Irene hits North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:37 PM GMT on August 27, 2011

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Hurricane Irene roared ashore over Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 7:30 am this morning. The Cedar Island Ferry Terminal measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 110 mph at 7:19am, and a trained spotter on Atlantic Beach measured sustained winds of 85 mph, gusting to 101 mph at 10:35 am. The Hurricane Hunters measured 80 mph winds over water at the time of landfall. Winds at the Cape Lookout, North Carolina buoy, which the eye passed directly over, peaked at 67 mph as Irene made landfall. At 10am EDT, top winds observed at Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina were 53 mph, gusting to 73 mph. Winds are rising now along the coast of Virginia, with sustained winds of 56 mph, gusting to 62 mph observed at 10 am EDT at Chesapeake Bay Light. Satellite loops show a large but deteriorating storm with dry air intruding to the southwest. The radar presentation of Irene visible on the Norfolk, VA radar is very impressive--Irene is dropping torrential rains over a huge area.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation from Irene as of 12:18 pm EDT August 27, 2011. An expanding region of rains in excess of ten inches (pick colors) was observed north of where the center made landfall.

Storm surge damage from Irene
The storm surge and wave action from Irene is likely to cause the greatest damage, and this will be a historic coastal flooding event for many regions of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. A storm surge of 8.5 feet was reported this morning in North Harlow, NC, and three feet in New Bern, NC. Significant wave heights (the average height of the largest 1/3 of the waves) reached 27 feet at Onslow Bay, NC this morning, and wave heights along the New Jersey shore Sunday morning during the time of high tide are expected to be 15 - 20 feet, according to the NOAA Wavewatch III model (Figure 2.) A storm surge of 3 - 6 feet is expected near Atlantic City, NJ Sunday morning, during the time of high tide. With 15 - 20 foot waves expected on top of this storm surge, there will be tremendous damage to the coast and low-lying structures. Storm surge is also a major concern for New York City. The latest NWS forecast is calling for a 5 - 8 foot storm surge in New York Harbor, which would easily top the flood walls protecting the south end of Manhattan if the storm surge occurs at high tide. High tide is near 8 am Sunday morning. A research storm surge model run by SUNY Stonybrook predicts that water levels at The Battery at the south end of Manhattan will peak at 2.2 meters above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) at high tide Sunday morning, which would be about six inches below the top of the flood wall (which is 5 feet above mean sea level.) Waves on top of the surge would likely spill over the top of the floodwall in this scenario, and cause some flooding in southern Manhattan. Andy Revkin's Dot Earth blog has links to a storm surge animation for New York City done by the SUNY Stonybrook group. Climate Central has a nice satellite image showing which parts of New York Harbor are below five feet in elevation. Storm surge heights of up to eight feet are predicted in Western Long Island Sound, and 3 - 6 feet along much of the New England coast from New York to Massachusetts. This is going to be a damaging coastal flooding event for this stretch of coast, though perhaps not as damaging as the one New Jersey will experience.


Figure 2. Predicted wave heights along the U.S. coast from NOAA's Wavewatch III model for 8am EDT Sunday, August 28, 2011. This is the time of high tide, and this model is suggesting that the coast of New Jersey will be subject to battering waves 15 - 20 feet high at the time of high tide.

Inland flooding damage from Irene
Inland flash flooding and river flooding from torrential rains are a major concern. Latest radar-estimated rainfall amounts in North Carolina already exceed ten inches in some locations. Cedar Island, NC has reported 7.21" as of 11am EDT, and a 100 mile-wide swath of 8+ inches of rain will likely fall from Eastern North Carolina northwards along the coast, through New York City, and into Vermont and New Hampshire during the next two days. Destructive river flooding will be a significant danger from New Jersey northwards to Southeast New York, where soils are saturated and run-off will be the greatest.


