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 GeoffreyWPB:

Good Morning!
Looks pretty quiet out there in the Trop. Atl. and the rest of the Basin.
Except for Irene, of course.
I am a little surprised at that, for August 27th!
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Why is her pressure still low but the winds decreasing? I thought they go hand-in-hand?
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The NOAA plane is starting its first run on mission 32. Should have some new data soon.

If you have Google Earth installed, Heres the link:
Live Recon Data

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there is a crew on the ground in Rodanthe NC the furtherest eastern poin posible on land wind is 27mph
gusting to 45mph pressure is 993.98 and falling at momment .they are reporting no ocean over wash at high tide.you can watch this via web site http://www.hurricanetrack.com/tower1/tower1.html.c am is not working here but is here. weather data on other onehttp://www.hurricanetrack.com/
your welcome see ya
dew
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Huge swath of extreme rainfall already in parts of SE NC.
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Quoting bassis:


Do you have a rain gage at your location? I'm in Concord near Charlotte and the wind is steady out of the N but no rain which we could use


Dang, on radar it looks like the squal line is only about 30+ miles from Concord. That rain is just so close, hopefully you'll get lucky in the next few hours.
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Good morning, all.

With Irene, I was thinking maybe the NHC might think about updating/changing their warning system. Instead of just issuing the Saffir-Simpson scale for a storm when it begins to threaten land, perhaps they should issue a second rating, a "Threat Scale" as it were.

That scale could take into account the size, forward speed, direction, tides, barometric pressure, land features ahead of landfall, where the eye will be (landfalling or over water), etc. Maybe just a color code, i.e. Cat 1, Threat Red.

Some kind of married warning system would give a better picture to folks that just a SS scale would. Because this CAT 1 storm certainly will do more damage than say some small, fast-mover coming across the GOM and watering a dry Texas.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
Quoting odinslightning:
everyone thinks she is turning right because they see the convection maps and assume she is centered in the convection. lol. i think the eyewall is headed straight for atlantic beach directly north. i think the eyewall is on the left side of the deep convection because the western quad's are so dry. it's an optical illusion. radar from atlantic beach is better, it shows the width and position of the coc.


yup

Link

turning on the radar on that helps a lot comparing the center with where the coldest cloud tops are
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Lots of upper shear ahead (0900 UTC) - 20+ knots, and hitting as much as 50 as Irene treks north:




Not much mid-level shear:




Steering currents are not all that strong right in front of Irene. She could meander and change tempo:



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Quoting odinslightning:




there is no forecast for an investment? i'm almost sure i saw forecasts for 97L (Irene) for a week prior to t.s. status. But ty for the info.


I meant to say there's no such thing as a reliable forecast for an invest. Anything can be just a forecast. Pretty sure I remember a time when Irene was just a blotch off the coast of Africa, prematurely deemed a fish.
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Quoting ncstorm:
Irene is moving very slowly...she's only moved a few miles in the past 3 hours. Shes sitting right off the coast to the east of Wilmington 80 miles. This is close enough to have winds high enough to still do a lot of damage. Stay in, stay alert!..We are going through the worst of Irene now in Wilmington..


Do you have a rain gage at your location? I'm in Concord near Charlotte and the wind is steady out of the N but no rain which we could use
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Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


there's no such thing as a forecast for an invest. Any attempt at forecasting an invest is jibberish at best. Computer models have very little accuracy at predicting the intensity of invests, which results in terrible track estimates. A faster developing invest is more likely to get picked up by troughs in the Atlantic, a weaker invest is more likely to bypass troughs and keep moving west to a more favorable (and for us dangerous) area. The invest you are probably talk about - models predicted it to be stronger, instead it weakened... so it may not get picked up by mid latitude troughs in the Atlantic, which means it might not turn out to be a fish afterall... assuming it even survives.




there is no forecast for an investment? i'm almost sure i saw forecasts for 97L (Irene) for a week prior to t.s. status. But ty for the info.
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Quoting TampaBayStevo:
Someone posted this link a while back, and it's very helpful as a crash course on understanding hurricane track guidance.

