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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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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you all know the story of the little red riding hood? and those wolves?
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Quoting OceanMoan:



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


Don't know i went to bed about 2am......Sorry!
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Cyclone Oz: "Where's my compass?!" lol

Speaker magnets in the car affecting the compass readings.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
He's still looking for his compass...lol
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
Hey guys. I'm in NC about 85 miles NW of the COC. Pressure here is 983.3 and falling, highest wind gust so far is 30mph, but I'm guessing that's a little low due to the anemometer being mounted on my car 7 1/2 ft. I'll try and keep this webcast up as long as I can we'll see how it works.

Link
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Quoting TampaSpin:


LOL.....its all good...but i just dont have the heart to tell call him and tell him he is in the EYE......its funny just to her him wonder why there is no wind........LOL



I didn't watch all night, do you know if the gas station awning ever fell? :-)
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Quoting P451:


Nope, it doesn't, not up here.

This isn't Florida, the storms do not behave or resemble those in the tropics.

This storm's wind field is spreading out and will affect many more people with a very large and solid region of hurricane force winds.

While she will lose that 100mph rating, of which only exists in a tiny portion of the storm, the 75mph ring will not dissipate it will expand greatly putting many more at risk. 90mph gusts will affect a region 300 miles wide or more.

We are not worried about structural damage from a direct wind gust.

We are worried about the thousands of large trees that will be taken down causing widespread power outages and street closures that could last days.

We don't have palm trees up here. Our trees start coming down at 60mph.

Saturated ground from a foot of rain the past few weeks coupled with another foot of rain and 6 hours or more of sustained winds 60+ gusting 90+ is going to do an incredible amount of tree damage. Those trees are going to be the vehicle that makes Irene's winds a big story.



i was thinking(i gotta quit doing that) that the VA,NJ,MARYLAND coast would get surge,but less wind and rain due to being on weak side,and i was more worried about the folks just east of where she hits,because of her strength on that side. you think she will expand her west side to get mucho rain and TS winds to the 95 corridor?
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
Quoting indianrivguy:
ahhhh he said it.. "in the eye!!!

"I think this hurricane is just one big giant eye!"
lmao
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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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...



wunder your a good guy with good info and we all appreciate it. i learned to iggy the trolls....i think it's a handfull of people that have 666 accounts, they log in, troll, log out, log in, troll, ad infinitem. i don't respond to em cuz thats like paying attention to an 8 yr old brat,....giving em attention encourages their bullcrap lol
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Cape Lookout eye passage @953mb:

Irene
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ahhhh he said it.. "in the eye!!!
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Cyclone Oz: "Where's my compass?!" lol
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
looks like a lobster...lol
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
Storm chaser report: 2 miles NE of Columbia NC, tornado damage to homes, power lines. Streaming live on iMap.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
NOAA plane just showed center fix directly over Cape Fear

34.683N 76.550W
951.0 mb


11:49:00Z




hey, wasn't that a movie? lol
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270. MZT
I couldn't log in last night but I wanted to post my expectation that Irene would weaken further. Storms usually do weaken close to the Carolinas, unless they are moving quickly.

Looks like this will be another "Isabel". She'll wash out some roads and erode beaches, but on the whole - It's a moderate tropical encounter that the coast sees often enough to be familiar with.

The Northeast will probably also roll their eyes again at the "hype" since Irene won't be the storm of the century. It'll be more like Gaston, a flooding event.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
924mb 130 (from the SE) 93 knots (107 mph) . that about 2,900 feet, irene could easily put down 100mph gust when over land. there may be higher winds,and when she hits land again in VA,NJ,NY, She may surprise some folks with gusting high winds


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......
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NOAA plane just showed center fix directly over Cape Fear Lookout

34.683N 76.550W
951.0 mb


11:49:00Z
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Wow...her rain shield is HUGE.


good grief,it's almost to new york
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
Any chance restrengthening could happn?
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Quoting FLdewey:


Prayer did this? Could you pray for a better economy while you're at it?

TIA


And jobs? Ask Rick Perry to help. Or do another one of those "pray it away" thingies.
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Quoting coffeecrusader:
Looks like TD11 and another strong wave coming off Africa that is also supposed to develop are both destined for the fishes. Don't think you will see any Cape Verdes type storms make it very far west without turning out to sea. Too mnay strong troughs this year weakening the AB High. Gulf of Mexico should be free and clear this year unless something homegrown (usually happens in October) pops up.
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...
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Oz does not realize he is in the EYE......LOL


Was thinking the same thing. He just reported a 958 pressure reading.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
Tr
Quoting P451:


Nope, it doesn't, not up here.

