Category 3 Irene Approaches The Carolina Coastline

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:19 AM GMT on August 26, 2011

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As of 200AM EDT, Hurricane Irene was located at 28.7N, 77.3W, 460 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras. It was moving north at 14 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 942 mb. Outside of the US, hurricane warnings are still in effect for Grand Bahama and the Abaco islands. In the US, hurricane warnings are in effect for the coast of North Carolina from the Little River inlet north to the Virginia border. Hurricane watches are in effect from the NC/Virginia border north to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Figure 1 shows the hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings for Irene. Remember, a hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected, and tropical storm force winds will occur within 36 hours. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible and tropical storm force winds are expected within 48 hours.

To find out if you need to evacuate, please contact your local emergency management office. They will have the latest information. FEMA has information on preparing for hurricanes. FEMA also has a blog describing their response to Irene.


Figure 1 Map of watches and warnings taken at 1215AM EDT, August 26, 2011

Satellite Views
Figure 2 shows that Irene is a large storm, with outflow reaching from Florida to North Carolina. Irene's eye is visible in the infrared imagery.


Figure 2 IR satellite view of Irene taken at 100AM EDT, August 26, 2011

Track Forecast

Irene is forecast to make landfall on the North Carolina coast Saturday afternoon. It will likely be a Category 3 storm, with windspeeds around 115 mph. As Irene moves northwards through the mid-Atlantic region it will weaken considerably. On Sunday, Irene's center will pass through the Tri-State region of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, with impacts spread over a wider region due to Irene's size.


Figure 3 Official track forecast of Irene at 11PM EDT, Aug. 25.

Irene and Flooding
Six to ten inches of rain are possible along Irene's track from the Carolinas northward, with 15 inches possible in isolated areas. As a result, flooding is very likely. The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) has issued their Significant River Flood Outlook for the next five days shown in figure 4. HPC thinks that river flooding in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey is likely, while flooding along the rest of the northeastern US is possible.


Figure 4 Significant River Flood Outlook issued by HPC.

Impacts

Tropical storm forces winds will reach the southern North Carolina coast by late Friday, with hurricane force winds arriving Saturday. Within the hurricane warning area in North Carolina, storm surge is expected to be 5-10 feet above ground. This is our storm surge forecast map.

People living on the the east coast of the US from the Carolinas to Cape Cod should closely monitor Irene and be in the process of finishing their hurricane preparations. If you have not started preparing for this storm, start immediately. If an evacuation order is given, please follow it. Irene will be a large storm, impacting areas far from the storm center track.

Dr. Masters will have a new blog entry this morning, and there will be another blog this afternoon. There will be a special online broadcast at 430PM with Shaun Tanner, Tim Roche, Dr. Masters, Angela Fritz and me. Please email any questions you have to broadcast@wunderground.com. We will be taking phone calls at 415-983-2634. I'll be back with another blog entry late tonight.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Rob Carver

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Quoting TampaTom:
Mom has evacuated Cape May. She's in tears... But, she'll be safe in Pennsylvania...


Good move -- I wouldn't want to be in Cape May if the storm gets close. That whole area is like a scoop just waiting for the water.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
After 36 hours without power and more than 24 without phone, I am back online. More about my experience in a while.


Great to see that you are alright, Baha. I was wondering how you fared.
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Complete Update

Updated tracks... "small" shift east

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI





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Quoting Brock31:


We're used to that. The drainage is very poor here and the fact that the drainage empties into a tidal creek only exacerbates the issue.

A couple of weeks ago we were out in the yard after a thunderstorm in my flooded yard. Its really kind of cool to see all the critters escaping being submerged. All of our trees were crawling with earthworms. Creepy


I remember when charley came through here and the reporter was doing a live shot with water up to his calves and a huge sewer rat swam right by him..he almost dropped his microphone in the water..I couldnt deal with those critters..brings them all out in the open..
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Irenes outer edge is creeping closer, yet I am at work. Why>>>?>?>
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The eye is 250 miles away, but things are already going downhill at the buoy off of Cape Lookout, NC:

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i would love a current steering map if someone has one handy...i am keeping a 3rd eye on that canadian trough that is supposed to keep the Bermuda high from going back to the west...thanks
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
Quoting BahaHurican:
After 36 hours without power and more than 24 without phone, I am back online. More about my experience in a while.


Great to see you -- tried calling last night -- but no go.
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Quoting BobinTampa:
Irene is going to have to make a hard SW turn very soon if she's going to hit Florida.

