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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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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Well apparently at the 11pm advisory last night SFMR measured 66kts at the sfc of Irene (and 92kt flight level), so that was their reasoning for keeping Irene as a hurricane.
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1436. whitewabit (Mod)
that cam shot of the dock is on the western sea side of Long Island...
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What if the NHC had forecast just a tropical storm, and it went to Cat 2? What would everyone be saying then.

I just don't understand people who complain because it was less than it was.

For as many years as I can remember we have prepared as if the storm would hit us directly. Then we waited. And when it didn't we certainly didn't complain. We put everything away, said great, and went back to life.

The instant gratification of this plugged in society needs to stop. Not everything can be predicted down to the zip code and the actual affects.
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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.


if it hit as a Category 2 as originally forecast, it would have been pretty apocalyptic for the Northeast.
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1431. 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
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Wind direction is shifting here. By eyeballing the trees, it looks from the west.
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Quoting P451:


You have to wonder about the entire length of the storm's track from the Bahamas all the way to here.

Seems the max sustained winds of the storm advisories never matched the recorded observations.

However that is frequently the case.

Never seen a storm have 100mph winds 115 sustained and see widespread sustained winds of 100 gusting 115 reports. In fact those scenarios usually lead to a list of maximum wind gusts - not sustained - gusts being in the 60s to 80s.

So you just have to wonder about it across the board.


As of now my max has been 50 sustained and 65 gust.
Most squalls were 35 sustained 50 gust.
The down times were usually 20 sustained 35 gust.

Forecast was 55-75 sustained, gusting 85.
Forecast now is 40-45 sustained gusting 65.

Today's forecast is what is actually occurring right now.
Yesterday's forecast was not met.

,i believ its all relitive to the size and structure of anyparticular tc
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Quoting rkay1:
We live in a media controlled country.  The more hype, the more viewers.  It worked on this blog as well.  I kept stating this was a hyped up tropical storm and I thought I was going to be crucified.

most of the media companies got agendas too thats one of the reasons why music festivals are getting so big. people are tired of it
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Quoting 900MB:


I will keep that in mind next time :)

NHC has been telling it's own story since this thing was off SC. They had it at 100 "sustained" heading to NC and 90 "sustained" at NC landfall, and across NC. But it seemed that their version of sustained is really just a gust.

Now 65 "sustained" in NYC, not even close. We are not even gusting to 40. Central Park right now is gusting to...wait for it...wait for it...11 mph!

Also, tell me the last time a landfalling hurricane in the Southern Part of NC at "90mph" with no eye and sw shear has ridden across the state, up the jersey coast, and only lost 15mph?


I know, Ive never been NHC basher, I usually trust them, and heck ,they did well with the forecast path. But Irene always fell short of the winds they advertised it as, there was a ship that recorded something like 90 mph with gusts to 100 that was south of NC, but as Irene approached the coast and moved over land, it never produced the winds they said it was.

In fact the maximum winds reported right at landfall were 65 mph, just a wee bit shy of 90 mph. That being said, what NYC is getting isn't even close to the wind fell in N.C. yet max sustained winds in N.C. were about what Irene supposedly is now.


I remember back when hurricanes actually produced winds they were rated at lol.
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1426. ncstorm
Quoting Neapolitan:
September 7th


this might be turning into 1996 for NC..
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Quoting Jtownboy:

Massapequa

Close enough.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


heck, I coulda told you yesterday that NYC wasn't going to get hurricane force winds, all you had to do what stop by and ask ;)

Once Irene pulled away from NC, it pretty much lost all its hurricane force winds, but I think the really low pressure made them fear of hurricane force winds being brought down to the surface in bands.


What I don't understand, is that a 40 to 50 mph storm that has strong hurricane force winds just above the surface doesn't make it a hurricane. I'm not sure why the NHC kept Irene as a hurricane for so long just because those strong winds "COULD" be brought back down to the surface. Irene really weakened to T.S. status as it departed off the coast of N.C. if you ask me.




Let me tell you something, I live in Tampa Bay, and in 2004 we had hurricane Frances and Jeanne hit the east coast of Florida as strong hurricanes, but by the time they crossed the state the NHC downgraded them to a T.S.

Well, winds here maxed in the 50 to 60 mph sustained with gusts of 70 to 80 mph. Which is pretty much what maximum winds were after Irene made landfall.


I will stress again, strong hurricane force winds must be felt at the surface layer to classify a storm as a hurricane. A tropical storm with hurricane force winds just above the surface that could mix down is not the definition of a hurricane, which is essentially what the NHC used for a while to keep it a hurricane.

