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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Ah man, I really liked this place....

Colleen Roberts also said part of the roof of the Sea Glass Cafe blew off in the storm. Ceiling fans from the patio were flying into Martin Luther King Blvd. Incidents like that, Roberts said, led to the decision to enact the state of emergency and a curfew.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1462
Was it Fay that strengthened over land? Irene is looking better since the latest landfall.
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490. MZT
Radar shows Wilmington and Fayetteville are coming out of the southern rain bands... it's over for southern NC.
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AF 306 had a long mission - 5 center fixes
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Quoting LightningCharmer:
Didn't realize smoking was so prevalent among meteorologist.
Yep. It's true! You should see them off camera while trying to light up a cig in 60 MPH winds. TRAGIC!
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State of Emergency in New Bern. This means....

Likewise, selling of beer, wine, or other intoxicating beverages of any kind are prohibited.


Talk about adding insult to injury!
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1462
486. mnsky
wow!!
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You know fellow bloggers, I have posted a number of double entendre blogs, but hopefully they are subtle enough that the younger bloggers do not understand them. We all like a good laugh occassionaly. But my children and grandchildren often read this blog. There are certain things I would prefer them not read. Any of you who have children or grandchildren would feel the same. There is sometimes a fine line which we must be careful not to cross.
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Quoting TampaBayStevo:
She finally moves over land, and now an eye forms...crazy storm.

Radar Imagery


This storm is weakening, not strengthening. A new eye isn't forming.
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Quoting scooster67:
This is what the dry air is doing to Irene's West and now South sides.

Link
HAHAAHA!!! Hilarious
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Quoting KeyWestwx:
Well, i wouldn't use such terminology, but yes. Me and half of the on-air meteorologists across the nation. Though we digress here. This isn't the "outing of gay meterologist blog"
Irene looks healthier. I'm sure this is just a temporary thing
Didn't realize smoking was so prevalent among meteorologist.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
Quoting AussieStorm:



Sorry, "Fag" is Aussie Slang for Cigarette.
I have since changed it, I hope I caused no offense.

No offense Aussie other than my keyboard got mad because it got sprayed with Orange Juice.
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Quoting TampaBayStevo:


Heres the link:
VIPIR Interactive Radar

Under Options un-check Storm Cells, and it loads faster. Just zoom out, then pan over to the hurricane.

Bookmarked it. :)
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Pressure of the center is not always a good indicator of winds. They might provide ranges in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, but they are just for average hurricanes. The low pressure itself doesn't cause the winds, the pressure gradient does. Large storms need even lower pressure at the center to produce the same pressure gradient of a small, tight hurricane. The pressure could be 850mb at the center, but if there is not a tight pressure gradient, winds wont be that strong.
Excellent post. Pressure of storm is relative to surrounding pressures in reference to wind velocity.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
Quoting Grothar:


Well, if you people read my blogs once in awhile you would know everything. I stopped doing them because nobody looks. :):) (Those models are too far out to even deduce anything. However, when the most reliable hint at development, I take it seriously. There should be development of at least two systems in the coming week. Track & intensity is impossible to determine this far out.


I check---you have not done one in days!
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Quoting MZT:
3X? That's overkill.

It will make a Gaston / Isabel style mess up there again with the floods, but it's not a storm people will remember for decades.


I hope your right!
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This is what the dry air is doing to Irene's West and now South sides.

Link
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Quoting chicagowatcher:
Fun watching that last night. Looks MUCH calmer now. Is there a camera de jour today?


I was wondering the same thing.

Any updates on storm surge predictions for the north and/or whether the NC predictions were on target?
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Cool imagery, confusing storm.


Heres the link:
VIPIR Interactive Radar

Under Options un-check Storm Cells, and it loads faster. Just zoom out, then pan over to the hurricane.
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Quoting RasBongo:


A fag?
Well, i wouldn't use such terminology, but yes. Me and half of the on-air meteorologists across the nation. Though we digress here. This isn't the "outing of gay meterologist blog"
Irene looks healthier. I'm sure this is just a temporary thing
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Can someone please provide a link to the euro computer model?
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Quoting Zaphod:
If ever there was an example for why we need better research into cane intensity, Irene is it! Low pressure but low winds, unexpected fluctuations, and complex decisions with many lives on the line.


Pressure of the center is not always a good indicator of winds. They might provide ranges in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, but they are just for average hurricanes. The low pressure itself doesn't cause the winds, the pressure gradient does. Large storms need even lower pressure at the center to produce the same pressure gradient of a small, tight hurricane. The pressure could be 850mb at the center, but if there is not a tight pressure gradient, winds wont be that strong.
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Quoting 996tt:


Maybe you could tell us where and what we have to be concerned about. I am assuming a cat 4 type storm right up the gut of the GOM.


Well, if you people read my blogs once in awhile you would know everything. I stopped doing them because nobody looks. :):) (Those models are too far out to even deduce anything. However, when the most reliable hint at development, I take it seriously. There should be development of at least two systems in the coming week. Track & intensity is impossible to determine this far out.
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
Ditto!
and Morning!
Hey TKeith....
Hey Foxx :)
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TWC brodcasting mayor Boomberg. He spends 10 minutes talking about preparations, then reads 4 or 5 sentances off a sheet in Spanish. Not being a Spanish speaker, I can't imagine what his accent sounded like, but I also can't imagine (if I'm a Spanish speaker) that I'd still be listening after 10 minutes to hear the last few seconds in Spanish.