I'm beginning to think that some of the info I get on this blog may not be accurate!
You think?
A few members jumped all over me the other day when anyone with half a brain could see it had ZERO chance of hitting Fl. Called me a fool. yaneverknow..blah,blah
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Link
To the Wilmington radar
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Quoting Patrap:
Just got off the phone with Presslord,,hes outta power already at Folly Beach and is watching the progs closely on IRENE.
Thanks for letting us know.
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Quoting franck:


Charleston not out of the woods, especially unprotected areas.


What do you mean? Chas. isn't out of the woods yet? Something we in Sc should know? I'm not trying to sound like a smart behind, I'm really curious.

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Can someone give me a link to the most recent 330-850hpa CIMSS please?
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Quoting HCW:
Good Morning Levi :) Nice update


Morning HCW. Thanks.
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Quoting ncstorm:


the creek brings snakes and frogs..stay safe..


We're used to that. The drainage is very poor here and the fact that the drainage empties into a tidal creek only exacerbates the issue.

A couple of weeks ago we were out in the yard after a thunderstorm in my flooded yard. Its really kind of cool to see all the critters escaping being submerged. All of our trees were crawling with earthworms. Creepy
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Quoting Breaves:
I got two kegs and 4 24 cases of beer. We going do this thing Jersey style and show you guys how it is done.


You also need a Sharpie marker so you and your guests can write your SSN on your arms and chests. It makes identification much easier.
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Quoting nash28:
Good morning from Charleston, SC.

Getting breezy, but nothing of note as of yet....
Supposed to get a little squally as the day progresses.


morning Nash...Press stuck on the island...no power... came on CH2 lines down over road at Crosby's, both sides...landed on a car driving from what they said...gonna be 3 or more hours to fix...
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
Quoting nash28:
Good morning from Charleston, SC.

Getting breezy, but nothing of note as of yet....
Supposed to get a little squally as the day progresses.


Morning Nash! And yes you are correct...as a matter of fact here comes round #1.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
587. Jebus
Quoting nash28:
Good morning from Charleston, SC.

Getting breezy, but nothing of note as of yet....
Supposed to get a little squally as the day progresses.


I could feel it getting a bit gusty over the Don Holt this morning. But, my car is a bit sensitive to wind (read aerodynamic box).

Breezy on Daniel Island.
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Quoting tiggeriffic:
Quoting StormJunkie:


She's almost N of Fl ;)

For anyone along the SC coast, Press, etc...I'd love to hear tidal flooding reports. Will give us a good idea of exactly how much water she's moving around.


hey ya SJ...i know you are here just like me but from what i am hearing Folly is being chewed away one wave at a time and they haven't hit peak height yet... edisto is in for it as well...we were there last weekend and it was pretty bad...no beach at all anymore at high tide


Folly is taking a pretty good beating already, and you're right... The worst is still several hours away.
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585. HCW
Good Morning Levi :) Nice update
Member Since: August 10, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1409
Still praying for Wilmington....sitting right on the Cape Fear worries me

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Quoting StormJunkie:


She's almost N of Fl ;)

For anyone along the SC coast, Press, etc...I'd love to hear tidal flooding reports. Will give us a good idea of exactly how much water she's moving around.


hey ya SJ...i know you are here just like me but from what i am hearing Folly is being chewed away one wave at a time and they haven't hit peak height yet... edisto is in for it as well...we were there last weekend and it was pretty bad...no beach at all anymore at high tide
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
Quoting TampaTom:
Mom has evacuated Cape May. She's in tears... But, she'll be safe in Pennsylvania...


Good to hear, Tom. I know it is tough for her to do, but the smart move.
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Good morning from Charleston, SC.

Getting breezy, but nothing of note as of yet....
Supposed to get a little squally as the day progresses.
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That would be the 26C Thermocline



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128766
Something for my NYC and NC freinds to think about.
I live in South LA when ike passed a couple hundred miles south of me it pushed 8 to 10 ft of water on us gave me 4 ft of water in my house took about 1/2 a day and almost 2 ft of mud after the water went out my home was 9 miles from the Gulf.
when this gets to NYC winds might not be cat 2 or 3 but the water she is going to be pushing will be high and its not like one big wave so dont let it decive you into thinking it wont get bad Good luck folks
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Mom has evacuated Cape May. She's in tears... But, she'll be safe in Pennsylvania...
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While I am thankful that the storm moved past my latitude, I am worried for all of you in Irene's path.

Please stay safe and follow what your local officials tell you to do.

I pray for a huge turn east, but I know that probably won't happen.

