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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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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Quoting Neapolitan:
92L--our just-off-of-African blob, is born:

BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_al922011.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
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,


Someone might mention 92L again sometime next week. Lol.
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Levi --- we all know you are easy... you have an affair with every CANE! Female name or Male named! LOL
*Foxx ducks & runs from Blog*
Quoting Levi32:


Lol, well, I would like to think that I'm at least faithful in my relationships.
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1431. Grothar
Quoting breald:


I would agree with you because her eye is over open water. It certainly will not weaken much.


Thank you breald. I appreciate that. But as you know, I don't know much about tropical weather.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26499
92L--our just-off-of-African blob, is born:

BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_al922011.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
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,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NJcat3cane:


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


It's really that bad? Take care.
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I'm watching this from Illinois!
I hope everyone on the east coast is hunkered down and prepared for this. Stay safe.
On a lighter note, there were suggestions for words other that 'wobble.' I saw lurched, staggered, and weaved. If there were others, I missed 'em; sorry.

My suggestions: list, reel, pitch and tumble.

(I don't know much met yet, but words ... oh, boy, I can do words.)
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Quoting TXInaSpin:


Thanks man.. You know.. I've got a nice warm feeling right now.


Me too! Mostly because I expected to be watching a disaster with Irene. It hasn't been good, but could be much worse. Just hope the storm surge in New England is less than expected.

Remember I said if Irene went anywhere near Jacksonville NC the Marines would kick her @ss....That's probably what happened...:^)
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Quoting Gatorxgrrrl:


Cosmic - we have been around and checking in, but there is just so much nonsense going on, I hardly even post, I live in the south and believe me Irene gave me a wallop while passing by and I do care about the folks up north. I feel for them big time.


Same here, there was so much sniping going on, I was afraid to post! (guess you noticed that!( (-: But we do care and right now 1/2 of my team is in NY and the rest of us are on schedule for the 5th or 6th if we are needed........a good many of us are from the south!
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Move this pic to a new tab and click on it to Zoom...

our next Big baby in the African conveyour belt...



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1424. Levi32
Quoting barbamz:

You fell in love with her the first hour, didn't you? I remember the talking about that in the blog ten days (or more?) ago, lol. So you are really true, and Irene doesn't disappoint you.


Lol, well, I would like to think that I'm at least faithful in my relationships.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
Quoting PalmBeacher1228:
Does anyone have any news on Cape May, NJ???


i am in brigantine..north of AC and we shouldent have all hell is breaking lose water is flowing everywhere
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Anyone know how bad the flooding was near Rich's Inlet, just N. of Wilmington?
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Quoting breald:
Apparently, a tornado has touched down in Delaware that damaged five homes.


SPC has a confirmed tornado in Se Delaware.
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Quoting breald:
Apparently, a tornado has touched down in Delaware that damaged five homes.


AROUND 15 HOMES DAMAGED IN THE NASSAU STATION AND TRADEWINDS SUBDIVISIONS SW OF LEWES. ONE HOME DEMOLISHED. (PHI)
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Quoting washingtonian115:
It's doing what I like to call the Hanna.Where a major storm system is making landfall in the U.S the storm will develope and sneekly develope on us while the media is distracted.


The Irene will be long dead when this comes ashore.
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1418. Vero1
Quoting PrivateIdaho:


The fact is that blog traffic is light considering there is a powerful storm hitting the U.S. I'm surprised more of the usual people, that happen to live in the South, are not blogging and posting like they normally do. Obviously, if you are reading this, I'm not talking about you, and neither was Cosmic.

You have to realize many of the people in the North East are our neighbors 6 months of the year. So we are concerned down here in FL.
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Irene sure looks like its be comeing EXTRATROPICAL right now or it well under way of becomeing EXTRATROPICAL



i wounder if this will even make it too new york has a hurricane be for comeing EXTRATROPICAL
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115241
Gator - it is sad, let's hope that they don't end up as a statistic. Irene ain't done yet, y'all.
Quoting Gatorxgrrrl:
If there is loss of life, I think it will be on Va Beach where the folks are out driving cars in 60 mph winds. Sad they think it's funny.
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Still have power in Dover, DE. I slept through the tornado warning. It's blowing pretty good here and raining very hard. Just ready for it to be over now.
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Quoting ohcanada55:
Ditto with Bluenose Dave. Tropical storm warnings for Nova Scotia.


The rain has just started here in Yarmouth, NS. And this... thing's centre is only just past the VA border. Holy Moly.
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1412. barbamz
Quoting Levi32:


Don't really know and don't really care lol. I will look at such things closer after Irene is gone.

You fell in love with her the first hour, didn't you? I remember the talking about that in the blog ten days (or more?) ago, lol. So you are really true, and Irene doesn't disappoint you.
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1411. breald
Quoting Grothar:
I will go out on a limb and say that Irene will get a little stronger, not much but a tad. I have been waiting for an opportunity to use that word tad for a long time.


I would agree with you because her eye is over open water. It certainly will not weaken much.
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Weather Channel just reported that a woman was hurt and a child killed in Newport News, VA due to the storm.
:(
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1409. amd
Quoting Torgen:


It seems the surrounding pressure is super low as well (someone said 986 in Nashville??) so there's not as much difference outside and inside the storm as you'd expect.


