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 FLdewey:
Actually I didn't bring it back up Aussie... was trying to keep it from starting all over again. ;-)

hmmmmmm
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting Col15thTex:


Those arn't FEMA trailers. Those are FEMA supplies. FEMA trailers are those little piece of $hit trailers that FEMA sends you when your house is destroyed. 2 people will barely fit in a FEMA trailer, much less a family of 4 and 2 dogs.


I don't mean to criticize, but could we not show a little more gratitude for an accomodation that is freely given to us in times of disaster? Fema trailors are not meant to be luxury suites. They are meant to be temporary housing in times of distress. In this entitlement generation it would be really pleasant to see more people show thanks instead of expecting better handouts.

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990. Skyepony (Mod)
Bergen point is forecast for the water to come up over 9'..the trend has been for the observed to be ~1' higher. I expect here & The Battery, NY to get 9-10' of water or more.


Slosh is has upped it's doom to 7-9' above normal tide for these areas as well.
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Kudos to Bill Reed (Texas A&M) and NHC for doing a great job on Irene. Gig'em!
And awesome job as always Dr. Masters!
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:

It's not funny. I've worked cleanup. That's why you get a tetanus booster whether you need one or not and probably ought to take a round of immunizations as though you were going to a Third World country.


Every time I had done hurricane clean-up or worked in the aftermath of one - I have gotten sick... Not fun. and I routinely get all of the vaccinations. All kind of bateria, mold, fungus, and must nastier stuff is floating around.

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986. unc70
Irene should be rated Cat 2 based on wind reports that are reliable. Will certainly be Cat 1 near NYC, etc.

Some things everyone needs to remember when looking at damage in NC:

NC is possibly the best prepared for hurricanes among the states. We learned painfully from Hugo, Fran, Floyd, and other storms how important it is to have a complete approach at all levels: planning, public awareness, building codes, flood zones, evacuations, shelters (including pet friendly), etc. Anyone who was in NC for those storms knows what to do and we are relentless at trying to educate all the newcomers.

The most vulnerable houses, trees, etc. have already been destroyed, damaged, or reinforced. Recent construction near the coast (not just ON the coast) has much stricter construction rules.

NJ, NY, or New England will have much greater damage from this storm than in NC.

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Quoting zoomiami:


What a lovely thought.


During Floyd there was an estimated 200,000 hogs escapeinto eastern NC from the floods. Just this past year NC wildlife has opened season year round to try to control the exploded population of these hogs since Floyd.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
so what do you think wish mode runs wins and did the best on this storm?
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Quoting zoomiami:
Does anyone have pics or links to cams for Chesapeake Bay Bridge?


Can't find any. But here are some traffic cams in Norfolk/Virginia Beach.
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504
WFUS51 KPHI 271612
TORPHI
DEC005-271645-
/O.NEW.KPHI.TO.W.0014.110827T1612Z-110827T1645Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MOUNT HOLLY NJ
1212 PM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MOUNT HOLLY NJ HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
EAST CENTRAL SUSSEX COUNTY IN SOUTHERN DELAWARE...

* UNTIL 1245 PM EDT


* AT 1210 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR REHOBOTH
BEACH...OR 17 MILES SOUTH OF CAPE MAY...MOVING WEST AT 35 MPH.

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
REHOBOTH BEACH BY 1220 PM EDT...
LEWES BY 1230 PM EDT...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A
WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS
AVAILABLE...SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN
INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO
COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

PLEASE REPORT HAIL OR STRONG WINDS TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BY
CALLING TOLL FREE...1-877-633-6772...WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY.

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Quoting FLdewey:
Yeah Dak this hot, dry wind is killing me. I was going to do some yard work today, but that didn't last 30 mins.



I did mine at 7am this morning... Glad I did!
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Quoting FLdewey:
Yeah Dak this hot, dry wind is killing me. I was going to do some yard work today, but that didn't last 30 mins.



You're sill hot and dry? We have high humidity and a high dew point. It's like a sauna. The hot, dry air was yesterday.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

lol Gross.

