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 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.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 580
Downed power lines and toppled trees where Cyclone OZ is. Also flooding.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
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!!!

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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
the eyewall is intensifying according to radar... still not anything on the southern side but could this tighten up some still?


I've noticed the same thing... her center is partly over water/land so I doubt she strengthens any - but the satellite pictures do look like she's trying to reorganize a bit...

Land does help to bring the winds from 2000-3000 feet above the surface down to the surface... which can act to tighten up the circulation.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 580
woops the 8:00 has cat 1 winds in CT
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
flight level winds of 93 knts still
if they are why is irene a 85mph hurricane if it should be stronger?
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981mb (Surface) 115° (from the ESE) 61 knots (70 mph)
952mb 120° (from the ESE) 84 knots (97 mph)
924mb 130° (from the SE) 93 knots (107 mph)
911mb 135° (from the SE) 82 knots (94 mph)
894mb 135° (from the SE) 90 knots (104 mph)
889mb 135° (from the SE) 87 knots (100 mph)
876mb 140° (from the SE) 90 knots (104 mph)
853mb 145° (from the SE) 83 knots (96 mph)
752mb 150° (from the SSE) 84 knots (97 mph)



theres another dropsound and we have 105 mph winds pretty close to ground level... remember that once the storm gets into the northeast you have mountains and you also have tall buildings all of which will have higher winds then at the surface.
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Wow...her rain shield is HUGE.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:


I saved that landfall image. As you said,since Ike on 2008. There is some debate about if Irene made landfall as a TS or hurricane in PR. But there is no doubt that she was developing while it was moving thru the island.
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Quoting taistelutipu:


I also find the pressure readings quite suspicious, 916 mb with the 163 knots and then even lower to 912 and then pressure in the 750s - mix up of flight level and surface level pressure?

The 163 knot wind could happen if there was a mini vortex, like an embedded tornado (we have tornado warnings for NC), in the larger structure of the eyewall but then again I wouldn't know if you would find winds as strong as those at flight level. All in all, very strange readings.


thats what I was saying... I couldnt figure out why it was showing that high of winds
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flight level winds of 93 knts still
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
983mb (Surface) 95 (from the E) 49 knots (56 mph)
972mb 100 (from the E) 56 knots (64 mph)
939mb 110 (from the ESE) 64 knots (74 mph)
925mb 115 (from the ESE) 65 knots (75 mph)
923mb 120 (from the ESE) 60 knots (69 mph)
922mb 120 (from the ESE) 61 knots (70 mph)
920mb 100 (from the E) 107 knots (123 mph)
919mb 105 (from the ESE) 87 knots (100 mph)
918mb 130 (from the SE) 53 knots (61 mph)
917mb 220 (from the SW) 68 knots (78 mph)
916mb 245 (from the WSW) 163 knots (188 mph)
915mb 235 (from the SW) 104 knots (120 mph)
914mb 190 (from the S) 44 knots (51 mph)
913mb 135 (from the SE) 50 knots (58 mph)
912mb 110 (from the ESE) 83 knots (96 mph)
764mb 130 (from the SE) 69 knots (79 mph)
757mb 125 (from the SE) 63 knots (72 mph)
755mb 85 (from the E) 50 knots (58 mph)
753mb 130 (from the SE) 72 knots (83 mph)


I dont know what they hit but there still should not be Category 5 wind speeds at any level within this storm


I also find the pressure readings quite suspicious, 916 mb with the 163 knots and then even lower to 912 and then pressure in the 750s - mix up of flight level and surface level pressure?

The 163 knot wind could happen if there was a mini vortex, like an embedded tornado (we have tornado warnings for NC), in the larger structure of the eyewall but then again I wouldn't know if you would find winds as strong as those at flight level. All in all, very strange readings.

*edit* looking at it again it looks as if the first two readings are indeed surface pressure, then it must be already some mix up - 939 is too low.
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Irene is trying to rebuild its west/sw side but it is too little, too late it seems... with the center so close to land, strengthening won't happen. Further SLOW weakening is likely.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 580
Quoting SPLbeater:
What fun to wake up at 7 Am on a saturday due to flash flood watches due to Irene.....Weather radio went off. Irene needs to pack her bags and leave NC!



but she just got there....lol
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
the eyewall is intensifying according to radar... still not anything on the southern side but could this tighten up some still?
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Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
my fault kill devil hills and kitty hawk
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these guys are at harkers island video uplink via
http://www.ustream.tv/
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Whoa. Some of this iMap streaming coverage is truly amazing. A storm chaser team just turned back to survey some damage from what looks like a tornado, maybe an EF1.

Sounds like Pressville (?) NC. Update. Creswell, NC
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Quoting VegasRain:
Looks like a lot of prayers have been answered. Were looking at a strong tropical storm near New Jersey and New York. Winds aren't very strong along the Outer Banks, nothing like Isabel. Storm surge isn't as strong either. Both live shots from TWC in Atlantic Beach and Nags Head do not appear too severe. Mostly a rain maker and some tree damage for the east coast with a little bit of water rise. Best of luck to everyone. It looks like the East Coast and NYC got very lucky..


i wonder how its going to affect long island if the strong N AND NE side get to throw the storm surge and winds if it hits western long island
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Quoting Hurricanes12:


I don't think that's at flight level?


no that is lower then flight level since it was dropped from flight level
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What fun to wake up at 7 Am on a saturday due to flash flood watches due to Irene.....Weather radio went off. Irene needs to pack her bags and leave NC!
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Quoting breald:
Thanks for the link, guys.

