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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One of my worries is that people fled the coast and then will end up in trouble anyway from flooding farther inland on creeks and rivers that are overflowing their banks.
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What's with all the screaming on the Times Square Cam? Irene arrival celebrations?
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00Z GFS shows no BOC development and NO La. storm. changes run to run
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835. JLPR2
Quoting redwagon:


But what's that kinky little low in the BOC? A pre-Hermine? Prayers that it is.....


Looses it in this run.
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501C is not a free ride.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


The large high over the NE has been a permanent feature in the long range on the models. As in...they keep forecasting it to happen. That, combined with the break down of the Texas ridge, spells trouble.


The TCFP has been calling for something in purple and blue in the GOM for weeks now. Moisture has been sandblasted out of the gulf to the SW for the last week,
is that coming to an end finally?
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Quoting IFuSAYso:


LOL, burt us tax men want our share.


And you'd get it too! Lol.
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Quoting reedzone:


I know.. It's like Dr. Masters is god or something.. It was wrong for the Doc, while I respect him, to claim that Irene would not be a Hurricane in NYC.. Yet pressure remains under 960 mlb. with winds over Hurricane force. I didn't think he would quickly downplay Irene.


No one here is saying it won't be bad. Or that it is insignificant.

But most of us aren't on here trying to tell everyone that this is the equivalent of a Cat 3. Or that it's going to be the most historic thing ever! That's the problem with our society nowadays. People think almost everything is historic or unprecedented. The boring truth is that it's usually not.

And BTW it may technically be a hurricane but I am about 99% certain no one from this point on will experience sustained hurricane winds...people barely did in NC, let alone NYC. I am worried about the surge in the NYC/NJ area...I hope that everyone will be OK.

My suspicion at this point is that deaths will come from trees falling and freshwater/river/creek flooding inland.

It will be interesting to see if long-timers in NC/VA think Fran/Isabel were worse or not.

I am eagerly awaiting some measurements in the coming days of surge...I haven't been able to locate any actual measurements of surge in NC & VA.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


LOL...Sure, as long as we can split the winnings!


LOL, burt us tax men want our share.
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Maryland

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-s t-marys-dam-failure-20110827,0,7021627.story

Just before 11 p.m. Saturday, St. Mary's County issued a 911 Code Red emergency notification to residents downstream from St. Mary's Lake Dam of a potential dam failure. According to the county website, failure of the dam could cause significant flooding.

Residents within the affected area were advised to move people and pets to high locations or upper floors of buildings with a means of escape, as well as turn off gas, electricity and water if water is about to enter the home.

They should also avoid walking in, driving in or touching flood water and wash hands thoroughly after touching it.
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Quoting P451:



Yeah, she's coming, and full of fury for MD/DE/NJ/NYC/CT/Long Island.




It seems faster now, what is the forward speed?
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Quoting reedzone:
Death toll rises to 10


Again, this storm is not over-hyped. Prime example.

Terrible news.
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Quoting reedzone:
Death toll rises to 10
hmm...wiki says 11, is that in the states only?
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:

From: BethanyWoowoo


To: ShenValleyFlyFish
Date: 2011-08-28 00:33:55 (12:33 AM EDT)
Subject: Blog comment

Your blog comment is just disgusting. Co-worker abuse is never acceptable and certainly should not be bragged about on a blog. I am just very disturbed. I have read the blog for a long time and I respected you until that comment was made. You sir, are a criminal.

@@@@@@@@@@
MissippyWx

D@^^N you're clairvoyant! Got the #s for tomorrows Power-Ball?


LOL...Sure, as long as we can split the winnings!
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823. BDAwx
Typhoon Nanmadol approaching Taiwan as a slight commercial break from Irene...
Radar Link
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Death toll rises to 10
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Quoting weatherman321:
That is an intense band coming into NY right now...


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Quoting JLPR2:
That's one intense low recurving on the GFS.


But what's that kinky little low in the BOC? A pre-Hermine? Prayers that it is.....
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Quoting kmanislander:


That's my thinking. In a neutral year like this it would be a miracle if we didn't get a couple of big ones in the Caribbean. Hope it doesn't happen but the set up favours trouble down this way and then into the GOM.
Why do you think something is going to happen in the GOM?
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Oh, watch out now. You'll get a dirty dirty e-mail from some troll named BethanyWooWoo for making that statement.

I was called a racist, amongst other things for making the statement you quoted. Was also told that Mississippians deserved to die. It was ridiculous, but quite humorous at the same time.

From: BethanyWoowoo


To: ShenValleyFlyFish
Date: 2011-08-28 00:33:55 (12:33 AM EDT)
Subject: Blog comment

Your blog comment is just disgusting. Co-worker abuse is never acceptable and certainly should not be bragged about on a blog. I am just very disturbed. I have read the blog for a long time and I respected you until that comment was made. You sir, are a criminal.