It's not funny. I've worked cleanup. That's why you get a tetanus booster whether you need one or not and probably ought to take a round of immunizations as though you were going to a Third World country.
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Quoting FLdewey:
FEMA trailers staging in NC



Those arn't FEMA trailers. Those are FEMA supplies. FEMA trailers are those little piece of $hit trailers that FEMA sends you when your house is destroyed. 2 people will barely fit in a FEMA trailer, much less a family of 4 and 2 dogs.
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Quoting ElConando:


That word means something totally different in the U.K. and in Australia than it does in America. There, that is slag for cigarette.


I got that part... Still don't understand it, but don't bother explaining it. Apparently it isn't worth the blog space.
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Quoting Buzzit:


I saw the conversation on this earlier, I can see the validity of it but at the same time I am not sure who the audience for the data should be, and many of the items you mention are communicated to local authorities via private conversation. I would think that in order to put a working model of this in place, then a team would need to analyse the last x decades of data to determine a validated model output, I am sure it would be a very beneficial PHd for a team to do :)


Some of the mets at TWC have kind of been doing it with Irene. They've been using a color code to determine the level of threats for various components of Irene on the maps, e.g., rain, winds, surge. It's presented a clearer picture of the impact at the regional level. That's what gave me the idea of marrying the SS scale with a threat level.

Too many folks see see a newspaper article, hear a radio report of "Cat. 1" and think "no big deal," when it actually could be a big deal. Cat 1 and Threat Level Red, for example, may get their attention.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
Quoting Joshfsu123:


Looks like Irene has strengthened a little (and radar suggests this to) but - does NHC adjust it up or leave it at 85mph?


Unless widespread reports of over 85mph sustained occur, I doubt they will upgrade it, especially since it is gradually weakening over time.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Sorry, I don't smoke.


That was funny (I thought a blog war was going to break out any minute) but I stopped laughing once the AB's lost. Australia played an excellent first half of rugby.
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Quoting 900MB:
Checking in from NYC. Been out doing more prep.

Can anyone give me their best guess for NYC impact:
-wind speed
-landfall from city (distance East or West)
-timing
-pressure
-surge
?
Thanks all!


From your NWS:

Tropical storm conditions expected with hurricane conditions possible. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning. Rain. Rain may be heavy at times. Humid. Near steady temperature in the lower 70s. Northeast winds 55 to 70 mph...becoming northwest 55 to 65 mph in the afternoon. Gusts up to 80 mph.

From NHC:

STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS MUCH
AS 4 TO 8 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA
FROM THE NORTH CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER NORTHWARD TO CAPE COD
INCLUDING SOUTHERN PORTIONS OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AND ITS
TRIBUTARIES.

Landfall should occur somewhere near this time tomorrow. I'm thinking western Long Island or right up Hudson Bay. The NHC track is over western Long Island right now as well. It's worth considering that New Jersey may get the 2nd landfall too, keeping the very center just over the coast as it moves into the NY area, but either way, direct impacts will be about the same.

Central pressure should be steadily rising as Irene moves northward, but slower than you would expect, likely still in the 960s as it moves into New York.
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Quoting FLdewey:


Let it go... Aussie made a bad joke earlier and for whatever reason it's coming back up again.

You brought it up so you let it go, geez.

US50 webcam
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting Levi32:
TWC just flashed up a report that Cedar Island had maximum sustained winds of 90mph with gusts to 110mph.


Looks like Irene has strengthened a little (and radar suggests this to) but - does NHC adjust it up or leave it at 85mph?
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Quoting 900MB:
Checking in from NYC. Been out doing more prep.

Can anyone give me their best guess for NYC impact:
-wind speed
-landfall from city (distance East or West)
-timing
-pressure
-surge
?
Thanks all!

I think:
-75mph
-~5 miles or less to the west, if not directly over it
- Landfall Mid-Morning tomorrow
-~955mb to 960mb
-5-10 ft surge
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Quoting 900MB:
Checking in from NYC. Been out doing more prep.

Can anyone give me their best guess for NYC impact:
-wind speed
-landfall from city (distance East or West)
-timing
-pressure
-surge
?
Thanks all!

floors 1-20 65-75mph above 70-85
landfall point, West Central Nassau County.
timing 7-9am, tomorrow, high tide.
pressure- 960ish
surge- depends where you are, are you on long island sound, or NYC Harbor?
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Google Map Resource for Irene... Link
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1st good squall line is about to move through DC - seems our weather will start to go downhill soon and if Irene keeps hugging the coast, it could be worse than forecasted for the DC area.

