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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Quoting yonzabam:
What happens when we reach a point when so many hurricane names have been retired that there aren't enough names left? Has a retired name ever been 'unretired' and reused?


At first, I'd imagine they'd broaden the language inclusion of the names available. At the moment, they typically use English, French and Spanish primarily. The odd Germanic name slips in.

Plenty of other languages could be used.

Secondly, it's not stopped them using names very close to each other. We have Fred and we've had Frederic; we've both had Diane and Diana.

We have plenty of names already. That said, I can imagine they'll end up retiring the entire 'I' names at the rate things are going.

I don't believe there have been any exact returns of retired storms to usage, though some names have been re-used only to be retroactively retired when the idea came into force.

I've never seen anything that precludes from ever using names ever again if required (though, that may exist), though it would depend on what the name was (They're never going to use Katrina ever again, for example).
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1287. IMA
Quoting Neapolitan:
According to the New York Times and other NYC-based media, there are numerous major thoroughfares under several feet of water. Hundreds of thousands are without power. Countless trees have been toppled. The public transportation system is down. Some floodwalls have been breached. And so on.

It's human nature, I guess, that a) we are warned of a possible disaster; b) we make preparations to protect life and property; c) the event passes, and damage is minimal due to all the preparation; and then d) we whine and complain about how overhyped the whole thing was since damage to life and property was minimal.

I hope this isn't a dangerous new paradigm we're getting into: that unless a particular hurricane causes Katrina-level death and destruction, it's been "over-hyped". Now that would be a tragedy.

+++
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Very active season so far.
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Quoting osuwxguynew:
Definitely strongest winds out here on Long Beach right now, screaming outside... Now it's stronger than the blizzard.


I am listening to your Fire Department radio right now and there are calls flooding in about downed power lines and downed trees........be careful! Also flooding from the canals, but not sure where those are. they mentioned 135? Lots of roads closed due to flooding from canals.
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Quoting yonzabam:
What happens when we reach a point when so many hurricane names have been retired that there aren't enough names left? Has a retired name ever been 'unretired' and reused?




I don't think that will happen in our lifetime. Like the National Debt I think they figure we will let our children figure that one out.....lmfao
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Quoting Neapolitan:
According to the New York Times and other NYC-based media, there are numerous major thoroughfares under several feet of water. Hundreds of thousands are without power. Countless trees have been toppled. The public transportation system is down. Some floodwalls have been breached. And so on.

It's human nature, I guess, that a) we are warned of a possible disaster; b) we make preparations to protect life and property; c) the event passes, and damage is minimal due to all the preparation; and then d) we whine and complain about how overhyped the whole thing was since damage to life and property was minimal.

I hope this isn't a dangerous new paradigm we're getting into: that unless a particular hurricane causes Katrina-level death and destruction, it's been "over-hyped". Now that would be a tragedy.


that's some of it...but some of it is simply that the hype sells...it's nothing 'new'...it's just the way of things...
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Jose met the qualifications of a tropical cyclone (area of low pressure and qualifying tropical storm force winds) so it was classified. Simple as that..
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Quoting weatherwart:


Except Twinkies. Twinkies, I believe, have an indeterminate shelf life.



Hostess Twinkies.....The Official Food of Armageddon.....



*Hostess Twinkies and all logo's, references, and images are property of the Dolly Madison Company, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.




lmfao
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...wait, what?

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Quoting FLdewey:
Not a bag of Cheetos on the shelf... breaks my heart.


You happy?

Flaming Hot.
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1278. aquak9
Quoting aquak9:
from Aussie's post the massapequa cam
Link

can someone tell me exactly where that's at? I googled massapequa but it's not really a dot on a map, I'd like to know exactly where this cam is.

The dock extending out, has gone underwater in the past ten minutes.


again
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1277. SLU
JOSE? NO WAYYY!!
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1276. aquak9
Quoting P451:


Fantastic.

I wish I still had an analog barometer.

Loved watching the needle rapidly fall when Gloria's eye approached!

Did you witness something similar here?


Weems and Plath still makes them; they even have a nasty little alarm if the pressure falls "too fast".
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What happens when we reach a point when so many hurricane names have been retired that there aren't enough names left? Has a retired name ever been 'unretired' and reused?
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btw Groton CT had a 64MPH gust, Bridgeport at 63MPH on more than one occasion.
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1273. HarryMc
Quoting TerraNova:


Yup! The golden needle was the pressure two and a half hours ago. Granted, it's wasn't falling too rapidly, but if you kept your eye on it you could notice it moving. It's staying steady right now.


There was a guy on FOX earlier who had a barometer in his watch with a little graph of the last 4 hours... every met on air was jealous.
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According to the New York Times and other NYC-based media, there are numerous major thoroughfares under several feet of water. Hundreds of thousands are without power. Countless trees have been toppled. The public transportation system is down. Some floodwalls have been breached. And so on.

It's human nature, I guess, that a) we are warned of a possible disaster; b) we make preparations to protect life and property; c) the event passes, and damage is minimal due to all the preparation; and then d) we whine and complain about how overhyped the whole thing was since damage to life and property was minimal.

I hope this isn't a dangerous new paradigm we're getting into: that unless a particular hurricane causes Katrina-level death and destruction, it's been "over-hyped". Now that would be a tragedy.
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Quoting Seastep:


That's weird because it says 9.5ft here.


