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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1092. breald
9:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
It looks like the hurricane is further inland. Is that better for Southern New England, or does it not matter because of its size? Thanks
Member Since: May 28, 2008 Posts: 38 Comments: 5303
1090. Chicklit
8:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11272
1089. Chicklit
8:00 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
All Starbucks closed in NYC. Now this is getting serious. -- FLDewey

Has anyone seen BahaHurricane?
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11272
1088. Chicklit
7:53 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Has the blog slowed or did everybody get banned?
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11272
1087. Chicklit
7:51 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
By Saturday morning, few people were even walking or driving. Transit fares and tolls were waived in evacuated areas. Officials hoped most residents would stay with family and friends, and for the rest the city opened nearly 100 shelters with a capacity of 71,000 people.

Link NYC closes transit system as Hurricane Irene nears
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11272
1086. Chicklit
7:48 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Looks like between Rocky Mount, Edenton and Norfolk it is raining from 10-15 inches.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11272
1085. Chicklit
7:45 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
LinkWVLoopWAtl

just got hit with a vicious squall of showers in ecfl
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11272
1084. Chapelhill
6:09 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting yonzabam:
If it continues going north, it'll go right up Chesapeake Bay. I've only read a fraction of the posts, but can't remember seeing any comments about what a storm going in there would do.



...cause a flood.
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 426
1083. atmoaggie
5:54 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting txag91met:
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!
Yup, they even named the basketball arena after him...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
1082. nola70119
5:34 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting bappit:

From the NHC 11 AM discussion:

AFTER 48 HOURS...THE CYCLONE SHOULD REACH THE MID-LATITUDE WESTERLIES AND TURN ORTHEASTWARD [sic] THEN EAST-NORTHEASTWARD.

If it reaches the westerlies after 48 hours, that will be after it visits NYC--on Monday. On the outside chance that Irene still has any hurricane force winds by the time it reaches NYC, I expect they will be over water only.


Its a water, not a wind event......look at what crapped out NOLA. Water.
Member Since: June 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1563
1081. nola70119
5:33 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting STLweatherjunkie:


The frontal boundary is significant, but it is a weak front and Irene is big storm so Irene will be pushing the front around more than the other way around. The front is significant for another reason, it is connected to a jet streak which is forecast to strengthen very quickly over the next 36 hours. The 12z nam initializes a 70-80 kt jet in place over new england this morning, and shows a 160 kt jet streak exiting the northeast at hour 36, which is more typical of a strong winter storm. This jet will enhance precipitation and will help Irene maintain a very low central pressure, while vastly expanding the wind field (though the winds will be somewhat slower). All of this will help her maintain an impressive storm surge, in addition to the prolific amounts of rain. I wouldn't be surprised if the models were underplaying the amount of rain that will fall with this beast, and they are unanimously showing fairly widespread 10+ inches.


Tellin' ya.....its a nor'easter. :)
Member Since: June 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1563
1080. rv1pop
5:27 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Patrap:
We spent 27 months post K in Our FEMA trailer

And without it,,our Lives would have been very different.

So we were grateful for it as many others as well.


Those who speak ill of calamity and its affects on Lives,,usually have never experienced it in theirs.
Well spoken. Our 24 ft MH is small for the 2 of us and our pets. But others were grateful to crowd in with us until we could help them find a safe place.
Member Since: August 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 191
1079. LightningCharmer
5:25 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting yonzabam:


Could be the vaccinations that are making you sick.
...and the exhaustion and exposure to other workers and volunteers from everywhere.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1269
1078. STLweatherjunkie
5:21 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Titoxd:


The heavy convection closest to the radar just simply blocks the radar beam from reaching farther back into the storm. Let me see if I can find a link about it...


this is not totally accurate, it is more because the radar beam is directed out at an angle. Most of the clouds associated with Irene are 30-40 thousand feet tall, with the exception of her core where there are some approaching 50 kft. Even though it is a very small angle, over hundreds of miles this means the beam is just overshooting the tops of the clouds and precipitation.

Radars these days can penetrate supercells and still see storms on the other side, and the rain/ice density in a hurricane is far less than a supercell.
Member Since: September 9, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 1038
1077. rv1pop
5:21 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting AransasBayRat:


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.

+100
That is a high class statement. Thank you.
Member Since: August 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 191
1076. Levi32
5:16 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
TWC guy in Atlantic Beach reported a wind gust of 103mph with sustained winds over 70mph in the southern eyewall as it came around and took him by surprise.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26594
1075. STLweatherjunkie
5:14 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting P451:


While not a kicker to send Irene out to sea as that solution is clearly not in the cards would this front not aim to guide her back NNE and up along the coast?

I realize there is a chance she works just far enough inland before doing so to bring her winds down from the potential 55-75/90G to 35-55/70G for northern NJ, NYC, CT and surrounding regions.

I'm just not so sure this northward motion would continue much longer.

