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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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.).
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1283. barbamz
Quoting PcolaDan:


With a festival in a town somewhere every weekend? You are kidding right? Unless you're talking weather, then, okay. :)

Festivals? Of course, everywhere, lol. But last Sunday several had to be shut down because of thunderstorms. Now temperature is down several degrees, holidays have ended - but I'm out to Croatia in eight days. -- Wish the best to everyone down the road in respect to dear Irene (second christian name of my sister, by the way). And I love this blog and the valuable comments!
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 55 Comments: 6032
1282. Levi32
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.


I don't know what to say either.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26658
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.
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Quoting Grothar:


Sorry, Dont. Can't help myself. When I posted the similar one for Irene everybody yelled at me, too.


Just trying to jump start your heart again. You should thank them.
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Quoting ncstorm:
coming in at high tide..wow..Tweet from Jim Cantore

JimCantore Jim Cantore
#hurricane #Irene should be close to #NYC at the time of high tide around 8am Sunday. That is a WORST CASE SCENARIO for coastal flooding
That sucks.Because I've been to NYC this year.And it's more to it than just the city.
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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!

I prey those in low lying area's have taken the warning seriously! We are about to see a flooding situation not seen in most of our lifetimes!

I just am in awe of Irene's radar presentation......



*looks at picture you posted*

ZOMG PINHOLE EYEZZ
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1277. JGreco
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.



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
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Quoting P451:


It is an incredible system based off of behavior itself. Once tomorrow comes and goes it will have a different legacy. One of widespread damage.


Well, RGB sure clears up it's heading, off the coast and going to parallel the coastline until a western Long Island landfall.



Water Vapor illustrating the classic presentation a system takes, tropical or non-tropical, as it departs NC and heads into the northern latitudes - the southern half of the storm evaporating due to continental air being drawn into the core. Of which is not a sign of weakening, this is not a deep tropics system this is a northern latitude system, the storm is not winding down it's just getting started now.





How do you make those???
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Quoting vital1:


Lurched



Staggered.
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1274. Grothar
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


STOP IT!


Sorry, Dont. Can't help myself. When I posted the similar one for Irene everybody yelled at me, too.
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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.


lol, I have a few :)
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Quoting ElConando:


Wow some counties are have almost no power.


Pitt and Edgecombe counties actually have like 100.5 percent of their customers without power.. Lol.
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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 resent the comment.. It does matter.. If people are effected it matters.. Are you a true MET? If not.. Check your opinion also..
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Quoting washingtonian115:
This reminds me of the late summer of 2009 when it was rainy and stormy and tropical cyclones(Danny)road up on the coast like Irene.I think this could perhaps mean a snowy winter for the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast.


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...
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Quoting BobinTampa:



we have to come up with a new word for that. I could live a long and happy life without ever reading the word 'wobble' again. :)
this is like a slow curve that doesn't break. WUbble.
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eye anomoly just re developed
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I've been following all day from Tampa Bay. I just don't have anything to add to the conversation so lots of reading no posting..

But after some of my reading I did send a txt to my son in Boston reminding him that there is a difference between adventurous and stupid.. and any thrill seeking during this storm would be just plain dumb.. So he promised to stay close to home tomorrow.. I can rest easier now.. (not that I think he would be so stupid, but sometimes ya just gotta speak your mind!)
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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.
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Quoting Levi32:
Look at the red echos flaring up NNW of the center already as soon as it gets over water.



Water is still warm enough to support the storm - while I don't expect Irene to strengthen, I would expect her rainbands to intensify a little bit because the center being back over the water... with the eye so small as well now, you could see some small development around the center and maybe some of those flight level winds will work their way down to the surface.
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Quoting vital1:


Lurched


I was thinking Smurfed.

Or WU could sell the naming rights to it: "Looks like Irene took a slight GEICO to the East"
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1262. ncstorm
coming in at high tide..wow..Tweet from Jim Cantore

JimCantore Jim Cantore
#hurricane #Irene should be close to #NYC at the time of high tide around 8am Sunday. That is a WORST CASE SCENARIO for coastal flooding
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Aaaaaand the MBTA in MA is suspending service for Sunday.
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1260. vital1
Quoting BobinTampa:



we have to come up with a new word for that. I could live a long and happy life without ever reading the word 'wobble' again. :)


Lurched
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Quoting LoveObama:


That's just what I was told I can't confirm. I've had several calls from friends and family in the area. I would hope none of them would joke of such a thing with the water being that high.