Why, I do not know, maybe for safety reasons in case the wind mixed down. However to most people, I think it will come back to bite the NHC because most people know it was not producing hurricane force winds for a while when they were still calling it a hurricane. You can't blame people for questioning and being upset, I can't blame you.

Quoting Sfloridacat5:
The problem is when forecasters use words like "catastrophic" and "Storm of the Century" to describe a storm and it ends up being a 60 mph Tropical Storm people lose trust in forecasts.

Then the next time there's a storm they just blow it off.


There are so many untrained so-called meteorologists out there. I have been forecasting for 20 years, and I have BS, MS degrees in meteorology. But I still think the NWS should be privatized. a) more money for top forecasters...right now I have to compete with NWS. If I didn't have the NWS and only had their data, I could easily start my own company and compete. Competition creates the best forecasts!
Member Since: January 30, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 749
What other discipline does anywhere near as good a job of predicting the future?!?!?!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Massapiqua(Please tell me it's spelled right)web cam.

Massapequa
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Quoting Tazmanian:



we have 92L

I think he meant what is going to happen to 92L.
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1419. ncstorm
Quoting Tazmanian:



we have 92L


Yep
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ECMWF for 9/7 (that's Wednesday of next week):

September 7th
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The GOM is now wide open for the next 10 days......It might be hard for something to cross the Atlantic to get there but the HIGH that has been blocking the GOM is no more. Need to watch anything making to the Western Caribbean if your on the Gulf Coast.
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1415. DFWjc
Just saw this on the front page of MSNBC...

FEMA will temporarily stop paying for rebuilding projects in Joplin, southern states hit by tornadoes to pay for Hurricane Irene
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Quoting presslord:
it's not an exact science, y'all...it's not an exact science...


Amen Press...I didn't see much in the way of bashing the potentially catastrophic forcast 4 days ago
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Quoting ncstorm:
92L..very soon



we have 92L
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1412. Seastep
Quoting zawxdsk:
Looks like due to tidal influences, water at Battery Park will only go down at this point. Good news for them! Topped out at 9.51ft above normal.


Topped out there in terms of total height, at which time it was 4.36ft above normal (surge).

Surge looks like it just topped out at 4.54ft, at which time total height was 9.42ft.
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1410. 900MB
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Here comes what appears likely to be our next major Hurricane. 92L could be up to 60% at 2pm. This one really means business, excellent and unanimous strong model support, withstanding convection, good circulation.


Quoting streamtracker:


The issue was potential storm surge, not just rainfall. If the storm surge was as predicted and they didn't warn us, you'd be whining about them not doing their job.

Given the state of science, the NHC is doing an outstanding job. Just look back a decade or so, to get an idea of how far things have come. If the fools calling for shutting the NHC fail, then I expect the forecasts will get better still. In a just over a decade they have cut the tracking error in half. Let's give them a Nobel prize for that.


That is what coastal flood advisories are for.
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1409. ncstorm
92L..very soon
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it's not an exact science, y'all...it's not an exact science...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Got some water coming through the barriers onto South Street near the seaport in Manhattan.

The reporter just asked a firefighter if the road was going to be closed. He said "it's going to close itself".

ABC 7 Eyewitness News Live
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NHC - excellent with forecast track
- lots of room for improvement in storm intensity forecasting.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Extratropical storms typically have their strong winds just above the surface, so in transition the skyscrapers of NYC could get hurricane-force. But I think Irene has been downgraded.


I know it got downgraded recently, but hurricanes aren't based on what winds are in sky scrapers, we are talking surface based winds that can be measured. I'm saying it seems to me that Irene should have been down graded as a T.S. way before reaching NYC.

Technically, The coast of Delaware and NJ got hurricane force winds, but they didn't get anywhere to close when you look at actual observations. There weren't any hurricane force winds recorded by observations over water either. Sustained winds measure offshore maxed in the 50 to 60 mph range at best even off shore well south when Irene was still rated at 85 mph sustained winds.


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1402. Gorty
Quoting MoltenIce:
Wow, we have Jose now?! How did it form?


By magic.
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Quoting BanTech:
Most over-hyped storm ever.
2 unless your under it
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1400. 900MB
Quoting Jedkins01:


heck, I coulda told you yesterday that NYC wasn't going to get hurricane force winds, all you had to do what stop by and ask ;)

Once Irene pulled away from NC, it pretty much lost all its hurricane force winds, but I think the really low pressure made them fear of hurricane force winds being brought down to the surface in bands.


