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 CybrTeddy:
12z ECMWF running, making the Tropical Wave emerging off Africa developing into a Tropical Storm by 72 hours.

Link?
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


Proof please?

Don't respond to the crazies! Don't give them attention! You'll destroy the entire thread!
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Atlantic City, NJ


1:54 PM 78.1 °F 75.0 °F 90% 29.72 in 9.0 mi East 16.1 mph 31.1 mph 0.06 in Rain Light Rain
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


Proof please?


Feels like something straight off of "Coast to Coast A.M."
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3709
330. jpsb
Did someone say we might get some rain in Texas?
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Beautiful imagery of Irene.

EXACTLY what i was looking for. Thank you! Amazing I'm about to get rain in upstate NY from Irene in NC. Not directly related, but indirectly related.
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Latest ECMWF shifted East..closer to NYC/LI now. Goes right along the jersey coast....

Member Since: January 30, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 746
Washington, DC
1:52 PM 75.0 °F 70.0 °F 84% 29.64 in 5.0 mi NE 16.1 mph 28.8 mph 0.10 in Rain Light Rain
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Quoting P451:
Irene is not Earl. Irene is a curleycue wobbling storm. Focus on long duration loops. The forecast for the storm to ride the coast is correct.


great description, that.
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Quoting louisianaweatherguy:
discussion for New Orleans from NWS...

FRI AND INTO NEXT WEEKEND...THE MDLS ARE STRUGGLING IN HOW THEY
HANDLE THE RIDGE AND A POSSIBLE WEAK UPPER LOW OVER TX/WRN GULF. THE
ECMWF AND CANADIAN ARE A LITTLE FURTHER NORTH WITH THE RIDGE AND
STRONGER WITH THE UPPER LOW AND THEN PUSH IT EAST INTO THE GULF.
THIS COULD LEAD TO A WEAK SFC LOW TO DEVELOP IN THE GULF AND COULD
BARE WATCHING.
Wasn't that what the guy on TWC was doing?

I think the word they want is bear -- but who knows.
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323. Gorty
Quoting GeauxNola:


Uh. So how are the satellites being blocked? IR clearly shows the western side drying up.

No doubt storms may be forming as they come on shore but the radar returns are correct.


Oh then maybe the bands are forming the rain and storms or are enhancing them then.

But yeah look on radar... doesn't look like there are many dry spots lol.
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Quoting P451:
For those watching wobbles, just note that Irene has had wobbles all her lifetime, yet she always managed to keep a steady heading right on target. Do not focus on the east west north wobbles and think it's going out to sea or heading inland to decay. It's coming up the coast.

Irene has what I would term a curleycue wobble. A curleycue wobble extrapolates to a straight line of motion.

To compare, Earl of 2010 had a stair step wobble. A stair step wobble can change the overall heading of a storm quite a distance as we witnessed with Earl.

Irene is not Earl. Irene is a curleycue wobbling storm. Focus on long duration loops. The forecast for the storm to ride the coast is correct.



Once again, great post. Love when you post that graphic - helps a lot. and I agree... she should come up the coast along the Delaware/Maryland/New Jersey coast.
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Conveniently, in NYC there are many first responders in the city for the World Police and Fire Games. Hopefully they won't be needed but if they would be a nice help if needed.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3709
Norfolk (KORF)

2:28 PM 75.2 °F 73.4 °F 94% 28.95 in 0.5 mi ENE 31.1 mph 52.9 mph 0.44 in Fog , Rain Rain
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319. Gorty
Quoting AllStar17:


Stay safe!


I hope the flooding wont be too bad but with the soggy ground and with the 10 and who knows how much more than that inches, could get real nasty here.

And who knows how many trees will fall down from the wet ground and wind and power outages are very likely all throughout New England.
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Quoting GeauxNola:


Uh. So how are the satellites being blocked? IR clearly shows the western side drying up.

No doubt storms may be forming as they come on shore but the radar returns are correct.

