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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842. 996tt
Guys saying people are stupid for being on the streets in their cars, but wait, he is standing in the streets with nothing but googles on.
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Quoting reedzone:


Still.. his opinion.. I fully believe Irene with the pressure she has will maintain Hurricane force till landfall on Long Island. 75-85 mph.


not exactly...it's his professional judgement based on unimpeachable qualifications....
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Eric from TWC called the drivers stupid...lol
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5630
Quoting sullivanweather:
THE KDIX DOPPLER RADAR HAS FAILED. A TECHNICIAN HAS BEEN NOTIFIED AND IS ON THEI R WAY TO INVESTIGATE. MG



I swear, there's always one radar that fails when a big storm approaches my area. :/


I just had that same experience...the day I really need it...
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Quoting AransasBayRat:


The formula was about 100 stories over my head but I love the explanation you gave about expanding in size rather than in wind speed. This finally made a lightbulb go off in my head.

The pressure is unexpectedly low for a cat 1. If I understand correctly this would mean essentially that it has the same power as a cat 3 but the power/strength is distributed over a larger area rather than being as compact. So the windspeeds etc are lower over larger area rather than higher over smaller area. But the overall motor running this storm vs a smaller cat 3 would be about the same.

Am I understanding/explaining right?
Sounds like a great analogy to me.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1264
Quoting Fotograffa:


I had a breaking news e-mail saying someone was killed in NC..didn't say where...when a falling branch fell on him. Maybe it was in Rocky Mount.



Up to about 5-6 now? no?
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5149
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


I have a feeling it's going to be another wobble and jog seeing day i.e. its wobbled east, it wobbled west its going fishing,it's gonna hit land, wish,west,east,fish,doom....casters....lol


Apologize for giving that impression...however for this area even a slight wobble/jog whatever to the west means the difference between mid-tropical storm winds and mid-cat 1 winds as the current track has CoC missing us by only a handful of miles. Not trying to doomcast.
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Quoting reedzone:
Hurricane Hunters left at the wrong time. I bet Irene is up to 90 mph., maybe 95 mph... Whens the next recon?


If one cant find the HH POD, well then that say tons about His er, skill set.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

He was feeding his pets and the entire tree fell on him.
Sad...
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1264
Link

NEW YORK AREA STORM SURGE INFO
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Titoxd did you see my reply/question in regards to your earlier post?
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Coming down from the I.K.E. peak of minimal category 3 (while classified a minimal cat 2):



Caveat: I *think* this product uses 10 m surface winds for the IKE calculation, in which case, the land surface roughness would yield a lesser value, perhaps erroneously.


Yeah, we had a guy from that project interviewed on the Barometer Bob show on Thursday, and he said they only use 10m winds to estimate the kinetic energy.
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Quoting ncCANEiac:
Local NWS radar estimates 11-12 inches of rain between Washington and New Bern in eastern NC! Impressive! still have several more hours of heavy rain left to go here.


it has been very impressive those rain bands training on certain locales
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5149
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Norfolk
NEXRAD Radar

Storm Total Surface Rainfall Accumulation


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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
This is most certainly a low-end cat 1 hurricane. Eyes can even clear out during tropical storms, so seeing a ragged eye is not necessarily an indication of a cat2+ storm.


Good point. An eye does not make it a hurricane. Windspeed does. My mother pointed that out to me recently. She said she's seen many a tropical storm with an eye that lack the windspeed to be place in hurricane status.
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THE KDIX DOPPLER RADAR HAS FAILED. A TECHNICIAN HAS BEEN NOTIFIED AND IS ON THEI R WAY TO INVESTIGATE. MG



I swear, there's always one radar that fails when a big storm approaches my area. :/
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Quoting Titoxd:


Actually, there is a third variable there: size. If we look at a one-dimensional Navier-Stokes equation, you have ∂u/∂t +u*∂u/∂x = -(1/ρ)*dP/dx + ν*((∂^2)u)/(∂(x^2)) - friction. From there, we can see that an increase in dP can be offset simply by increasing dx by a similar amount.

Irene for some reason decided to expand its radius instead of increasing its winds, and is now a gargantuan storm. If it hadn't expanded as much, you'd have a storm with stronger winds.
Thank you.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1264
Coming down from the I.K.E. peak of minimal category 3 (while classified a minimal cat 2):



Caveat: I *think* this product uses 10 m surface winds for the IKE calculation, in which case, the land surface roughness would yield a lesser value, perhaps erroneously.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sullivanweather:
NOUS42 KMHX 271503
PNSMHX
NCZ029-044>047-079>081-090>095-098-103-1 04-271915 -

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEWPORT/MOREHEAD CITY NC
1103 AM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

...PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT...

