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: 1334 - 1284

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

Quoting Grothar:
20% of the new wave

New wave will be the next trouble maker.Models showing it developing within three days.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TXInaSpin:



Ahh.. The Vandals season begins.. LMAO.


Boise State and Georgia at a neutral site....Atlanta. LOL!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting katadman:



Maybe a transformer exploding?


This monitor reflects the seismic activity:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
so all we can do it sit back and watch her show...as the song goes..."I did it My Way".
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Irene is wearing her BIG GIRL panties and is ready to make her debut on Broadway and she ain't letting nothin' stand in her way! Just amazin'!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Spiessbraten, sitting at an outdoor restaurant in Idar, freezing, but eating up the atmosphere.

Back on topic.
P451, I think my nephew lives somewhere close to you. He's in upstate NY and actually planning to try to return tonight so he can finish tearing up his bathroom so the guy can come next weekend and redo it. Youth can just be plain stupid. Sigh.
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3125
Quoting bluenosedave:


I should add that a tonne of the traffic on this blog is of the "EAST!", "No, WEST!" sort of bickering over storm tracks and their implications. At this point, with this storm, there's no point to that stuff. Just sit tight and wait for the outcome.


Wait a minute. Did you just say that "At his point there's no point"? lol

p.s. - another concerned blogger from TX.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1326. Smikey
Pressure never rose while over land, (still 950mb) and now as soon as the center breaks over water again it starts to wind up again. Impressive Radar out of VA

http://radblast-mi.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/radar /WUNIDS_map?station=AKQ&brand=wui&num=10&delay=15& type=N0R&frame=0&scale=0.346&noclutter=0&t=1314489 499&lat=0&lon=0&label=you&showstorms=0&map.x=400&m ap.y=240¢erx=148¢ery=176&transx=-252&trans y=-64&showlabels=1&severe=0&rainsnow=0&lightning=0 &smooth=0
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1325. JGreco
Quoting MrNatural:


Frictional forces are holding the windspeeds down.



But 950mb....!!!...??? That's practically impossible. I've never heard of this occurring in a category one without something going on???:o
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CosmicEvents:
You shouldn't resent my opinion, though you're entitled to your own opinion of my opinion. But, I do care about this storm, and my comment praises someone like you and the 100-200 or so other members like you and me who are here and obviously concerned. My point was.....where's everybody else?



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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
To be honest I happy there are other things to talk about weather wise besides Texas and it's heat.


Yes, it has been the most miserable summer ever...glad I split a few times for vacation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1322. Grothar
20% of the new wave

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Only 3 hours after the rain started, i put my lawn furniture away, procrastination is king, lol
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 699
1320. Torgen
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.


I imagine some of us are just keeping our mouths shut in this very serious situation to keep the signal to noise ratio high. I have friends and in-laws in the affected areas, but there's really nothing I can add to the present discussion. We're all just waiting to see how bad it will end up being.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thank you my friend...
YOu know, and those of us who have been in Canes all know WE ALL CARE very much... We have been preaching to those on the E.Coast to take care, be prepared, and evacuate if you are in the zone... WE CARE - very much!
Quoting hahaguy:


Well said.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29384
Quoting atmosweather:
And wouldn't you know it...she still maintains a pressure of 950-951 mb:

234000 3637N 07542W 6957 02713 9503 +131 +123 209012 016 030 000 00

I'm running out of words.


as she gets absorbed into the trough shes transferring enormous amount of energy into the jet stream, this morning at 12z the jet stream over the northeast was only 70-80 kts, now at 00z there is a large region of 100 + kts over the northeast. By tomorrow at 00z the NAM has a 160+kt jet streak entering the Atlantic, this magnitude of intensification is responsible for truly epic amounts of upper level divergence. Which is why she is maintaining her pressure.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Seriously, I'm in Idaho and I'm watching this storm. What a bunch of fair-weather, weather weenies down south. Must be drafting their fantasy football teams.


I'm in British Columbia watching lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Methurricanes:
Just commuter rail or subway too?


All services, including subway have been suspended for Sunday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1312. JGreco
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.



+1000... he is the hurricane whisperer:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
North Carolina and Virginia are Southern too btw, so this storm is affecting both sides of the Mason Dixon, not just the North.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Max flight level wind: 74 knots
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JGreco:


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


Frictional forces are holding the windspeeds down.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting txag91met:
HOUSTON TIES ALL-TIME RECORD HIGH OF 109F!

Thanks to Irene and NW flow aloft.
To be honest I happy there are other things to talk about weather wise besides Texas and it's heat.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1307. PTXer
Quoting Levi32:


I don't know what to say either.

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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PcolaDan:


Just trying to jump start your heart again. You should thank them.