Overview of Tropical Cyclone Track Guidance

I dont remember who posted it, but thank you :)


Thanks, I will check that out later. Levi's Tropical tidbits are a good education also
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Quoting odinslightning:
is that 90L at 40W?


Link



wasn't the forecast for that invest to turn and fish halibut?


there's no such thing as a reliable forecast for an invest. Any attempt at forecasting an invest is jibberish at best. Computer models have very little accuracy at predicting the intensity of invests, which results in terrible track estimates. A faster developing invest is more likely to get picked up by troughs in the Atlantic, a weaker invest is more likely to bypass troughs and keep moving west to a more favorable (and for us dangerous) area. The invest you are probably talk about - models predicted it to be stronger, instead it weakened... so it may not get picked up by mid latitude troughs in the Atlantic, which means it might not turn out to be a fish afterall... assuming it even survives.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

She's coming ashore at Morehead, NC. So how the heck is that going out to sea????


Webcam from there http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-severe-weather- webcam
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Quoting odinslightning:




agreed....here they come cuz it's 5:40 am up the eastern seaboard and they have failed and/or refused to prepare. so instead of heading warning just to be safe they would rather come in and think they are Alister Crowley with a protractor at the neck of a billy goat with the power of god in their wishes......they never fail to amuse me......lmfao
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Quoting overwash12:
Conga line of Trolls! LOL




agreed....here they come cuz it's 5:40 am up the eastern seaboard and they have failed and/or refused to prepare. so instead of heading warning just to be safe they would rather come in and think they are Alister Crowley with a protractor at the neck of a billy goat with the power of god in their wishes......they never fail to amuse me......lmfao
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Quoting AussieStorm:

She's coming ashore at Morehead, NC. So how the heck is that going out to sea????

Conga line of Trolls! LOL
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last 2 frames in loop show some convection starting to wrap back towards Irene out of S. Carolina. It looks like a minor trend of rebuiding western convection.
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Quoting reedzone:
New (updated) forecast from me..

Irene brushes the Outer Banks as a 90 mph. Storm

As a jet moistens her up, she strengthens to about 95 mph, possibly back to Category 2 strength, makes landfall on Long Island Sunday with winds around 80-90 mph.

I just.. I dunno, the pressure is just wayy to low for this to completely fall apart. I still believe Irene has something to show come today and tomorrow.


Not sure if I would agree with you reed, seems to be a bit optimistic. She is being surrounded by dry air, the front doesn't look to be bringing much moisture, and the "eye" is essentially dry with the exception of its northern component. Given her big size understand it'll take a bit to wind down, but would be surprised if she still is a hurricane by the time she reaches NE.
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Link Winds at hurricane force!
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everyone thinks she is turning right because they see the convection maps and assume she is centered in the convection. lol. i think the eyewall is headed straight for atlantic beach directly north. i think the eyewall is on the left side of the deep convection because the western quad's are so dry. it's an optical illusion. radar from atlantic beach is better, it shows the width and position of the coc.
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Quoting PowerOuttage4u:
It looks like Irene is headed out to sea.

She's coming ashore at Morehead, NC. So how the heck is that going out to sea????

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15979
Irene called it a Night but will wake back up soon. This storm has been wild to watch. imo
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is that 90L at 40W?


Link



wasn't the forecast for that invest to turn and fish halibut?
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It looks like Irene is headed out to sea.
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Quoting atmosweather:


No there isn't really a correlation in that regard...but a more deeper storm with a lower pressure usually is more resistant to weakening if it is large enough.
The waters in the sounds(N.C.) are quite warm,still should be a hurricane approaching Long Is. IMAO Might be a lopsided storm,all the bad stuff on the eastside!
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Quoting atmosweather:


No there isn't really a correlation in that regard...but a more deeper storm with a lower pressure usually is more resistant to weakening if it is large enough.



cool ty for the info.
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Someone posted this link a while back, and it's very helpful as a crash course on understanding hurricane track guidance.

