Irene hits North Carolina

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

Share this Blog
22
+

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...

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 84 - 34

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31Blog Index

this is not a Overhyped. Storm this storm is the wore storm too evere hit the E coast in years



some of you downcaster need too stop downcasteing this storm
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
Quoting Methurricanes:
TWC is stupid, they said a storm hasnt hit the LOng Island area in 200 years, i guess they convenintly forgot about Bob, GLoria, Carol, Edna, Donna, 44'. 38', 36' ect.


Well, they said Irene was the size of Europe yesterday.

Perhaps it's a hint for Orca to have a new script to accompany his informative maps: Rent-A-Hype-Quote.

This storm is plenty problematic without the exaggeration. It's hardly normal.

However, after all the storms of recent years....

What is normal?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Methurricanes:
TWC is stupid, they said a storm hasnt hit the LOng Island area in 200 years, i guess they convenintly forgot about Bob, GLoria, Carol, Edna, Donna, 44'. 38', 36' ect.


Well they're being extraordinarily picky by saying that it has been since 1821 that New York City has been directly hit by a hurricane - in other words, actual landfall in NYC. Whatever....all the big northeast storms have directly affected the area. This track is rare, and could cause a storm surge that they rarely see, but it's not a 200-year event.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Hey TEX. Yeah didn't have anything to add to the discussion so I just lurked. That and one of my computers had an unfortunate incident with an upturned beverage. :)


ok, I see :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Irene feeding herself moisture from the Caribbean:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
breakingirene Breaking News Irene
by BreakingNews
No plans for a pre-emptive shutdown of power in Lower Manhattan, Con Edison says - @NYTMetro #Irene nyti.ms/r7q4pu
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
TWC is stupid, they said a storm hasnt hit the LOng Island area in 200 years, i guess they convenintly forgot about Bob, GLoria, Carol, Edna, Donna, 44'. 38', 36' ect.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


Well if her central pressure doesn't start rising soon she will certainly not be normal lol.

She's not really a normal storm in general, because how often do you see a 950mb Cat 1 hurricane making a beeline for NYC? That entire sentence doesn't make much sense does it. She's a mean one and a rare one, and will be remembered.Quoting Levi32:


Well if her central pressure doesn't start rising soon she will certainly not be normal lol.

She's not really a normal storm in general, because how often do you see a 950mb Cat 1 hurricane making a beeline for NYC? That entire sentence doesn't make much sense does it. She's a mean one and a rare one, and will be remembered.

my bad re read
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Besides the obvious slight weakening from land interaction . . . could the storm be able to maintain a decent level of strength now that the ULL to its south is not pumping in any more dry air. It appears that the outflow has finally established itself in the southern/western portion of Irene?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting bingcrosby:
Recon just found 950mb pressure. WTH. Is Dr. Jeff Masters actually wrong?

Are you serious? She's still at 950? Winds still 85?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
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: 26659
Irene is crawling along, which is bad news for the NE.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3547
The GFS,and the EUROO are cosisrently showing that the windward islands will be impacted by two fropical cyclones the first week of september.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Have the models backed off the gomex storm later this week?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
Levi, What the hell is going on with Irene? Is this normal or a northern latitude tropical cyclone???


Well if her central pressure doesn't start rising soon she will certainly not be normal lol.

She's not really a normal storm in general, because how often do you see a 950mb Cat 1 hurricane making a beeline for NYC? That entire sentence doesn't make much sense does it. She's a mean one and a rare one, and will be remembered.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
Recon just found 950mb pressure. WTH. Is Dr. Jeff Masters actually wrong?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NWS serving Norfolk is concerned that Irene isn't going to make the turn northeast until a bit later, which will increase the flooding of some of the rivers in the area. They used "historic flooding" to describe that scenario.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i think shes dropped like 4+mb in 4 hours, all started just priorto landfall
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Irene cruising the Outer Banks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Off to the mines (figuratively). Check in after. Be safe all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AransasBayRat:
*sigh*
I felt so lonely on the old blog.

Thanks for the update Doc!


I would image it would be lonely on there by yourself. I hope you didn't start quoting yourself like folks were early this morning. LOL

Thanks for the Update Doc. Very strange storm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
hitchhiking Irene...



Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Levi, What the hell is going on with Irene? Is this normal for a northern latitude tropical cyclone???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tide Level, Wind Speed, Gusts, Pressure for coastal stations. Will auto add stations further north as storm progresses.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Titoxd:
Since I'm not sure if you saw my reply in the old blog, here it is again:



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...


Thank you. Awaiting the link.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Norfolk Va. Radar

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
its wobbling ENE, with a closed eye for the first time, like ever. Might be 95mph next advisory.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
looks like Irene is geting here act togeter on land
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
Quoting Levi32:


Wow...station name?
HH
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting P451:


Honestly... it is a gigantic entity.




It might start transitioning to an extra tropical entity sometime in the next 24 hrs. Its expected to complete that by Monday morning.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Irene is taking a jog northeast. Rain bands are wrapping more completely around the eye now, though it may be shrinking a little bit. Usually this would be a sign of deepening, but when the eye is over land, it usually starts looking smaller as the hurricane's core becomes unable to support sinking, dry air in the eye, and thus rainfall starts to overtake the center. We may be seeing that collapse beginning here.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
*sigh*
I felt so lonely on the old blog.

Thanks for the update Doc!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
img src="">
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26519
Quoting TexasHurricane:


Hi At Home.... Haven't seen you on the past couple of days.


Hey TEX. Yeah didn't have anything to add to the discussion so I just lurked. That and one of my computers had an unfortunate incident with an upturned beverage. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.



God, I hope it stops drifting west. At this point I am getting concerned about flooding rains in upstate NY. The farther NW you go, the more silt we have and the less rain we can handle. 3-5" is enough to flood us out, depending on soil conditions. GO EAST IRENE!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Since I'm not sure if you saw my reply in the old blog, here it is again:

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: Posts: Comments:
Wow. I went out for a hour for a bike ride and Irene was not showing a closed eye on radar. Now she has one. Hopefully the dry air on the SE side of the storm will weaken her and this trend continues.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Recon AF303


That's ridiculous that it still isn't filling. It could stay below 960mb for a very long time.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
Rain and wind picking up in Williamsburg, VA
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
38. amd
Quoting Levi32:


Wow...station name?


latest estimate from recon. It's on the western shore of Pamlico sound.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
74 miles east of Virginia Beach:





Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
Quoting Levi32:


Wow...station name?


Recon AF303
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Thanks DRM. Reminds me of Ike. Big and pushin a lot of water. It will be bad no doubt. But not as bad as it couldve been.


Hi At Home.... Haven't seen you on the past couple of days.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Regional Radar Loop
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659

Viewing: 84 - 34

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
52 °F
Mostly Cloudy