Hurricane Irene Prepares to Leave the Bahamas and Head for the US

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:51 AM GMT on August 25, 2011

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As of 2AM EDT, Hurricane Irene was located at 24.2N, 76.0W, 105 miles east-southeast of Nassau or 760 miles south of Cape Hatteras. It was moving northwest at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, making it a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Irene has a minimum central pressure of 950 mb. Hurricane force winds can be found up to 70 miles from Irene's center, and tropical storm force winds can be found out to 255 miles from the storm's center.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for all of the Bahamas. Hurricane and tropical storm watches will likely be posted for the Carolina coastlines later this morning. At this time, Dare County Emergency Management has issued a mandatory evacuation order for all visitors in their county. Dare County Schools will also be closed Thursday and Friday.

Satellite Views
Figure 1 is the infrared satellite image of Irene at 135EDT. The convection is a bit unbalanced around the storm center, which is going to cause Irene to wobble like an unbalanced clothes washer (Analogy courtesy of Angela Fritz) over the next few hours. At the time this image was taken, the convection around Irene's center appears to be getting more vigorous, as cold cloudtops are starting to increase around the storm center. This is important to note because microwave satellite imagery from Wednesday evening suggested Irene was starting an eyewall replacement cycle. Figure 2 shows passive microwave imagery from a Air Force DMSP polar-orbiting satellite. The two concentric green/yellow bands in the image suggest that two eyewall features are present in Irene, and Hurricane Hunter observations confirm this. This has important consequences for Irene's intensity, because in an eyewall replacement cycle, as the inner eyewall weakens, the storm's intensity drops. However, once the inner eyewall is gone, and the outer eyewall contracts to replace it, the storm intensity will increase again.


Figure 1 IR satellite view of Irene taken at 113AM EDT, August 23, 2011


Figure 2 DMSP F18 microwave overpass of Irene at 824PM EDT, August 24, 2011. Image courtesy of the Naval Research Laboratory

Track Forecast

Irene is forecast to move to the northwest, passing over the northwest Bahamas by Thursday evening, then curving to the northeast. Irene then makes landfall in the US near or at the Outer Banks Saturday afternoon, then traveling along the mid-Atlantic coastline of the US. Sunday, Irene may make secondary landfall anywhere from New Jersey to Long Island and the southern New England coastline. In my opinion, New York City may be significantly impacted by Irene. It is also important to note that the windfield of Irene is expected to be large, affecting areas distant from the immediate track of Irene's center. Tropical storm forces winds are expected to be found out to at least 150 miles away from Irene's center on Friday afternoon.

NHC is forecasting for Irene to become a Category 4 storm (winds faster than 130 mph) by Thursday morning. As Irene moves northward into cooler water, the intensity is expected to drop slowly to a Category 2 storm before making landfall in the Outer Banks.


Figure 3 Official track forecast of Irene at 2AM EDT.

Forecast models and today's planned flights
The different forecast models are still in fairly good agreement about Irene's track through the Bahamas and along the east coast of the US. The 00Z GFS run is in close agreement with the 12Z ECMWF run, but the 00Z ECMWF run (shown in figure 4) is continuing the ECMWF's trend of shifting the track westward with each run. NHC forecasters have been placing emphasis on the ECMWF's forecast track when making their forecasts for IRene, so it is possible that the NHC track will shift westwards at the 5AM update.

Looking at the plan of the day valid for today, it will be a busy day for airborne reconnaissance. Three flights for the Air Force hurricane hunters, two flights for the Gulfstream IV (Gonzo), and two flights for NOAA 42, a WP-3D (Kermit). They may have to give NOAA a littering permit for all of the dropsondes used to monitor Irene and her environment, but the forecast improvements they generate are worth the effort.


Figure 4 Plot of the maximum sustained winds in mph over the next week from the 00Z ECMWF forecast.

Impacts

Hurricane force winds will arrive in the northwestern Bahamas today. Storm surge near the center of Irene will be 7-11 feet above tide level. The Bahamas can expect 6-12 inches of rain over the next day or so, and it looks like the Turks and Caicos islands will receive a total of 6-12 inches from Irene. Large, swells from Irene will start landing on the southeastern US coastline later today. Please don't go in the water, as these swells can cause dangerous rip currents. Dr. Masters has catalogued the worst-case storm surge surge scenarios as a function of storm intensity here.

In my opinion, people living from the Carolinas to Cape Cod should pay close attention to Irene and prepare for a wide range of impacts. I think that there is a 75% chance of Irene's secondary landfall will be somewhere between JFK airport and Cape Cod. That said, Irene's size will cause significant impacts for people living far from it's center.