Figure 3. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 9:30 am EDT Saturday August 27, 2011, as observed by the Hurricane Hunters, land stations, and buoys. The right front quadrant of the hurricane had all of the storm's hurricane-force winds (yellow and warmer colors, bounded by the heavy black line between the "50" and "60" knot thin black lines.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 260 miles from the center of Irene. Irene's storm surge damage potential has dropped to 4.3 on a scale of 0 to 6, down from a high of 5.1 yesterday. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Wind damage
Irene is slowly deteriorating, but the storm is too large to weaken quickly. The latest wind distribution map from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 3) shows that all of Irene's hurricane-force winds are on the storm's east side, so only North Carolina's Outer Banks will get winds of 75 - 80 mph. The coast from Virginia northwards through New Jersey will see tropical storm-force winds of 50 - 70 mph from Irene. These strong winds, when combined with the torrential rains that are falling, will cause widespread tree damage and power failures that will affect millions of people. When Irene makes its 2nd landfall on Long Island, NY on Sunday, coastal locations to the right of the eye will likely experience top sustained winds of 60 -70 mph.

Lady Liberty not in danger from Irene
The Statue of Liberty is not vulnerable to a storm surge, since the good lady stands atop a 65-foot high foundation and 89-foot high granite pedestal. However, the 305' height of the lady's torch above the foundation means the statue will experience winds a full Saffir-Simpson category higher than winds at the surface. The statue is rated to survive a wind load of 58 psf, which is roughly equivalent to 120 mph winds (Category 3 hurricane). However, a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds will be able to generate 120 mph winds at a height of 300 feet, and would theoretically be capable of toppling the Statue of Liberty. Winds from Irene should stay below 80 mph at 300 feet, and not pose a threat to the Statue of Liberty.

Tornadoes
Two tornadoes were reported in coastal North Carolina last night. One tornado destroyed 2 homes and damaged 6 others in Columbia, with several minor injuries, and the other hit Belhaven, damaging multiple trailers. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is calling for a slight risk of severe weather along coast Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware today. We might see five or ten tornadoes from Irene over the next two days, but the atmosphere is not unstable enough for Irene to generate as many tornadoes as we're used to seeing from a landfalling hurricane. A tornado watch is posted for coastal areas from Eastern North Carolina northwards to Southern New Jersey.

Insurance company AIR-Worldwide is estimating that insured damages from Irene in the U.S. will be $1.5 - $6 billion. They estimate losses in the Caribbean at $0.5 - $1.1 billion from Irene, 60% in the Bahamas.

Typhoon Nanmadol
Over in the Western Pacific, Typhoon Nanmadol has weakened to a Category 3 storm after battering the Philippines as a Category 4 super typhoon with 155 mph winds. At least two people have been killed in the heavy flooding there. Nanmadol is a threat to Taiwan, and Wunderground meteorologist Elaine Yang (who hails from Taiwan), has the details in her blog.

Links
Our Weather Historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an excellent post on Historic Hurricanes from New Jersey to New England.

Joe Romm at climateprogress.org has a thoughtful piece called, How Does Global Warming Make Hurricanes Like Irene More Destructive?

For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Jeff Masters

Aftremath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas (ktbahamas)
Downed street light broken by strong gusts of Irene.
Aftremath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas
Battery Park, the night before Irene... (line)
Battery Park, the night before Irene...

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Quoting Beachfoxx:
Hey if they </strong>did not take it serious I would say it is because they haven't seen a Cane in a few years... we Floridians & other on the Gulf Coast take EVERY Hurricane seriously. You can bet that many are watching, analyzing, learning.... You can bet we are very aware & very concerned for those impacted....


I watch every storm with interest and find great relief for every Earl that curves off to die. I snicker at my friends who call every situation like that a dud, They think it will just another Noreaster...... We'll see how that turns out.
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NEW BLOG
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Quoting PcolaDan:
Sounds like Cosmic hit a nerve with a lot of people. Too close to home for many? These people he was referring to are here all the time on weekends and nights making their "predictions" and calling each other out. They were here earlier playing down the hurricane and calling it a disappointment. But they disappeared when things really started happening. They never seemed to have another life nor family obligations before, so why now all of the sudden. Where are they now? Hiding.

This line seems to have been missed by most of you - "Of course there's plenty of good observers as well." To me he was talking about the ones making good observations and trying to help. Maybe I just read it different than so many of you.


