Hurricane Irene Weakens on its Approach to North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:58 AM GMT on August 27, 2011

Share this Blog
9
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 742 - 692

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22Blog Index

742. 996tt
Sad to hear about two possible surfing deaths. This is actually surprising as I have surfed storms all over the globe in my 44 years and deaths are a rarity except when inexperienced people try to wade into storm waters which are to blown out to even surf.

Seriously, kids stay out of water up that direction unless you have a lot of experience. I have been around 100s of surfers in last two days down here and only incidents have been jelly fish or sea lice issues on Thursday early. If you go surf, do the buddy system and if you think for a second it may be too big, it is.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bayside:
Is oz transmitting from obx? Is there a link? TIA


Link
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1316
At least Irene weakened a little before landfall. I will take a Cat 1 over a Cat 4 at landfall any day. With the forecast skills in intensity we have, it could have easily been a Cat 4. (NHC readily admits they have lower intensity forecasting skill then they do on the track)

Thoughts and prayers to those in the US that are getting affected by Irene.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
739. HCW
Quoting Bayside:
Is oz transmitting from obx? Is there a link? TIA


Yes and he has over 4K viewers
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
the problem is not that anyone is doing anything wrong....the mets are making the best call they can...and so are government officials...

the problem is...it just isn't an exact science...one of Jeff's guest bloggers a couple years ago referred to tropical meteorology as "an attempt to approximate chaos"...it's a brilliantly accurate description....

notice that the well credentialed mets usually avoid exactitude in their comments...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Is oz transmitting from obx? Is there a link? TIA
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hearing reports that the Avon Pier is gone. Can anyone confirm/deny?
Member Since: August 10, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 24
734. 996tt
Awesome swell this am in Cocoa area. Not denied as bad as yesterday . . . Feeling my 44 years of age in yesterdays choppy wind blown drift a mile surf. Got shacked twice and a few other barrels, but not feel legit to call.

Taking break and just heard Stephanie Abrahms in her finger nail across black board voice telling surfers to stay out of the water, yet this Slidel kook is drifting knee high in white wash with clothes that would hold him underwater like an anchor if he fell.

Glad to see NC pulling through without mass destruction. Good luck to guys northward, but something tells me you guys will be okay.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:
Wow, the guy from TWC at Virginia Beach is really going through some bad weather already. That's nasty stuff up there and it's not even the core of the storm yet.

Levi, how bad do you think it will get here in Va Beach? Wouldn't it make a signifigant difference if the center passes over or to the west of us? And thank you for your information, I've really appreciated reading your opinions on this situation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Irene and 1821 and 1893
August 27 08:02 AMby Joe D'Aleo
Irene continues to track along the 1821 path. It has entrained a slot fo dry air into the southewest side but maintains a 952 central pressure, characteristics of a CAT 3 storm even as winds have diminished to CAT 1. They don't use pressures as a guide anymore only winds. This storm's energy package like its size is large even if it is ONLY characterized as a CAT 1.

Category Winds Central Pressure
1 74 to 95 mph 980 - 994 mb
2 96 to 110 mph 965 - 979 mb
3 111 to 130 mph 945 - 965 mb
4 131 to 155 mph 920 - 944 mb
5 More than 156 mph Less than 920 mb

I agree with JB that the greatest concerns after North Carolina is battered today will be the lower Chesapaake, DelMarva, Atlantic City and NYC and Long Island..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
731. Vero1
Quoting Levi32:


I honestly have paid attention to nothing but Irene for days now, but the long-range ensembles do hint at the Texas ridge breaking down for a moment during the 7-10 day period, and that is probably what is allowing the models to show a potential home-grown storm developing there. We will also be facing more threats from the central Atlantic, and the pattern into September supports more east coast threats if they get far enough west before developing too quickly. We'll see though.
It would be nice if the season shut down after the "I" strom in 2006, but a month early.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Irene has the pressure of a Category 3 storm.. This is still a VERY dangerous storm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
729. MahFL
people boarding up in heavy winds on Atlantic beach, lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
728. unc70
Haven't posted in years since Ophelia.

I grew up on the south coast of NC and have gone through a lot of hurricanes. Irene is tightening its eye on the western edge of the earlier larger one. It was already doing that when it came ashore; look at center of circulation using the Newport/MHC/Beaufort radar. Still going almost due north. The heaviest bands that have been on the north and west are about to wrap around on the south of what will become the eye.

Most of the "old" eye will wrap around the CofC.

A caution to everyone about damage in NC. With Floyd, the national news/weather did not start reporting the huge flooding when the storm was going through, not realizing its magnitude until the next day.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It amazes me how many people were still driving around in Virginia Beach. I understand there will always be some crazies that refuse to head the warnings, but while watching that coverage it almost looked like a normalish day of traffic!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Smikey:
Can someone tell me why the Pressure is still at 951mb with only 85mph reported winds? Something doesn't make sense. Pressure that low after a while must increase winds to balance out, or increase in pressure to balance out. (its meteorological physics) Neither has happened for the past 12 hours..
. . .


