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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www.ustream.tv/channel/live-severe-weather-webcam

Crazy dude in his car on the beach in NC.
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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..
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Quoting Levi32:
Am I the only one who finds it strange that the blog isn't just exploding while a hurricane is making landfall on the eastern seaboard?
Think it will go bonkers later. Sat. AM folks (most) can sleep in and those who stayed up late to watch probably are. When she starts banging on the Yankee's back door Kati bar the front one.
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Quoting Levi32:
Am I the only one who finds it strange that the blog isn't just exploding while a hurricane is making landfall on the eastern seaboard?


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
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688. PTXer
Quoting KeysieLife:

Thanks Aussie, Ican't seem to get connected to the cam...just a black window. Though they do have a disclaimer posted "DUE TO HURRICANE IRENE AND UNUSUALLY HIGH TRAFFIC...SURFCHEX CAMS MAY OR MAY NOT LOAD QUICKLY OR AT ALL. YOU CAN TRY AND RELOAD THE PAGE OR HIT PLAY AGAIN. Head high ++. Hurricane Conditions developing later. Water temp is 83."

Be patient, it will load.
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Quoting kathyvb:



And here comes another tornado warning, in VB near Princess anne... My power is still on too (we're almost neighbors, (I'm off Witchduck Rd and Independence) The winds seem to be slowly increasing, and its really dark outside.


Well hello to both of you from Arrowhead area!
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Nag's Head cam, it's addictive

Link
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Quoting liljade:
Levi do you what models may be predicting for GOMEX? When does the High move away from Tx?


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.
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Sorry, I'm a dummy. Had the page cached from last night, I refreshed the page and it's working again. Thanks for the info, have family about ten miles from there...
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683. unf97
Interesting seeing Jeff Morrow on The Weather Channel getting blasted on the back side of Irene as a strong spiral band is moving through Atlantic Beach, NC. Mike Bettis just reported that winds gusted up to near 100 mph in that area. I don't know how accurate that is, but it was just reported.

Also, it appears to me that Irene's center is moving more due north at the moment just inland from the coast. I don't know if it is a trend or the center wobbling, but that's my observation looking at radar.
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does anyone have the 8-10 days GFS and Euro steering flow?
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Quoting Grothar:


It is odd. Maybe in a few hours it will explode back to normal.
Perhaps it is because many bloggers are glued to the television watching the coverage...
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Atlantic Beach pier just blew away live on TWC.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 137
I think there are a few reasons why the blog is slower than expected:

1) Heavy full time TV coverage
2) People here love to try to figure out where a storm will go. With Irene we now know where she'll go
3) Streaming cams...I'm loving watching the waves :)

Here in Durham it's just breezy with occasional gusts to 40.
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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...
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Nice, continuously updating, 1 km visible. RSO, any SRSO, and large: Link
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In York Co, VA. This blows...
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674. HCW
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Atlantic Beach just lost the fishing pier by the Sheraton Hotel on a live report.
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(Continuously updated, click Link, and refresh later to see updates)
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Conceit don't run in JB's family, it gallops. Man's right about SS interpretation but I don't expect to see a "Bastardi Scale" any time soon if just because of his abrasive personality.
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Quoting HappySkeptic:


Here in Virginia Beach near Chick's Beach, limbs are starting to come down but *fingers crossed* power is still on. It has blinked a couple of times and power is off in scattered locations around Hampton Roads. As far as comparing this to Isabel, the winds and tidal flooding will likely be a bit stronger on the Southside (Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach) than it was in Isabel. Water level at Sewell's Point on this morning's high tide was about one foot higher than the first high tide during Isabel (4.6' above MLLW today vs. 3.8' above MLLW during Isabel's first high tide). The astronomical tidal prediction for Sewell's Point tonight is 3' above MLLW which is a departure of about 1.5 feet above normal MHW. Add a surge of 4-6' above that and we could see 8-9' above MLLW. Isabel was +7.8 MLLW.



And here comes another tornado warning, in VB near Princess anne... My power is still on too (we're almost neighbors, (I'm off Witchduck Rd and Independence) The winds seem to be slowly increasing, and its really dark outside.
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Pressure is 1005.8 mb in DC at the moment -

will keep updating DC's weather throughout the day.

