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 jdjnola:


That's a sick joke. Oh God why did the NHC just remove the "r" and the "n"?


It wasn't the National Hurricane Center's decision, it was the World Meteorological Organization's decision.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257
Quoting Titoxd:
GFS, 384 hours out. This would be Katia… :O



Can you post a link for the GFS? TIA
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Quoting P451:


Jet stream getting involved.

Here is where it can get interesting in terms of a deepening hybrid system heading extratropical. Wind fields increase substantially. Max wind speeds don't go down. Wind gusts especially freak gusts go up.

This system will not likely decay quickly like a usual tropical storm making landfall in say a GOM state. It will be a brutal wind and rain event right into Canada.



Being from a GoM state I primarily had the experience of watching gulf storms wind down quickly once the engine shut off as happened when Irene's eyewall collapsed yesterday. I imagined this storm would be gone by now, but it does seem to have taken on new dynamics in colder Atlantic waters.
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Well finally Irene's pressure rises....up to 955mb now. She should only gradually fill before hitting Long Island tomorrow, and may still be around 960-965mb by that time.
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Quoting jdjnola:


That's a sick joke. Oh God why did the NHC just remove the "r" and the "n"?
It's not the NHC, it's the WMO that determines names (I think).

Still, Katia also a proper female name.
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Quoting kmanislander:


All the foliage has pretty much recoverd now. Royal Palms I planted in my yard after Ivan that came in pots on the back of a pick up are now 40 feet high. Hard to believe the devastation to our greenery by Ivan and how it has recovered. I do miss the coconut trees when you enter East End though. So picturesque. They probably took 60 years to grow and gone in two days.I have an original painting by a well known local artist of the road into the town with all those trees. Heartbreaking to see it.The dive lodge is in the painting as well and it is gone now.
You are right about the coconut trees. It is still hard to find any coconuts and if you do people don't want to give any away. LOL.
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Quoting FLdewey:
The REEDASTROPHIC scale is Magenta.


K, you might as well add Levi in that category cause he agrees with me, watch his newest video.. This IS a Historic Hurricane.
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Quoting KEHCharleston:

I know what you mean about the south being the nation's punching bag, but honestly Press, I do not think there is any disinterest from folks in the south.
1) I noticed the blog was slower and smoother the other day, and put it down to admin doing something about the worse of the trolls
2) Once the track was set in stone, we did not have as much of the impassioned arguments as to track. (I mean folks would really be setting themselves up for crow dinner)- hence fewer posts.
3) Folks from "off" do not realize that many of us were taught to comment when we have something to offer (observations, local conditions etc) and otherwise listen to others when it comes to areas we are not as familiar with.

You sound tired and discouraged. Not like you at all.


you're a sweetheart...nah...I'm OK...my bs threshold is just at a historic all-time low ;-)
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
Quoting Titoxd:
GFS, 384 hours out. This would be Katia… :O



That's a sick joke. Oh God why did the NHC just remove the "r" and the "n"?
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Quoting Titoxd:
GFS, 384 hours out. This would be Katia… :O




and look where it heads lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114054
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I was thinking about that today after Ivan when everything was brown. That was hard to see. No trees for shade anywhere. East End looked like a desert and you know how much trees we have up here.


All the foliage has pretty much recoverd now. Royal Palms I planted in my yard after Ivan that came in pots on the back of a pick up are now 40 feet high. Hard to believe the devastation to our greenery by Ivan and how it has recovered. I do miss the coconut trees when you enter East End though. So picturesque. They probably took 60 years to grow and gone in two days.I have an original painting by a well known local artist of the road into the town with all those trees. Heartbreaking to see it.The dive lodge is in the painting as well and it is gone now.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Don't even put TWC on anymore. It is a waste of time.