Link broken or no such page.
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1269. MZT
OK, here are some real Irene pics from the Raleigh News & Observer:

Manteo


Greenville:


Nags Head:
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Quoting msgambler:
Not sure about the shelf life Mark but we have some lfet over from Ivan and Katrina that we use on the boat and at the hunting camp. We keep them in a cool dry stored place and have not had any problems with them. But I'm sure there is some sort of shelf life given. I think there is one given to almost everything consumed.


Except Twinkies. Twinkies, I believe, have an indeterminate shelf life.
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Definitely strongest winds out here on Long Beach right now, screaming outside... Now it's stronger than the blizzard.
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Good morning all!

I'd like to thank the people that have provided live cam and vid links yesterday and some today. It's been an education.

There are conflicting reports on flooding at Battery Park on the web, I can't seem to find anything concrete about what's happening. Anyone got any good links in relation to this?

Also, TS Jose? What is that about? I don't think that's a good call - but then again I'm not expert.
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Quoting P451:


Global Warming caused Irene.
Irene caused the Earthquake.
Earthquake weakened the water main.

Not sure where I'm going with this but it might make Nea happy.




I think I'm gonna have to laugh at this one.
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Quoting NavarreMark:


Got folks down here still selling Ivan MREs at the flea markets. LOL

Wonder what the shelf life is on them.
Not sure about the shelf life Mark but we have some lfet over from Ivan and Katrina that we use on the boat and at the hunting camp. We keep them in a cool dry stored place and have not had any problems with them. But I'm sure there is some sort of shelf life given. I think there is one given to almost everything consumed.
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Connecticut - CL&P has about 377,059 customers without power right now.
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Quoting P451:


Fantastic.

I wish I still had an analog barometer.

Loved watching the needle rapidly fall when Gloria's eye approached!

Did you witness something similar here?


Yup! The golden needle was the pressure two and a half hours ago. Granted, it's wasn't falling too rapidly, but if you kept your eye on it you could notice it moving. It's staying steady right now.
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1261. Dakster
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Yes. Because you don't know any better.


I do not trust any media outlet on it's own...
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1259. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting reedzone:
Amazing, Irene made it to NYC as a Hurricane! Might be downgraded to a TS at 11 a.m. but still a Hurricane in NYC currently.
A HURRICANE WITH NO HURRICANE WINDS COOL
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Yeah, WeatherNerdPR. See post 1161 (page 24). No power here since Sunday at 6:00 PM. I swear if I hear the word "bolsillo" (pocket) once more I'm gonna go into a full blown panic attack.
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No way! Jose!
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Quoting P451:


TIA



Oh dammit. Neighbor's garbage can just blew in. Should I secure it or just hope the next gust makes it the other neighbor's problem?




option B.
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Quoting Zaphod:
Did the surge overtop any major floodwalls in LI or NYC?


they're at high tide now, so we should find out in a little while, but last i *heard*, manhattan was at 3.5ft (1.5 below the wall).

Waterlevels seem to be a bit higher than SUNY Stonybrook was predicting, accodring to the links provided by Dr. Masters Link
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1254. aquak9
from Aussie's post the massapequa cam
Link

can someone tell me exactly where that's at? I googled massapequa but it's not really a dot on a map, I'd like to know exactly where this cam is.

The dock extending out, has gone underwater in the past ten minutes.
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Quoting Dakster:
There is a reason it is called Faux News....

Nice pic Dewey...



Yes. Because you don't know any better.
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1251. Vero1
When is the TWC predicting the "waves of people" to flood back into NYC?
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1249. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
final

09L/TS/I
MARK
41.08N/76.05W





ALWAYS FOLLOW NHC/TPC FORECASTS FOR ALL WARNINGS REGARDING THIS STORM
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@wunderground
Weather Underground
RT @wxbrad: WOW, water levels at the Battery have jumped to 9.48'! bit.ly/oIradc #NYC #Irene
________________________-

@wunderground
Weather Underground
Flooding has reached the streets on the East River side of Lower Manhattan.
________________________

@cnnbrk
CNN Breaking News
Hudson River overflows its banks in lower Manhattan, flooding a block inland into meat packing district. on.cnn.com/qNa5U1
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Quoting FLdewey:
And along the Hudson...



OMG!! That's horrible!!!
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Quoting milo617:
Not sure if this was posted on here earlier, but on Fox "News" there is an article on killing the NWS.


FOX LINK



Two people of private business and enterprise, both of which want as limited government as possible, says public spending is bad.

Go figure.
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Quoting odinslightning:



= = = = =
i agree there is damage....i have already been deployed and there will be tons of claims. i guess i should have qualified my comment....

what i meant was as of 3 days ago there was serious hype about a cat 2 causing wind peril devastation across NJ/NYC/New England States....

the fact that this played out alot more mellow than everyone feared will cause apathy in people that don't understand the potential of hurricanes....Next time they want everyone to cooperate and take a storm seriously they will blow it off and say "yah, right, like Irene....". That's what i mean by it could prove deadly. = = = = =

New York City is still at risk for massive flooding damage, particularly but not limited to Lower Manhattan. Watching some live reports at the moment in fact (8:45 AM Eastern).

sPh
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Quoting Seastep:


That's weird because it says 9.5ft here.


It was from a little earlier...
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1241. Dakster
There is a reason it is called Faux News....

Nice pic Dewey...
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Tree down across the street from me.

Also, this speaks for itself.

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Amazing, Irene made it to NYC as a Hurricane! Might be downgraded to a TS at 11 a.m. but still a Hurricane in NYC currently.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396

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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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