I've been telling people for days not to underestimate these storms.
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1481. MahFL
The CDO is getting more circular.....
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 2905
1480. o22sail
Quoting tropicfreak:


Now they have confirmed 75% is without power in the Richmond metro, I'm just that lucky 25%... lol


You must live near a "technology park" like I do. They wired the money funnels a little better than the rest of the area. I had maybe four bumps and 1 three minute interruption of service.
We'll just have to watch how the creeks rise now. heheh.
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Full 92L file:

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1478. Drakoen
Quoting Grothar:


Can we do that on the blog? Seriously, how high do you think the winds will be when it hits the NYC-Long Island area. Looks like at least TS winds will last for at least 12-18 hours, in my opinion.


60 knots I think. High-rise buildings will probably experience minimal hurricane conditions.
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Quoting NJcat3cane:


i am in brigantine..north of AC and we shouldent have all hell is breaking lose water is flowing everywhere


I really don't like to say this, but many of us warned you not to stay. I hope you survive to learn this lesson that being over prepared is better then being under and that mandatory evacuations mean MANDATORY EVACUATIONS.
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Sounds like Cosmic hit a nerve with a lot of people. Too close to home for many? These people he was referring to are here all the time on weekends and nights making their "predictions" and calling each other out. They were here earlier playing down the hurricane and calling it a disappointment. But they disappeared when things really started happening. They never seemed to have another life nor family obligations before, so why now all of the sudden. Where are they now? Hiding.

This line seems to have been missed by most of you - "Of course there's plenty of good observers as well." To me he was talking about the ones making good observations and trying to help. Maybe I just read it different than so many of you.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting PalmBeacher1228:


ocean coming over sea wall... bay just about coming over...power still on some flickers tho
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Quoting PalmBeacher1228:
Does anyone have any news on Cape May, NJ???


Just reported 52 mph gusts. I don't know the source of that report--sorry.
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1473. JLPR2
I see we got 92L

AL, 92, 2011082800, , BEST, 0, 103N, 195W, 20, 0, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,

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Quoting CTstormwatcher:
Long time fan of all the great info provided by the community here. In Plainville, CT, and I'm not sure enough people took this as serious, as it could be for the area until today. Made sure to take lots of pictures of the surroundings. Just hoping for the best, with all these old trees that are already leaning and hanging over power lines. Was 5 when Gloria came through, living in the same house. Going to be able to have good comparison pictures.
Raining off and on all day, some periods harder than other, started pretty steadily about an hour ago. Will try to keep updating how the area is fairing and post some pictures, depending on how adventurous my wife let's me be. Keep up all the great work everyone!


Yeah I have all my camera batteries charged. I live by the housatonic and it always floods, so I'm hoping for some pictures of that. I also borrowed my dads old high-8 video camera with that night shot option so that might be fun as well.
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Gonna ask y'all again...... any word on the flooding around Rich's Inlet? Power?
Quoting Beachfoxx:
Anyone know how bad the flooding was near Rich's Inlet, just N. of Wilmington?
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1470. scCane
Hello everyone been at work all day. How is everyone fairing and who got hit the hardest in NC?
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
This storm really is proof that in WU land, if it's not incoming into Florida, Louisiana, or Texas...it really doesn't matter to most.

This is a really untrue, ungracious comment! There are LOTS of Texans on here. I can't speak for the other states, though I have seen several Louisiana folks here, too. Not just in general but right now, during Irene. I live in Texas now, but lived in Manhattan, NY for 33 years. However, I am interested in the weather everywhere, and I think that is true for many, many regulars on this blog.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Whoo hoo!


Analyst, you ok? Did you see any damage?
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Quoting NICycloneChaser:


Someone might mention 92L again sometime next week. Lol.


pattern still suggest recurve is probable. ECM developes it into a monster cane.
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Quoting victoriahurricane:


Unfortunately change the "may" to will. It hasn't even gotten close to NY/NJ yet.
I pray that everything is safe up there.They are way more populated then here in the outer banks.
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Heaviest rain about to move through DC - wins continue to get stronger, now gusting above tropical storm force.