Dr. Masters will have a new blog entry this morning, and Angela Fritz will be covering the afternoon. I'll be back on third shift tonight.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Rob Carver

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Quoting WxLogic:
Turn coming up:



Still a Westerly push going on from that Altantic High at least until Irena gains some more latitude.
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Quoting nash28:


C'mon Irene! Get an attitude and gain more latitude!!

Oh God I'm losing it. Off to the zoo I go..


Off to the zoo? Lol! I work at a zoo.
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Quoting ncstorm:


I have to disagree..I watched WWAY this morning and they are minimizing this storm..people I have spoken with are thinking only minor impact and not thinking of what could happen by a deviation of 40 miles..



They are saying the track may keep changing so we had best be monitoring the situation so they arent really minimizing it
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Quoting CaneHunter031472:


is this the dynamics??
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HPC Preliminary Extended Forecast Discussion

Excerpt:

THE LATEST NUMERICAL GUIDANCE CONTINUES TO ADJUST WESTWARD AS HAS
THE LAST SEVERAL NHC TRACK FORECASTS WHICH NOW HAVE EYE OF IRENE
COMING THRU THE NORTH CAROLINA OUTER BANKS LATE SATURDAY BEFORE
GRAZING THE DELMARVA AND NEW JERSEY THEN MOVING INTO THE NORTHEAST
ON SUNDAY. THIS POTENTIALLY COULD BE EXTREMELY DESTRUCTIVE WITH
MASSIVE DISRUPTIONS TO SOCIETY AND COMMERCE ALONG ITS ENTIRE TRACK
WITH VERY HIGH WINDS/STORM SURGE/OCEAN OVERWASH/BEACH
EROSION/SOUND AND BAY SIDE COASTAL FLOODING AND EXTREME TIDE
POTENTIAL. WIDESPREAD HEAVY RAINS IN THE 6-10 INCH RANGE WILL BE
COMMON WITH GREATLY INCREASED INLAND FLOOD POTENTIAL. REFER TO THE
NHC FOR THE LATEST FORECAST OF IRENE ALONG WITH LOCAL NWS
WARNINGS/STATEMENTS AND ADVISORIES FROM NC INTO NEW ENGLAND.



The complete discussion is a good read
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11211
Wrong steering layer Relix.
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I see the models shifted. I don't think some people realize the potential of things to come.
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Quoting Zaphod:
Add to the list a few pairs of good gloves (leather) and contractor trashbags. Clean-up will often take days, and involve metal, wood, and glass with sharp edges.

If you're up east, you still have time to order LED headlamps, dried food, water filters, camp stoves, chlorine tablets, and so forth on-line from REI. If you don't need them for the 'cane, use them for a camping trip this fall.



Chainsaw! They are hard to come buy after a storm.

I strongly reccomend one if you have trees in your yard.
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NC Gov announced that the National Guard is in staging areas to respond to Irene.
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Quoting wxobsvps:
about to cross 26N



C'mon Irene! Get an attitude and gain more latitude!!

Oh God I'm losing it. Off to the zoo I go..
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Gotta run going to the RAYS game today.......will be back later! BE SAFE and PREPARE NOW!
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Quoting OminousCloud:
has Irene stalled?
In post 713. cat5hurricane 1:47 PM GMT on August 25, 2011 talks about it,

"More likely only a temporary stall as she is beginning to feel the weakness to her north"
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882. Relix
Quoting quakeman55:

There's a weakness in the ridge in the east Atlantic as a trough digs in out there (similar to what's happening with Irene), so it's rounding it and turning it north. As stated in the discussion:

SINCE THE CENTER HAS NOT BEEN WELL FORMED...THE INITIAL MOTION
ESTIMATE IS A FAIRLY UNCERTAIN 280/10. THE DEPRESSION SHOULD
DECELERATE ON A WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AND THEN NORTHWESTWARD COURSE
DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT NEARS THE WESTERN EDGE OF A LOW-
TO MID-LEVEL RIDGE OVER THE FAR EASTERN ATLANTIC. GLOBAL MODELS
SHOW A WEAKNESS IN THE RIDGE ALONG 35W IN 2-3 DAYS WHICH SHOULD
BECOME MORE PRONOUNCED AS A MID- TO UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH BEGINS TO
DIG SOUTHWARD OVER THE NORTHEAST ATLANTIC. THIS SHOULD CAUSE THE
TRACK OF THE CYCLONE TO TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST AND
POSSIBLY THE NORTH LATER IN THE FORECAST PERIOD. THE TRACK AROUND
96-120 HOURS IS HIGHLY DEPENDENT ON THE VERTICAL INTEGRITY OF THE
CYCLONE...WITH A WEAKER/SHALLOWER SYSTEM LIKELY LYING WEST OF THE
FORECAST TRACK. THE OFFICIAL NHC TRACK IS CLOSE TO THE MULTI-MODEL
CONSENSUS TVCN.

