Hurricane Irene Weakens on its Approach to North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:58 AM GMT on August 27, 2011

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As of 300AM EDT, Hurricane Irene was located at 33.7N, 76.5W, 60 miles south of Cape Lookout. It was moving north-northeast at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, making it a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Irene has a minimum central pressure of 952 mb.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the US Atlantic coast from the Little River inlet in North Carolina to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts. Tornado watches are also in effect for the North Carolina/Virginia/Maryland coast. Figure 1 shows the hurricane, tropical storm, and tornado watches and warnings for Irene. Remember, a hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected, and tropical storm force winds (greater than 34 mph) will occur within 36 hours. Tropical storm warning means that tropical storm force winds are expected in the next 36 hours, but hurricane conditions are not. A tropical storm watch means tropical storm force winds are possible within 48 hours.

To find out if you need to evacuate, please contact your local emergency management office. They will have the latest information. People living in New York City can find their evacuation zone here or use this map. 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 225AM EDT, August 27, 2011

Satellite Views
Figure 2 shows that Irene is a large storm, with outflow reaching from South Carolina to Long Island, NY. Irene's eye is not visible.


Figure 2 IR satellite view of Irene taken at 226AM EDT, August 27, 2011

Track Forecast

Irene is forecast to make landfall on the North Carolina coast Saturday morning as a category 1 storm with sustained winds around 90 mph. I believe that Irene's center of circulation will make landfall somewhere between Cape Lookout and Okracoke on the Outer Banks around 9-10 am. Irene should then move roughly north, along the mid-Atlantic coastline before making landfall in western Long Island. However, it is important to not focus solely on the track forecast. Irene is a large storm with a large windfield and equally large areas of storms and showers. It's impact will be felt over a wide swath of the northeastern US.


Figure 3 Official track forecast of Irene at 11PM EDT, Aug. 26.

Irene and Flooding
Six to ten inches of rain are possible along Irene's track from North Carolina north into New England, with 15 inches possible in isolated areas. Radar estimates indicate at least 5 inches have already fallen near Morehead City, NC. 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 from the Delmarva peninsula to northwestern Maine is likely, while river flooding in much of the rest of the northeastern US is possible.


Figure 4 Significant River Flood Outlook issued by HPC.

Impacts

Tropical storm forces winds are occuring at Cape Lookout now, with hurricane force winds expected on the North Carolina coast later today. Use this Wundermap to keep track of how the winds are behaving around the North Carolina coastline. Within the hurricane warning area in North Carolina, storm surge is expected to be 6-11 feet above ground. This is our storm surge forecast map. To see how high the tides are running, NOAA has an excellent page collecting all of the relevant tide gauges.

People living on the the east coast of the US from the Carolinas to Cape Cod should continue monitoring 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, unless it is unsafe to do so. Irene will be a large storm, impacting areas far from the storm center track.

Links

If you're curious about power outages, here are some maps: Dominion Power Outage Map (NC/VA), Progress Energy Outage Map (NC/SC), and NOVEC Outage Map (Northern Virginia).

Dr. Masters will have a new blog entry this morning, and there will be another blog this afternoon. I'll be back with another blog entry late tonight.

Stay safe,

Dr. Rob Carver

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Quoting presslord:
OK...here's what concerns me...

There has long been an undeniable anti-Southern bias within the major media. That, coupled with the fact that DC and NY are the media centers of the universe...and the "it's all about me" mindset so often seen from those two burghs...and I fear the post storm needs of our friends in North Carolina will go unreported.


I was thinking the same thing.
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Quoting TX2FL:


That's what happened with Fay in FL 2008..strange strange...
I went to the beach to watch Fay come in. There was hardly any rain and just a few 60 MPH gusts of wind. During one of these gusts a girl was removing her surfboard from the rack on her car. The wind picked it up , turned it around and smashed it into the window on the driver side of my ford ranger as I sat there in the seat. There was broken glass all over the truck's king cab floor. I was the only casualty in Key West from Fay.
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Quoting presslord:
OK...here's what concerns me...

There has long been an undeniable anti-Southern bias within the major media. That, coupled with the fact that DC and NY are the media centers of the universe...and the "it's all about me" mindset so often seen from those two burghs...and I fear the post storm needs of our friends in North Carolina will go unreported.
we dont care how they do it "up north"
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Quoting presslord:
OK...here's what concerns me...

There has long been an undeniable anti-Southern bias within the major media. That, coupled with the fact that DC and NY are the media centers of the universe...and the "it's all about me" mindset so often seen from those two burghs...and I fear the post storm needs of our friends in North Carolina will go unreported.
Yeah,I noticed that also,Like NYC is all that!LOL
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587. bwat
Quoting overwash12:
Just drove around Knotts island ,alot of 60 mph gusts,looking for some trees down later,alot of rain! Still have power.
Did you go to the Wildlife ramp on Brumley Rd? Thats one of my areas I take care of. Any damage?
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Quoting Floodman:


In a lot of cases larger vessels are safer weathering storm at sea; the US Navy routinely runs their ships out of harbor in advance of a storm. Smaller craft can shelter in protected inlets



a good argument can be made that the safest place to weather a storm is aboard...the cruising literature is full of discussion on this....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Trying to get a better idea of how this storm is affecting people in NC/VA, but if anyone in the thick of the storm still has power that is still on here, how does it compare to Isabel? Better? Worse? The same?