Pressure is down to 993mb and still dropping.
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Quoting Grothar:


Drak, after all the years of me praising you, you embarrass me on the open blog??? :)


He was saving you the trouble of doing it your self....;^)
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1463. Grothar
Quoting Drakoen:


lol just expressing my opinion


Can we do that on the blog? Seriously, how high do you think the winds will be when it hits the NYC-Long Island area. Looks like at least TS winds will last for at least 12-18 hours, in my opinion.
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Quoting o22sail:


I think Richmond was sitting in a sweet spot for this storm. I've been getting hammered all day. We had some REALLY strong gust blow through here.
Been listening to the local Skywarn nets and trees are down all over town with 71% of the RVA metro area without power.

Not like the last "I" storm that came through, but pretty rough.


Now they have confirmed 75% is without power in the Richmond metro, I'm just that lucky 25%... lol
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Hey if they did not take it serious I would say it is because they haven't seen a Cane in a few years... we Floridians & other on the Gulf Coast take EVERY Hurricane seriously. You can bet that many are watching, analyzing, learning.... You can bet we are very aware & very concerned for those impacted....
Quoting CTstormwatcher:
Long time fan of all the great info provided by the community here. In Plainville, CT, and I'm not sure enough people took this as serious, as it could be for the area until today. Made sure to take lots of pictures of the surroundings. Just hoping for the best, with all these old trees that are already leaning and hanging over power lines. Was 5 when Gloria came through, living in the same house. Going to be able to have good comparison pictures.
Raining off and on all day, some periods harder than other, started pretty steadily about an hour ago. Will try to keep updating how the area is fairing and post some pictures, depending on how adventurous my wife let's me be. Keep up all the great work everyone!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1460. Levi32
NWS Mesonet Observations interactive map
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26454
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


I lived in New Milford, CT for a long time until late last year. How old are you? I might know you... I'm 28 so anyone around my age in that town (you know, everyone knows everyone there lol) probably knows me.


I spent summers up here and eventually settled here during\after college. I went to high school in ny.
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HLNTV HLN News and Views
#Irene right now: 35 mi SE of Norfolk, #Virginia - max sustd winds 80 mph - 100 mph gusts - Cat 1 - 315 mi from NYC - moving 13 mph
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Not including 1 death in PR and I don't know how many in DR or Bahamas....

The storm had claimed at least eight lives by Saturday afternoon. Five people died in North Carolina, according to police and emergency officials, including two who died in separate accidents when trees fell on their cars. A child died in Goldsboro when the car he was riding in was struck at an intersection where the traffic lights had failed because of the storm, and another driver died in Pitt County after losing control in standing water and hitting a tree.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
In CC TX, have family in Manasses, friends in NYC and have had several trips to that part of the country. I absolutely have concern, but since i do not have the experience to add much weather wise, i choose to stay out of the way of the real WUB's. All of you in the storms path stay safe and best wishes to those who have already been affected.
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1455. breald
Quoting Grothar:


Thank you breald. I appreciate that. But as you know, I don't know much about tropical weather.


me either..lol
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dos any one think Irene is turning in too a EXTRATROPICAL storm right now and if yes would that make it a nor easter?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114048
Quoting bluenosedave:


The rain has just started here in Yarmouth, NS. And this... thing's centre is only just past the VA border. Holy Moly.
what part of nova scotia has tropical storm warnings....we are on the eastern shore.
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1451. Drakoen
Quoting Grothar:


Drak, after all the years of me praising you, you embarrass me on the open blog??? :)


lol just expressing my opinion
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Long time fan of all the great info provided by the community here. In Plainville, CT, and I'm not sure enough people took this as serious, as it could be for the area until today. Made sure to take lots of pictures of the surroundings. Just hoping for the best, with all these old trees that are already leaning and hanging over power lines. Was 5 when Gloria came through, living in the same house. Going to be able to have good comparison pictures.
Raining off and on all day, some periods harder than other, started pretty steadily about an hour ago. Will try to keep updating how the area is fairing and post some pictures, depending on how adventurous my wife let's me be. Keep up all the great work everyone!
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Quoting NJcat3cane:


i am in brigantine..north of AC and we shouldent have all hell is breaking lose water is flowing everywhere

So you have water rising?? Do you still have power??
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1448. Grothar
Quoting Drakoen:


Don't think so. The inner core has collapse greatly from moving over land and continuing to take in that continental dry air, which I mentioned days ago that it would even when the models were showing a major hurricane bearing down on the Northeast. Infrared imagery shows the deformation axis pushing up into New England. The main story for the northeast will be strong thunderstorms and winds especially in the high-rise building in the well-developed cities as Irene lashes out on the I-95 Corridor.


