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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1488. Skyepony (Mod)
Flood~ You got a point..maybe I'm jaded that this wasn't so over hyped because I don't watch TWC.
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1487. Guysgal
This is taking live reporting a bit too far!

Link
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Quoting weatherh98:


Jose, put some clothes n, Irene stop playingg with the east coast 92l.. dont hurt anyone


I guess Jose saw The Weather Channel yesterday and he followed suit!
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1485. ncstorm
Quoting MrsBoomerNC:


Bite your tongue!


a one two punch..we will have to wait and see
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/08/27/do-real ly -need-national-weather-service/

Wu is mentioned as being better than the NWS in predicting temps towards the bottom.

That link was a 404
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1482. Skyepony (Mod)
I think part of the debate of Irene being called a hurricane up til a few hours ago lies in the faults of the scale..look at the chart.. Her CI numbers called her a Tropical Storm yesterday when she had Hurricane winds at the surface. This morning's pressure of 965mb is the strength of a Cat2. Though the chart doesn't bring surge into play..it's real & is closer to a Cat 2. Considering the damage occurring a hurricane warning was needed for much of the coastal NE. It's not an exact science.
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92L winds @ 25 knots, pressure @ 1010. Look for this one to ramp up comparatively quickly;

AL, 92, 2011082812, , BEST, 0, 105N, 215W, 25, 1010, DB, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1013, 180, 90, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
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Quoting BanTech:


I didn't say it wasn't a deadly or serious storm....I said it was over-hyped....which it was....to the likes I have never seen before. The media made it out as the apocalypse.


And had it made landfall as a 3 as initally predicted, it would have been. Addionally, a CAT 1 or 2 pushing borderline CAT4 surge in front of it IS the apocalypse, if you live in low lying areas...

Did the news outlets and TWC sell a lot more depends? Yes...am I pissed about it? Not really; had they treated this as a nothing there would have been people BBQing on the beach waiting for it to come in...ever been within eye sight of the beach, personally, when a even a TS is making landfall?

Yes, they over-hyped it and the leader of the pack was TWC, a once reputable outlet. SHoud they have done anything more toned down? I'm not so sure...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
1476. K8eCane

Quoting presslord:



got your call...Thanks! Our guys are somewhere along your coast...
Hey Press...They definitely got it worse further north in NC than us here in Wilmington. Do you know if anybody ever heard from Grandpato4? Had him on my mind all through this thing
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72mph unooficial gust in plymoth mass,as i was sayn,i expectsect ,providence and boston to have higher winds than nyc
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Quoting NavarreMark:


Yep. Thats why they call it weather forecasting and not weather reporting. If we could see the future, we'd all be rich. LOL


if I could find a financial advisor half as good as the NHC.......well....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting WthrBearSF:
I'm really getting frustrated with all of the NHC-bashing going on. They are NOT Gods, and therefore are known to make errors in forecasting.

Would you rather have lots of preparation for a storm that ends up being less-than-predicted, or not prepared at all for a monster storm?

Where is the gratitude and appreciation for the fact we have an institution that does it's best to keep us safe?

And although Irene didn't rake the East Coast as a CAT 3, she's still a killer, and has caused billions of dollars in damages.

So, stop the whining and complaining already. It's really beneath this blog!




I find it amazing to see how well tracking works nowadays. I do apologize earlier this week for getting mad about tracking, I was flaming at all the downcasting and i was worried people would get hurt cuz trollers in here would post bogus info.. 10 days out the models pegged this. Didn't the UKMET have the track almost exact like 5-7 days out? That's amazing considering how bad forecasting used to be.

Also, even the NHC clearly states that the worst part of modeling now is predicting the intensity. They are working on getting better, but it is the weakest link.

