Irene sends 4.5 foot storm surge up Chesapeake Bay

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:45 AM GMT on August 28, 2011

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The eye of Hurricane Irene is back over water, after the hurricane completed a 11-hour crossing of eastern North Carolina. Irene came ashore over Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 7:30 am EDT this morning as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. The Cedar Island Ferry Terminal measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 115 mph at 7:19am, as measured by a Department of Transportation official. I suspect this measurement came when a thunderstorm near Irene's center collapsed, sending a powerful downburst to the surface. A trained spotter on Atlantic Beach, NC 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. However, no regular weather station or buoy has measured sustained hurricane force winds in Irene, with the highest winds being 67 mph at the Cape Lookout, North Carolina buoy as Irene made landfall. Winds have peaked along the coast of Virginia, where sustained winds of 61 mph were observed at 6 pm EDT at Chesapeake Bay Light. Irene's passage over land weakened the storm slightly, and satellite loops show more dry air has wrapped into the storm. The radar presentation of Irene visible on the Norfolk, VA radar is still very impressive--Irene is dropping torrential rains over a huge area--but there is much less rain over the storm's southeastern quadrant, over water. Radar-estimated rainfall shows a 50 mile-wide band of 8+ inches of rain has fallen from where Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, northwards to Dover, Delaware. Some isolated amounts of 15+ inches may have fallen, according to the radar estimates. Bunyan, NC has received 14.00" so far, and the towns of Washington, New Bern, Grifton, Newport-Croatan, Wonona, NC, all received more than ten inches. Norfolk, Virginia had received 7.73" as of 7pm EDT, and Suffolk, Virginia, 8.00".


Figure 1. True-color MODIS image of Hurricane Irene over North Carolina taken at 11:35 am EDT August 27, 2011. At the time, Irene was a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Storm surge damage from Irene
The storm surge and wave action from Irene is likely to cause the storm's greatest damage. High tide is near 7 - 8 pm EDT tonight, meaning that the storm surges occurring now will be some of Irene's most damaging. The highest surges measured at any of NOAA's regular tide gauges at 8 pm were 4.5 feet at Sewells Point in Norfolk Virginia and Oregon Inlet, NC. Higher surges are occurring father inland where narrow inlets funnel the storm surge to higher elevations. It remains unclear if the ocean will overtop Manhattan's sea wall at The Battery Sunday morning during the 8 am high tide. Latest storm surge forecasts from SUNY Stony Brook predict a peak water level of 2.4 meters above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) at 7:15 am Sunday, which would put the ocean right at the top of the sea wall. Presumably, waves from the hurricane's winds would then push some water over the top of the wall, but it is uncertain whether or not this would cause significant flooding. The storm surge was already 1 foot at 8 pm tonight. Storm surge flooding continues to be a major concern all along the coast of Long Island Sound; I recommend the SUNY Stony Brook storm surge page for those interested in looking at observed and predicted storm surge levels along coast New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.


Figure 2. Storm surge at Sewell's Point in Norfolk, Virginia as of 8 pm EDT Saturday August 27, 2011. The green line is the storm surge, which is the difference between the observed water level (red line) and what the water level should have been without the hurricane (blue line). At 8 pm, the storm surge was 4.5 feet. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.


Figure 3. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 6:30 pm 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 shrinking hurricane-force winds (yellow and orange colors.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 290 miles from the center of Irene over water, but very few areas of land were receiving tropical storm force winds. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Wind damage
The emergence of Irene's eye over water will slow the storm's rate of weakening, but the storm is under too much wind shear to allow it to intensify. 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, and also the large majority of the tropical storm-force winds. 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 50 - 60 mph. Coastal areas of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and the New York CIty area will mostly see top winds in the 40 - 55 mph range, since they will be on the weaker left side of the storm. Winds on the upper floors of skyscrapers will be up to 30% higher, but I expect there will be only isolated problems with New York City skyscrapers suffering blown out windows. The winds from Irene in New York City will be no worse than those experienced during some of the city's major Nor'easter winter storms of the past twenty years.

Tornadoes
Four tornadoes have been spawned by Irene, two in coastal North Carolina last night, and two in coastal Virginia today. At least two homes have been destroyed, and ten others damaged by the tornadoes. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for all of coastal Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

Links
Our Weather Historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an excellent post on Historic Hurricanes from New Jersey to New England.

