGH THURSDAY EVENING WITH A FEW WIND GUSTS UP TO 35 TO 45 MPH. THE HIGHEST POTENTIAL FOR THESE GUSTS WILL BE IN RAIN SQUALLS... MAINLY OVER PALM BEACH COUNTY.



OK, OK,.....my bad......i just seen it and posted......LOL
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947 mb extrapolated and 20 mph surface winds

050800 2402N 07550W 6963 02712 9473 +166 +145 334013 014 018 001 03
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HWRF 90 HRS.

Maybe not as far left as I initially thought.
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A lil' lower actually. 947.3mb.

050800 2402N 07550W 6963 02712 9473 +166 +145 334013 014 018 001 03
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2861. Grothar
Issued by The National Weather Service
Miami, FL
Wed, Aug 24, 2011, 11:50 PM EDT
Local Satellite Map
Updated Aug 25, 2011, 1:10am EDT
Before a Tropical Storm or Hurricane
Protect Your Home from Hurricane Damage
What to Do if a Hurricane Watch or Warning Is Issued
Video: Create a Hurricane Supply Kit
Complete Storm Coverage
... MAIN IMPACTS EXPECTED DANGEROUS SURF... RIP CURRENTS... AND MODERATE TO SEVERE BEACH EROSION...

... WINDS... TROPICAL CYCLONE WATCHES OR WARNINGS ARE CURRENTLY NOT IN EFFECT... NOR ARE THEY LIKELY UNDER PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES. WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE INTO THE BREEZY TO WINDY RANGE FROM EARLY THURSDAY THROUGH THURSDAY EVENING WITH A FEW WIND GUSTS UP TO 35 TO 45 MPH. THE HIGHEST POTENTIAL FOR THESE GUSTS WILL BE IN RAIN SQUALLS... MAINLY OVER PALM BEACH COUNTY.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
2860. Dunkman
Cape Hatteras doesn't really need a western shift anymore from the models I've seen they are going to get clobbered.
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2859. jfm1975
OK..call me crazy..but I keep seeing Irene continuing on an essentially a bee line for florida. I know every modek and weatherman has it hitting the NYC area...but this monster is getting way to close for comfort. And hurricanes are notorious for having a mind of their own..I really hope I am wrong
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2858. scCane


Last post of the night for me. Anyone near Cape Hatteras needs to watch this one for any western shift.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



wow 948.1 thats not good




she is well under way too sub 930s all so we could be looking at a strong cat 4 may be a cat 5 when the new eye pops out
Are you seeing what the HWRF model wants to do with this system! I really hope it's overdoing it.
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Magnitude 4.5
Date-Time

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 05:07:50 UTC
Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 01:07:50 AM at epicenter

Location 37.940°N, 77.896°W
Depth 5 km (3.1 miles)
Region VIRGINIA
Distances

7 km (5 miles) S (171°) from Mineral, VA
13 km (8 miles) SE (135°) from Louisa, VA
31 km (20 miles) NE (48°) from Columbia, VA
38 km (24 miles) E (86°) from Lake Monticello, VA
59 km (36 miles) NW (320°) from Richmond, VA
133 km (82 miles) SW (216°) from Washington, DC

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 11.3 km (7.0 miles); depth +/- 3 km (1.9 miles)
Parameters NST= 94, Nph=109, Dmin=52.3 km, Rmss=1.41 sec, Gp= 86°,
M-type="Nuttli" surface wave magnitude (mbLg), Version=5
Source

Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

Event ID usc0005jg1
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2855. spud358
I know the focus right now is on the NYC area because of the dense population, but I wanted to point out another potential catastrophic possibility.  Narragansett Bay, RI and Buzzards Bay, MA are very possible locals for the east side of the eye.  The timing of land fall could very well correspond to a new moon astronomical tide.  The angle of approach as well as the forward motion of this large hurricane could push upwards of 20 ft of water into the Bays with no where for it to go.
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2854. nigel20
Quoting Alockwr21:
Evening everyone. What's the latest with Ms. Irene?

11:00 PM EDT Wed Aug 24
Location: 23.8°N 75.4°W
Max sustained: 120 mph
Moving: NW at 12 mph
Min pressure: 952 mb
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HWRF 84 HRS.

Looks like it shifted a little left from previous run.
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I know I know.. its turning its turning...

Its been doing a constant 312 for the last 17 hours... its just a very long slow turn right?




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Quoting Floodman:


My point is that while I am generally in agreement with you, your proselytizing Climate Change here, in this place, given a major storm in the Atlantic amking it;s way to the CONUS is disagreeable and will, without doubt, result in confrontations much like this one. Also, I am quietly aggravated that you somehow managed to escape my usually secure ignore list.

Would care to talk about the steering for Irene? Perhaps discuss the possibility that she may indeed end up too far west to turn out as she is supposed to, or would you rather peddle some more Climate Change Watchtowers?

Hurricanes and intensity, when the topic is brought up i will offer my knowledge. And this will be further discussed later when people start asking why.

So far for current tracking, since yesterday i was pointing out the fact that Irene went through a Hebert Box and might be considered an annular hurricane, which makes it harder to forecast.

Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Quoting pctatc:
First time poster, long time lurker. Just had a pretty significant after shock here in Warrenton, VA. lasted about 25 secs. The house was vibrating pretty good. And to think I stayed up late tonight to catch the developments on Irene which appears to be heading more my way than earlier this evening. Heck of a week here in the mid Atlantic.


I was trying to find some info..got alot of people around the richmond metro t hat had felt it...I was driving at the time...umm, the fall line needs to go back to sleep...
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Quoting will40:



20 miles south of Morehead City
Oh man that's right on the coastline, HWRF blowing Irene up into a Cat. 5 I see, it's been pretty spot on with intensification, these EWRC are your saving grace at so far.
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Have a great night, Taz
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
2845. Grothar
Quoting TampaSpin:


That is only a marine tropical warning, T. At this time for Marine interests only. I have not heard of any yet.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
Quoting weatherman566:
By the way, 4.5 aftershock in VA/DC area....
didn't feel it here in Raleigh.
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Anybody coach me on how to activate the Storm-Surge feature on the wU map?
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2842. 7544
thats for boaters lolmarine
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am out good night


plzs WU me if they some in eles lower then 984.1
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
A classic "hey lets hang out in the path" story. IDK that Captain.
By the time I got up there to help with the FD, the surge was still draining from far up these creeks & rivers, and with the combination of spills, flush, and compromised septic systems, they overflowed with a foul brew.
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HWRF 78 HRS
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Ok....well my bad...i refreshed the rainbow loop and it had the plot track alot closer to Florida...I about freaked out!!!! I don't know what that was about .....but now its bacvk out on the map
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2837. Grothar
Quoting charlottefl:


Yeah, well I know the first time I went there it was like stepping into a whole new universe... You heard anything about what kinda news they're spreading up there?


As of this afternoon, it was business as usual. Those with whom I spoke were not aware of anything except they heard a storm was hitting South Carolina. By this evening, the news stations began a little more coverage. New Yorkers, by nature are a bit blase. They have to deal with so much that it is part of their behavior. I can say that because I was born there. However, they react quickly and efficiently when they need to; as we all sadly remember so well. It looks like a very sad week-end for a good part of the Northeast. I do hope it is not as bad as it appears to be right now.

I remember on TV there was a volunteer fireman from Georgia who was there on their saddest day. He was being interviewed and said, "I take back everything I ever said about New Yorkers. They are the nicest and friendliest people I ever met" I hope everyone on the coast and the Northeast fare this one well.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
2836. nigel20
Quoting Orcasystems:
Time: 05:07:30Z
Coordinates: 24.05N 75.8167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 697.1 mb (~ 20.59 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,700 meters (~ 8,858 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 948.1 mb (~ 28.00 inHg)
D-value:
-

WOW!
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By the way, 4.5 aftershock in VA/DC area....
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Evening everyone. What's the latest with Ms. Irene?
Member Since: September 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 725
948.1 mb
(~ 28.00 inHg)
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2832. 7544
Quoting TampaSpin:
LOOKS like a Tropical Storm Watch has now been issued for South Florida.......



another wobble west are u for real ????? what part
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2831. pctatc
First time poster, long time lurker. Just had a pretty significant after shock here in Warrenton, VA. lasted about 25 secs. The house was vibrating pretty good. And to think I stayed up late tonight to catch the developments on Irene which appears to be heading more my way than earlier this evening. Heck of a week here in the mid Atlantic.

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Quoting MTWX:

Pop density per square mile:
New York City: 27,016
Houston: 3,501

No comparison at all!

NOLA: Population (2010)[1]
- City and Parish 343,829
- Density 1,965/sq mi (759/km2)
- Metro 1,235,650
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
050730 2403N 07549W 6971 02700 9481 157 148 059003 008 018 001 03
948 mb??? You got to be kidding me...
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Time: 05:07:30Z
Coordinates: 24.05N 75.8167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 697.1 mb (~ 20.59 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,700 meters (~ 8,858 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 948.1 mb (~ 28.00 inHg)
D-value:
-
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
050730 2403N 07549W 6971 02700 9481 +157 +148 059003 008 018 001 03



wow 948.1 thats not good




she is well under way too sub 930s all so we could be looking at a strong cat 4 may be a cat 5 when the new eye pops out
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
Quoting TampaSpin:
LOOKS like a Tropical Storm Watch has now been issued for South Florida.......



Huh?
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
LOOKS like a Tropical Storm Watch has now been issued for South Florida.......

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948 mb pressure extrapolated with 20 mph surface winds.

Also laughed at the messed up SFMR reading here lol

045900 2423N 07529W 6968 02898 //// +110 //// 135077 079 158 002 05
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2822. will40
Quoting GTcooliebai:
How far are you from OBX?



20 miles south of Morehead City
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2821. nigel20
Quoting BrockBerlin:


Could indeed be one already they will probably wait for visible tomorrow to classify but it looks pretty organized at the moment.

Yea one of the better looking invest that far out in the Atlantic this year.
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2820. Skyepony (Mod)
TRMM pass of Irene. It's linked tot he very large quicktime. She's a wet one.
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Quoting will40:




hwrf west of NHC track at 66 hrs
How far are you from OBX?
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Has anyone seen how close the forecast track from NHC has shifted west.....holy cow hurricane warning should be going for Sout florida pretty quickly....
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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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