Irene seems to be holding herself well and most of the reports I've seen, online and on TWC, definitely support a Category 1 Hurricane, with higher gusts.
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Oh you got your video up for today, will go take a look
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Quoting Levi32:
Am I the only one who finds it strange that the blog isn't just exploding while a hurricane is making landfall on the eastern seaboard?


It is odd. Maybe in a few hours it will explode back to normal.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27125
Quoting Levi32:
Am I the only one who finds it strange that the blog isn't just exploding while a hurricane is making landfall on the eastern seaboard?
Levi do you what models may be predicting for GOMEX? When does the High move away from Tx?
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At least today I can get in an occassional post.. all week and last weekend I just lurked because it was so fast.

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Quoting Levi32:
Good morning.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Saturday, August 27th, with Video
Wow, Levi- Amazing blog- Your da man!!!
Member Since: September 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 293
Quoting chsstormgirl:


CMC, GFS, and NOGAPS have been hinting at the same thing...


Please tell me it won't be heading anywhere on the east coast..
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Quoting AussieStorm:

The Pier is still there, no damage by the looks of it, and the streaming cam never went down, I have been watching for the last 9hrs.

Thanks Aussie, Ican't seem to get connected to the cam...just a black window. Though they do have a disclaimer posted "DUE TO HURRICANE IRENE AND UNUSUALLY HIGH TRAFFIC...SURFCHEX CAMS MAY OR MAY NOT LOAD QUICKLY OR AT ALL. YOU CAN TRY AND RELOAD THE PAGE OR HIT PLAY AGAIN. Head high ++. Hurricane Conditions developing later. Water temp is 83."
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Quoting Chapelhill:
Anyone else think she has slowed down and even wobbled to the west a bit in the last couple of hours?


Agreed. Weather is deteriorating as we speak here. Live in Wilson and have had 60 mph gusts in the past hour along with about 4.5 inches of rain so far.
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They may need to zoom out the floater.

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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?

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656. bwat
Quoting hahaguy:
Anyone else think the governor of NC looks like the joker?
Looks like!!!!!!
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 353
Quoting Levi32:
Am I the only one who finds it strange that the blog isn't just exploding while a hurricane is making landfall on the eastern seaboard?


A lot of us affected are away from home. I am constantly checking the surge models and any updates, but checking and posting on phone is tougher...it's just wait and see now.

Good luck, be safe!
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Quoting seflagamma:


I have been thinking that for 2 days...

for a landfalling hurricane this blog should be going crazy.

I guess the ones being afffected by Irene are without power....

and the "others" are not here because it is not affecting them..

I am SE Florida and I am watching.. like a moth to the flame... I find it fasinating..



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.
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Quoting redwagon:


Yeah, the TCFP has been purple and blue in the GOM for two weeks, what finally might form?
thank you
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Just woke up... it's not raining much now but it's still windy with MAX winds up to about 30-40 mph.
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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?


That site is working just fine for me. Pier still there.
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Quoting Levi32:


North Carolina doesn't realize how lucky they are. This should have been a Cat 3 - just look at the central pressure. If she still had an eye with this pressure while coming ashore, we'd be talking about a major hurricane hit. We still have the rest of the northeast to worry about too.

Yeah, NC is very lucky. Maybe the worst is yet to come.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
Anyone else think the governor of NC looks like the joker?
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QPF next 3 days:

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unless everyone is watching it unfold on TV. I'm at work and every so often to go to the break room to see what the TV is showing..
but our TV is set on CNN who is not doing a lot of good coverage..

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645. unf97
Quoting presslord:



no....you're not....it's rather odd....
Quoting presslord:



no....you're not....it's rather odd....


I am here observing the blog and watching the news coverage of Irene on MSNBC and The Weather Channel. I think many people are doing what I am doing as well. Plus, we have people in the affected areas posting in on here updating us on the storm.






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Quoting presslord:



with sailboats...the theory is...they are designed to float...and cut through water...buildings are not.....


Yep...mind you, I wouldn't want to try weathering anything over a mild squall
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Quoting KeysieLife:
Hey guys, and gals, last night we were watching the Top Sail Beach peir camera. This morning it's dark. Anyone know what time it went down and if the peir finally crumbled from the huge waves hitting it?

The Pier is still there, no damage by the looks of it, and the streaming cam never went down, I have been watching for the last 9hrs.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962

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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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