LOL, poor old Gro. Must have run out of Geritol ;-)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Very heavy rains in Aurora and very heavy flooding (per WRAL). And their main industry is the PSC Phosphate mine and plant s/he mentioned in the initial post. Look it up on Google Earth.

If she's not being truthful, so be it. However folks in Aurora got hit really hard. 7400 in Beaufort county are inaccessible due to flooding (per WRAL).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.

That's a crock. Perhap's people in the south are trying not to bog it down for the people in the path and perhap's you just are hungry for attention?
I've been lurking every day and wishing all in the path well. Grow up.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.


That is a very offensive attitude.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jerseygrl:


Bite your tongue! We had quite enough snow this past winter, thank you very much!

Rain is heavy here, winds not too bad. But the back yard is turning into a pond, and the front yard is already a swamp. It's gonna be a long night...
Winds are starting to get strong here to after somwhat of a break.It's been raining here all day long but Irene has moved away.I want a snowy winter because this winter was dull without it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1301. hahaguy
Quoting Beachfoxx:
I'm not sure that those who say "southerners don't care, don't know southerners very well". Plus I can assure you that those of us on the coast in FL care very much.


Well said.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Perhaps the current radar and satellite presentation will allow Irene to remain a hurricane all the way to its New England landfall?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting barbamz:

Same with me. And I'm located in usually boring Germany, *boring" weatherwise. At least, we had some gentle thunderstorms yesterday, lol.


I should add that a tonne of the traffic on this blog is of the "EAST!", "No, WEST!" sort of bickering over storm tracks and their implications. At this point, with this storm, there's no point to that stuff. Just sit tight and wait for the outcome.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Any hints on how to get the image link to work? Wanted to post the buoy just NE of the center of circulation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1297. JGreco
Quoting TXInaSpin:


I resent the comment.. It does matter.. If people are effected it matters.. Are you a true MET? If not.. Check your opinion also..



Seriously he is about to be poofed by me. Never expected a blogger that respectful to say such garbage. I guess when they fall...they fall:0
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm not sure that those who say "southerners don't care, don't know southerners very well". Plus I can assure you that those of us on the coast in FL care very much.
Quoting JGreco:



That is amazing!!! By the way to the person who said that people in the South don't care, I'm in the South and I do care stop trying to start some type of Civil War on this blog:0
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29384
HOUSTON TIES ALL-TIME RECORD HIGH OF 109F!

Thanks to Irene and NW flow aloft.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:
Look at the red echos flaring up NNW of the center already as soon as it gets over water.



Is that just dry air in the middle? Sure looks like an eye.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BostonWench:
Aaaaaand the MBTA in MA is suspending service for Sunday.
Just commuter rail or subway too?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 699
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


Pitt and Edgecombe counties actually have like 100.5 percent of their customers without power.. Lol.


I guess they count the dong houses with a lightbulb on top of them to be customers.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3720
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON HURRICANE
IRENE...LOCATED ABOUT 30 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF NORFOLK VIRGINIA.

A LARGE AREA OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS JUST OFF THE WEST COAST OF
AFRICA IS ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE. THIS WAVE IS SHOWING
SOME SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION...AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS APPEAR
CONDUCIVE FOR ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.
THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT ABOUT 10
MPH.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1289. JGreco
Quoting Levi32:
951mb measured by dropsonde.


Any possible way it can strengthen. How is it maintaining without this translating into wind strength properly....?????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TXInaSpin:


I resent the comment.. It does matter.. If people are effected it matters.. Are you a true MET? If not.. Check your opinion also..
You shouldn't resent my opinion, though you're entitled to your own opinion of my opinion. But, I do care about this storm, and my comment praises someone like you and the 100-200 or so other members like you and me who are here and obviously concerned. My point was.....where's everybody else?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1287. oakland
Quoting katadman:



Staggered.


Weaved
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1286. Levi32
951mb measured by dropsonde.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1285. vital1
Quoting BobinTampa:


I was thinking Smurfed.

Or WU could sell the naming rights to it: "Looks like Irene took a slight GEICO to the East"


Ha!

Wonder why I'm only showing 1 comment. I think I've made about 4. I have nothing meteorologic-ally to add to the conversation so I lurk (or lurched) until something strikes my fancy.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1284. Vero1
Quoting LoveObama:
If anyone comes about any news from Aurora, NC please wumail it to me. I am looking for anything I can find about the area. Thank you.


•American Red Cross
Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for information on evacuation, shelter, and assistance.


•North Carolina Emergency Management Division
North Carolina residents can call for updated weather information, highway closings, shelter information, and feeding sites. Available in English and Spanish 1-888-835-9966, TTY 1-877-877-1765 or 711 (Relay N.C.).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1334 - 1284

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.