Ill be honest... I don't see any weakness at the moment.

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Quoting mydiapersarefull:


Incorrect! I live in Wrightsville Beach and have friends and family over the bridge in Wilmigton. Plenty of people are ready for a major hurricane....should it hit here!Maybe it is you who is not. Hazel, Bertha, Fran, Floyd...once you go through them, you have a good idea of what to expect and what to do.


I have to disagree..I watched WWAY this morning and they are minimizing this storm..people I have spoken with are thinking only minor impact and not thinking of what could happen by a deviation of 40 miles..
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Living in South Mississipp and having gone through many hurricanes I won't feel comfortable until Irene gets north of Georgia. From experience another supply to have on hand is rock salt. Don't know if anyone has mentioned it but it helps in the ice chest. Keeps things much colder. Kids juice boxes will even freeze in that stuff. Also any gas grill will work to cook just about anything on. I keep mac and cheese, hamburger helper, canned crab and salmon for crab cakes or salmon patties, and of course canned food. I try to keep at least a week of food and water for us. With Katrina we were without power for a week. You have to remind yourself to drink lots of water cause you will be sweating cleaning up the mess and can dehydrate quickly. Also, good old pepto bismal and immodium for tummy upsets which are bound to happen. And not only will ATMs not work but most banks will be out of service if they have no electriciy so get all the cash you can beforehand.
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Quoting poknsnok:



wrong answer. saturday early am 8-22-92 andrew began a bee line to S FL.. it was projected to hit s fl by almost all models for more than 48 hrs


If I remember correctly, Don Noe (CH-10 met), told everyone that Andrew was not gonna be a S. Fl hurricane on Friday evening prior to landfall. Not one of his finest moments!
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Quoting CaneHunter031472:


Is this image showing up? Can anyone confirm if this is showing in your computers? Mine is acting up, and it's about to get a crash course in flying!!


Not showing on mine, sorry.
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Add to the list a few pairs of good gloves (leather) and contractor trashbags. Clean-up will often take days, and involve metal, wood, and glass with sharp edges.

If you're up east, you still have time to order LED headlamps, dried food, water filters, camp stoves, chlorine tablets, and so forth on-line from REI. If you don't need them for the 'cane, use them for a camping trip this fall.

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Quoting FLdewey:
Tower this is maverick requesting a fly by...



Exuma Intl Airport.


"Negative, Ghostrider. The pattern is full."
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HERE IS ONE UPDATE THAT I JUST HATE......

TampaSpins Update
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Quoting StormFreakyisher:
Um Has anyone notice that a new tropical depression formed in the east Atlantic. Why is it expected to shoot north and not west?

There's a weakness in the ridge in the east Atlantic as a trough digs in out there (similar to what's happening with Irene), so it's rounding it and turning it north. As stated in the discussion:

SINCE THE CENTER HAS NOT BEEN WELL FORMED...THE INITIAL MOTION
ESTIMATE IS A FAIRLY UNCERTAIN 280/10. THE DEPRESSION SHOULD
DECELERATE ON A WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AND THEN NORTHWESTWARD COURSE
DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT NEARS THE WESTERN EDGE OF A LOW-
TO MID-LEVEL RIDGE OVER THE FAR EASTERN ATLANTIC. GLOBAL MODELS
SHOW A WEAKNESS IN THE RIDGE ALONG 35W IN 2-3 DAYS WHICH SHOULD
BECOME MORE PRONOUNCED AS A MID- TO UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH BEGINS TO
DIG SOUTHWARD OVER THE NORTHEAST ATLANTIC. THIS SHOULD CAUSE THE
TRACK OF THE CYCLONE TO TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST AND
POSSIBLY THE NORTH LATER IN THE FORECAST PERIOD. THE TRACK AROUND
96-120 HOURS IS HIGHLY DEPENDENT ON THE VERTICAL INTEGRITY OF THE
CYCLONE...WITH A WEAKER/SHALLOWER SYSTEM LIKELY LYING WEST OF THE
FORECAST TRACK. THE OFFICIAL NHC TRACK IS CLOSE TO THE MULTI-MODEL
CONSENSUS TVCN.
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Winds from the HWRF from the 06Z run.

