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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sooo, was that brother Doug, or P-cola Doug talking to the Ozman
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341. MZT
Quoting AwkWord:
If the center moves west of Norfolk the storm's winds could bring the surge directly into the mouth of the Chesapeake and up the western shores of the bay. The I-95 corridor in the mid-atlantic region could also receive significantly worse weather than currently expected.

Something to watch.
Nah. The surge in front of the storm is already blunted by the outer banks. She will degrade to a TS over the tidewater and Chesapeake regions.

It's a rain/flood hazard like Gaston was.
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Quoting aquak9:
Many people won't be prepared for days or weeks of no electric. I had to convince my sister to go out shopping last night for supplies, to fill up her gas tank, etc.. The mindset is it won't be bad, a day or two, tops, of no electric.

So, everyone thinks they will be the only little neighborhood without power? That the local trucks will come by, re-attach that one power line, and all is well?

These folks have never witnessed convoy after convoy, 20-40 trucks long, electrical trucks with cable, baskets, heavy equipment, sporting American flags and state flags, hauling butt down the interstate.

You always know where they're headed, you wave, they wave back.


You've hit the nail on the head. I told my sister small villages of under 500 people spread out over miles will not be high on the list to repair the electric. That's what her village is, and she doesn't even live in the village limits. A 'village' there is the small one street main street and then the miles of scattered houses in a certain mile radius around it. Cities and larger towns will be concentrated on and then on down.
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I'm reading on Weather Underground's Twitter feed this:

"#Hurricane Hunters have found minimum central pressure of 951mb and flight level winds around 106mph"

Still a nasty storm to me, whether it's weakened or not.
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Thanks for the cam links, aussie!
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Yep, looks like Jose will come from this.
euro also shows a qucik hurricane in the gulf
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1724
I agree with some comments about the general feeling of the storm's impacts, and I am worried people up north won't be as concerned. My personal opinion of what I am watching unfold on TV/Live feeds, they are not really showing significant surge, wind, or flood in NC. I am not saying it is not happening outside of these news feeds, but people generally will look at what they see on TV...and might think this isn't so bad. Personally, I would have expected to see more surge. I hope no one let's their guard down. This thing is far from over.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
NOT YET......LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL or the pole



Oh yeah, I forgot about the pole. I thought for sure that was coming down.
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WU's Weather Historian Christopher C. Burt has a great new blog entry listing all the tropical cyclones that have affected New England over the centuries.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

The Awning never fell, was rocking and rolling but didn't fall.



Ok, thanks.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Yep, looks like Jose will come from this.
GFS makes no sense with jose going due west then north. in the model run there is no weakness in the ridge to suggest that therefore most likely can be excluded some other possibilities on track are through the southern leewards, an irene track (northern leewards) or just north of the islands. might become our 2nd hurricane
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1724
Quoting FLdewey:
Spotter report:

1 miles NNW of Croatan, NC - Large uprooted tree blocking approx. 3/4 of US 70 west.


Wow, thats really close to my house. Croatan is a forest, not a place though.
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Highest water level I have seen so far, believe predicted is normal, not including storm surge.






Beaufort, NC
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327. bwat
Power out here in Perquimans. Got the generator going. Don't know what time it went out, woke up and it was gone. So far so good, fairly strong gusts, I'd guess 40-45 mph? Scariest part of the morning so far was when I looked out the window to see what was going on and a twig flew into the window right in front of my face. I jumped like a little girl, you would of thought a tree was comming through the house. lol :)
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Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
Everyone be safe today..........gotta run my daughter to the airport and will be out the rest of the day. BE SAFE
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Quoting WxLogic:


Indeed... that would be P21L:



Yep, looks like Jose will come from this.
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I'm a little behind on info, is she supposed to track further inland now?
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
Quoting P451:


That's the big worry. It's something that is not thought about even by those who live in the region - let alone those who don't and can't picture the setup and how fragile it is to even a few hours of 60mph gusting 80 or above.

Myself I am very well prepared. I have forced a number of others to take this seriously and do the same best I can.



People there don't worry about it. My sister and brother-in-law have a very good friend who lives down the road. His house is nestled into a ton of tall pine trees. He is worried about the trees falling, but it literally hasn't occurred to him that they could fall on the house. My sister's house is out in the open, no trees really too close to it. I told her to tell Glen I am ordering him to bring his wife, mother-in-law and self to my sister's house. Worst part is he owns a house in Florida which has been damaged by hurricanes, but never when he was there. He just doesn't get it.
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Quoting CaneHunter031472:
There could be some homegrown action in the GOMEX ten day from now but the Models withh show it and the eliminate it run after run due to the hard time they have predicting long range systems in that area because of land interaction.


On which model?
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Looking at the NHC position estimates since midnight, Irene is headed due north. If this trend continues this certainly has implications further north. If the center moves west of Norfolk the storm's winds could bring the surge directly into the mouth of the Chesapeake and up the western shores of the bay. The I-95 corridor in the mid-atlantic region could also receive significantly worse weather than currently expected.