Also, the upper level dynamics are such that the air around the storm can evacuate the system more effectively, which allows for the lowering of pressure at the center. In many aspects, it is acting like a very strong non-tropical low with its strong winds well removed from the center (according to the latest recon), with the only real difference being that Irene is still warm cored. Interestingly, it looks like dry air is entering the core right now so I wouldn't be shocked if it loses its warm core by its second landfall or as soon as it has its second landfall. IMHO.

Also, as an aside, I think many posters may be lurking instead of posting because some of the hobbyists and soon to be pro mets have done an excellent job discussing the storm. Frankly, if I am lurking and I feel that I have nothing to add to something that has been discussed ad nasuem, I'm not going to post.
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1408. 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
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edit: drat! I don't know why I'm having so many problems here. Sorry, all!

For P451:

For those of us who've never lived that far north, could you describe what's distinct about a northern latitude system? I don't have a frame of reference for this. Thanks!
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1406. breald
Apparently, a tornado has touched down in Delaware that damaged five homes.
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1405. Grothar
I will go out on a limb and say that Irene will get a little stronger, not much but a tad. I have been waiting for an opportunity to use that word tad for a long time.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26499
1404. Torgen
Quoting BrockBerlin:


There is no way the pressure in Nashville is 986 it has not been below 1008 all day.


I didn't go look it up myself as you've apparently done (note the "??" in my post), but regardless, the reasons the pressure is so low but still a Cat 1 were discussed at length earlier today.
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Quoting donna1960ruled:
Irene is extratropical. How else can you explain the lack of wind? This is actually bad news for all of the first-timers who will never take these warnings seriously in the future.


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.
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Definitely getting nasty in the VA beach area.
Link
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Does anyone have any news on Cape May, NJ???
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:

I hope people see that as a reason to take this seriously in Irene's future path.


Not only with Irene, with ANY hurricane... There will never be anything positive with a hurricane going over any populated area... There will always be losses.... Human lives the most important, psycological effects, material loss, loosing your job, emigrating to other places... and with today's economic crisis it agravates...

So, Everytime you wish a hurricane, you wish it's consecuenses...
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:


The fact is that blog traffic is light considering there is a powerful storm hitting the U.S. I'm surprised more of the usual people, that happen to live in the South, are not blogging and posting like they normally do. Obviously, if you are reading this, I'm not talking about you, and neither was Cosmic.
Oh, I see. Well, that is odd. Not sure who you're talking about but maybe ask them about it when they return. Meantime, Irene is still looking rather nasty. I am anxious to see how NYC and Long Island do..
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All in all was a good feeling to be prepared for the worst in sussex county delaware.So far irene has not been too bad,58mph gust reported at GED.Numerous trees down around the county and 4.21 inches of rain.
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Quoting Levi32:


Don't really know and don't really care lol. I will look at such things closer after Irene is gone.


You just cursed us all. :P
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1394. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


Don't really know and don't really care lol. I will look at such things closer after Irene is gone.


Don't worry, Levi. I'll cover for you on this new wave until you put everything together. At least I'm good for something. :)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26499
Quoting PrivateIdaho:


The fact is that blog traffic is light considering there is a powerful storm hitting the U.S. I'm surprised more of the usual people, that happen to live in the South, are not blogging and posting like they normally do. Obviously, if you are reading this, I'm not talking about you, and neither was Cosmic.


Thanks man.. You know.. I've got a nice warm feeling right now.
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Buoy East of Va Beach


Station 44014
NDBC
Location: 36.611N 74.842W
Conditions as of:
Sat, 27 Aug 2011 23:50:00 UTC

Winds: SSE (160°) at 40.8 kt gusting to 50.5 kt
Significant Wave Height: 22.3 ft
Dominant Wave Period: 12 sec
Mean Wave Direction: S (179°)
Atmospheric Pressure: 28.65 in and falling rapidly
Air Temperature: 75.6 F
Dew Point: 73.6 F
Water Temperature: 75.4 F
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Quoting hurricanerunaway:


The ones not "here" are those who only want to throw their opinion on where a storm will go or it hasn't gone where they said it would (fish). And...the ones who pick fights. Maybe they have a conscious today. Rest assured, that "us" southerners from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida who have been through the misery that these storms cause are here...listening, offering support, and praying.
That would have been a better way to phrase my initial post. btw...I'm one of the "us". My immediate family is split between Texas and Florida.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5611
Watching and caring in Alabama - y'all stay safe up there, ya hear?
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Quoting SPLbeater:
This new tropical wave is already making me nervous,lol. very impressive on satellite..
It's doing what I like to call the Hanna.Where a major storm system is making landfall in the U.S the storm will develope and sneekly develope on us while the media is distracted.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


She-hurt-my-feelings-!-!-!-! ;(

She's a monster!
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5690
Quoting Grothar:
Looks like she wants to do something.




She is looking a tad less tropical so if anything she looks like shes begining the transition to a post tropical system.
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Quoting goldenpixie1:


She's either looking for my ex-husband or my ex-boyfriend.....

But on a serious note, I do hope that everyone in her path is safe!
She's headed at my ex husband, too! hmmm
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Quoting RussianWinter:

It passes well to the north of the antilles. It's probably one of them fish storms.


Most Cape Verde storms are. However, I learned a long time ago to never make premature predictions.
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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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