Isabel seemed way worse - the ground was already saturated, so the trees came down easily. This year we are much drier. We still have power on the peninsula. We aren't supposed to see the worst of it until this afternoon though so we shall see.
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Yesterday was dry, hot and windy here in central Florida. Today, with Irene gone, it's like a sauna. A dew point of 82 and a heat index of 111. Horrible.
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565. poof

Anyway, it's funny that they finally forecast weakening and now Irene seems to be strengthening slightly. What is it with storms this season?
Member Since: August 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 238
OK...here's what concerns me...

There has long been an undeniable anti-Southern bias within the major media. That, coupled with the fact that DC and NY are the media centers of the universe...and the "it's all about me" mindset so often seen from those two burghs...and I fear the post storm needs of our friends in North Carolina will go unreported.
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
580. bwat
Quoting Floodman:


In a lot of cases larger vessels are safer weathering storm at sea; the US Navy routinely runs their ships out of harbor in advance of a storm. Smaller craft can shelter in protected inlets
Wavy 10 in Norfolk just reported another water rescue in progress. They didnt have all the details yet. thats two in about an hour. What are people thinking!
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Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
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Quoting Dutchlady:

What are people still doing out on a yacht? (shakes head)


In a lot of cases larger vessels are safer weathering storm at sea; the US Navy routinely runs their ships out of harbor in advance of a storm. Smaller craft can shelter in protected inlets
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Just drove around Knotts island ,alot of 60 mph gusts,looking for some trees down later,alot of rain! Still have power.
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Quoting spayandneuter:


And Wilma surprised everyone as well! They thought she would weaken as she crossed from west to east. She spanked Lauderdale!


We got the backside of Wilma and it was VICIOUS!!! Maybe worse than the direct hit of Frances and Jeanne. Luckily, Wilma didn't linger..........
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
"It's a long way to Harlan its a long way to Hazzard just to get a little brew"



Say it ain't so!

Mornin' everyone...
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Quoting spayandneuter:


And Wilma surprised everyone as well! They thought she would weaken as she crossed from west to east. She spanked Lauderdale!


...and don't forget Charlie. Historically, there is a very warm patch of water that hangs out off the Florida SW coast that provides a big energy boost to storms crossing it. Remember that Katrina also intensified over south Florida.
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568. TX2FL
Quoting TampaBayStevo:
She finally moves over land, and now an eye forms...crazy storm.

Radar Imagery


That's what happened with Fay in FL 2008..strange strange...
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does that blob in the western carribean appear to have a slight spin to it?
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Quoting helorime:
I have been curious about Irene's unusually low pressure. It has been running about 2 categories lower than expected for a storm of her strength. Is that due to her size?
Not sure here, and would like know as well. Read it could be because of dry air, size, land interaction, etc. I'm sure this one will be analyzed extensively.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1264
Link
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lol still dropping pressure??

Irene is an odd one

also side note , getting rain for first time in ct and its seems more muggy than any time this summer.
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the first encounter to land friction often causes tightening of the center ( see fay) not a freak occurence
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I have been curious about Irene's unusually low pressure. It has been running about 2 categories lower than expected for a storm of her strength. Is that due to her size?
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Quoting jdjnola:


Next thing you know she's gonna sprout an eye over land like TS Fay 2008.


And Wilma surprised everyone as well! They thought she would weaken as she crossed from west to east. She spanked Lauderdale!
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


hey press...how's folly look...i heard the beach was nailed all the way to the sand bars...and during high tide yesterday the water made it to the 10th step of the access area...at least that's what your buddy's TV channel was saying yesterday


those tides were mostly not from Irene...it was just a regularly scheduled astronomical high tide...we had some erosion....but for the most part, Charleston was unscathed....it was just a stormy day...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
haven't seen this posted:

BULLETIN
HURRICANE IRENE INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 28A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
800 AM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

...CENTER OF IRENE MAKES LANDFALL NEAR CAPE LOOKOUT NORTH
CAROLINA...


SUMMARY OF 800 AM EDT...1200 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...34.7N 76.5W
ABOUT 5 MI...10 KM NNE OF CAPE LOOKOUT NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 60 MI...100 KM SW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 15 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...952 MB...28.11 INCHES
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Quoting yonzabam:
Amazing how slow this blog is now that Irene is making its first US landfall.

(Cue someone telling me that Puerto Rico is the US).


Well, they could be "slow" like me...lol..worn out from blogging, following Oz, and watching the pier all night...Lordy, I'm just too old for all this ~~~
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
MIA CULAugust 27 09:04 AMby Joe Bastardi
THIS IS A 951 MB HURRICANE it is tightening coming north. People not understanding the path of this storm and the intensity together not being historic are out of touch.

