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 RitaEvac:


Bring that rain to TX bud!


If I could guarantee you rain only I would send it :-)
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
Of course. The Carolinas(as they refer to you) are yesterday's news already. The media is going to report this with a bias towards Washington D.C. on up, with NYC and it's suburbs the magnet.


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....
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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.


Bring that rain to TX bud!
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Quoting blsealevel:


Might of been just a aftershock or something I havnt seen nothing confirming any thing as of yet anyway


http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsw w/Quakes/ld60024901.php
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333. zingo
The USGS is not saying nothin' 'bout no earthquake and they should know. Check out their web page.
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Quoting P451:



I think you're kinda missing the point of my posts....and taking something out of them that isn't there.
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.
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Quoting JGreco:


A/B high should strengthen since the Texas High is forecast to significantly weaken beginning on Monday. Some areas in Texas have some pretty dramatic temperature drops next week. Those two highs typically teeter-totter back in forth so one could kind of assume that the A/B will win out for the next few weeks. Not good for the entire CONUS:o


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.
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Irene's outlfow is stretching halfway across the Atlantic!

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They all ready blamed the hurricane on global warming with a few quotes from Dr. Masters thrown in.
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Quoting P451:


You seem to either miss out on or ignore the blog dynamics that wishcast storms to those five locations and nowhere else. Once those five locations are out of the woods the storm is considered a fish or dead and this place shuts down quicker than (insert your own joke here) until the next invest pops up 4,000 miles away on a 384 hour model run.



And as I stated to you yesterday you generalise on the basis of a small handful of bloggers whilst disregarding the vast majority of others.
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Quoting Brock31:
Yawn....Irene wasn't much worse that a long duration T-storm here in Wilm. Nc

92L looks like the next player.

At least 3 forecast models develop it and bring it west.

Thoughts?
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Has anyone thought maybe they have found the missing link to weakening storms? pressure of a cat 3 but winds nowhere near where they should be, also same thing with Ike. Maybe a secret formula has finally worked on these storms, we are now IN CONTROL OF NATURE
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Quoting presslord:


oh my God...they've shrink wrapped their shubbery...


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 ??
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I could say steering currents in the WPAC are relatively weak for this time being. Severe Tropical Storm Talas is almost stationary, Nanmadol was also stationary while off the coast of Luzon.
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320. amd
Quoting txag91met:


Just like I mentioned on this board earlier, expect the pressure to start rising now...water temps are 74-78F, and entrainment of dry air will push the pressure up (slowly).


absolutely, for all the talk about jet streaks and strong winds west of a weakening tropical cyclone north of 35 degrees north, the basics of a tropical cyclone still has not changed. To sustain a tropical cyclone, you need the warm water like you mention, lack of dry air, and lack of shear to inject that dry air into the cyclone.

The only ways that I know that one can sustain or even intensify winds of a tropical cyclone entering cooler waters is to have either have a very cold upper troposphere so that thunderstorm development can occur to maintain that warm core, or to have baroclinic enhancement due to dramatically different temperatures between two opposite side of the tropical cyclone. We saw the former in some of the late 2005 cyclones (Vince, Eplison), and we saw the latter last year (Igor near Newfoundland).

Those two things are not going on with Irene. IMO.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


And I am talking about the real world - Irene was an 85 mph Category 1 hurricane at landfall this morning.


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.
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Quoting bassis:


Nothing on the usgs.gov site


Might of been just a aftershock or something I havnt seen nothing confirming any thing as of yet anyway
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316. Oct8
Outages maps:

https://www.firstenergycorp.com/outages/outages.d o?state_code=NJ

Interesting to consider that two factors operate. Storm intensity and infrastructure density. Trenton is getting a lot of outage despite being inland.
Member Since: August 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
Quoting kmanislander:


The models take it to 40W and then sugegst that it will pull up to the NW. Until we get a closed low the models don't mean much IMO. Too early to say but the AB high is not likely to stay as far offshore the SE US as it has so far this season.



A/B high should strengthen since the Texas High is forecast to significantly weaken beginning on Monday. Some areas in Texas have some pretty dramatic temperature drops next week. Those two highs typically teeter-totter back in forth so one could kind of assume that the A/B will win out for the next few weeks. Not good for the entire CONUS:o
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
Good Evening. Just got back to North Florida after driving to Connecticut and leaving our oldest in College in New Haven on Wednesday. Been talking to her on the phone and all the kids (they all stayed) have been supplied with water and food to hunker down for the night and day tomorrow. Local police authorities in New Haven "shut down" a pending party at a local watering hole (The Toad) so the college kids can comply with their local dorm curfew. We took I-85-I-75 back down over the last two days and missed the weather and traffic on I-95 but saw lots of electric utility trucks from Atlanta Power headed North from Atlanta on I-75 yesterday.......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.....
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313. eye
92L is a fish, and we had our first TD of the season NOT turn into a TS.....there isnt anything else out there.
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Quoting P451:


You seem to either miss out on or ignore the blog dynamics that wishcast storms to those five locations and nowhere else. Once those five locations are out of the woods the storm is considered a fish or dead and this place shuts down quicker than (insert your own joke here) until the next invest pops up 4,000 miles away on a 384 hour model run.