What I don't understand, is that a 40 to 50 mph storm that has strong hurricane force winds just above the surface doesn't make it a hurricane. I'm not sure why the NHC kept Irene as a hurricane for so long just because those strong winds "COULD" be brought back down to the surface. Irene really weakened to T.S. status as it departed off the coast of N.C. if you ask me.




Let me tell you something, I live in Tampa Bay, and in 2004 we had hurricane Frances and Jeanne hit the east coast of Florida as strong hurricanes, but by the time they crossed the state the NHC downgraded them to a T.S.

Well, winds here maxed in the 50 to 60 mph sustained with gusts of 70 to 80 mph. Which is pretty much what maximum winds were after Irene made landfall.


I will stress again, strong hurricane force winds must be felt at the surface layer to classify a storm as a hurricane. A tropical storm with hurricane force winds just above the surface that could mix down is not the definition of a hurricane, which is essentially what the NHC used for a while to keep it a hurricane.

Why, I do not know, maybe for safety reasons in case the wind mixed down. However to most people, I think it will come back to bite the NHC because most people know it was not producing hurricane force winds for a while when they were still calling it a hurricane. You can't blame people for questioning and being upset, I can't blame you.



I will keep that in mind next time :)

NHC has been telling it's own story since this thing was off SC. They had it at 100 "sustained" heading to NC and 90 "sustained" at NC landfall, and across NC. But it seemed that their version of sustained is really just a gust.

Now 65 "sustained" in NYC, not even close. We are not even gusting to 40. Central Park right now is gusting to...wait for it...wait for it...11 mph!

Also, tell me the last time a landfalling hurricane in the Southern Part of NC at "90mph" with no eye and sw shear has ridden across the state, up the jersey coast, and only lost 15mph?
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Here comes what appears likely to be our next major Hurricane. 92L could be up to 60% at 2pm. This one really means business, excellent and unanimous strong model support, withstanding convection, good circulation. Little to no SAL.
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1398. Gorty
Guys, with the hurricane by sept 7th, is that Katia that the models show?
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Quoting 900MB:


It has rained between 5" and 6" in NYC. We had record rainfall a couple weeks ago of 8" in one day and the subways were fine. BTW, the subways flood on a regular basis and the tracks, when properly maintained (which they are not) have drainage. Now, can I get my freggin subways back here?


The issue was potential storm surge, not just rainfall. If the storm surge was as predicted and they didn't warn us, you'd be whining about them not doing their job.

Given the state of science, the NHC is doing an outstanding job. Just look back a decade or so, to get an idea of how far things have come. If the fools calling for shutting the NHC fail, then I expect the forecasts will get better still. In a just over a decade they have cut the tracking error in half. Let's give them a Nobel prize for that.
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Wow, we have Jose now?! How did it form?
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1394. tkeith
Quoting aislinnpaps:


Tell that to the families of those who died. Sad to say, but in this day and age many don't listen to news just saying a 'hurricane is coming'. Unless it is rammed down their throats, they ignore. This is especially true when it's in an area where they don't get them, don't understand them and don't believe it will happen to them.
sad but true...
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Massapiqua(Please tell me it's spelled right)web cam.
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Quoting BanTech:
Most over-hyped storm ever.


Tell that to the families of those who died. Sad to say, but in this day and age many don't listen to news just saying a 'hurricane is coming'. Unless it is rammed down their throats, they ignore. This is especially true when it's in an area where they don't get them, don't understand them and don't believe it will happen to them.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


Stupid Fox News, that was one of the most ridiculous news articles Ive ever read...


Remember earlier in the decade they were talking about only allowing TWC access to NWS data (!).

Since that didn't work, they are clearly now floating the idea of shutting down NWS itself.

It's all about building a private monopoly for weather forecasting and reporting.
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Next week's topic


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red riding hood peter and those wolves
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Quoting Neapolitan:

TWC is bad--but not that bad. ;-)

Personally, I feel the 'W' in TWC has as much to do with weather as the 'M' in MTV has to do with music.



1000


Also, notice how commercial programming on TWC is generally standard day to day......they downcast alot but as soon as they flip the switch on and go into CONUS landfall mode they pull out the "special" commercial betamax tapes.....its State Farm, Serv-Pro, and hotel commercials.....Once they turn the red light on and Def Con 4 has been determined for a hurricane they completely tailor the channel to sell crap to adjusters.....
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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.