Irene's windfield is almost 800 miles across. The pressure gradient of such a large windfield is very spread out, therefore, no HUGE pressure changes in a small area. Low barometric pressure in a large windfield like Irene will not translate to the winds you may expect. Ask Hurricane Ike.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CrazyDuke:


It's still moving NNE. The partial eye-wall did collapse and the center has filled in. Perhaps that is giving the illusion of a stall?

FYI for all: Irene now has 2 concentric rain bands around the center for the first time in a while on radar. JMHO, but, I would not call either of them eye-walls at this point, though.


Nah, even if you factor that in it's been basically sitting in the same spot since 9AM.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
Quoting Ryuujin:


Been seeing a lot of "weak, and no impacts". I fear a lot of bloggers only want to post if there is a Katrina like disaster going on. Me, ive gotta get ready for work
We do have a number of folks that seems to only get interested about that which is at the very top of the destruction, fear, and alarmism stratification...

These are the ones issuing the forecast opinions slanted to worst case scenarios and/or constantly post news coverage of nothing but the most alarming info.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just talked to my Wilmington, NC friend. A lot of tree damage. I'm not very happy with the westward shift, that will do a lot of damage in the Chesapeake, if it holds.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I have a bad feeling some further north of Virginia are going to get complacent with "it's not as bad as we thought" coverage. Virginia Beach is getting pounded right now and there are a lot of people out driving! Yikes!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Joshfsu123:
Center of Irene is moving NORTH with an EAST component to it - right along the NC coast - if this continues, it would make landfall again in Delaware/Maryland coastline... but it is expected to move more NNE...


I was wondering about that. When I went to bed last night she seemed as if she'd already be farther east than she is.

I'm starting to wonder what we'll get near the Chesapeake.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting txag91met:


This isn't Katrina...Katrina was CAT 5 at one point, then weakened to a very strong CAT 3 at impact.

Top wind gusts I found was 88 mph.


Congrats on missing my point, entirely.


I said people were not blogging on here because Irene wasn't like Katrina, and that is all some people are interested in, that level of death and destruction
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Irene and 1821 and 1893
August 27 08:02 AMby Joe D'Aleo
Irene continues to track along the 1821 path. It has entrained a slot fo dry air into the southewest side but maintains a 952 central pressure, characteristics of a CAT 3 storm even as winds have diminished to CAT 1. They don't use pressures as a guide anymore only winds. This storm's energy package like its size is large even if it is ONLY characterized as a CAT 1.

Category Winds Central Pressure
1 74 to 95 mph 980 - 994 mb
2 96 to 110 mph 965 - 979 mb
3 111 to 130 mph 945 - 965 mb
4 131 to 155 mph 920 - 944 mb
5 More than 156 mph Less than 920 mb

I agree with JB that the greatest concerns after North Carolina is battered today will be the lower Chesapaake, DelMarva, Atlantic City and NYC and Long Island..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
717. unf97
Quoting OBXNCWEATHER:
OK. Don't post often (and even less seldom a critical one), but watching TWC and absolutely amazed that Jeff Morrow thought that the "storm was over" in Atlantic Beach... he was clearly in the COC where winds were much lighter... now he's totally surprised and caught off guard by the wind rapidly increasing to 70 mph again??? Very amusing...


Yeah, you are absolutely right. Morrow should have known better to think that the worst was over when the back side of Irene's circulation was clearly approaching the Atlantic Beach area from the southwest.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I want to thank whoever posted the link to the current Morehead City radar last night/ early this morning. I was very helpful.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting charlottefl:
I think Irene has stalled, she's been sitting in the same place for about 1 1/2 hrs now..


It's still moving NNE. The partial eye-wall did collapse and the center has filled in. Perhaps that is giving the illusion of a stall?

FYI for all: Irene now has 2 concentric rain bands around the center for the first time in a while on radar. JMHO, but, I would not call either of them eye-walls at this point, though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wow, the guy from TWC at Virginia Beach is really going through some bad weather already. That's nasty stuff up there and it's not even the core of the storm yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128348
Quoting OBXNCWEATHER:
OK. Don't post often (and even less seldom a critical one), but watching TWC and absolutely amazed that Jeff Morrow thought that the "storm was over" in Atlantic Beach... he was clearly in the COC where winds were much lighter... now he's totally surprised and caught off guard by the wind rapidly increasing to 70 mph again??? Very amusing...

Maybe he forgot what happened in Wilma.


FEMA press conference on NOW
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
I think the main reason the blog is slow is that folks like to argue over the track and intensity of a storm. Both of those seem pretty well resolved at this point.