THE FOLLOWING ARE UNOFFICIAL OBSERVATIONS TAKEN DURING THE PAST 24
HOURS FOR THE STORM THAT HAS BEEN AFFECTING OUR REGION.
THIS SUMMARY IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON OUR HOME PAGE AT
WEATHER.GOV/NEWPORT/

***********************PEAK WIND GUST***********************

LOCATION MAX WIND TIME/DATE COMMENTS
GUST OF
MPH MEASUREMENT

NORTH CAROLINA

...BEAUFORT COUNTY...
WASHINGTON 45 435 AM 8/27 KOCW - SENSOR
FAILED AT 455 AM

...CARTERET COUNTY...
CEDAR ISLAND 115 750 AM 8/27 KCTI
BEAUFORT 67 505 AM 8/27 KMRH
FORT MACON 85 320 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
CAPE LOOKOUT 78 400 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
MOREHEAD CITY 68 546 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW

...CRAVEN COUNTY...
CHERRY POINT 69 354 AM 8/27 KNKT
NEW BERN 74 754 AM 8/27 KEWN

...DARE COUNTY...
MANTEO 66 755 AM 8/27 KMQI
HATTERAS 88 851 AM 8/27 KHSE
JOCKEYS RIDGE 37 905 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
MANTEO CSWY 54 838 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
ALLIGATOR BRIDGE 66 847 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
OREGON INLET 78 856 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
AVON (OCEAN SIDE) 77 725 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
AVON (SOUND SIDE) 67 635 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
WAVES 57 713 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
SALVO 69 755 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
BUXTON 79 600 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
FRISCO WOODS 76 610 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW

...DUPLIN COUNTY...
2 N KENANSVILLE 45 155 AM 8/27 KDPL

...ONSLOW COUNTY...
JACKSONVILLE 50 355 AM 8/27 KOAJ
NEW RIVER 61 356 AM 8/27 KNCA

...PITT COUNTY...
GREENVILLE 56 835 AM 8/27 KPGV


Wow - 115mph gust. That's what we were talking about with those higher winds mixing to the surface once in a while. Irene is capable of surprising a few folks with random gusts well over Cat 1 force.
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Quoting presslord:
not only is it his blog....but he has...well...a PhD...and a couple of decades of experience...in the subject...


Still.. his opinion.. I fully believe Irene with the pressure she has will maintain Hurricane force till landfall on Long Island. 75-85 mph.
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not only is it his blog....but he has...well...a PhD...and a couple of decades of experience...in the subject...
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I fully expect Hurricane Irene to be a Hurricane when I get back home tonight, have a great day everyone.
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


Seeing the same thing.


I have a feeling it's going to be another wobble and jog seeing day i.e. its wobbled east, it wobbled west its going fishing,it's gonna hit land, wish,west,east,fish,doom....casters....lol
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5149
Quoting NoVaForecaster:


Looks like an eye trying to appear on the Funktop. This does NOT look like a Cat 1 hurricane IMO....
This is most certainly a low-end cat 1 hurricane. Eyes can even clear out during tropical storms, so seeing a ragged eye is not necessarily an indication of a cat2+ storm.
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814. unf97
Quoting reedzone:
Hurricane Hunters left at the wrong time. I bet Irene is up to 90 mph., maybe 95 mph... Whens the next recon?


You may be right.
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Quoting GainesvilleGator:
What is more surprising than the blog being dead while we have a NE Coast landfalling hurricane is that Dr Masters hasn't updated his blog yet. I take it that he may be busy doing media interviews. One of the other WU Meteorologists should have made a post by now.

How long will it take the NE coast to dry out from Irene? September is the busiest hurricane month and things could get pretty ugly if another storm rides up the NE Coast.


Dr. Masters does not believe Irene will be a Hurricane when it reaches Long Island.. Though he is subject to his opinion, it's his blog. I respectfully disagree strongly.
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NOUS42 KMHX 271503
PNSMHX
NCZ029-044>047-079>081-090>095-098-103-104-271915 -

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEWPORT/MOREHEAD CITY NC
1103 AM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

...PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT...