Something to watch.
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aspectre "NHC has called a NorthCarolina landfall for HurricaneIrene...
...MRH is Beaufort-MoreheadCity and 12NC is Atlantic
Copy&paste 32.1n77.2w-32.6n76.9w,32.6n76.9w-33.4n76.4w, 33.4n76.4w-34.1n76.5w, 34.1n76.5w-34.7n76.5w, mrh, 12nc into the GreatCircleMapper for more info"

257 HurricaneHunterJoe "I'd call landfall Cape Lookout"

Yeah... and so did the NHC. And other than folks in MoreheadCity, Beaufort,and Atlantic, how many folks do you think have even the slightest clue as to where CapeLookout is?
Better to say, "~9miles(14.5kilometres) from Beaufort-MoreheadCity (MRH),
and ~15miles(24.1kilometres) from Atlantic (12NC)"
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Quoting wunderweatherman123:
just wait one second... its the GFS and its far out thats number one. number two, the texas high is breaking down so next week until the end of the season the Gulf Coast is at risk and this year we had much less troughs than last year and this year they are much weaker and lift out very fast...


I HATE TROUGHS!!
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234



Need to watch south of Puerto Rico.......very high Convergence there.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:



LOL! A hurricane hits the USA and its still a fish to some people????


There are a few that if it's outside the GOM or FL, then it's fishy.
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Quoting odinslightning:


i am truly afraid stupid people up north will see her and think she is done....she is working the dry air out and i think atmosweather said she has some support on the way with moisture from the trough coming out of the ohio valley. not only that but she already looks like she is trying to become more symmetrical and with the path she is taking for all intents and purposes she is staying over water......

Why are they stupid??? You are the stupid one, right now it is an 85 mph storm and not in good shape. They are panicking up north because they don't know what to expect. I don't live up north, but I am offended by your igonorance. So why are they stupid??????????
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
This AM there continues to be good model consensus that a second hurricane will begin to develop by Tuesday, and could become a powerful system. The ECMWF, GFS, CMC, & NOGAPS are all in unanimous agreement this will happen and have held on to this happening for a few days now. It is too early to determine track, but I think the GFS is the outsider with a unrealistic sudden turn to the north in the middle of the CATL. Could go just north of the islands though. Could crank out 1 more named storm before the month ends.


Indeed... that would be P21L:

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Many people won't be prepared for days or weeks of no electric. I had to convince my sister to go out shopping last night for supplies, to fill up her gas tank, etc.. The mindset is it won't be bad, a day or two, tops, of no electric.

So, everyone thinks they will be the only little neighborhood without power? That the local trucks will come by, re-attach that one power line, and all is well?

These folks have never witnessed convoy after convoy, 20-40 trucks long, electrical trucks with cable, baskets, heavy equipment, sporting American flags and state flags, hauling butt down the interstate.

You always know where they're headed, you wave, they wave back.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
POOF



LOL! A hurricane hits the USA and its still a fish to some people????
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307. MZT
Either Irene is smaller than Isabel or is landing further east. Charlotte did get a blustery day before landfall for Isabel, and a few hours of drizzle. Today it's just a light overcast sky and not much wind.
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This AM there continues to be good model consensus that a second hurricane will begin to develop by Tuesday, and could become a powerful system. The ECMWF, GFS, CMC, & NOGAPS are all in unanimous agreement this will happen and have held on to this happening for a few days now. It is too early to determine track, but I think the GFS is the outsider with a unrealistic sudden turn to the north in the middle of the CATL. Could go just north of the islands though. Could crank out 1 more named storm before the month ends. Obviously though, today Irene is the main story.
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Quoting aquak9:
08/27/2011 0329 am:
Morehead City, Carteret County.
Hurricane, reported by Emergency Mngr.

78mph measured at mhc Police Department before anemometer broke.


Obviously, not one of our customers.

Lol. I wonder if they kept the receipt.
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Quoting capelookout:
Bad here, but not nearly as bad as they were saying. Honestly, just another minimal hurricane. Not big deal. This should really shred her apart and knock her down to a TS by the time she gets over water, which is good.




wunder i think this proves my point....lmfao
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Quoting LightningCharmer:


Was thinking the same thing. He just reported a 958 pressure reading.


He is cracking me up! I could listen his prater all day!
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Quoting FLdewey:
Looks like tornado damage...



That's the shot. I have no clue how to post that. Thanks for posting, Dewey. That looks bad.
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Quoting OceanMoan:



I didn't watch all night, do you know if the gas station awning ever fell? :-)

The Awning never fell, was rocking and rolling but didn't fall.
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08/27/2011 0329 am:
Morehead City, Carteret County.
Hurricane, reported by Emergency Mngr.

78mph measured at mhc Police Department before anemometer broke.


Obviously, not one of our customers.
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Quoting leelee75k:
For the love all things logical, please stop calling Irene a Fish storm. Puerto Rico! Bahamas! She has already hit land and is doing it again in NC.

Definition of a Fish Storm is a storm that does not affect islands or land masses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I think 'fish storm' is just shorthand for 'post Bahamian and Puerto Rican fish storm'.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Looks like tornado damage...




I had Roger Edwards from the Storm Prediction Center on my Community Chatroom and he seen that Tornado last nite and told everyone to look out.....
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img src="">
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Good morning, everyone.

P451 is exactly right. It's the trees coming down that will cause the worst damage out of the city. And the tornados that can come with the storm. I'm originally from the Catskills and it's very rural, just mountains of trees with small villages dotted through it. Houses are surrounded by trees, the roads are lined by trees. Power lines run through the woods from town to town in a number of places, which means getting to the downed lines will take longer.

Many people won't be prepared for days or weeks of no electric. I had to convince my sister to go out shopping last night for supplies, to fill up her gas tank, etc.. The mindset is it won't be bad, a day or two, tops, of no electric.
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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.