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

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While NYC calls this a bust, the rest of New England is getting wrecked.
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1586. JNCali

Quoting Neapolitan:

Of all the many perspicacious things you've said, this is the most perspicacious of all. ;-) To echo your sentiment: some things are simply too important to leave up to privatization. I'm not a proponent of a heavy government hand in everything--but those motivated solely by profit have proven over the centuries that they simply can't be trusted to police themselves. Period.

I don't see a difference between gov't and business.... except of course that the gov't can change the rules as needed
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1585. TX2FL
well was trying to put it on from imageshack but it wont work
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Quoting P451:


They predicted 55-75 gusting 85-90 and in some places 100.

Instead:

We got gusts in the 60s and sustained at 50 for about 10 minutes in one squall this morning - primarily it was a 35 sustained gusting 50 event.

Presently gusts in the 50s are common through the region sustained 40s. A number of places reported max gusts in the 60s.

I suspect some areas in NJ got some 60s gusting 70s based on some damage I have heard about.



In the end it did not come as told wind wise. Rain wise and flooding wise it has.

It's not quite the bust some are trying to make it out to be but those ~20mph discrepancies in forecast versus outcome would have been the difference between isolated damage and widespread damage.




This is just wrong. The NHC gives probabilities, and the odds were not high for the winds you speak of coming ashore. They were not predicting 55-75. Dr. Masters explained this well in this blog, that you repeatedly criticized for downplaying the storm.
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Quoting extreme236:
This was the basis for classifying Jose, along with ASCAT.

AL, 11, 201108280845 TAFB, MN, I, 3, 2020 /////, , , GOES13, CSC, T, SPECIAL 09z CLASSIFICATION DUE TO CONVECTION FLARING


AHHAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA nt over thecenter though
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Terra-MODIS shot of Irene after landfall in North Carolina. Click here for insanely huge resolution image.

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This was the basis for classifying Jose, along with ASCAT.

AL, 11, 201108280845 TAFB, MN, I, 3, 2020 /////, , , GOES13, CSC, T, SPECIAL 09z CLASSIFICATION DUE TO CONVECTION FLARING
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Stephanie Abrams is complaining about her hair - it is worse than we thought.
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Hey there little guy whats for dinner fish???
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Quoting TX2FL:
Wilkes Barre PA widespread flooding, and some very high wind gusts, HUGE tree branches down in my neighborhood. A friend of mine in Jersey City has water almost up to her front door probably 2 feet. I'll try to post her pictures

Wow, be safe out there...
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Despite the hype, people in Sullivan County, from what my sister said, did not do much to prepare for Irene. When she went to the store after my insistance, the shelves were fully stocked.
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1576. Ossqss
Why would anyone complain about a storm that carried Cat 3 pressure levels for so long (over land too) and yet did not develop the surface winds of such. I am very thankful it did not get its act together and quite certain there are several thousand folks alive today that are as well.
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Anybody have a like to the most recent look of pressure levels across the US?
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1574. TX2FL
Wilkes Barre PA widespread flooding, and some very high wind gusts, HUGE tree branches down in my neighborhood. A friend of mine in Jersey City has water almost up to her front door probably 2 feet. I'll try to post her pictures
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Jose on radar.


Pinhole eye... the ey is there guys see it:) ri baby
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This band over Eastern MA is starting to bring down some heavy winds across the area according to the folks.



SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
945 AM EDT SUN AUG 28 2011

MAZ004-005-012>018-020>023-026-NHZ011-012-015-RIZ 001-002-007-281445-
BARNSTABLE MA-CENTRAL MIDDLESEX COUNTY MA-CHESHIRE NH-DUKES
MA-EASTERN HILLSBOROUGH NH-EASTERN NORFOLK MA-NEWPORT RI-NORTHERN
BRISTOL MA-NORTHERN WORCESTER MA-NORTHWEST MIDDLESEX COUNTY
MA-NORTHWEST PROVIDENCE RI-SOUTHEAST MIDDLESEX MA-SOUTHEAST
PROVIDENCE RI-SOUTHERN BRISTOL MA-SOUTHERN PLYMOUTH MA-SOUTHERN
WORCESTER MA-SUFFOLK MA-WESTERN AND CENTRAL HILLSBOROUGH NH-WESTERN
NORFOLK MA-WESTERN PLYMOUTH MA-
945 AM EDT SUN AUG 28 2011