@@@@@@@@@@
MissippyWx

D@^^N you're clairvoyant! Got the #s for tomorrows Power-Ball?
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That is an intense band coming into NY right now...
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Time: 04:43:30Z
Coordinates: 37.8333N 75.1W
Acft. Static Air Press: 696.7 mb (~ 20.57 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,739 meters (~ 8,986 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 955.3 mb (~ 28.21 inHg)
D-value:
-



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Quoting j2008:
Yea I might wanna get my crow ready but I think 92 is gonna go to the carrebean/GOM, hopefully not that strong but you never know.
Who knows at 200 + hrs. out it might put it right over Tampa Bay like it did with Irene for days on ends :P
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Quoting BrockBerlin:


Can we also get some love for far southeastern Louisiana I lived in Central St.Bernard we did not get hit as hard as say the Waveland/Lower Plaquemine area, but probably were hit as hard as say Biloxi.


Absolutely..my mistake living on the MS Coast and experiencing the eastern eyewall and seeing the devestation along the entire MS Gulf Coast just makes me aggravated always hearing and reading "Katrina hit NOLA" and I know its that way for people south of NOLA.. St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish are completely left out of discussion as well as St. Tammany and the Mississippi Coast even Coastal Alabama but the focus is always on New Orleans
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Delaware i think..was just on CNN
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Quoting JLPR2:


Nothing is too likely? :)

But yeah, too early to know for sure where it could end up.
Pretty much, lol. It's like the domino effect. Organized quickly = higher chances of an early recurvature. Slower organization = more westward movement, less poleward component in direction.

Quoting MississippiWx:


I agree with you and have been making the same statements. However, we may been underestimating the conditions in the Eastern Atlantic. We are getting close to the peak of the season, especially in the Cape Verde region and now is the time when we could have a quickly developing tropical cyclone out there. However, I'm sticking to my original statement that potential Jose is being developed too quickly.
Lol, I was looking down the blog after I posted to see we both share the same thoughts.

As you mentioned, the conditions in the eastern Atlantic are pretty conducive...a little too conducive for my liking. SAL is low, and upper-level winds are about 10-15 knots. There's still a long ways to go before anything gets designated however. TPW only reveals broad cyclonic curvature, as does satellite imagery. If I were to make any bets, 11L in 3, maybe 4 days, sounds about right.
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Did anyboy else just see those 3 poor sisters at some hotel in Jersey on TWC. I loved it when TWC guy said to one "I bet you'll be looking forward to leaving tomorrow?"...and the response was, "Well, actually I'm liking the action here".
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I've been living in NYC for 10 years, and I can already say, that these winds are already on par with the noreasters that I've seen, and the inner bands and core are still hundreds of miles away.
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Quoting KrazyKaneLove:
potential dam break in St. Mary County? ruh roh


Where is that? What state?
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some rainfall totals
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Quoting JLPR2:
That's one intense low recurving on the GFS.


The large high over the NE has been a permanent feature in the long range on the models. As in...they keep forecasting it to happen. That, combined with the break down of the Texas ridge, spells trouble.
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potential dam break in St. Mary County? ruh roh
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Quoting P451:


You've tried all day in fact all week as have I.

It just falls on deaf ears, bud.



I know.. It's like Dr. Masters is god or something.. It was wrong for the Doc, while I respect him, to claim that Irene would not be a Hurricane in NYC.. Yet pressure remains under 960 mlb. with winds over Hurricane force. I didn't think he would quickly downplay Irene.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
92L is pretty far south, a recurvature early in the game isn't too likely, unless it were to intensify at a pace similar to what is being depicted by the global models, which also isn't too likely lol.


Could be another NE caribbean storm if it takes time to develop...
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Quoting hahaguy:
I better leave the blog now before it starts getting weird.


More like you better leave the blog before it starts getting normal. It's always weird in the early shift.
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801. JLPR2
That's one intense low recurving on the GFS.
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Quoting presslord:


emphatic agreement


Lol...I figured so.
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I better leave the blog now before it starts getting weird.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


So did you + or ! that comment??


emphatic agreement
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
92L is pretty far south, a recurvature isn't too likely, unless it were to intensify at a pace similar to what is being depicted by the global models, which also isn't too likely lol.


I agree with you and have been making the same statements. However, we may been underestimating the conditions in the Eastern Atlantic. We are getting close to the peak of the season, especially in the Cape Verde region and now is the time when we could have a quickly developing tropical cyclone out there. However, I'm sticking to my original statement that potential Jose is being developed too quickly.
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795. JLPR2
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
92L is pretty far south, a recurvature isn't too likely, unless it were to intensify at a pace similar to what is being depicted by the global models, which also isn't too likely lol.


Nothing is too likely? :)

But yeah, too early to know for sure where it could end up.
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on the link that was posted for the gfs, shows it curving out to sea
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793. j2008
Quoting Clearwater1:
Not on this run, but each run has had it move a little further west. Still a long ways away.
Yea I might wanna get my crow ready but I think 92 is gonna go to the carrebean/GOM, hopefully not that strong but you never know.
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Quoting P451:
Can I get a WOW!! ?





Uh, it's quite obvious why she's not weakening. However, my power is weakening and it looks like I don't have much time left before losing it. Next rain band will do me in it's twice as strong if not more.



Yep, you sure can. W O W!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
92L is pretty far south, a recurvature isn't too likely, unless it were to intensify at a pace similar to what is being depicted by the global models, which also isn't too likely lol.



+1
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Quoting presslord:


she seems to be making the rounds


So she's a lady of the night type of troll? Makes sense. :-)
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.