Overview of Tropical Cyclone Track Guidance

I dont remember who posted it, but thank you :)
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satellite imagery and coastal radar data show that Irene has lost
some organization this morning. The cloud tops have warmed
significantly in the western semicircle...and there is a lack of
convective banding in the southwestern quadrant in the radar data.
This suggests that dry air seen in water vapor imagery to the west
of Irene is starting to entrain into the hurricane. An Air Force
Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft continues to observe 90-100 kt
winds at 700 mb over the eastern semicircle. However...the highest
surface wind estimates from the SFMR have only been 70-75 kt. The
initial intensity is reduced to 80 kt...and this could be a little
generous. Despite the decrease in convective organization...the
aircraft reports that the central pressure remains near 952 mb.
The initial motion is 020/12. Irene is west of the subtropical
ridge...with water vapor imagery showing a mid/upper-level
shortwave trough in the westerlies moving across the Great Lakes.
Irene should continue to move north-northeastward into the
westerlies during the next 36-48 hours...with the center moving
over eastern North Carolina...over or near the coast of the
mid-Atlantic states...and then over New England. After 48 hours...
the cyclone should turn northeastward and then east-northeastward
with an increase in forward speed as it reaches the core of the
westerlies. The new forecast track is an update of the previous
track and lies in the center of the guidance envelope.
Land interaction...dry air entrainment...and increasing vertical
wind shear should cause Irene to weaken as it moves along the U.S.
East Coast. However...the cyclone is expected to remain a
hurricane with a very large wind field until after landfall in New
England. Extratropical transition should occur after the New
England landfall...with Irene gradually weakening from 48-120 hr.
The radar presentation of the center of Irene has decreased to the
point that we will be reverting to three-hourly intermediate
advisories.

Forecast positions and Max winds

init 27/0900z 34.1n 76.5w 80 kt 90 mph
12h 27/1800z 35.7n 75.8w 75 kt 85 mph...inland
24h 28/0600z 38.4n 74.6w 70 kt 80 mph...over water
36h 28/1800z 41.9n 72.7w 65 kt 75 mph...inland
48h 29/0600z 46.3n 69.6w 50 kt 60 mph...Post-trop/extratrop
72h 30/0600z 54.0n 59.0w 40 kt 45 mph...Post-trop/extratrop
96h 31/0600z 57.0n 41.0w 40 kt 45 mph...Post-trop/extratrop
120h 01/0600z 58.0n 23.0w 35 kt 40 mph...Post-trop/extratrop

Well I said 228 miles out it would be 93 mph at land fall but it appears it is alittle weaker then even i thought it would be .That is a good thing for eastern NC.Good for everyone actually. Could be better by going completely away but Good enough.
Have a good day bloggers.
Dew
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Bouy 36.910 N 75.710 W (3 deg north of center, ~180 NM) sustained TS force winds.





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Quoting odinslightning:



cool ty. just trying to learn as much as i can since my work kinda involves weather to a large degree...

is there a connection between mb pressure and the ability of a storm to regain convection in the COC if over open water?


No there isn't really a correlation in that regard...but a more deeper storm with a lower pressure usually is more resistant to weakening if it is large enough.
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Quoting atmosweather:
From previous entry:

She's been a very odd hurricane that's for sure. She "strengthened" into a hurricane while over Puerto Rico (although I'm sure the post-season analysis will upgrade her to a 75-80 mph hurricane at landfall), and now she is maintaining an astonishingly low pressure with only Category 1 or 2 winds. I haven't seen a storm this odd since Hurricane Epsilon of 2005 that continued to maintain its strength and even intensify a little while over 22-23 degree waters in the north Atlantic...prompting 2 of the most entertaining forecast discussion wordings ever:

ZCZC MIATCDAT4 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM
HURRICANE EPSILON DISCUSSION NUMBER 28
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
4 AM EST TUE DEC 06 2005

I HAVE RUN OUT OF THINGS TO SAY...AND THIS ONE WILL BE SHORT.
EPSILON CONTINUES ON STEADY STATE WITH A RING OF DEEP CONVECTION
WHICH INTERMITTENTLY SURROUNDS THE LARGE EYE. INITIAL INTENSITY
REMAINS AT 65 KNOTS BUT A GRADUAL WEAKENING IS ANTICIPATED.

