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 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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1383. Grothar
Sure looks a little more filled in than an hour ago.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26126
1382. Levi32
Quoting weatherjr:
Levi32: What is your opinion on the wave near the african coast?


Don't really know and don't really care lol. I will look at such things closer after Irene is gone.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
I thought the jet stream was suppose to pick her up and propel her further north at a rapid speed, maybe because she slowed way up she missed the dip down.
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Quoting Levi32:


stronger gusts may be coming to the surface once she comes ashore in New England.


This has always been one of my biggest concerns. Hopefully folks in her path are prepared for that.
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1378. barbamz
Quoting weatherjr:
Irene is the fatty lady, she is the BIG MAMA character

That's from you, jr? Irene should be proud. But I agree anyway.
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What's Irene's diameter now?
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Quoting TXInaSpin:



Well yeah.. when your saying that the folks in the south don't care about the outcome of this.. "if it's not incoming into Florida, Louisiana, or Texas...it really doesn't matter to most" Sorry pal.. You are a little out of hand.. I think the folks in the south care quite alot.


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.
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this is what the SPC said


DISCUSSION...HRCN IRENE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE SLOWLY NNEWD THROUGH
EARLY SUN. SATELLITE AND THERMAL CONSIDERATIONS SUGGEST THAT THE
SYSTEM IS BEGINNING TO UNDERGO EXTRATROPICAL TRANSITION.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115084
1374. Patrap
Back out in the soup too,,and organizing well
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128272
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

I didn't say you weren't, lol.
So what has Irene done to you?


She-hurt-my-feelings-!-!-!-! ;(
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Wow Pat little tiny eye now
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I am, lol.

I didn't say you weren't, lol.
So what has Irene done to you?
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5682
1369. Levi32
Quoting JGreco:


Any possible way it can strengthen. How is it maintaining without this translating into wind strength properly....?????


I don't know....lol. All I can guess is that the jetstream to the north is perfectly aligned to take air out of the system as if it was baroclinic, and the air pressure is steady as a result, despite tropical processes decreasing in strength. I don't think she'll actually intensify, but stronger gusts may be coming to the surface once she comes ashore in New England.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1368. Grothar
Looks like she wants to do something.


Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26126
Quoting CosmicEvents:
I apologize for offending so many.
It was my mistake with improper wording in the initial post.
See my response in post 1288.
I know there's plenty of you out there from all over who care. And you're all to be commended. There's just so many more who aren't here who normally would be.
.
I'm gonna' shutup now before I get myself in deeper, but there's no offense meant to anyone here.


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.
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1365. afs
Quoting victoriahurricane:


I'm in British Columbia watching lol.


I'm in Oregon. :)

Remnants of Hurricanes Camile and Agnes roaring through Central Virginia were major events of my kidhood, though. Turned me into serious weather geek.
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1364. Patrap
Norfolk
NEXRAD Radar

Base Reflectivity 0.50

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128272
This new tropical wave is already making me nervous,lol. very impressive on satellite..
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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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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Good evening. I see TropicalAnalystwx13 is back on. Irene is still a hurricane, and she means business.


I am, lol.
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Quoting TStormSC:
Any hints on how to get the image link to work? Wanted to post the buoy just NE of the center of circulation.


Dunno if you ever got an answer for this, so I'll answer as best as I can.

When you click the link button, the input box that comes up contains "http://"...
Paste your link in behind that, don't erase it, it must contain some code we can't see. Make sure if your pasted link contained http:// also, that you delete that part you pasted, NOT the part that was in the box. Also make sure there are no spaces between what you pasted and the "http://" in the box.

I figured it out after doing it wrong a couple times myself. :)
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Quoting KoritheMan:


GFS and ECMWF have been consistently developing it. Seems likely to be our next depression.

It passes well to the north of the antilles. It's probably one of them fish storms.
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Good evening. I see TropicalAnalystwx13 is back on. Irene is still a hurricane, and she means business.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5682
no one with input about ne delaware?
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LOL the MBTA closed but not RHode Island Pubic Tranportation. Pathetic.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 699
Quoting TreasureCoastFl:

I hope people see that as a reason to take this seriously in Irene's future path.
I hope those death tolls don't go up....but I may be wrong.
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1351. Torgen
Quoting JGreco:



But 950mb....!!!...??? That's practically impossible. I've never heard of this occurring in a category one without something going on???:o


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.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


GFS and ECMWF have been consistently developing it. Seems likely to be our next depression.


And tropical storm. They also show it becoming a hurricane, major hurricane, and then 3+, but lets not get into that :P
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1349. ackee
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Really wish the NHC would declare that wave 92L..Maybe they will very soon?
agree I think this wave will move much further west than what model are showing now also think this will devlop further west guess we see
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
I apologize for offending so many.
It was my mistake with improper wording in the initial post.
See my response in post 1288.
I know there's plenty of you out there from all over who care. And you're all to be commended. There's just so many more who aren't here who normally would be.
.
I'm gonna' shutup now before I get myself in deeper, but there's no offense meant to anyone here.


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.
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1346. ncstorm
Quoting katadman:


As are most all here. I fully expect to see Levi's name at the bottom of the TWO someday.


He should be a feature blogger! I am def glad he was around when Irene was knocking on NC door, he was even blogging from the airport!!
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Ditto with Bluenose Dave. Tropical storm warnings for Nova Scotia.
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Quoting sunlinepr:
CNN just reported a total of 8 deaths



I hope people see that as a reason to take this seriously in Irene's future path.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Really wish the NHC would declare that wave 92L..Maybe they will very soon?


GFS and ECMWF have been consistently developing it. Seems likely to be our next depression.
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Quoting LoveObama:


Where did you see the news about 7400 inaccessible? My uncle was working at PCS Phosphate and we haven't heard from him at all.


Link
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Really wish the NHC would declare that wave 92L..Maybe they will very soon?
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Quoting PTXer:

There's not much more you can say Levi. You had this one pegged right from the beginning, and all the way up the coast. I am thankful you are here educating us amateurs.


As are most all here. I fully expect to see Levi's name at the bottom of the TWO someday.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
I apologize for offending so many.
It was my mistake with improper wording in the initial post.
See my response in post 1288.
I know there's plenty of you out there from all over who care. And you're all to be commended. There's just so many more who aren't here who normally would be.
.
I'm gonna' shutup now before I get myself in deeper, but there's no offense meant to anyone here.

Stressful time. :)
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Quoting thelmores:
Irene appears to have unfinished business..... getting a last boost of energy from the Atlantic prior to her final assault!



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!
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CNN just reported a total of 8 deaths


Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9814
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. The faux-mets are exposed and credit is due to the true mets or "on a degree track" mets, like Levi, who've stuck around. Of course there's plenty of good observers as well.
.
.
It's been mainly left to the DOOM Squad to hold down the weather fort here. We should be proud.


Life does go on beyond what is occurring ya know. To expect unpaid 24hour coverage from people who have jobs, families and lives beyond hurricanes & WU is selfish. Just because there is a larger representation of posters from the areas you mention doesn't obligate them to "Hold Up The Fort" as you say.
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1335. ncstorm
All I can say is dont mess with the south!! They will rise!..LOL
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Quoting Grothar:
20% of the new wave

New wave will be the next trouble maker.Models showing it developing within three days.
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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.