Struck me as odd... I know they need to get the work out but...
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982.5 and falling. Winds increasing here steady around 25 gusting higher.. Once again, that has a little height bias, so it's probably a little higher.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2687
Ditto!
and Morning!
Hey TKeith....
Quoting tkeith:
I couldn't agree more...65 million people in the path of this storm. If the details ever mattered I'd say this scenario would be it.
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Large pressure field is the reason why Irene's winds are as high as the min slp. Remember it is pressure gradient that determines the wind speed.

Good news for NYC...this will only produce 60 mph wind gusts there, but surge could still be high.

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Quoting TampaBayStevo:
She finally moves over land, and now an eye forms...crazy storm.

Radar Imagery

Cool imagery, confusing storm.
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Quoting RasBongo:


A f*g?


Got something against gays? Pretty sure your comment qualifies under profanity, as you certainly didn't mean cigarette.
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Quoting KeyWestwx:


UGH! to this forecast (Irene is more than enough for one season , thank you)


Hey, I just post them, I don't make the storms. LOL
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RIP Irene...... j/k!
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Quoting AransasBayRat:
I just woke up and checked the Topsail Pier. Happy to see it made it thru the night.
Fun watching that last night. Looks MUCH calmer now. Is there a camera de jour today?
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She finally moves over land, and now an eye forms...crazy storm.

Radar Imagery
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Quoting Grothar:
The ECMWF at 240 hours (Remember these are both very long range forecasts. They change from run to run.

The GFS at longer.

img src="">



img src="">


<


UGH! to this forecast (Irene is more than enough for one season , thank you)
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BE SAFE...
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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:



Now that I can see it-----make it go away!lol

I thought the same thing. lol
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
Quoting superpete:
Stormwatcher- I recall a lot of the vehicles were supplied by a North Carolina utility provider, not sure which one though.My wife would make them sandwiches daily here in Savannah....(I supplied Red Stripe, LOL )they worked around the clock, as you know. It took 9 weeks to get the power back on where we were located. I know EE was a long time too?
EE was 2 1/2 months. We got ours back on 28 November and it was like HALLELUJAH.
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452. MZT
Quoting KeyWestwx:
Regardless, if anyone up North has any doubts of the intensity of Irene, what they need to do is imagine the worst Nor'Easter they have experienced, multiply that by 3 and slow the storm down at half the forward speed. That equals, Irene
3X? That's overkill.

It will make a Gaston / Isabel style mess up there again with the floods, but it's not a storm people will remember for decades.
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Quoting AussieStorm:



Sorry, "Fag" is Aussie Slang for Cigarette.
I have since changed it, I hope I caused no offense.


it was hilarious!
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Checking in with the blog from Kure Beach. The main pier on K Avenue has sustained some minor damage, but looking north up the beach, the next pier is completely gone. Winds still tropical storm force here, but the rain has really let up. We lost power here for a few hours, but its been back on for about two hours now. Happy to say everyone is okay, and glad Irene didn't do too much damage(from what I can see so far...)
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Quoting 996tt:


Maybe you could tell us where and what we have to be concerned about. I am assuming a cat 4 type storm right up the gut of the GOM.
Eh? Look at the image lol
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Quoting 996tt:
Haha, the weather channel kooks have backed off on all of their crazy alarmist words and terminology. I wonder if they even feel a little bad bad about scaring the absolute bejesus out of a lot of people perhaps unnecessarily. Completely different tone today though.

Almost over emphasizing it will be weakening now and talk of picking up limbs and trash cans now opposed to everyone evacuate all tall buildings and millions at peril of death . . .


"CATASTROPHIC : CATASTROPHIC : CATASTROPHIC"
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Quoting Grothar:


Refresh and you should be able to see it.

Now that I can see it-----make it go away!lol
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446. 996tt
Quoting Grothar:
The ECMWF at 240 hours (Remember these are both very long range forecasts. They change from run to run.



The GFS at longer.



Maybe you could tell us where and what we have to be concerned about. I am assuming a cat 4 type storm right up the gut of the GOM.
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Quoting oakland:


No power is the worst and if you aren't part of grid that has emergency services such as a hospital you could be out for days or weeks.

After Andrew we had no power for 2 weeks and we did NOT see the full force of his wrath. Wilma made us powerless for 10 days and again she was not a major system blowing through my area. (Broward County/Ft. Lauderdale for both systems).


I plan for two to three weeks without power. And I'm trilled if the power is restored within a week. Depending on how many trees actually fall, the power companies might end up rebuilding the entire grid for a huge area.
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Quoting Zaphod:
If ever there was an example for why we need better research into cane intensity, Irene is it! Low pressure but low winds, unexpected fluctuations, and complex decisions with many lives on the line.

How are the surge levels panning out? Is NC at 3 feet or 13 feet this morning?
I couldn't agree more...65 million people in the path of this storm. If the details ever mattered I'd say this scenario would be it.
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The bad side of any 'cane is on the right......LI may get that.
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So what's the effect of a 952mb, Cat 1 hurricane? Takes longer to dissipate?
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 137

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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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