For everyone bashing NHC and the metero's that warned you.....Look back at the Long Island Express and thank god that at least someone is watching the tower protecting you nowadays. It is better to error on the side of safety as opposed to ignoring those trying to help you. What you have lost is a few bucks in supplies (all reusuable for other good purposes or returnable with your receipt) and some hours of preparing. What you could have lost is your life, and then what would your money, stuff, and time mean if you were dead??
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Quoting 900MB:


Yes, it would have been. But, when it is apparent that it is not, they should not hype-cast. Sounds like you are all good up there CTWXGuy. I am very thankful that we ended up with a TS!


luckily I live near a city center, where the power grid seems re-enforced and backed up. But the majority of my town has no power, and all roads are closed to all but emergency vehicles due to downed trees.

It's been a fairly scary storm for us. After seeing all the damage this has caused in Connecticut, hopefully people will have a more opened reality as to what a Hurricane even a little stronger could do around here.
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Jose, put some clothes n, Irene stop playingg with the east coast 92l.. dont hurt anyone
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Quoting K8eCane:
did anybody ever hear from grandpato4? I have had him on my mind and all my friends to the north. Up past morehead city got it worse than we did in Wilmington for sure. I have no damage except leaves and debris, thank God

I WU mailed him about 5 times, encouraging him to leave. The last time he replied (about 1AM on the 26th) he said they had decided to stay. Haven't heard from him since.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Agua:



bunch o' bull
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting BanTech:


I didn't say it wasn't a deadly or serious storm....I said it was over-hyped....which it was....to the likes I have never seen before. The media made it out as the apocalypse.


So because they were lucky and it didn't turn out to be what it could have been, it's over-hyped? I guess warning and strong warnings and precautions are only to be considered valid if they come true. Sorry, but if it is possible for something to be serious, and the signs of Irene showed she could be, and headed to an area where people tend to believe it will never happen to them, then I'm all for making them take the storm seriously.

Tell someone in the Gulf States or Florida a hurricane is coming, they prepare. Tell a New Yorker and they laugh and say 'sure'. There's an expression in upstate NY, "How do you know an New Yorker? New Yorker's know it all, you can't tell them anything." I laughed when my sister said this as I'd spent thirty minutes convincing her to go out and get some supplies. By the way, I'm originally from upstate NY, my family is originally from Brooklyn and Ireland. I have a lot of friends from NYC. I know New Yorkers, the good, the best and the worst of them.
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Quoting ncstorm:


this might be turning into 1996 for NC..


Bite your tongue!
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Recon observations support Irene's intensity...maybe drop it a little lower, but generally support a strong TS.
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we have exactly....EXACTLY...the news we ask for...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
NEARLY every major MOdel now has a future Katia develop into a Major Hurricane. Looks like currently tho it won't make it toward the ConUS but, way to early to tell yet. Stay Tuned.

Although, not much with Model support but, we need to watch the Caribbean IMO also........an awfully lot of moisture is down there.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Anyone who criticizes the NHC or NWS for their forecasts of this storm are nothing more than trolls. No ifs, ands, or buts. It was overall a very well forecast storm, especially in terms of track. No matter what the extremely ignorant people who think that it going from a FL storm a week out to a NC/New England storm is a fail.

And if people don't take the next hurricane seriously because of this storm.... they will have nobody else to blame but themselves if it turns out to be a big one.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm really getting frustrated with all of the NHC-bashing going on. They are NOT Gods, and therefore are known to make errors in forecasting.

Would you rather have lots of preparation for a storm that ends up being less-than-predicted, or not prepared at all for a monster storm?

Where is the gratitude and appreciation for the fact we have an institution that does it's best to keep us safe?

And although Irene didn't rake the East Coast as a CAT 3, she's still a killer, and has caused billions of dollars in damages.

So, stop the whining and complaining already. It's really beneath this blog!
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Quoting JonClaw:
In other news, Jose has gone streaking in the Atlantic.

\



Jose is gone streaking? Is that the same dude that mooned the camera behind Eric Fisher?
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Irene may have fizzled and not met the NYC hype she was built up to be because of the dry air intrusion for most of her life........