AT 942 AM EDT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
WELL DEFINED BAND OF HEAVY SHOWERS FROM NEAR FITCHBURG MASSACHUSETTS
SOUTHEASTWARD THROUGH SHREWSBURY...MILFORD...ATTLEBORO...EAST
PROVIDENCE RHODE ISLAND...AND FALL RIVER...ON SOUTHEASTWARD TO THE
WEST OF AQUINNAH. VERY STRONG WIND GUSTS...FROM 55 TO 65 MPH HAVE
BEEN REPORTED WITHIN THIS BAND. THE BAND OF SHOWERS AND STRONG WINDS
WAS LIFTING TO THE NORTH AT 40 MPH.

THIS BAND WILL AFFECT SOUTHEASTERN NEW HAMPSHIRE INCLUDING THE
NASHUA AREA...AS WELL AS MOST OF EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS INCLUDING THE
ENTIRE BOSTON METRO AREA THROUGH 1045 AM. THE WINDS MAY BE STRONG
ENOUGH TO KNOCK DOWN TREES AND POWER LINES. FOR YOUR SAFETY...DO NOT
VENTURE OUTDOORS UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

&&

LAT...LON 4257 7122 4231 7103 4177 7082 4159 7083
4157 7086 4162 7089 4153 7094 4144 7093
4145 7085 4142 7085 4141 7086 4141 7096
4144 7093 4152 7097 4148 7103 4151 7109
4170 7119 4183 7130 4251 7204 4309 7192

$$
FIELD
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Quoting MrsBoomerNC:


Levi had it pegged early-on, as well, as I recall. I pretty much ignored the Irene noise, and listened to Levi's assessments.


This was a fairly easy track once it got into the Bahamas, the ECMWF did the best.
Member Since: January 30, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 751
Quoting tpabarb:


the guy from CNN said he couldn't talk, he was tethered to the camera and he braced himself against a wall...and people walked slowly behind him, then someone rode a bike behind him.


+1
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We could see some significant river flooding over the next few days across the Northeast. This isn't over yet.
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This is two hours north of NYC, where I grew up. They are still getting the rain and winds.

Sunday 9:50 am
Thousands of NYSEG customers are without power in Sullivan County because of downed power lines. Towns that were hard hit include Thompson, Fallsburg, Liberty, Tusten. To report an outage call 800.572.1131.
There is wide-spread flash flooding in the region, with many roads impassable. State Route 17 is closed in both directions between Exits 106 and 105, due to flooding.

County Manager David P. Fanslau said: "At this time travel is restricted, and I am advising all Sullivan County residents to remain off the roadways, unless it is absolutely an emergency and travel is necessary. Only emergency responders and those authorized to assist with the storm should be on the roadways."

Sunday 7:10 am
The Town of Rockland is experiencing flooding and power outages. A voluntary evacuation has commenced in the low-lying areas. Shelters are now open in Roscoe at the Roscoe School, and the Presbyterian Church in Livingston Manor. Local Fire Departments are assisting and local and County DPW is addressing downed trees to clear roadways.

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Jose on radar.
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Quoting FLdewey:


I think he can feel the wind accelerating across his dome... and besides an anemometer would limit him to facts, which won't sell the story.

I love, LOVE any weather reporter, any network in a full get up with rain suit, goggles, helmet, etc and then some fat kid walks behind the shot in shorts.

They should make a best of video... I'd watch it.


the best ever was the Today Show reporter in the canoe.
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


Sociopaths call the storm a bust. People who are or have been in the path are thanking their deities that it wasn't worse.



She is moving into the New England States. East Quads will be over land in heavily populated areas. I have family at Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.



lmfao


Lake Webster....



ironically, she isn't fishing anymore with the windfield.
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1563. tpabarb
Quoting MZT:
Enjoy the comedy. It's especially good when they're talking about how bad it is, and you see someone in the background walking a dog or taking a smoke break! :-}


the guy from CNN said he couldn't talk, he was tethered to the camera and he braced himself against a wall...and people walked slowly behind him, then someone rode a bike behind him.
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Quoting Skyepony:


Accuweather will never let it's control of it's promise of a lovely day at Disney go... Most people don't realize they are owned by Disney. They do use it to their advantage.