THE FOLLOWING ARE UNOFFICIAL OBSERVATIONS TAKEN DURING THE PAST 24
HOURS FOR THE STORM THAT HAS BEEN AFFECTING OUR REGION.
THIS SUMMARY IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON OUR HOME PAGE AT
WEATHER.GOV/NEWPORT/

***********************PEAK WIND GUST***********************

LOCATION MAX WIND TIME/DATE COMMENTS
GUST OF
MPH MEASUREMENT

NORTH CAROLINA

...BEAUFORT COUNTY...
WASHINGTON 45 435 AM 8/27 KOCW - SENSOR
FAILED AT 455 AM

...CARTERET COUNTY...
CEDAR ISLAND 115 750 AM 8/27 KCTI
BEAUFORT 67 505 AM 8/27 KMRH
FORT MACON 85 320 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
CAPE LOOKOUT 78 400 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
MOREHEAD CITY 68 546 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW

...CRAVEN COUNTY...
CHERRY POINT 69 354 AM 8/27 KNKT
NEW BERN 74 754 AM 8/27 KEWN

...DARE COUNTY...
MANTEO 66 755 AM 8/27 KMQI
HATTERAS 88 851 AM 8/27 KHSE
JOCKEYS RIDGE 37 905 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
MANTEO CSWY 54 838 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
ALLIGATOR BRIDGE 66 847 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
OREGON INLET 78 856 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
AVON (OCEAN SIDE) 77 725 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
AVON (SOUND SIDE) 67 635 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
WAVES 57 713 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
SALVO 69 755 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
BUXTON 79 600 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW
FRISCO WOODS 76 610 AM 8/27 WEATHERFLOW

...DUPLIN COUNTY...
2 N KENANSVILLE 45 155 AM 8/27 KDPL

...ONSLOW COUNTY...
JACKSONVILLE 50 355 AM 8/27 KOAJ
NEW RIVER 61 356 AM 8/27 KNCA

...PITT COUNTY...
GREENVILLE 56 835 AM 8/27 KPGV
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Not to be preachy but its amazing to see on TWC how many people are just driving around in Irene. Its so dangerous and so stupid but i guess people will just never understand how dangerous it is...
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Quoting ncCANEiac:
Local NWS radar estimates 11-12 inches of rain between Washington and New Bern in eastern NC! Impressive! still have several more hours of heavy rain left to go here.


And there is moisture moving in over Ohio and Pennsylvannia that is going to put even more water into this as it moves North...
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Quoting Titoxd:


Actually, there is a third variable there: size. If we look at a one-dimensional Navier-Stokes equation, you have %u2202u/%u2202t u*%u2202u/%u2202x = -(1/%u03C1)*dP/dx %u03BD*((%u2202^2)u)/(%u2202(x^2)) - friction. From there, we can see that an increase in dP can be offset simply by increasing dx by a similar amount.

Irene for some reason decided to expand its radius instead of increasing its winds, and is now a gargantuan storm. If it hadn't expanded as much, you'd have a storm with stronger winds.


Anyone who uses the Navier-Stokes equation in a casual conversation, can't be all bad. But they didn't have to embarrass Newton so much with the equation.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25421
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Quoting Titoxd:


Actually, there is a third variable there: size. If we look at a one-dimensional Navier-Stokes equation, you have ∂u/∂t +u*∂u/∂x = -(1/ρ)*dP/dx + ν*((∂^2)u)/(∂(x^2)) - friction. From there, we can see that an increase in dP can be offset simply by increasing dx by a similar amount.

Irene for some reason decided to expand its radius instead of increasing its winds, and is now a gargantuan storm. If it hadn't expanded as much, you'd have a storm with stronger winds.
lol, you went there...

True. Irene's size is the difference between her being of Charley's peak winds speed and Irene's peak wind speed.

Not sure how the heck you put in the PDE and rho, though.
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Quoting Fotograffa:


I had a breaking news e-mail saying someone was killed in NC..didn't say where...when a falling branch fell on him. Maybe it was in Rocky Mount.

He was feeding his pets and the entire tree fell on him.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5630
Quoting Fotograffa:


I had a breaking news e-mail saying someone was killed in NC..didn't say where...when a falling branch fell on him. Maybe it was in Rocky Mount.

thats what TWC said
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

TWC just said someone died in the Rocky Mount area in NC, didn't say how or why though.