The fact is Gorse nailed it yesterday with his understanding of the interaction this storm would have, and the nice deep cdo forming over the center now is showing it. I have always said that this year, relative to averages the pattern is better near and up our coasts. So 951and this is a major event given the path this is taking







This is not a tropical storm over Florida. It is a 951 mb hurricane that is riding a path only seen a couple of times in 200 years.



As for me.. I did over do the end game intensity thinking this would be near 930mb . But this is not going to weaken that much. The land fall WAS AT CAPE LOOKOUT.. and this is coming right up the coast in a way where it can focus its fury on every coastal town from NC to Long Island. The expanding of the storm and the strong winds on the west side because of its size will do the job here it was meant to do.

In the end people should wait to see how this goes before trying to downplay it more than what the reality is



THIS IS A WALKING COMMERCIAL FOR WHY MY POWER SCALE IS FAR SUPERIOR TO THE SAFFIR SIMPSON SCALE AS THIS WILL PRODUCE FAR MORE DAMAGE THAN WHAT A NORMAL "CAT ONE" WILL



BTW dont be surprised if this gets better and better organized tonight as it comes up along the coast. The dynamics are there. Just because this is not a fist of fury doesnt mean its not a good fighter



One more thing... This is a top 10 hurricane pressure wise on the NC coast. Since 1950, only Hazel GLoria, Fran and Floyd have had pressures this low, and this is going to hug the water with improving dynamics. There are people on my side of the global warming debate who fight with the same kind of agenda driven fervor that people on the other side do. So they are driving a train scoffing at this storm. In the end , one has to rely on truth across the board. I will face the fact that this is not as strong as I thought, but in the end, the track, and the facts against history will tell us where this ranked against storms that have hit the mid atlantic states



With pressures falling deep convection increasing and the radar presentation looking better, and dynamics improving this is hardly the time to think this is a nothing storm



ciao for now

PA FROM BASTARDI BUT AN EXCELLENT POINT ON HIS INTENSITY SCALE WHICH IS QUITE CORRET...


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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hello Gro, just wanted to know...did you at least get any rain from the system coming that close to ya ?


Yes, we did get quite a bit along the coast. Gusty winds but nothing serious. The birds never left, so I guess we would be safe. :) Watching this closely as it approaches New England. Looks like North Carolina has been getting winds a long time. I hope there is not too much inland flooding for them.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25059
Quoting presslord:
Irene was a non event for us in Charleston...I suspect that won't be the case for our 'Carolina' neighbors to the north...


hey press...how's folly look...i heard the beach was nailed all the way to the sand bars...and during high tide yesterday the water made it to the 10th step of the access area...at least that's what your buddy's TV channel was saying yesterday
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
Quoting yonzabam:
Amazing how slow this blog is now that Irene is making its first US landfall.

(Cue someone telling me that Puerto Rico is the US).
Anticipation is always better/worse than reality. 'Like the old adage in the markets, "buy on rumor, sell on the news."
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1264
Trying to get a better idea of how this storm is affecting people in NC/VA, but if anyone in the thick of the storm still has power that is still on here, how does it compare to Isabel? Better? Worse? The same?
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551. maeko
2:16 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
good morning all! made it safely from DC to Richmond yesterday. i'm currently just west of the city and have steady rain and probably 15-20mph sustained with maybe 30-35mph gusts. as others have said, Irene is looking to be a lot like Isabelle here.

word from Chas, SC was that she came by with minimal impacts other than the beaches. no details on the erosion, but i suspect that will be the kicker. i am interested to know how IOP at Wild Dunes beaches fared.

what's the story with 91L? where'd that come from?!
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 91
550. Grothar
2:16 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting scooster67:


LOL. Your are interpreting for Grother.

Is that an Oxymoron or what Gro?



:) Good one scooster! I guess I was behaving like a twit! LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25059
549. Sfloridacat5
2:15 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting yonzabam:
Amazing how slow this blog is now that Irene is making its first US landfall.

(Cue someone telling me that Puerto Rico is the US).


Yeah, but the fact that you can stand on the beach as the eye passes over you tell you something about the strength of the storm.
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548. presslord
2:15 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Irene was a non event for us in Charleston...I suspect that won't be the case for our 'Carolina' neighbors to the north...
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547. yonzabam
2:14 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Amazing how slow this blog is now that Irene is making its first US landfall.

(Cue someone telling me that Puerto Rico is the US).
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2851
546. odinslightning
2:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Dutchlady:

What are people still doing out on a yacht? (shakes head)



riding out the storm....i guess literally
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544. EYEStoSEA
2:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


I live in Florida but we have a home in Northern Pennsylvania and an apartment in NYC, many in my family live on Long Island, where I was actually born. (My goodness, I am beginning to sound like Grandpa now)


Hello Gro, just wanted to know...did you at least get any rain from the system coming that close to ya ?
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543. largeeyes
2:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
You can watch New Bern coverage at www.witn.com
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542. jdjnola
2:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
got a 950.3mb over land on Irene,still dropping from 952mb ..hmmmmmmmmm


Next thing you know she's gonna sprout an eye over land like TS Fay 2008.
Member Since: August 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 238

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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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