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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NHC said the water at battery park was 8.6 ft. Does that mean flooding is occurring down there?
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1185. IMA
Quoting CharlestonTigress:
I know most people have me on their ignore list but in case somebody doesn't, could you tell me where I can go to learn more about the different models for long-range predictions, like of 92L?

There's some info, including a "users guide"Here. There are also links to YouTube training videos.
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Quoting reedzone:
I hope you guys up there are doing alright, map shows that Long Island is receiving sustained Hurricane force winds. Irene made an early landfall in NJ, heading towards NYC/Western Long Island as a 75 mph, INTENSE Hurricane, pressure of 963 mlb. = Category 3 storm. History is being made folks, first Hurricane to hit NYC in decades.
,show me one observation of sustained surface hurricane forced inds,i cannot find one in the last 12hrs!!!,dont believe the "maps",especially the wind field parameter maps,their not accurate,though l.i. is in for quite a morning,winds sustained around 65mph,gusts to maybe 75
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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.

so far the death toll is at 10 from a weak cat 1 so I would remind them of that fact.
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NHC do a very difficult job in often testing circumstances. Every call is hung on by millions of people. They often don't get enough credit.

However, it doesn't mean you can't scratch your head at some of the things they do.

Even other meteorological agencies do at times.
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ATCF agrees that Irene is a hurricane no more:

AL, 09, 2011082812, , BEST, 0, 403N, 741W, 55, 963, TS, 50, NEQ, 150, 150, 80, 30,
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06z GFS is now also indicating that behind 92L, another Tropical Storm will try to develop off Africa, emerging off the coast in 150 hours and developing shortly there after. NOGAPS also believes this will happen. ECMWF and the CMC do not though.

We've seen 6 named storms this month, and we might see 7. At that rate of naming, we could see 7 in September. That would put us at 17 named storms. Then we could probably see 3 more in October and 1 in November. 21 named storms easy. Could see a Greek letter TS in November if I'm under.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
I see that, sadly, the armchair quarterbacks and second-guessers are out in force this morning. And I don't mean just here in this forum; they're all over the internet and TV. I realize it's easy to find fault with the NHC; no matter what happens, they're accused of incompetence and malfeasance, and even criminal behavior is sometimes hinted at. They're asked to provide accurate and precise forecasts days in advance, forecasts that absolutely nail track, intensity, and duration, and if they get even one of those aspects wrong by a few degrees, they're endlessly chastised. Slightly overestimate intensity, and they're accused of "overhyping"; slightly underestimate it, and they're accused of stupidity. Ditto track. Ditto duration. Ditto total rainfall. Ditto surge. Ditto...well, pretty much everything. (In fact, it can be seen again this morning with the designation of TS Jose. Some are laughing at the NHC for upgrading him, but many of these would likely be the same people piling on them for not classifying Jose if he were to strike, say, Bermuda.)

Bottom line: in the eyes of some, the experts at the NHC can do nothing but wrong.

Knowing that their forecasts help guide decisions that sometimes affect millions of people and millions of dollars must induce an enormous overload of professional stress to which I, personally, wouldn't want to be subject. How demeaning and frustrating it must be, then, that their centuries of combined education, experience, and wisdom are easily dismissed by, say, uneducated internet forum denizens, or the countless pretty-faced theater majors with no meteorology training whatsoever reading weather on local newscasts.

Maddening, it is. Truly maddening.

Totally agree.
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Quoting leelee75k:
Irene is a storm that will have lots of conspiracy and weather manipulation theories attached to it when people discuss it in the future. She was strange to begin with and remains a very strange storm. I'm glad the NE didn't the get the worst of what could have been, sad though that some people seem to want or feel that catastrophic destruction is necessary or the storm is a bust.



once the dry air wrapped into her around the Fla/GA border she really had the legs knocked out from under her. That said she was a very strong cat, she maintained, overcame, and did hold together when many other storms would have folded...
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1173. cutgr
Quoting KarenRei:
Once again, well, what do you want, for them to be psychic and know which ones will collapse and which won't? Or do you want them to downplay everything just in case a storm will collapse, so when a Katrina comes along, nobody leaves?



yes lets create mass hysteria for ratings.that seems like the right thing to do.
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Quoting justalurker:


+!