I had a breaking news e-mail saying someone was killed in NC..didn't say where...when a falling branch fell on him. Maybe it was in Rocky Mount.
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TWC said major flooding in Swan Quarter as the levee is about be overflowed!
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5630
Local NWS radar estimates 11-12 inches of rain between Washington and New Bern in eastern NC! Impressive! still have several more hours of heavy rain left to go here.
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Quoting Titoxd:


Actually, there is a third variable there: size. If we look at a one-dimensional Navier-Stokes equation, you have ∂u/∂t +u*∂u/∂x = -(1/ρ)*dP/dx + ν*((∂^2)u)/(∂(x^2)) - friction. From there, we can see that an increase in dP can be offset simply by increasing dx by a similar amount.

Irene for some reason decided to expand its radius instead of increasing its winds, and is now a gargantuan storm. If it hadn't expanded as much, you'd have a storm with stronger winds.


The formula was about 100 stories over my head but I love the explanation you gave about expanding in size rather than in wind speed. This finally made a lightbulb go off in my head.

The pressure is unexpectedly low for a cat 1. If I understand correctly this would mean essentially that it has the same power as a cat 3 but the power/strength is distributed over a larger area rather than being as compact. So the windspeeds etc are lower over larger area rather than higher over smaller area. But the overall motor running this storm vs a smaller cat 3 would be about the same.

Am I understanding/explaining right?
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799. MahFL
Oops I meant Virginia Beach.
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Quoting Dennis8:


Irene is a KILLER storm and means to do so if you are in her way. PERIOD. I hope everyone REALLY Understands that in all the excitement of pressure readings, wind and radar and satellite etc. GET OUT OF HER WAY.

he was feeding his animals and a tree fell on him.
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The blog is never the focus,,the Landfalling Storm is.

Plus,,with Fla out the mix,well..you understand.
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Quoting bwi:
Very heavy rain now in the DC area. Fresh water flooding here we come if this keeps up all day at this rate.



Should get worse as the day goes on in DC - we are just on the edge of the rain shield right now - as Irene moves North/NNE, the rain shield will continue to move further into the area and the weather will get much heavier.
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Norfolk NAS, Virginia (Airport)
Updated: 5 min 41 sec ago

77 °F / 25 °C
Heavy Rain Fog
Humidity: 89%
Dew Point: 73 °F / 23 °C
Wind: 36 mph / 57 km/h / 15.9 m/s from the NE

Wind Gust: 63 mph / 102 km/h / 28.3 m/s

Pressure: 29.26 in / 991 hPa (Falling)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ZONE FORECAST PRODUCT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW YORK NY
950 AM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

NYZ072-272115-
NEW YORK Central Park
950 AM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

..HURRICANE WARNING IN EFFECT

...FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM EDT THIS EVENING THROUGH LATE
SUNDAY NIGHT...

TODAY
CLOUDY WITH ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS. SCATTERED SHOWERS LATE
THIS MORNING...THEN WIDESPREAD SHOWERS THIS AFTERNOON. BREEZY WITH
HIGHS AROUND 80. EAST WINDS 5 TO 10 MPH...INCREASING TO 15 TO 20 MPH
WITH GUSTS UP TO 30 MPH THIS AFTERNOON. CHANCE OF RAIN 90 PERCENT.
TONIGHT
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS EXPECTED WITH HURRICANE
CONDITIONS POSSIBLE. RAIN. A CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS...MAINLY IN THE
EVENING. RAIN MAY BE HEAVY AT TIMES. HUMID WITH LOWS IN THE UPPER
60S. EAST WINDS 30 TO 40 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 50 MPH...INCREASING TO
45 TO 55 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 65 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT. CHANCE OF RAIN
NEAR 100 PERCENT.
SUNDAY
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
. CHANCE OF RAIN NEAR
100 PERCENT.
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


Definitely true. Getting dark here in Fairfax, and the winds are picking up. Should start raining soon.


About how far is Fairfield from Woodbridge? My brother is in Woodbridge and he's supposed to be making his way up there to the Atlantic City area..personally I'm not sure he'll even get here because of the roads closed preventing people from coming into the area...he should have left well before this.
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What is more surprising than the blog being dead while we have a NE Coast landfalling hurricane is that Dr Masters hasn't updated his blog yet. I take it that he may be busy doing media interviews. One of the other WU Meteorologists should have made a post by now.

How long will it take the NE coast to dry out from Irene? September is the busiest hurricane month and things could get pretty ugly if another storm rides up the NE Coast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.