-------------------------------------------

ZCZC MIATCDAT4 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM
HURRICANE EPSILON DISCUSSION NUMBER 31
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
10 PM EST TUE DEC 06 2005

THE END IS IN SIGHT. IT REALLY REALLY IS. BUT IN THE MEANTIME...
EPSILON CONTINUES TO MAINTAIN HURRICANE STATUS.


ROTFLMAO - I've never seen those before now. That's pretty damn funny!
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32.1n77.2w has been re-evaluated&altered for H.Irene's_6amGMT_ATCF
32.1n77.1w, 33.4n76.6w are now the most recent positions
Starting 26August_6amGMT and ending 27August_6amGMT

The 4 shorter line-segments represent HurricaneIrene's path
and the longest*northernmost line-segment is the straightline projection.
(*The red dot marking 95W is touching, almost bisecting the straightline projection)


Using straightline projection of the travel-speed&heading derived from the ATCF coordinates spanning the 6hours between 12amGMT then 6amGMT :
H.Irene's travel-speed was 15.7mph(25.2k/h) on a heading of 17.9degrees(NNE)
H.Irene was headed toward passage over OcracokeIsland(W95)NorthCarolina ~4&1/2.hours from now
H.Irene was headed toward passage over RoanoakeIsland(MEO)NorthCarolina ~8hours from now

Copy&paste 28.8n77.3w-30.0n77.4w, 30.0n77.4w-31.1n77.5w, 31.1n77.5w-32.1n77.1w, 32.1n77.1w-33.4n76.6w, w95, 32.1n77.1w-35.129n75.910w, meo, 32.1n77.1w-35.826n75.618w into the GreatCircleMapper for more info

The previous mapping (for 27August_12amGMT)
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You can get a fairly detailed picture of Irene's track, as well as decent radar imagery on this website:

VIPIR Interactive Radar

Once the page loads, click on options, un-check Storm Cells zoom out and pan over to the hurricane area, Then check Tropical Storms. The play button animates the radar images.

She's really been doing a lot of zig-zagging.
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The storm got upgraded to Hurricane 2 again?
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Quoting njdevil:


Depends what it is. If it really is an 80, I don't know if it has much more life as a hurricane.

I know why they do it, but I have a tree situation where I have a breaking point of when it makes little sense to be here. lol. So I'd like the straight dope, not the "alright, let's make sure EVERYONE is prepared so no one gets mad at us" approach.

I guess they try to tell you that with the parsing, but I feel like that leaves it up to me. lol.

Oh well, guess I'll see when I get up, where it goes and whether it looks like a sloppy sawed-off mess or more like it did earlier tonight.



Have a good night :)
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Quoting reedzone:


Yeah.. well this is a very serious situation so they want to be cautious. It seems like they are in agreement that the jet could help moisten Irene a bit when it goes north of the Carolinas, thus keeping it a Hurricane till landfall on Long Island.


Depends what it is. If it really is an 80, I don't know if it has much more life as a hurricane.

I know why they do it, but I have a tree situation where I have a breaking point of when it makes little sense to be here. lol. So I'd like the straight dope, not the "alright, let's make sure EVERYONE is prepared so no one gets mad at us" approach.

I guess they try to tell you that with the parsing, but I feel like that leaves it up to me. lol.

Oh well, guess I'll see when I get up, where it goes and whether it looks like a sloppy sawed-off mess or more like it did earlier tonight.

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Irene is moving very slowly...she's only moved a few miles in the past 3 hours. Shes sitting right off the coast to the east of Wilmington 80 miles. This is close enough to have winds high enough to still do a lot of damage. Stay in, stay alert!..We are going through the worst of Irene now in Wilmington..
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Quoting atmosweather:


The low pressure in the center only means that the storm is a lot more powerful in its general impacts than a regular Category 1 storm. It also implies that the stronger intense winds found at flight level in the earlier dropsondes could mix down to the surface in the very intense rainband just to the north of the center as it interacts with land and encounters more friction. Even though the pressure has not risen that much at all, the storm is in no position to restrengthen, but should maintain hurricane status all the way to the New England coast.



cool ty. just trying to learn as much as i can since my work kinda involves weather to a large degree...

is there a connection between mb pressure and the ability of a storm to regain convection in the COC if over open water?
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New (updated) forecast from me..