CNN has pretty good coverage.
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Quoting FLdewey:
How many false earthquake reports are we up to now? I count 5

People are posting fake eqs on here? Why would someone do that? The real ones are already too much to contend with.
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Quoting Titoxd:
GFS, 384 hours out. This would be Katia… :O



Lmao. What an unfortunate coincidence.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
The two deaths in Florida so far have been one surfer and a tourist obviously swimming/surfing in rough waters. People really need to stay away from the beach and indoor for the duration of the event even if the storm is not directly affecting you or headed your way.

Talk to Yall later in the week.....
The surfer was a respected High school math teacher and left behind three kids. No matter how experienced you are please think long and hard before venturing into the ocean.
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Quoting Tracy13905:


There was a reported 2.9 magnitude earthquake in Altamont, near Albany, NY, around 6pm.

That is a tiny, tiny tremor....earthquake scale is logrithmic (sp) - A dynamite blast or a similar event could trigger that level of seismic activity
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Family in Garnet Valley PA has lost power and been under a tornado warning. In for a long night.
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Quoting Titoxd:
GFS, 384 hours out. This would be Katia… :O



Oh God please no.
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My meaningless probabilities of Irene at NYC landfall:

Strong Tropical Storm: 40%
Extratropical: 35%
Hurricane: 25%
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Quoting ncstorm:


Glad to hear that..but for TWC to call themselves the "hurricane authority" and not focus on where the hurricane would and make landfall and only pinpoint future landfalls that havent even happen yet puts them at the bottom of my list and they call themselves a weather channel?..it was bias coverage at its best..
Don't even put TWC on anymore. It is a waste of time.
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Bloomberg sure is NOT Ray Nagin. He's even warning people in Spanish. Even though the storm seems to be weakening, it's true: better to be safe than sorry.

And WOW the streets of NYC are empty! People are listening.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
CNN seems to have pretty good coverage of several areas including NC. They have at least 6 reporters in different spots.


Glad to hear that..but for TWC to call themselves the "hurricane authority" and not focus on where the hurricane would and make landfall and only pinpoint future landfalls that havent even happen yet puts them at the bottom of my list and they call themselves a weather channel?..it was bias coverage at its best..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13457
To Brock31

I am a lurker and rarely comment, but I find your opinion so cold and unfeeling I need to say something. Just because you feel like Irene was a non-event for Wilmington, doesn't mean she has not been or will not be a catastrophic event for other areas. Your comment sounded like you are down-grading her for everyone. I hope you really didn't mean it that way.
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GFS, 384 hours out. This would be Katia… :O

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Quoting FLdewey:
I'm loving the NYC hurricane prep work...

NYC hurricane prep work is probably a lot like Florida blizzard prep work.

On another note, I just heard NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg try to speak Spanish during a news conference. That was priceless.
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Anybody who is wanting to listen to the New York press conference, here is the link.

Link
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257
Quoting presslord:
Hide and watch: the North eastern corridor will be so consumed with itself...we will see scant media mention of the suffering our friends in North Carolina will endure...the South has been the nation's punching bag for a long time...it may be understandable if there's a degree of disinterest...

I know what you mean about the south being the nation's punching bag, but honestly Press, I do not think there is any disinterest from folks in the south.
1) I noticed the blog was slower and smoother the other day, and put it down to admin doing something about the worse of the trolls
2) Once the track was set in stone, we did not have as much of the impassioned arguments as to track. (I mean folks would really be setting themselves up for crow dinner)- hence fewer posts.
3) Folks from "off" do not realize that many of us were taught to comment when we have something to offer (observations, local conditions etc) and otherwise listen to others when it comes to areas we are not as familiar with.

You sound tired and discouraged. Not like you at all.
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Quoting P451:


Jet stream getting involved.

Here is where it can get interesting in terms of a deepening hybrid system heading extratropical. Wind fields increase substantially. Max wind speeds don't go down. Wind gusts especially freak gusts go up.

This system will not likely decay quickly like a usual tropical storm making landfall in say a GOM state. It will be a brutal wind and rain event right into Canada.