Plus, the storm isn't hitting the Gulf Coast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Big baby NE of PR...




Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting bassis:


I Concord It's sunny to partly cloudy. Talked to my sister in Cary and they have some strong wind but no rain. wish I could get some of that rain here. Landscapers don,t even unload the mowers anymore. Just the weed wackers to knock down hi weeds


Levi, will she make it back over water in Virginia?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


I honestly have paid attention to nothing but Irene for days now, but the long-range ensembles do hint at the Texas ridge breaking down for a moment during the 7-10 day period, and that is probably what is allowing the models to show a potential home-grown storm developing there. We will also be facing more threats from the central Atlantic, and the pattern into September supports more east coast threats if they get far enough west before developing too quickly. We'll see though.
your saying the pattern in september is putting the east coast at biggest risk but what about the gulf coast? im not talking about home grown mischeif, i mean like a track like lili in 2002 or gustav 08. is that at all possible because this season the gulf hasnt really had that much action except arlene in the BOC and don which was a reall weak storm
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Going to be a lot of power outages --- regardless if only CAT 1, or moderate tropical storm over NJ/NYC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting norfkstreetdoc:
Good morning from Virginia Beach. I have followed WU and the blogs for several years and am just starting to feel that I have gained enough knowledge from Dr. Masters and the rest of you regular posters to begin attempting a post or two.

So...is it just me or does the latest radar fix have the eye slightly west of the anticipated track?



Good morning from Tennessee.

It does appear to be a little west of the official track, but Irene is a wobbly thing right now. After some interaction with land, she'll be downright drunk (as most of us are when heading to Atlantic City).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


I Concord It's sunny to partly cloudy. Talked to my sister in Cary and they have some strong wind but no rain. wish I could get some of that rain here. Landscapers don,t even unload the mowers anymore. Just the weed wackers to knock down hi weeds
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
IR 4

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128348
Quoting KeysieLife:
Hey guys, and gals, last night we were watching the Top Sail Island
pier camera. This morning it's dark. Anyone know what time it went down and if the pier finally crumbled from the huge waves hitting it?
It's still there! Try refreshing the page ...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ryuujin:


Been seeing a lot of "weak, and no impacts". I fear a lot of bloggers only want to post if there is a Katrina like disaster going on. Me, ive gotta get ready for work


This isn't Katrina...Katrina was CAT 5 at one point, then weakened to a very strong CAT 3 at impact.

Top wind gusts I found was 88 mph.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


(Those models are too far out to even deduce anything. However, when the most reliable hint at development, I take it seriously. There should be development of at least two systems in the coming week. Track & intensity is impossible to determine this far out.


Very well said, sir.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Unfortunately if it was an Extreme Hurricane I think the Blog would be going crazy but because it is only a Cat 1 no big deal, business as usual. Seems the worse the disaster the more people watch which is kind of sad.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
In the wee hours of this morning, Irene appeared on infrared satellite imagery to gulp a bit a dry air, and become a little more disorganized. Now late this morning, she appears to be getting more organized. This is all just observations with my untrained eye.

Could Irene have had just a little "hiccup from the dry air" so to speak that for the most part spared North Carolina, and she's regrouping?
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1316
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128348
Quoting Levi32:


I suppose that is true about the power, but I think this is another event that shows that the blog is powered by hype, and always will be. If the storm dies, the blog dies, even if the storm is still a hurricane. It boggles my mind.


I've done a lot of Storm Chasing on the Great Plains. It's thrilling and exciting to see your forecast verify, get yourself into the right positions and see something amazing out there. It proves that you know what you're doing and do it well.

But one of my professors (a vet of at least 2 10 day chases for 15 years) said it best. As much as you want to see something happen - and something at its biggest, baddest, and most fierce - you don't want to see it causing destruction. You don't really want to see that F4 destroy the farmer's barn - even if its empty and abandoned.

Once it does that, the storm is real and reality hurts. He said that as much as he has chased, if he ever chased a storm that killed someone, he would never do it again.

So that's my answer. Once it hits, the storm is real and its hard to be proud of even your best work and forecast when people's lives are being ruined.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Center of Irene is moving NORTH with an EAST component to it - right along the NC coast - if this continues, it would make landfall again in Delaware/Maryland coastline... but it is expected to move more NNE...
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 580
...IRENE BATTERING EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS SPREADING NORTHWARD ALONG THE DELMARVA COAST...

11:00 AM EDT Sat Aug 27
Location: 35.2°N 76.4°W
Max sustained: 85 mph
Moving: NNE at 15 mph
Min pressure: 952 mb
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:
Nag's Head cam, it's addictive

Link


That window needs windshield wipers.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
www.ustream.tv/channel/live-severe-weather-webcam

Crazy dude in his car on the beach in NC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 742 - 692

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.