Privatizing weather would be disastrous. These corporations would control what you see.

WRONG---competition would allow the best to move forward. I work as a private meteorologist, and I compete with other private companies as well as the NWS. I consistently beat the NWS with their forecasts.

My proposal: NWS does severe weather forecasting only, and keeps the data flow. Let private weather companies do the daily weather forecasts, temperature forecasts, etc. And the best would make more money in the long term.
Member Since: January 30, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 751
Quoting aislinnpaps:
They are doing rescues in Elms Ford, NY.

Flooding?
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Quoting 900MB:




That is what coastal flood advisories are for.

I think you have a good point. However, in my area (coastal SC), I often see coast flooding watch or warnings. There is not really anything to indicate the severity of the flood.
This dove-tails into the feeling that the S/S scale for tropical systems is not the best way to communicate the dangers of a storm.
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1558. ncstorm
Quoting BobinTampa:
Jim Cantore just said he measures wind speed by experience. WTH? TWC can't afford an anemometer?


Stephanie had to borrow's Al's anemometer..one of the analyst suggested that she buy Al one for Christmas..
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
lol


its a cat 5
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They are doing rescues in Elms Ford, NY.
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Southern NH report 10:00 EST
40 mph gusts, bands of rain, nothing to report.
Employment justification goes a long way to explain the hype. At least truckers get a free ride on the Mass Pike
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Quoting vortextrance:
If you know anything about forecasting hurricane intensity, you know there isn't much skill involved. If you know anything about Irene, then you know the strongest winds were always well east of the center. I would advise people to not to listen to a lot of the misinformation in here this morning.
The NWS will never be privatized. Never, and that is a good thing. Public safety should never be in the hands of a private corporation. Where would this stop? Do we privatize the military?



im not sure about that. i think yesterday the stronger winds did swing into the west quads, then over last night moved back to the east as she headed for NJ/NYC. there is alot of property damage from wind peril throughout N.C./VA/Maryland.
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Bermuda
Now

Scattered Clouds
Temperature 84.2 °F
Feels Like 91 °F
Wind(mph) 21.9
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1551. BDAwx
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
lol


I'm ready for this one. ;)
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Quoting P451:


They predicted 55-75 gusting 85-90 and in some places 100.

Instead:

We got gusts in the 60s and sustained at 50 for about 10 minutes in one squall this morning - primarily it was a 35 sustained gusting 50 event.

Presently gusts in the 50s are common through the region sustained 40s. A number of places reported max gusts in the 60s.

I suspect some areas in NJ got some 60s gusting 70s based on some damage I have heard about.



In the end it did not come as told wind wise. Rain wise and flooding wise it has.

It's not quite the bust some are trying to make it out to be but those ~20mph discrepancies in forecast versus outcome would have been the difference between isolated damage and widespread damage.



Sociopaths call the storm a bust. People who are or have been in the path are thanking their deities that it wasn't worse.
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Lol
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The trouble ain't over; lots of drainage still to come, according to this map:

flood
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lol
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Jim Cantore just said he measures wind speed by experience. WTH? TWC can't afford an anemometer?
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Quoting RukusBoondocks:
92 could follow Irenes foot steps




Irenes was olny a test for the E coast this one could be march stronger and powerfull
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Isnt it better to err on the side of caution,,,,,thanks NHC!!!
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Quoting MrsBoomerNC:


Levi had it pegged early-on, as well, as I recall. I pretty much ignored the Irene noise, and listened to Levi's assessments.



yah, and WeatherMan is also excellent. I remember watching him say he favored the western side of the cone from the leewards coming close to the conus coast (fla/ga) then heading north into the east. seaboard.


weatherman rocks. ty for all of the videos and your dedicated work without compensation. that goes for all of you in here. you do a better job than most people in the media and your doing it for free :)
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If you know anything about forecasting hurricane intensity, you know there isn't much skill involved. If you know anything about Irene, then you know the strongest winds were always well east of the center. I would advise people to not to listen to a lot of the misinformation in here this morning.
The NWS will never be privatized. Never, and that is a good thing. Public safety should never be in the hands of a private corporation. Where would this stop? Do we privatize the military?
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92 could follow Irenes foot steps
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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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