Regardless, due to other forces at work, even if she were to head inland it would not be enough to wind her down. There will be damaging wind gusts all along her path. Yet 70 is quite a bit less dangerous than 90 when it comes to felling trees.



The frontal boundary is significant, but it is a weak front and Irene is big storm so Irene will be pushing the front around more than the other way around. The front is significant for another reason, it is connected to a jet streak which is forecast to strengthen very quickly over the next 36 hours. The 12z nam initializes a 70-80 kt jet in place over new england this morning, and shows a 160 kt jet streak exiting the northeast at hour 36, which is more typical of a strong winter storm. This jet will enhance precipitation and will help Irene maintain a very low central pressure, while vastly expanding the wind field (though the winds will be somewhat slower). All of this will help her maintain an impressive storm surge, in addition to the prolific amounts of rain. I wouldn't be surprised if the models were underplaying the amount of rain that will fall with this beast, and they are unanimously showing fairly widespread 10+ inches.
Member Since: September 9, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 1038
1074. sunlinepr
5:14 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9780
1073. TampaBayStevo
5:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Strange, the lastest radar imagery shows the eye more well formed and moving swiftly to the ENE for about the last 30 minutes...putting completely back over water again in the sound.
Member Since: July 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 30
1072. sunlinepr
5:08 PM GMT on August 27, 2011


hitchhiking Irene...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9780
1071. Chicklit
5:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting AransasBayRat:


Thanks to you and the others who posted... restores my faith in humanity's ability to be grateful. Sometimes it seems to be a lost art.


Gratitude requires humility.
Humility requires respect.
Respect requires listening.
Listening requires self-control and so on...
============
Einstein must have a formula for it somewhere!
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11272
1070. HurricaneHunterJoe
5:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
wow down to 948mb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
1069. Buzzit
5:03 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
I give it 7 hours before the dry air over East North Central mixes out. Once that happens Irene will get a helping hand to keep its existing strength for a time.
Total rainfall is going to be horrendous / higher than expected.
Member Since: August 20, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
1068. yonzabam
5:02 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
If it continues going north, it'll go right up Chesapeake Bay. I've only read a fraction of the posts, but can't remember seeing any comments about what a storm going in there would do.

Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2918
1067. scooster67
5:01 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Norfolk, Va.Link Radar

Member Since: September 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 637
1066. Cotillion
5:00 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
New Blog :)
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
1065. Titoxd
5:00 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting AransasBayRat:
Where'd everybody go?

I have a very novice, aka dumb, question. Why on the WU radar can you not see the entire storm? There are big blank spots.


The heavy convection closest to the radar just simply blocks the radar beam from reaching farther back into the storm. Let me see if I can find a link about it...
Member Since: June 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 243
1064. AransasBayRat
4:58 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Where'd everybody go?

I have a very novice, aka dumb, question. Why on the WU radar can you not see the entire storm? There are big blank spots.
Member Since: July 28, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 15
1063. Joshfsu123
4:55 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting P451:


While not a kicker to send Irene out to sea as that solution is clearly not in the cards would this front not aim to guide her back NNE and up along the coast?

I realize there is a chance she works just far enough inland before doing so to bring her winds down from the potential 55-75/90G to 35-55/70G for northern NJ, NYC, CT and surrounding regions.

I'm just not so sure this northward motion would continue much longer.

Regardless, due to other forces at work, even if she were to head inland it would not be enough to wind her down. There will be damaging wind gusts all along her path. Yet 70 is quite a bit less dangerous than 90 when it comes to felling trees.



Radar has a wobble east recently (could just be the center becoming more organized cause the radar is) but I would expect it to turn NNE soon - still, she's moved far enough North to keep the center VERY close to the Maryland/Delaware area now... either over the coast or just off the coast.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 580
1062. ncCANEiac
4:53 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting NavarreMark:


Hotter than hades in Navarre too.

I think the land interaction is gonna weaken the storm considerably.


Hasn't happened since landfall!
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
1061. TampaBayStevo
4:53 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

2 deaths in Haiti and 3 in the Dominican Republic, with 7 missing. 1 indirect death in PR as well.


NBC-17 out of NC has also reported 1 unfortunate hurricane related casualty.
Member Since: July 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 30
1059. AransasBayRat
4:51 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting naviguesser:
I'm not the originator, but thought should pass this along...

****WARNING****As Hurricane Irene prepares to batter the East Coast, federal disaster officials warn that Internet outages could force people to interact with other people for the first time in years. Residents are bracing themselves for the horror of awkward silences and unwanted eye contact. FEMA advises: “Be prepared. Write down possible topics to talk about in advance. Sports...the weather. Remember, a conversation is basically a series of Facebook (or WU blog)updates strung together.”


rofl!
Member Since: July 28, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 15
1058. PcolaDan
4:50 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
ONE LAST TIME

NEW BLOG NEW BLOG NEW BLOG
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1057. Titoxd
4:50 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting AransasBayRat:
Titoxd did you see my reply/question in regards to your earlier post?