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Time: 14:05:30Z
Coordinates: 25.7333N 76.7W
Acft. Static Air Press: 696.9 mb (~ 20.58 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,724 meters (~ 8,937 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 950.7 mb (~ 28.07 inHg)
D-value:
-
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Quoting Vero1:
You own a boat or canoe?


i do but a ski boat. I am pulling it on friday. It gets banged up from a normal storm, not chancing it with this type of storm.

On a side note, the amount of people up here that have no idea whats about to happen is amazing. My neighbor had no idea and started taking in her potted plants when i told her. She just assumed it was happening today since i told her this morning. A lot of people will be caught unprepared. Us northerners just dont get it yet.
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From allan huffman

The track of Irene in the modeling has continued to trend west especially as it passes off the mid-Atlantic coast and through the northeast US. I have adjusted my track slightly west and I am predicting a landfall near Cape Lookout, North Carolina Saturday evening. I think Irene will be a strong category 3 hurricane at landfall with winds in the 125-130mph range. Irene will steadily weaken but pass through the North Carolina Sounds, placing the North Carolina Outer Banks in the eastern eye wall. This could obviously be very damaging for Ocracoke, Cape Hatteras, and Nags Head.
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I then think Irene will move very close to Norfolk probably weakening to a low end category 3 hurricane by this time. I keep the eye close to but technically off the coast of the Delmarva and New Jersey with Irene weakening to a category 2 hurricane. This would still place the eastern Delmarva and coastal New Jersey in the western eyewall of the storm. So wind gusts to 100mph are possible for coastal sections of Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. Keep in mind I am east of the 00z ECMWF which moves the eye inland in exteme eastern NC and only really emerges into the Chesapeake Bay briefly then turns northeast staying inland along the coastal plain and actually moving west of New York City. I think this may be too far west but it is on the table. I then take the eye of Irene just east of New York city across western Long Island and then into eastern and central Connecticut and into New England. I think Irene will be a low end category 2 hurricane as it moves ashore in eastern Long Island and then weaken over New England.
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Quoting CapeFearRising:
Now that Florida is out of the woods ya'll start bashing the NY-NJ crowd, just as they're about to get the worst storm many of them have ever seen in their lifetime?

Stay classy, Florida.



Hey, you are using my Avatar !!!
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De-lurking for those who are interested:

The artifacts in the MIMIC-TC animations from CIMSS are caused by glitches in the morphing software, not super-secret government ray-guns...

at

http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/misc/mimic/info.html

"The Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS (MIMIC) product provides a radar-like visualization of the evolution of TC structure using advanced image morphing algorithms. The final product is a synthetically-derived animation at 15 minute intervals between two authentic passive microwave satellite images. The morphing routines utilize an advection/rotation scheme based on the current reported TC wind speed estimates."
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Apropos of nothing, perhaps, but there are no birds here this morning. Normally, it sounds like an aviary in my backyard, to the point that I am asked when on the phone if I own birds. I don't. Even the woodpecker that drives me nuts is MIA this morning - small blessing. A light breeze and cloudy here in Lakeland.

Thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been or will be affected by Irene. Stay safe.
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Turn coming up:

Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4977
Flweatherfreak91--Seas will be rough! don't need to be near the ocean at this point.
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has Irene stalled?
Member Since: June 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 86


Is this image showing up? Can anyone confirm if this is showing in your computers? Mine is acting up, and it's about to get a crash course in flying!!
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Um Has anyone notice that a new tropical depression formed in the east Atlantic. Why is it expected to shoot north and not west?
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Here is an update to the page showing three of the most relevant personal weather stations, this time in the northern Bahamas.

The west eyewall is about to graze Nassau, so we will see how long these stations continue to report:

http://wunderine.tumblr.com
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Quoting FLdewey:
Tower this is maverick requesting a fly by...



Exuma Intl Airport.


WE have WAYYYY too much time on our hands! LOL
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Quoting aspectre:
(24.2n76.0w has been re-evaluated&altered for H.Irene's_12pmGMT_ATCF
24.1n75.9w, 25.4n76.6w are now the most recent positions
Starting 24August_12pmGMT and ending 25August_12pmGMT

The 4 shorter line-segments represent HurricaneIrene's path
and the westernmost line-segment is the straightline projection.

Using straightline projection of the travel-speed&heading derived from the ATCF coordinates spanning the 6hours between 6amGMT then 12pmGMT :
H.Irene's travel-speed was 17.2mph(27.6k/h) on a heading of 338.8degrees(NNW)
H.Irene was headed toward passing near GreatAbaco,Bahamas ~2&1/2_hours from now

Copy&paste 22.7n74.3w-23.5n75.1w, 23.5n75.1w-24.1n75.9w, 24.1n75.9w-25.5n76.5w, atc, cel, rsd,ghb, elh, 24.1n75.9w-mhh, tcb, wkr, 24.1n75.9w-30.9n78.97w, jax into the GreatCircleMapper for more info

For EastCoast watchers...