Exactly.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
I see that, sadly, the armchair quarterbacks and second-guessers are out in force this morning. And I don't mean just here in this forum; they're all over the internet and TV. I realize it's easy to find fault with the NHC; no matter what happens, they're accused of incompetence and malfeasance, and even criminal behavior is sometimes hinted at. They're asked to provide accurate and precise forecasts days in advance, forecasts that absolutely nail track, intensity, and duration, and if they get even one of those aspects wrong by a few degrees, they're endlessly chastised. Slightly overestimate intensity, and they're accused of "overhyping"; slightly underestimate it, and they're accused of stupidity. Ditto track. Ditto duration. Ditto total rainfall. Ditto surge. Ditto...well, pretty much everything. (In fact, it can be seen again this morning with the designation of TS Jose. Some are laughing at the NHC for upgrading him, but many of these would likely be the same people piling on them for not classifying Jose if he were to strike, say, Bermuda.)

Bottom line: in the eyes of some, the experts at the NHC can do nothing but wrong.

Knowing that their forecasts help guide decisions that sometimes affect millions of people and millions of dollars must induce an enormous overload of professional stress to which I, personally, wouldn't want to be subject. How demeaning and frustrating it must be, then, that their centuries of combined education, experience, and wisdom are easily dismissed by, say, uneducated internet forum denizens, or the countless pretty-faced theater majors with no meteorology training whatsoever reading weather on local newscasts.

Maddening, it is. Truly maddening.


+!
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Quoting AussieStorm:
I'm going to post a few cam link again.




Thank you!! I have been curious all night how Cape May fared.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Right now there is VERY strong consensus, stronger than Irene even had, that 92L will become Katia, and a very powerful hurricane at that. GFS, CMC, ECMWF, UKMET, and NOGAPS all indicate this and have been very consistent for the last 3-4 days or so.


Oh Joy. We typically have something on our heels Labor Day weekend but this year I'm planning a 50th wedding anniversary for my parents, beachside, waterfront, so all storms must plan accordingly...
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TS Jose is a shock. It looks bad enough on sattilite.
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I see that, sadly, the armchair quarterbacks and second-guessers are out in force this morning. And I don't mean just here in this forum; they're all over the internet and TV. I realize it's easy to find fault with the NHC; no matter what happens, they're accused of incompetence and malfeasance, and even criminal behavior is sometimes hinted at. They're asked to provide accurate and precise forecasts days in advance, forecasts that absolutely nail track, intensity, and duration, and if they get even one of those aspects wrong by a few degrees, they're endlessly chastised. Slightly overestimate intensity, and they're accused of "overhyping"; slightly underestimate it, and they're accused of stupidity. Ditto track. Ditto duration. Ditto total rainfall. Ditto surge. Ditto...well, pretty much everything. (In fact, it can be seen again this morning with the designation of TS Jose. Some are laughing at the NHC for upgrading him, but many of these would likely be the same people piling on them for not classifying Jose if he were to strike, say, Bermuda.)

Bottom line: in the eyes of some, the experts at the NHC can do nothing but wrong.

Knowing that their forecasts help guide decisions that sometimes affect millions of people and millions of dollars must induce an enormous overload of professional stress to which I, personally, wouldn't want to be subject. How demeaning and frustrating it must be, then, that their centuries of combined education, experience, and wisdom are easily dismissed by, say, uneducated internet forum denizens, or the countless pretty-faced theater majors with no meteorology training whatsoever reading weather on local newscasts.

Maddening, it is. Truly maddening.
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Irene is a storm that will have lots of conspiracy and weather manipulation theories attached to it when people discuss it in the future. She was strange to begin with and remains a very strange storm. I'm glad the NE didn't the get the worst of what could have been, sad though that some people seem to want or feel that catastrophic destruction is necessary or the storm is a bust.
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Quoting P451:


This is just so the African Wave can be called Katia and threaten the GOM as Katrina's replacement.

See, and people called me crazy last night for saying this was planned!

lol.



lol call Spooky Mulder and Skully. I think Black Lung is involved with the naming system......damn purity! lol
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Quoting WxLogic:
92L Info (since it may be a potential threat to the Northern Leeward Islands.