Irene brushes the Outer Banks as a 90 mph. Storm

As a jet moistens her up, she strengthens to about 95 mph, possibly back to Category 2 strength, makes landfall on Long Island Sunday with winds around 80-90 mph.

I just.. I dunno, the pressure is just wayy to low for this to completely fall apart. I still believe Irene has something to show come today and tomorrow.
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i guess jen carfagno has been running extrapolations of approach timing vs. high tide regarding n.j. and n.y.c. and she said it may be worst case scenario, combining that with a new moon may not be good for manhattan.....
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Quoting odinslightning:
not to put too much belief in the TWC (since it's downcast, downcast, downcast, sure big thing kk then DOOM watch the Serv Pro commercial...lol) but Rick Knabb did say show the models will put the eyewall back over open water after OBX......and remember the hurricane won't have 85 degree water like it did in the tropics, but the water up the seaboard this year is way hotter than normal.....and if atmos is right she is about to get relief with an infusion of moist air from the west as opposed to eating dry dry dry crackers....

i don't see rapid intensification (i would have said r.i., but god knows someone from rhode island may have seen that as they r off the hook...lol) but i think she could become symmetrical again with an increase of convection and some minor strengthening.


also, atmos could the low mb pressure readings show that the potential for what i just mentioned is more possible than not?


The low pressure in the center only means that the storm is a lot more powerful in its general impacts than a regular Category 1 storm. It also implies that the stronger intense winds found at flight level in the earlier dropsondes could mix down to the surface in the very intense rainband just to the north of the center as it interacts with land and encounters more friction. Even though the pressure has not risen that much at all, the storm is in no position to restrengthen, but should maintain hurricane status all the way to the New England coast.
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not to put too much belief in the TWC (since it's downcast, downcast, downcast, sure big thing kk then DOOM watch the Serv Pro commercial...lol) but Rick Knabb did say show the models will put the eyewall back over open water after OBX......and remember the hurricane won't have 85 degree water like it did in the tropics, but the water up the seaboard this year is way hotter than normal.....and if atmos is right she is about to get relief with an infusion of moist air from the west as opposed to eating dry dry dry crackers....

i don't see rapid intensification (i would have said r.i., but god knows someone from rhode island may have seen that as they r off the hook...lol) but i think she could become symmetrical again with an increase of convection and some minor strengthening.


also, atmos could the low mb pressure readings show that the potential for what i just mentioned is more possible than not?
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Quoting njdevil:


They really didn't, if you parse it. They think it's an 80-85MPH storm but kept 90MPH... and cut their workload. They're slow to downgrade things. Not saying that's the wrong move, just how they do it.


Yeah.. well this is a very serious situation so they want to be cautious. It seems like they are in agreement that the jet could help moisten Irene a bit when it goes north of the Carolinas, thus keeping it a Hurricane till landfall on Long Island.
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Quoting reedzone:
Didn't think they would hold Irene at 90 mph.. We'll see what happens when she passes the Carolinas.


They really didn't, if you parse it. They think it's an 80-85MPH storm but kept 90MPH... and cut their workload. They're slow to downgrade things. Not saying that's the wrong move, just how they do it.
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Quoting odinslightning:



atmos what potential do you see for the storm to regain strength, in particular, gain the energy/moisture your mentioning coming out of the ohioi valley. i realize it probably won't rapidly intensify but could that infusion of low pressure help irene become symmetrical with more convection from that infusion?


I don't see her regaining any strength from this interaction, she is just too disorganized and moving over increasingly cooler waters and encountering slightly more shear. However the infusion of the extra baroclinic energy should cause some extra instability on her western flank and help redevelop some stronger convection. It will also cause her to weaken slower and probably maintain hurricane strength all the way to her second landfall in the NE.
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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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