You have WUmail.
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
983mb (Surface) 95° (from the E) 49 knots (56 mph)
972mb 100° (from the E) 56 knots (64 mph)
939mb 110° (from the ESE) 64 knots (74 mph)
925mb 115° (from the ESE) 65 knots (75 mph)
923mb 120° (from the ESE) 60 knots (69 mph)
922mb 120° (from the ESE) 61 knots (70 mph)
920mb 100° (from the E) 107 knots (123 mph)
919mb 105° (from the ESE) 87 knots (100 mph)
918mb 130° (from the SE) 53 knots (61 mph)
917mb 220° (from the SW) 68 knots (78 mph)
916mb 245° (from the WSW) 163 knots (188 mph)
915mb 235° (from the SW) 104 knots (120 mph)
914mb 190° (from the S) 44 knots (51 mph)
913mb 135° (from the SE) 50 knots (58 mph)
912mb 110° (from the ESE) 83 knots (96 mph)
764mb 130° (from the SE) 69 knots (79 mph)
757mb 125° (from the SE) 63 knots (72 mph)
755mb 85° (from the E) 50 knots (58 mph)
753mb 130° (from the SE) 72 knots (83 mph)


I dont know what they hit but there still should not be Category 5 wind speeds at any level within this storm


I don't think that's at flight level?
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Good Morning.
Hurricane IRENE is the first hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since Ike of 2008. It is also the first hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since Georges of 1998.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
983mb (Surface) 95° (from the E) 49 knots (56 mph)
972mb 100° (from the E) 56 knots (64 mph)
939mb 110° (from the ESE) 64 knots (74 mph)
925mb 115° (from the ESE) 65 knots (75 mph)
923mb 120° (from the ESE) 60 knots (69 mph)
922mb 120° (from the ESE) 61 knots (70 mph)
920mb 100° (from the E) 107 knots (123 mph)
919mb 105° (from the ESE) 87 knots (100 mph)
918mb 130° (from the SE) 53 knots (61 mph)
917mb 220° (from the SW) 68 knots (78 mph)
916mb 245° (from the WSW) 163 knots (188 mph)
915mb 235° (from the SW) 104 knots (120 mph)
914mb 190° (from the S) 44 knots (51 mph)
913mb 135° (from the SE) 50 knots (58 mph)
912mb 110° (from the ESE) 83 knots (96 mph)
764mb 130° (from the SE) 69 knots (79 mph)
757mb 125° (from the SE) 63 knots (72 mph)
755mb 85° (from the E) 50 knots (58 mph)
753mb 130° (from the SE) 72 knots (83 mph)


I dont know what they hit but there still should not be Category 5 wind speeds at any level within this storm
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CycloneOZ found some storm surge on a street where he is..



If you want to watch the livestream, it's located here.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Cedar Island, NC Ferry Terminal reported sustained 90 mph winds with gusts up to 110 mph (719 am EDT)

WOW
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
Quoting VegasRain:
Looks like a lot of prayers have been answered. Were looking at a strong tropical storm near New Jersey and New York. Winds aren't very strong along the Outer Banks, nothing like Isabel. Storm surge isn't as strong either. Both live shots from TWC in Atlantic Beach and Nags Head do not appear too severe. Mostly a rain maker and some tree damage for the east coast with a little bit of water rise. Best of luck to everyone. It looks like the East Coast and NYC got very lucky..


I don't know that the winds were the most concern is the water. At least for New England.
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Truly a huge storm. As it makes landfall up in NC, here in Charleston we are still getting pretty strong wind gusts. We haven't had much storm-type weather since yesterday afternoon. Nothing major happened here, but there were a few downed trees and limbs, and the roads and my yard are littered with smaller branches and tree debris. Some rain. High tide in the evening was extremely high and came up onto roadways and docks in places. Very choppy surf.

And I stand chastened. I was glad schools were closed. Wouldn't have wanted kids in buses out on the bridges.
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
less and less dry air intrusion...


yup,anyone have the water temp just north of NC? Wonder if she could strengthen a bit even with forecast shear,if the water is warm
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
Quoting P451:


Very true and good observation. This is what is going to cause the serious flooding and tree damage due to the extended period of rain and wind we will see.



Thank you P451, I'm not very familiar with Northeast Coast hurricane since I only start observing them when this blog started in 2005, so I'm not familiar with the processes that could affect hurricanes in the area.

Last year Hurricane Igor caused massive damage in Newfoundland Canada and the discussion mentioned that precipitation and wind speed increased after it underwent Baroclinic Forcing. Is the same process could occur in Irene as well?

Thanks
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Quoting P451:


Oz fell on some unfortunate times which caused him to lash out some. It caused some problems the admin deemed was best solved by banning his account. That's the gist.

And don't forget about all the short-term bannings that followed for even talking about his live feed. Course that was back in the days of upheaval when the blog was SFB and had to stay on topic during an active period or you were blocked from posting for 24 hours.
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shame on you for thinking in that respect .big head no . not at all . im just posting my opinion like everyone else . im sorry it caused you discomfort for observing my rights.your forgiven and God will surely forgive you if you ask . shame shame . some people actually like but if you dont im sorry . just put me on ignore if you have a problem . there surely is not need to act like that on this blog and i will copy for future reference if needed . have a nice day .
sorry if my post bothers anyone else .
dew
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Looks like a lot of prayers have been answered. Were looking at a strong tropical storm near New Jersey and New York. Winds aren't very strong along the Outer Banks, nothing like Isabel. Storm surge isn't as strong either. Both live shots from TWC in Atlantic Beach and Nags Head do not appear too severe. Mostly a rain maker and some tree damage for the east coast with a little bit of water rise. Best of luck to everyone. It looks like the East Coast and NYC got very lucky..
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a stop sign fell down and a few limbs,OZ is funny...lol
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234

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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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