The RADAR beam gets blocked, not satellite.
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anyone know of any of the new york stations being televised on direct tv?
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Quoting Gorty:


No. The beam is being blocked. Constant rains keeps coming up on the east side on radar.


Uh. So how are the satellites being blocked? IR clearly shows the western side drying up.

No doubt storms may be forming as they come on shore but the radar returns are correct.
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As much as we shouldn't focus on category regarding this storm there are a few questions I'd like to raise regarding Irene's track through the Gulf Stream as it headed Northward towards NC.
On Monday Aug 22,2011 I wrote an article focusing on the US Govt's lack of options in regards to modifying the jet stream to steer Irene off the East Coast. Their only option was to hit the Carolina's and GA with an onslaught of chemtrails designed to warm the upper layers on the troposphere, dry the air out and let it get entrained into Irene's circulation center. High definition visible sat images supported my theory on Thrusday off the East Coast of FL and well as yesterday across the Carolina's. Commerical aircraft do not fly in figure 8's, circles, and looping S patterns at 30,000 feet and not certainly in this economy. Any commerical aircraft doing those maneuver's would be hunted down the US Air Force for potential terrorism/hijacking. Therefore there were clearly military operations occuring in those regions. It's clear from extended IR and WV loops spanning over a duration of 36 hours that the air from that exact region had a huge impact on severely weakening Irene. I find a coincidence extremely difficult to swallow, considering one it's time documented I forecasted this exact thing to happen, two no one else around the world saw this even as a possibility of happening, and three it did happen.
What we clearly learned from this event is that if drier air is entrained into the core circulation and weather modification is successful within the inner core of the tropical system further intensification is in fact muted. What we also learned is that it doesn't "kill" a very large and intense hurricane with an expansive wind field very easily, versus say tropical storm Don, when the exact same thing happened as those exact same signatures appeared just preceeding it's collapse in which "dry air" was to blame.
I find it ironic in 2011 as those exact signatures caused it very few people have an open mind to see what actually happened and to actually look into it as a possibility. Even as we see insurance companies in the Western US paying millions of dollars to conduct weather modification operations to increase rainfall, hail suppression, and to work on methods for preventing severe weather from happening. We already know the US Military has technologies that are far advanced than is known in the commerical sector. Is anyone else listening and watching?
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Quoting Gorty:
Springfield area of Mass here... off and on rain bands, typical for a cyclone that is still far away.


Stay safe!
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12z ECMWF running, making the Tropical Wave emerging off Africa developing into a Tropical Storm by 72 hours.
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
Just heard on news that an little boy has been killed, apparently by a tree that fell... I think the age was 9 or 10. : *(


And why, exactly was he outside?

There is really no excuse for this.

Yes, there will be the trees that fall on houses, but really no excuse but personally responsibility for most, if not all, fatalities with Irene at the end of the day.

Certainly hope it is not because they heard from someone that it is "over-hyped" so no big deal.

I am assuming media is over-hyping as they always do. I don't watch TV anymore (couple years), other than my beloved Steelers.
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Quoting BrockBerlin:


Medford is actually in Oregon thousands of miles away from Irene.

It's a neighborhood in Boston as well.
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Beautiful imagery of Irene.
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308. Gorty
Quoting Gorty:
Springfield area of Mass here... off and on rain bands, typical for a cyclone that is still far away.


And to add

rain and thunderstorms wont let up till late tomorrow... going to be a long ride. Wind picks up tonight and really gets going tomorrow.
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sorry about the CAPS: Houston NWS
LATEST
ECMWF AND THE ENSEMBLES POINTING TO AN UPPER LOW DEVELOPING OVER THE N/NW
GULF DRIFTING WEST STALLING AND THEN BACK EAST FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY.
CONFIDENCE INCREASING THAT RAINFALL MAY JUST BE COMING BACK TO SETX
-HOPE THIS DOESN`T JINX IT- THURSDAY AND FRIDAY WILL SHOW AN INCREASING
TREND FOR THE POPS AND TEMPERATURES FALLING TO NEAR NORMAL. WHICH BY THE
WAY SETX HASN`T SEEN IN A COUPLE OF MONTHS.
Member Since: December 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 52
09L/TS/I
MARK
37.13n/76.98w forecast point