You know,after Katrina we heard very little but some of the worst stuff wasn't true. (Slidell, La between NOLA and gulfport.) so don't worry. It's probably okay.
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Quoting barbamz:

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


With a festival in a town somewhere every weekend? You are kidding right? Unless you're talking weather, then, okay. :)
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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!

I prey those in low lying area's have taken the warning seriously! We are about to see a flooding situation not seen in most of our lifetimes!

I just am in awe of Irene's radar presentation......



Yeah, usually the right side is the worst but this storm is left loaded...worst case scenario. Wonder if we'll see intensification over water now...not the warmest water but water nonetheless.
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1256. Ryuujin
So how is everyone faring? I've been at work all day today and haven't heard any news at all today. How has the surge been?
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right on track, if they have to shut of nyc power grid it takes two days to get it back up then youstill have to fix the power lines... uh oh
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Any chance that the shape of the bay/coast is helping to spin Irene up?
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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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Irene appears to have unfinished business..... getting a last boost of energy from the Atlantic prior to her final assault!

I prey those in low lying area's have taken the warning seriously! We are about to see a flooding situation not seen in most of our lifetimes!

I just am in awe of Irene's radar presentation......

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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.



Ahh.. The Vandals season begins.. LMAO.
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1250. barbamz
Quoting bluenosedave:


Personally, I'm following this one closely in part because I'm in Nova Scotia and it's a threat, and in part because I'm interested in storms. I've also followed nearly all the storms of the past 6 years that were a threat to others, because they were a threat to others and because I'm interested in storms. Too much time on my hands, I guess. ;-)

Same with me. And I'm located in usually boring Germany, *boring" weatherwise. At least, we had some gentle thunderstorms yesterday, lol.
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 55 Comments: 6032
New Castle, DE here, about 1 mile from the del. river.... Its been steadily raining since about 1pm. Not much in the way of wind, just breezy.. Anyone know when it might pick up around here?
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Quoting Methurricanes:
Lowell area here.


Cool--Hi neighbor. Good luck over the next 24 hours. Fingers crossed that we don't lose power for more than a few hours (if at all)
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Quoting Grothar:
img src="">


STOP IT!
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1246. Gearsts
Quoting Grothar:
img src="">
:O Scare me!
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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.


You's in big trubbel now....
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Quoting Patrap:
Pinhole Eye? Sorry I had to say it...
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The Hurricane Track guys are right in the middle of it near Nag's head and getting great storm surge footage. Check it out:
Xtreme Weather Cam - Chat and Live Feeds
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1241. Grothar
img src="">
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Quoting owntime:
Has anyone heard from Granpa?


I told him to try to ride it out in a canoe. In hindsight, I think I may have steered him wrong. (insert frowny faced emoticon here)
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Quoting wunderweatherman123:

I know alot of people cant see the images but the 18z GFS shows a tropical storm developing in the Bay of Campeche and making landfall as a hurricane in lousiana


Link please? I am not seeing it up to 168 hours...
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Quoting MississippiWx:


You should specify the time...

It's at 300+ hours out and will most likely be gone on the next run.
hope ur right
Member Since: December 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 54
Quoting PrivateIdaho:


I'm down with NY style pizza....but I'd give a kidney for a oyster po-boy from Nawlin's.
It's kinda' sad, but there are better spots in NYC for Cajun food as well, as compared to the French Quarter. Just not nearly as many neighborhood places in NOLA that are just as good, if not better.
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1236. owntime
Has anyone heard from Granpa?
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1235. Levi32
Quoting BobinTampa:


optical illusion or did she take a turn to the NE?


She's been moving between NNE and NE for a while now.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26658
Quoting wunderweatherman123:

no as in oh no or no as in you dont believe me lol
as in New Orleans!!
Member Since: December 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 54

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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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