Pressure is now down to 1004.7 mb (29.67 in) in DC
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Beach erosion will be the worst this storm is known for.The duration and the size is taking it's toll on the beaches.
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962. Skyepony (Mod)
Beaufort should have seen it's max surge..total the water was up more than 6'. The storm surge only close to 2', tides ran about a foot higher than normal with the moon & all. It ended up being ~1 foot higher than forecast.
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Quoting goldenpixie1:
Link For whoever asked earlier - yes, the Topsail pier still stands. And I just saw someone with a surf board heading into the waves. (I kid you not)


Also someone is walking on the pier.
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Quoting Dakster:


I don't really know what to make of this post....


That word means something totally different in the U.K. and in Australia than it does in America. There, that is slang for cigarette.
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Dewey - Ok.

Is it hotter than you know what in Indiatlantic today? It is so hot here in Miami.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
This cant be a coincidence.. but FX movie channel is playing a movie called 'Me, Myself, and Irene'


Now that was a funny movie! Jim Carrey is a hoot!
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
Link For whoever asked earlier - yes, the Topsail pier still stands. And I just saw someone with a surf board heading into the waves. (I kid you not)
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Quoting nola70119:


This could be the Godzilla of Nor'easters.......


A dinosaur called Irene?
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TWC just flashed up a report that Cedar Island had maximum sustained winds of 90mph with gusts to 110mph.
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Quoting LightningCharmer:
If I'm not wrong, isn't an amateur someone who is not being compensated. Would someone actually pay or compensate in any way most of bloggers on here who forecast anything under the sun?


Definition of AMATEUR

1
: devotee, admirer
2
: one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession
3
: one lacking in experience and competence in an art or science

Source:


I am under the impression that Amateur mets, would usually be those who have finished degrees in Meteorology and do not have a job yet and as you said not being compensated for any work they may be doing. For some reason, I had thought in the past that also applied to retired Meteorologists, but I just figured they would just be called a retired met.
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951. 900MB
Checking in from NYC. Been out doing more prep.

Can anyone give me their best guess for NYC impact:
-wind speed
-landfall from city (distance East or West)
-timing
-pressure
-surge
?
Thanks all!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherwart:
I posted this early this morning, but what do y'all think?

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.


I saw the conversation on this earlier, I can see the validity of it but at the same time I am not sure who the audience for the data should be, and many of the items you mention are communicated to local authorities via private conversation. I would think that in order to put a working model of this in place, then a team would need to analyse the last x decades of data to determine a validated model output, I am sure it would be a very beneficial PHd for a team to do :)
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I still have a feeling this storm will maintain more intensity, maybe 80mph in NJ/NY not 75mph.
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Quoting nola70119:


Yes, and add rainfall too that......everyone is looking at the windspeed, but look at the size of that and the pressure is still low. You have a Cat 3 energy field spread out over hundreds of miles.,,,


class='blogquote'>Quoting jpsb:
Excellent idea, IMHO Saffir-Simpson is inadequate.


Thanks.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
Quoting Levi32:


Yeah she's drifting a little west of forecast...I expect she will try to hug the coast and stay pretty close to the water. Let's just say that I don't see her going deep into New York State. She should theoretically start moving more northeastward after she passes Virginia Beach, but you never know lol. She's already pulled some short-term motions that weren't predicted by any model.


Thanks for your response. Bad news for me! I'm in Fairfax. Slight wiggle west and she could really put some hurt down on this area. I've only heard one bird chirping today, so I'm guessing the animals already know something's on the way.
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Quoting nola70119:
I wonder if that Aussie is still having a suck on his fag,.....?


I don't really know what to make of this post....
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Quoting Dakster:


I thought he was wearing a computer and performing internet searches in the middle of the storm..


LOL
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Still looks pretty good

img src="">
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Quoting zoomiami:
Does anyone have pics or links to cams for Chesapeake Bay Bridge?


How about this?
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Quoting nola70119:
I wonder if that Aussie is still having a suck on his fag,.....?

Sorry, I don't smoke.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932

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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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