H.Irene was headed toward passage over Mt.Pleasant,SouthCarolina ~1day5hours from now

Copy&paste [coordinates] into the GreatCircleMapper for more info

The previous mapping (for 25August_6amGMT)



Sorry, but what does this mean? The part about headed over Mt. Pleasant SC 1 day 5hrs.! Is this a past forecast or a current one?
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856. Jax82
looks like she's losin' her cold cloud tops at the moment.
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Quoting zoomiami:


I sympathize with everyone feeling this way, as I said last night, this was the utmost test of faith in the NHC.

I think that we have to recognize how much the forecasting has changed since Andrew. Even though there have been some issues, those forecasts usually say that there is a higher chance of uncertainty, where as this one did not.

It is absolutely true that 24 hrs prior to Andrew they did not believe it would hit South Florida. I believe what happened in that forecast was that they thought the high was going to back off, and it was going to turn out to sea. The high then "bridged" effectively cutting off the path. If you look at the track you will see that when it started west it never moved.

hurricane watch for S. FL was issued on the 22nd of Aug. at 5PM. a hurricane warning was issued on the 23rd at 8AM. the center hit early morning on the 24.

so there was plenty of warning that it was coming.

also, here is some stuff from the NHC on Andrew.

Track forecast errors by the NHC and by the suite of track prediction models are given in Table 4. On average, the NHC errors were about 30% smaller than the current 10-year average. The most significant changes in Andrew's track and intensity (see Fig. 1, Table 1) were generally well anticipated (noted in NHC's Tropical Cyclone Discussions)

Several of the dynamic track models had stellar performances during this hurricane. The Aviation Model and a tracking routine that follows a simulated hurricane vortex (AVNO) performed especially well. However, this was the first storm for which AVNO output was available to NHC forecasters. Hence, its operational reliability was not established. The GFDL and QLM models also had small errors. It should be pointed out, however, that the NHC works on a six-hourly forecast cycle and that the models mentioned above are run just once per 12 hours. Moreover, the output from these models becomes available to forecasters no earlier than the following six-hour forecast cycle.

so their track was better than it normally was back then.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Tower this is maverick requesting a fly by...



Exuma Intl Airport.


Pattern is full.
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Quoting JoseMaria:
This hurricane is right in the middle of those little islands which are no higher than maybe 20 ft above sea level - where are all the people sheltering? I have not heard any news coverage about the human loss and/or material loss regarding to this disaster.

Irene just passed Puerto Rico about five days ago and we still have thousands without electricity and water, even in shelters because they lost their houses due to the tropical storm winds. It was not even a hurricane when it went over us!


The Bahamas newspaper The Tribune reported on its website
that on Acklins Island "homes have been completely washed away
or have lost entire roofs, power lines have been downed and
trees are blocking roads."

Many residents sought safety in shelters. No report on
casualties was immediately available.
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794. zoomiami

While the location of the center crossing the coast was not well forecast, South Florida was under a hurricane watch 36 hours before landfall and a hurricane warning 21 hours before landfall.


Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11211
Quoting TampaSpin:
Later today i will put up a section just for Irene with as many Radar sites and can put up live to help as many as i can....so Sorry the many of Millions of what they are about to go thru. I have been there and its no fun at all to have no power for weeks and no water. You just don't understand until you have been there!



Exactly ... i was saying that last nite .. wish for one and one year it will happen. i've been thru several ...
frederick 79 .... erin 95 .... opal 95 ... ivan 04
dennis 05 ... don't need any more , BUT i know one year or day it will happen ( AGAIN )
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Quoting MahFL:


Can you name one person who died due to a lack of water after a hurricane in the USA ?
I very much doubt it.....
The water supply after a hurricane is usually contaminated..If people drink it, they run the risk of serious disease and death.
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EXTREMELY heavy rain band coming through Nassau at the moment... i can't see the trees outside my window.. which is like 10 feet.
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Quoting surfsidesindy:


by all models AND the NHC, or just the models?


I was in Atlanta, GA preparing to come to Hollywood, Fl and the forecast was very clear 2 days out-Andrew was heading straight for the Florida coast between broward and Dade. We made a beeline home and got the shutters up and waited in the store for hours for last minute items.
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Quoting Vero1:
You own a boat or canoe?


That's not nice -- If you flood easily, think about the worst storm you've ever had and plan for more. Its been my experience that once they get into this area the rains are the most devastating part.

And if that doesn't happen, at least you were ready.
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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.