Put it however you want but I (Cayman Islands ) have been on here from the birth of Irene and feel for anyone in the path of a TD, TS or hurricane. I don't wish for a storm to come here or anywhere else. When a storm is heading away from here I still lurk but it does not make sense for me to post since I know nothing about the geography of where it is going. Doesn't mean I think is is a nothing storm. Other than JFV and a few others I don't think any sensible human being wishes for the destruction of a hurricane Cat 1-5 to come anywhere near them.
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Quoting ncstorm:
Hurricane Baby: Couple Gives Birth During Irene

New Hanover Regional Medical Center (Wilmington, NC) reported a dozen new babies within the near 17-hour lockdown of the hospital, and eight mothers in waiting. Now that the lockdown is lifted, the hospital expects several more soon-to-be mothers to rush in.


and nine months from now...they're gonna be reporting a whole lot more..,.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
It's time to pray for those in the Canadian Maritimes.


Thanks, dood!
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Can someone explain what the mean when they say the storm is hybrid! TIA
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Complete Update

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI






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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


And I am talking about the real world - Irene was an 85 mph Category 1 hurricane at landfall this morning.


and a category 2 when approaching Wilmington..
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Quoting reedzone:
We are looking at damage in Category 3 strength from Irene in North Carolina..


Upon landfall and then the eye wall collapsed, yes your area of the Carolinas took the brunt of the storm and stared killing it. Instead of sending electric trucks to NYC and D.C. they should be sent your way first.
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Quoting reedzone:
We are looking at damage in Category 3 strength from Irene in North Carolina.. Guys PLEASE don't look at the winds, look at the pressure, still at Category 3 strength. 951 mlb. Very happy to hear some friends have evacuated from Mastic Beach.


How do you figure it's Cat 3 damage? The winds weren't a cat 3. The pressure reflected a cat 3. We are looking at surge that would be more appropriate for a cat 3, though. So damage along the coast and in surge areas may be more cat 3 but everywhere else it will be barely hurricane strength damage, regardless of pressure. Just over a larger area.

Speaking of which, does anyone have any #'s regarding confirmed surge levels at landfall/OBX?
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Quoting FLdewey:
I'm loving the NYC hurricane prep work...



Are you sure that isn't some sort of gazillion dollar, public funded, Modern Art installation?
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Hurricane Baby: Couple Gives Birth During Irene

New Hanover Regional Medical Center (Wilmington, NC) reported a dozen new babies within the near 17-hour lockdown of the hospital, and eight mothers in waiting. Now that the lockdown is lifted, the hospital expects several more soon-to-be mothers to rush in.
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Quoting FLdewey:
I'm loving the NYC hurricane prep work...



oh my God...they've shrink wrapped their shubbery...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
@wunderground
Weather Underground
RT @capitalweather: Power outages increasing in DC area as winds gust to 40-50 mph, highest east of city. Pepco map: bit.ly/2xYH9t

--------------------------------------------
@BreakingNews
Breaking News
NYC hotels will shut off air conditioning at 10p; all hotel elevators will be grounded - @77WABCradio bit.ly/nQS1hd
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting franck:


The South is the nation's punching bag...that is one true thing.


Amen to that. I don't think we got this kind of coverage with Ike.
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Quoting Krycek1984:


I'm talking about the real world...as Dr. Master's said, not one regular station or buoy reported sustained hurricane force winds. The two reports of sustained hurricane force wind weren't stations.

It's even more odd because of the low pressure!


And I am talking about the real world - Irene was an 85 mph Category 1 hurricane at landfall this morning.

Quoting kmanislander:


The models take it to 40W and then sugegst that it will pull up to the NW. Until we get a closed low the models don't mean much IMO. Too early to say but the AB high is not likely to stay as far offshore the SE US as it has so far this season.



Okay, thanks.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
295. Vero1
Quoting FLdewey:
I'm loving the NYC hurricane prep work...

Is that Jim Cantore?
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Quoting presslord:


you gotta be kidding


There was a reported 2.9 magnitude earthquake in Altamont, near Albany, NY, around 6pm.
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Quoting FLdewey:
I'm loving the NYC hurricane prep work...



Very crafty.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting nofailsafe:


Yep yep. Irene started this season's happy hour, hope she isn't a preview of what else is to come.


I suspect that the next 6 weeks will be hectic. We are into the heart of the season now.
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Quoting P451:
Making a few calls around and in Brigantine outside of AC my uncle has said the streets are flooding with seawater and the winds are gusting in the squalls into the 60s or 70s.

Central NJ coastline saying flooding rains winds 35 gusting occasionally into the 50s.

Local mets are saying they expect severe tree damage in Westchester due to gusts in the 80s.



Despite Dr. M's post and some convincing replies to my query by the blog, I think I will stick with the NHC/NWS and local reports and mets. That's what I prepared for anyway.


Heavy rains...a little breezy for the first time here on the Croton/Ossining border ~30 miles north of NYC on the Hudson River.


I can tell you that gusts, relative to sustained wind speeds, are a moving target, depending on the sustained wind direction and amount of and type of terrain they traverse. Typically, the left of forward motion side of a hurricane will have a much lower sustained wind speed, but peak gusts similar to the "dirty" side. It has to do with turbulence mixing higher momentum air from above down to the surface.

Further, when a system moves inland, odd, unexpected gusts can happen. Gustav's highest recorded gusts were some ~70 miles inland with an 89 (?) mph gust when the sustained winds at that place and time were ~45 mph (IIRC).

A decent convective cell's outflow in addition to a TS-force windfield can get vary interesting, and quickly.
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Quoting presslord:


you gotta be kidding


Nothing on the usgs.gov site
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Quoting KeyWestwx:
wow, those clouds are rushing by and changing colors- reds and greens


I had to turn it to CNN to see. That's pretty eerie.
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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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