However historically speaking we may look back after this season and give Irene complete credit for absolutely destroying the SAL and for dissipating the dry air in the upper levels that has interfered with the formation of tropical systems all year.....

La Nina left and flushed to dry....

Irene came along and plugged up the toilet, so water is everywhere all over the floor.....

But only time will tell.....
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1454. JonClaw
In other news, Jose has gone streaking in the Atlantic.

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Quoting Tazmanian:
by the way do you guys re call ex TD 10?



will it looks like its comeing back too life





noaa has it back up



Link

The seed of Emily...lol
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1452. 900MB
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


if it hit as a Category 2 as originally forecast, it would have been pretty apocalyptic for the Northeast.


Yes, it would have been. But, when it is apparent that it is not, they should not hype-cast. Sounds like you are all good up there CTWXGuy. I am very thankful that we ended up with a TS!
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Quoting K8eCane:
Im going to "get a kit".....i have a kit but its not a kit per se. And i think it would be good if we can to donate to Portlight



got your call...Thanks! Our guys are somewhere along your coast...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting Neapolitan:
ECMWF for 9/7 (that's Wednesday of next week):

September 7th
,hmmm i'm going to nyc for the sept 11 10 year anniversary,i leave on the 8th i wonder if theirs goingto be a sequil to irene and my nyc trip includes a tc chase,though doubtfull or i'll have to cancel for a unlikely threat to my area in swfl
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So What is this Jose thing?
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Worth mentioning that the 06Z GFS has 92L (or probably Katia) quite a bit further south than before.



Also note the next CV storm not far behind.
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Quoting islander101010:
most of the media companies got agendas too



yes...profit....and, before someone jumps on me, that's fine...I think the thee most beautiful words in the English language are profit, interest and dividend....but there's not some conspiratorial mystery about media....hype sells...it ain't their fault...it's ours...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
1445. weld
I have yet to see a storm that wasn't over hyped by the media. Then they act like they are disappointed.
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by the way do you guys re call ex TD 10?



will it looks like its comeing back too life





noaa has it back up



Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
1443. K8eCane
Im going to "get a kit".....i have a kit but its not a kit per se. And i think it would be good if we can to donate to Portlight
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Quoting FLdewey:
I love social media... here is the tweet of the day:

AlexSkolnick - Just a bit of wind, nothing worriesome. Weird to see TV news headline: 'Irene batters NY' but look outside and all's calm.

lol
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if it hit as a Category 2 as originally forecast, it would have been pretty apocalyptic for the Northeast. Up here a Category 2 would be like a Category 4 in the Gulf, when put into perspective.
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1438. 900MB
Quoting P451:


Just toss it into the bucket of storms that didn't meet the forecasts.

It wouldn't be the first one.

At least this one actually tracked to here. Usually they don't even do that you know?

Last nights forecasts had sustained winds 55-75 gusting 90 in a lot of beach locations and 50-70 gusting 80 a decent distance inland.

What has occurred? I can't speak for the beaches. I saw one 10 minute squall where it was around 50 gusting around 65.

LGA had gusts in the 60s.

I'm assuming that is speaking for most of the region.


Some trees broken up in coastal NJ. Cousin said his deck boards got broken up from some flood waters off the bay.

A couple of people from Monmouth County are telling me they had some large tree branches down, some split trees, and gusts probably in the 70s. Power out in some locations. Coastal flooding and back bay flooding.

But nothing devastating.

Winds like Gloria, Coastal flooding like a strong Nor'Easter.

Seems to be what I'm gathering from it so far.



I'm not talking about forecasts, I am talking about reality. Everyone can get forecasts wrong, just don't tell me that there are sustained winds of 75mph, now 65mph when winds are 20mph with gusts to 40mph (which would be a gross overstatement at this point). In other words, don't p*ss on my leg and tell me it's raining!

That is the end of my rant for today (I hope), I believe that NHC has been misleading for the past couple of days and continues to mislead. I understand that they are exaggerating for a reason, but I just want they facts, the NHC are not our nannies!
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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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