ALWAYS FOLLOW NHC/TPC FORECASTS FOR ALL WARNINGS REGARDING THIS STORM
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
Just heard on news that an little boy has been killed, apparently by a tree that fell... I think the age was 9 or 10. : *(


ughhh, hate to hear that kind of stuff. :(
Tree fell on the home?
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304. Gorty
Springfield area of Mass here... off and on rain bands, typical for a cyclone that is still far away.
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
Just heard on news that an little boy has been killed, apparently by a tree that fell... I think the age was 9 or 10. : *(


That is terrible. And happens a lot in these storms, sadly. :(
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Quoting islander101010:
could be a big problem for s. florida is there are so many people living n trailors a good one or bad one could make them all homeless.


Few trailer park communities were cleared out in recent years where my parents live. But even so there are still plenty around. Its probably the same anywhere else though, unless S Fla. has a large trailer park population then other regions in the U.S.
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
Yep, CNN or HLN was reporting... Very sad news.

TWC also mentioned that he was missing.
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Yep, CNN or HLN was reporting... Very sad news.
Quoting TaylorSelseth:


OH NO! :-(
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Authorities confirm that one person is dead in an auto accident in Pitt County at Irene struck.

Dispatchers say the accident happened around 7:40 a.m. on County Home Road.

Troopers say 21-year-old Jose Corona was south on County Home and ran off the road, crossed the centerline and ran into a tree.

The Highway Patrol say they are investigating whether alcohol was involved, since alcohol was present on the scene.

In Nash County a man went to feed his animals Saturday morning and was killed when a branch fell on him. WITN spoke to the Nash County Emergency Management and was told more information will be released later in the day Saturday.. The mans name is not released.

On Thursday Onslow County authorities say a man died, apparently from a heart attack, as he was putting up plywood in advance of the storm.
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starting to rain here in eastern jersey, sky is very dark
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1243
Quoting Beachfoxx:
Just heard on news that an little boy has been killed, apparently by a tree that fell... I think the age was 9 or 10. : *(


OH NO! :-(
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Quoting Methurricanes:
1st Band Going pastmy area north of Boston. Heavy Rain and some wind.

Thanks. I have friends in Medford who may or may not be in the flood zone, depending on how the rain + surge plays out. Keep us updated.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Umm, that was a copy from the NWS, I think.
correct !
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Quoting TXEER:
Has there ever been a tornado that has not hit a trailer park?
could be a big problem for s. florida is there are so many people living n trailors a good one or bad one could make them all homeless.
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Just heard on news that an little boy has been killed, apparently by a tree that fell... I think the age was 9 or 10. : *(
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Good point ElConando
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290. Gorty
Quoting islander101010:
hyped up storm after a couple more this yr this will be routine


Yeah cause a wide and large swath of damaging winds and flooding is really hyped up...

-sarcasm-
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Quoting galvestonhurricane:


CAN WE TURN CAPS LOCK OFF NOW???
paste and copy directly from NWS. tell them to turn caps off
Member Since: December 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 52
288. Gorty
Quoting atmoaggie:
Beam blocking?

No, I think it really is wrapping dry air and losing nearly all convective precip on the east.


Loop: http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/lo op_640.asp?product=tropical_ge_4km_ir4_floater_2


No. The beam is being blocked. Constant rains keeps coming up on the east side on radar.
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Quoting P451:


That's all I needed to see to confirm what I have been waiting for before I was 100% certain of what to expect up here. It's coming up the coast and we're going to get hit pretty hard.



You're in eastern Jersey, right?
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting presslord:


very insightful
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Hey guys! Just a reminder, for continuous blogging on conditions in Northeast New Jersey, try my blog.
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hyped up storm after a couple more this yr this will be routine
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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.