Just came back. Now I did; you have it right.
Member Since: June 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 243
1056. ShenValleyFlyFish
4:48 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting FLdewey:
After Andrew I lived in my car for a month... so a FEMA trailer in all of it's glory would have been sweet.
For a month yes. That some folks got stuck in them as long as they did and had their health ruined is a shame and disgrace to this nation.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
1055. unc70
4:47 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Reports in NC of sustained 90 with gusts to 115 this morning east of Morehead City at several locations including Cedar Island ferry terminal.

Water temps on NC south coast and in Pamlico Sound 80 to 85 degrees.

Outermost bands have picked up a lot even in the Triangle.
Member Since: June 13, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
1054. Maryland1
4:47 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Joshfsu123:


Same here - had a party to go to around 2pm but now we are chilling out instead. Weather isn't bad yet but should go downhill as the night goes on.

NHC local office has been increasing the winds for the DC area and calling for 3/4 inches of rain but I think it will be MUCH more than that:

Last night it was 20/30 with gusts to 40mph.

This morning it was 30/40 with gusts to 50mph.

Now it is 33/43mph with gusts to 55mph.


Josh: I just rolled up the generator from the pole barn. Not happy about this move, at all. Beaches and the Northern neck are getting hammered right now. Spoke with friends on the South River who will be looking at a whole lot of water.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 122
1053. naviguesser
4:46 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
I'm not the originator, but thought should pass this along...

****WARNING****As Hurricane Irene prepares to batter the East Coast, federal disaster officials warn that Internet outages could force people to interact with other people for the first time in years. Residents are bracing themselves for the horror of awkward silences and unwanted eye contact. FEMA advises: “Be prepared. Write down possible topics to talk about in advance. Sports...the weather. Remember, a conversation is basically a series of Facebook (or WU blog)updates strung together.”
Member Since: September 15, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 71
1051. MahFL
4:45 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Convection firing on the SE side of the center.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3452
1050. 996tt
4:44 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting nola70119:


In New Orleans most of the damage from Katrina was from flooding, and from the looks of Irene, she might surprise some people. 10-12inches of rain is an extremely dangerous flood situation locally, regionally it could be a Biblical flood...


Haha, no way. One of those. I guess Jesus told you I had never been in hurricane last night while discussing the biblical flood.

Katrina damage was in Mississippi. See photo in my album. New Orleans damage was due to levee break which equated to much more water than 12 inches of rain . . . Katrinia had a 30 foot storm surge that wiped the face of the earth clean for as far as the eyes could see in many areas. The debris was left perhaps a mile in stacked 30 feet high against tree lines with cars up in the middle of trees. Even the rail road tracks were messed up. That's Katrina damage. New Orleans was death's caused by human negligence in my opinion.
Member Since: September 5, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 308
1048. Maryland1
4:43 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Levi32:
Water vapor continues to show dry air getting wrapped in to the east of Irene's center, and that's why we don't see many strong bands directly east of the eye. However, all of that air piling ashore to the north of the eye hits the land and encounters friction, causing it to pile up more, forcing it to rise upward. That is why the bands are intensifying so much west of the eye over North Carolina. Also, the water vapor loop reveals a frontal boundary which came southeastward through Ohio over the last several hours associated with the upper shortwave trough over southeast Canada, and this is providing baroclinic support to the western side of the hurricane, also intensifying the rainfall.



A plus Levi. That is exactly what I wanted to know to explain what I see.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 122
1046. h0db
4:42 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Abacosurf:
X10


Ok, but they shouldn't make you sick or give you cancer, and you may be living in it for years, not months. Otherwise, it's like expecting gratitude because you let a poor person eat out of your garbage can.
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 88
1045. AussieStorm
4:42 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Jax82:
Who wants to take a guess of how many windows break in NYC? 100? 1,000? 10,000? Whats a good window company i could buy stock in?

i would say, 500,000 windows.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
1044. hamla
4:41 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:
Long Beach, NY Cam.

Southern Chesapeake Bay.


Atlantic City


on ur quote
van morrison song blue money lol
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
1043. bappit
4:41 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting P451:


There's no reason to doubt it.

These folks trying to equate Irene to a storm that makes landfall down in the tropics are out of their league. Period.

They don't understand baroclinic forcing. They don't understand how a jet stream can ventilate the system.

From the NHC 11 AM discussion:

AFTER 48 HOURS...THE CYCLONE SHOULD REACH THE MID-LATITUDE WESTERLIES AND TURN ORTHEASTWARD [sic] THEN EAST-NORTHEASTWARD.

If it reaches the westerlies after 48 hours, that will be after it visits NYC--on Monday. On the outside chance that Irene still has any hurricane force winds by the time it reaches NYC, I expect they will be over water only.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5998
1042. PcolaDan
4:41 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
NNNNNEEEEEEWWWWWWW

BLOGGGGGGG
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010

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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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