Thanks a lot for the info, WxLogic. I'm STILL without power a week after Irene (San Juan, PR) and haven't had the chance to check out what else is forming out there. Bad time to be out of the loop, especially now that we are about to hit the peak of the season. *cue THE GRAPHIC*

I hope everyone still on Irene's path is safe. This was mostly a rain event when it hit us and it was bad. Worst part for me was last Tuesday. Even though I don't live in a flood-prone area I couldn't get home from work that day. Had to call a relative to ask for shelter. First time in 27 years that I've been living here that I can't gain access from any of the 4 routes. So even though Irene "may not look like much now", I hope people pay attention to it and don't take unnecessary risks.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
,i doubtbyour winds get much stronger,suprised you had gusts in the 60's i cannot find any reports that high in westchester,this is about 20mph under what forecast,i was calling fo40-50 mph,gusts to 70


I think part of the wind issue may be anemometer obstruction, and /or improper mounting height. I know that can greatly reduce the winds that are displayed vs what is actually occurring.
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Right now there is VERY strong consensus, stronger than Irene even had, that 92L will become Katia, and a very powerful hurricane at that. GFS, CMC, ECMWF, UKMET, and NOGAPS all indicate this and have been very consistent for the last 3-4 days or so.
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Link Irene Recovery Map...shows what's closed, etc....
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Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


oh yeah because historic flooding in NJ and several hundred thousand power outages and already 1 death in CT is "dodging a bullet". Maybe if you are comparing it to a Category 2 or 3 landfall.



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.
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Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


oh yeah because historic flooding in NJ and several hundred thousand power outages and already 1 death in CT is "dodging a bullet". Maybe if you are comparing it to a Category 2 or 3 landfall.


+1
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Quoting TampaTom:


THANK YOU!


Someone on that Long Beach webcam is hoping insurance will buy them a new truck I guess.
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I uploaded some vids of hurricane irene one of the weak western eyewall/flooding my poor poor garden tis it will never recover, a 50 mph wind gust measured by my personal weather station, and the exremely heavy rain, go check em out at. www.youtube.com/agentwhite8
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Quoting P451:
Six days of Irene, wv imagery, 90 minutes between frames.



Six days of torture.
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Been on the phone with Kingston, NY (90 miles north of NYC): steady rain since about 7pm yesterday. Not really too much in the way of winds-- gusty. there's a couple of small branches down, but that's not too abnormal. around 4 inches of rain so far. NWS calling for up to two more inches. maybe another two inches. Over 31,000 people without power atm (~34% of population.)

[edit:] multiple reports of basement flooding... ground was already wet before irene. Kingston is pretty wind sheltered... need that north wind down the valley. areas outside of the city probably have better winds


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1149. Vero1
Quoting starbuck02:
wtf Jose?

Where did he come from???
Africa
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The 1936-esque run continues... their 10th storm was also named on this date.

Although, they still had 9-3-0 (which would become 9-4-0).
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1147. Seastep
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
This'll be a storm to remember.


LOL
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I hope you guys up there are doing alright, map shows that Long Island is receiving sustained Hurricane force winds. Irene made an early landfall in NJ, heading towards NYC/Western Long Island as a 75 mph, INTENSE Hurricane, pressure of 963 mlb. = Category 3 storm. History is being made folks, first Hurricane to hit NYC in decades.
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This'll be a storm to remember.
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NO WAY JOSE
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Quoting odinslightning:
on the one hand....people from NJ to Mass have dodged a bullet which is a good thing....


on the other hand.....this will create apathy and cause people to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear next time something is heading up north like this.....That in the long run could prove extremely deadly for millions....


oh yeah because historic flooding in NJ and several hundred thousand power outages and already 1 death in CT is "dodging a bullet". Maybe if you are comparing it to a Category 2 or 3 landfall.
Member Since: November 17, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 527
This is going to be quite the controversial upgrade for years to come, but who am I to doubt the NHC. Let them have a little name liberty I say. Anyways, Jose isn't much of a threat to develop further and should be gone by the end of the day with a very minuscule ACE production too. Its 92L though, that will be the real ACE buster.
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Quoting stormdane:
Flooding at Long Beach
Link

Storm Surge + High Tide = Flooding
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1139. Seastep
Quoting stormdane:
Flooding at Long Beach
Link


Yeah, and why would you put your truck there?
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They upgraded a naked swirl!!! Go figure!
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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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