Drak, after all the years of me praising you, you embarrass me on the open blog??? :)
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I hope those death tolls don't go up....but I may be wrong.


Unfortunately change the "may" to will. It hasn't even gotten close to NY/NJ yet.
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1445. Oct8
Is she into gambling and likely to stray inland again at Atlantic city or will she just move straight onto NYC for landfall?
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Quoting drj10526:
Just a waiting game now. New Milford CT. the ground is so wet up here. It has been raining all day. This is going to get interesting.


I lived in New Milford, CT for a long time until late last year. How old are you? I might know you... I'm 28 so anyone around my age in that town (you know, everyone knows everyone there lol) probably knows me.
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I have been a long time lurker, I live down in Texas and I have everybody in the path of Irene in my thoughts and prayers.

Also, does anybody know what the winds are looking like in virginia across the chesapeake bay on the peninsula? I know that the hurricane force winds are on the east side of the storm but it appears they are taking on quite a heavy swath..
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http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/data_menu.shtml?st n=8534720%20Atlantic%20City,%20NJ&type=Tide+Data
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Annapolis at 20:00EDT - 992.8MB, N43kts/47-gusts. Water levels surprisingly normal. Bay Bridge closed. Isolated power outages, ours down and back up quickly. Tree damage not too bad. Waiting for some of the more viscous looking bands, but in line with typical N'Easter so far, so Dunkin Donuts prob still open...
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1440. o22sail
Quoting tropicfreak:


Lack of wind??? I'm 100 miles west of the center in Richmond VA and I'm getting 60 mph sustained winds! What are you talking about in lack of wind.

BTW somehow my power is still on, seeing some damage done here, though not quite as bad as Isabel, but the night is not over yet.


I think Richmond was sitting in a sweet spot for this storm. I've been getting hammered all day. We had some REALLY strong gust blow through here.
Been listening to the local Skywarn nets and trees are down all over town with 71% of the RVA metro area without power.

Not like the last "I" storm that came through, but pretty rough.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
92L--our just-off-of-African blob, is born:

BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_al922011.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
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0000
201108280025
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
END
INVEST, AL, L, , , , , 92, 2011, DB, O, 2011082800, 9999999999, , , , , , METWATCH, , AL922011
AL, 92, 2011082800, , BEST, 0, 103N, 195W, 20, 0, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,


Whoo hoo!
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Quoting dolig:
this will be a biblical rain for virginia and possibly others. doppler est rainfall as of thirty minutes ago has recorded 15+ inches of rain sse of richmond,va in several areas and still raining with a decelleration of nne movement which means more to come.

Link


Wow, nice I got more rain than expected! That cut off line was more west than we expected here in Richmond.
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08/27/2011 0635 PM

2 miles SW of Lewes, Sussex County.

Tornado, reported by Fire Dept/Rescue.


Around 15 homes damaged in the Nassau station and
tradewinds subdivisions SW of Lewes. One home
demolished.
edit:all of these were under mandatory evacuation orders:)Hopefully no one decided to stay home.
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Just a waiting game now. New Milford CT. the ground is so wet up here. It has been raining all day. This is going to get interesting.
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1434. Drakoen
Quoting Grothar:
Looks like she wants to do something.




Don't think so. The inner core has collapse greatly from moving over land and continuing to take in that continental dry air, which I mentioned days ago that it would even when the models were showing a major hurricane bearing down on the Northeast. Infrared imagery shows the deformation axis pushing up into New England. The main story for the northeast will be strong thunderstorms and winds especially in the high-rise building in the well-developed cities as Irene lashes out on the I-95 Corridor.
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About JeffMasters

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