Isn't Irene moving pretty slow for being so far north already ? It seems to me IIRC that they usually speed up north of the Bahamas but she seems to be in no hurry to exit the picture and that is what will cause the most damage.
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Quoting Krycek1984:


It was an 85 MPH hurricane according to the NHC, yes. But as Dr. Master's pointed out, no stations experienced sustained hurricane conditions.

In fact, if I remember correctly, the NHC had consistent difficulty finding surface wind readings that matched their expectations.

The worst winds apparently are over the ocean.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5561
Does anyone have any #'s concerning surge in NC? I haven't been able to obtain any official measurements of surge at landfall and on the OBX
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Quoting Chapelhill:
It has a warm core to the storm (tropical), but it has a pressure and wind field (baroclinic) like a nor'easter.

Isn't there a site that allows you to determine whether a system is warm or cold core? I can't remember the link.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I know and I agree about that but we shouldn't all be lumped together.

Which was the argument I made to him yesterday. Why insult the many, when you are referring to the few.
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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.


Its just weird so far it hasn't happen yet. Could not have imagined what Irene would have done in the Gulf. Too much potential Heat energy and extreme water temperature still in the Caribbean and the Gulf.:0
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Quoting Cayman2010:

To be fair, there is one very vocal Cayman blogger who tends to call for every invest to become a cat 5 and head our way. There are many, many more who don't.
I know and I agree about that but we shouldn't all be lumped together.
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I apologize for the mistake. Irene is INTENSE as a Category 3 storm, pressure remains at 951 mlb. That's a Category 3 Hurricane pressure. As goes for the damage, sorry, was watching the news, heard couple people died so far. Also saw some pretty bad damage, worse then a category 1 storm. I'm still confident that Irene will be a Hurricane at landfall on western Long Island.
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Quoting tazzer06:
Can someone explain what the mean when they say the storm is hybrid! TIA
It has a warm core to the storm (tropical), but it has a pressure and wind field (baroclinic) like a nor'easter.

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Quoting ncstorm:


The Carolinas according to TWC were never the news..it was always about points northward, especially NY..I turned the TV off of TWC and this was the consensous among a lot of people I knew here in Wilmington..it got terribly old to hear about Irene and NY but yet Irene had to travel through NC to get to NY..PR, Bahamas and NC are the forgotten land masses for Irene....
CNN seems to have pretty good coverage of several areas including NC. They have at least 6 reporters in different spots.
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Quoting presslord:


and nine months from now...they're gonna be reporting a whole lot more..,.


LOL!! way to kill time!
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13457
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Anyway, no hard feelings and I don't know about anyone else in Cayman but I sure as he@# can do without another hurricane hitting here.

To be fair, there is one very vocal Cayman blogger who tends to call for every invest to become a cat 5 and head our way. There are many, many more who don't.
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to think if this was january we could of been looking at a normal winter time blizzard with strong winds you be posting pictures of 5 foot snow drifts nothing worst than a strong winter storm stop being drama queens
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Quoting kmanislander:


If I could guarantee you rain only I would send it :-)


Houston hit all time record high of 109, tied the old record set 2000
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Quoting P451:


Jet stream getting involved.

Here is where it can get interesting in terms of a deepening hybrid system heading extratropical. Wind fields increase substantially. Max wind speeds don't go down. Wind gusts especially freak gusts go up.

This system will not likely decay quickly like a usual tropical storm making landfall in say a GOM state. It will be a brutal wind and rain event right into Canada.



and to infinity and beyoooooond (or Iceland)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting kmanislander:


The only green that will be left when the storm is gone will be the fronds underneath the shrink wrap LMAO

They even shrink wrapped the planter box !!. Why not take it inside ??
I was thinking about that today after Ivan when everything was brown. That was hard to see. No trees for shade anywhere. East End looked like a desert and you know how much trees we have up here.
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Quoting blsealevel:
Earth Quake again in Dc not confirmed yet


Nothing here: Link
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Bring that rain to TX bud!


If I could guarantee you rain only I would send it :-)
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About JeffMasters

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