Prepare, prepare, prepare and keep yourselves safe.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


She's almost N of Fl ;)

For anyone along the SC coast, Press, etc...I'd love to hear tidal flooding reports. Will give us a good idea of exactly how much water she's moving around.


^^^
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128766
Quoting sullivanweather:


Some hot water in Irene's path.


Not to mention the 25°C isotherm is basically right to the coast. Cold water will not be an issue.
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
Quoting atmosweather:


The rainfall threat will be immense among the large population centers though. Add to that very long durations of tropical storm/hurricane conditions for all areas involved.

Especially in the higher terrain of NY, CONN, MASS NJ..ect..
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Quoting maeko:


Ha! The funny thing is that Chas, SC is "home" so my silly self is up here for family and headed back towards the storm. Irene has had me running in circles!


Lol! Well if you're going to be doing any driving take great care and do not take unnecessary risks with regards to timing. The mid-Atlantic will begin to feel the effects of Irene as early as this evening.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting maeko:


Ha! The funny thing is that Chas, SC is "home" so my silly self is up here for family and headed back towards the storm. Irene has had me running in circles!


Hey Maeko...im in Chas right now...stuff shut down but ok right now...looks like we will luck out for this one...if you have access, you can go to counton2.com for closures, etc, and prob live5news.com will give you our local stuff as well...
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
Quoting ecupirate:


Gotta shave them first, thats the hard part


Gotta herd them first, to catch them to shave them to sharpie them.

Now that's the hard part. Not as hard as herding people to get them to evacuate, but still pretty hard.
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Some hot water in Irene's path.
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
Quoting atmosweather:
The shortwave impulse is now moving steadily E-ward across Michigan and the E-ern Great Lakes region...should bypass Irene to the N later tonight and leave a trailing cold front at the surface just off the NE coast that will edge back inland tomorrow as a warm front in advance of Irene's arrival.



Didn't get a chance to thank you for answering a few questions I had the other day, much appreciated. I've been a lurker for about as long as I can remember and always enjoy reading your inputs and thoughts. Well done.
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:
People keep focusing on NYC, this will be worst over the Cape Cod area, RI, Conn area as most of the strong winds, surge are on the east side.


The rainfall threat will be immense among the large population centers though. Add to that very long durations of tropical storm/hurricane conditions for all areas involved.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting snotly:
worst case scenario; storm weakens significantly, feeding bravado of Jersey Shore TV personalities, new storm forms in its wake a week later and this time lives up to the potential of the first.


We have Dennis here in Eastern NC. Then we had Floyd which at one point was a monster. It weakened before it hit but we had alot of inland flooding. It could have hit as a high end cat 4
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Quoting Brock31:


My most immediate concern here in Wilm. is the storm surge potential. NWS has predicted between 4 and 8'.

I live in a flood zone. The creek in my backyard is a tributary of Hewlettes creek. It is tidally influenced. On a strong full moon high tide, water will be about 1 foot deep in my yard.

Ophelia and Ernesto brought it up to about 3 feet deep. These occurred during a lower tide. Still not quite threatening our detached garage or the house (1 story brick ranch)





the creek brings snakes and frogs..stay safe..
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I hope Irene will weaken more or go more East. Take care everyone!!

I saw yesterday that someone posted a model suggesting something in the GOM. (not sure when that is suppose to be) Does anyone know if the models are still suggesting that and when that may be?

Thanks!
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Quoting snotly:
when do I get the tropical update from Levi?


It is only 5 AM in Alaska right now....Gee Whiz Levi is up early!
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Quoting BrandonGraham:
In DC. Local mets using the NAM to demonstrate that DC will only get 1 inch of rain or less through Monday? How reliable is that?
You are kidding? I would go with 3 to 5 inches minimum for your area by Monday with 4 to 8 inches possible if not more. Check the National Weather Service website, they are showing more rain than 1 inch.
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Irene is going to have to make a hard SW turn very soon if she's going to hit Florida.

I'm beginning to think that some of the info I get on this blog may not be accurate!
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Good morning.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Friday, August 26th, with Video
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558. maeko
Quoting atmosweather:


Go today or stay at home.


Ha! The funny thing is that Chas, SC is "home" so my silly self is up here for family and headed back towards the storm. Irene has had me running in circles!
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Quoting snotly:
worst case scenario; storm weakens significantly, feeding bravado of Jersey Shore TV personalities, new storm forms in its wake a week later and this time lives up to the potential of the first.



True dat ^
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People keep focusing on NYC, this will be worst over the Cape Cod area, RI, Conn area as most of the strong winds, surge are on the east side.
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Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128766

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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.