This isn't Florida, the storms do not behave or resemble those in the tropics.

This storm's wind field is spreading out and will affect many more people with a very large and solid region of hurricane force winds.

While she will lose that 100mph rating, of which only exists in a tiny portion of the storm, the 75mph ring will not dissipate it will expand greatly putting many more at risk. 90mph gusts will affect a region 300 miles wide or more.

We are not worried about structural damage from a direct wind gust.

We are worried about the thousands of large trees that will be taken down causing widespread power outages and street closures that could last days.

We don't have palm trees up here. Our trees start coming down at 60mph.

Saturated ground from a foot of rain the past few weeks coupled with another foot of rain and 6 hours or more of sustained winds 60+ gusting 90+ is going to do an incredible amount of tree damage. Those trees are going to be the vehicle that makes Irene's winds a big story.



Truly a fascinating process P451, thank you for your insight. It's very interesting how different hurricanes behave in higher latitude.
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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.
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Quoting indianrivguy:


Hey Tim!! you beat me to it :)


LOL.....its all good...but i just dont have the heart to tell call him and tell him he is in the EYE......its funny just to her him wonder why there is no wind........LOL
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Quoting aspectre:
NHC has called a NorthCarolina landfall for HurricaneIrene
NHC's path for Irene : Starting 12amGMT and ending 12pmGMT

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
id call landfall cape lookout
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
924mb 130° (from the SE) 93 knots (107 mph) . that about 2,900 feet, irene could easily put down 100mph gust when over land. there may be higher winds,and when she hits land again in VA,NJ,NY, She may surprise some folks with gusting high winds
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Did the Topsail Pier survive?

Have a look for yourself.
Link

Looks fine to me.
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Oz does not realize he is in the EYE......LOL



Hey Tim!! you beat me to it :)
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NHC has called a NorthCarolina landfall for HurricaneIrene
NHC's path for Irene : Starting 12amGMT and ending 12pmGMT

~9miles(14.5kilometres) from Beaufort-MoreheadCity (MRH),
and ~15miles(24.1kilometres) from Atlantic (12NC)

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, 34.7n76.5w-mrh, 34.7n76.5w-12nc into the GreatCircleMapper for more info
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Looks like TD11 and another strong wave coming off Africa that is also supposed to develop are both destined for the fishes. Don't think you will see any Cape Verdes type storms make it very far west without turning out to sea. Too mnay strong troughs this year weakening the AB High. Gulf of Mexico should be free and clear this year unless something homegrown (usually happens in October) pops up.
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Did the Topsail Pier survive?
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
Sounds like Oz doesn't realize he's inside the eye... as it is...

mornin' gang!
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I heard earlier that this storm is doing the same as the perfect storm did when the Andrea Gale dissapeared. Any educated opinions on this? is it goin to maintain all this energy while transitioning?
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Oz does not realize he is in the EYE......LOL
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Landfall. Morehead City area.
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Link


it looks like she is starting to wrap moisture back around the eyewall. thing about the track is for all intents and purposes her eyewall is over water through OBX on this path. Based on what you all say she may not gain strength per se, but i think she could wrap convection back around in the western quads and balance out the windspeed across the field, thus for land/property effect she could "strengthen"; or i should say cause more wind peril damage.
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Quoting P451:


It's upper 70s to southern NJ. Mid 70s right to landfall in Long Island.

This is inconsequential at this point as the storm is not going to lose any steam nor intensify based on water---- it will do so based on venting provided by an incredibly strong jet stream to it's north and by baroclinic processes.

The pressure gradient is going to increase as the storm heads north. The central pressure of the storm might actually drop as well as extratropical transition takes place.

There's really very little to discuss in terms of the storm "losing intensity".

The only thing that will change is maximum sustained winds. As I illustrated a number of posts back it is a meaningless statistic at this point.

It may drop down to 75mph prior to landfall. Yet the wind field will have expanded quite dramatically by then putting many more people in the 75mph+ gusting 90+ zone.

Anyone focusing on the 100mph and saying to themselves "Oh, it's dropping to 75, that's nothing, we're in the clear" are in for a VERY RUDE AWAKENING.

Those further south saying "Man, we've had 75mph canes, they dont do much at all." are also going to be surprised if not in awe of the damage that this storm is likely to produce up here.

The process and reactions are not the same as they are in the southern regions.



+100
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Dry Air from the SW side of Irene really put the Breaks on her from being a real beast. The ULL to its SW help to feed that Dry Air!

But still LOTS of Rain!!!




Yep, the ULL in the gulf really helped the east coast - could have been a much stronger storm without the dry air.
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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.