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 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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287. DFWjc
Quoting presslord:


you gotta be kidding


should be atleast a few more days of aftershocks...
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Quoting blsealevel:
Earth Quake again in Dc not confirmed yet


I haven't felt or heard anything significant since my post earlier today. Maybe it was something else?
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You can drill down over the storm and populate the personal weather stations here and view wind, pressure etc.

http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/
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Quoting Oct8:
Looks like no one on the roads in NYC:

http://webcam.mta.info/mta3/servlet/StillImageOpe ner?cam_id=13

Eerie


That's in Pennsylvania. ;)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Fishy or East Caribbean Island/East Coast threat (Like Irene)?


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.

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Quoting kmanislander:
Good evening

Although Irene is center stage invest 92 is the feature that that models have been developing. Once Irene exits the stage this is the next threat to focus on.


Yep yep. Irene started this season's happy hour, hope she isn't a preview of what else is to come.
Member Since: June 18, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 946
Seeing lightning with an oncoming band.
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279. DFWjc
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
You take it lightly but people from the places he keeps mentioning do not. Do you really think anyone from NOLA would wish for another Katrina or the Cayman Islands would wish for another Ivan or South Florida for another Andrew. People who have been through these types of destructive hurricanes do not WISH for another but FEAR another. I would not presume to downplay Irene or the damage she is causing but P451 would do well to find some compassion in his heart for those who have been there.


I wish no harm to my fellow man(women too), the only thing i wish is for peace and knowledge on this chat, and some rain in the state of Texas...
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277. OCF
Quoting atmoaggie:
That is a very common occurrence with storm surge. The highest water level in any event is almost always in a bay, inlet, river, etc. where the water gets trapped and momentum and/or wind forcing cause it to eventually go "up" as there is no where else for it to go.

Contrastingly, along a coast, the water can eventually go "side ways" parallel to the coast, rather than up.


For another example of this, look at the settings of places like Kessenuma, Rizukentakata, and Minamisanriku that produced the bulk of the fatalities and the most horrifying videos from the tsunami that followed the Tohoku earthquake. They're all at the heads of fairly narrow inlets from the ocean.
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Quoting blsealevel:
Earth Quake again in Dc not confirmed yet


you gotta be kidding
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Quoting Krycek1984:

It's even more odd because of the low pressure!
I second that!
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..IRENE LASHING THE VIRGINIA TIDEWATER REGION AND SOUTHERN DELMARVA PENINSULA WITH HEAVY RAINS AND HURRICANE-FORCE WIND GUSTS...
10:00 PM EDT Sat Aug 27
Location: 37.1°N 75.5°W
Max sustained: 80 mph
Moving: NNE at 16 mph
Min pressure: 952 m
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Quoting amd:
Irene is starting to fill in quickly now that it has moved away from the sounds of North Carolina and is ingesting drier air.

Pressure is up 4 mb in less than 2 hours.


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).
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272. Vero1
Quoting KeyWestwx:
wow, those clouds are rushing by and changing colors- reds and greens
Green clouds are not good
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Earth Quake again in Dc not confirmed yet
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IRENE still appears to be going HYRBID.

That is not good news, as New England is gonna be in for one hell of a Sunday surprise if this transition keep up.

Water Vapor really showing the comma like structure, and also notice the HUGE expansion of the storm. That trough seems to be really helping it.

Link
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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...
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.
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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.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
Great shot from Empire State Building cam on now on CNN.
wow, those clouds are rushing by and changing colors- reds and greens
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


No, Irene was a strong Category 1 hurricane at landfall.


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!
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I wonder what the storm surge on top of the incredible tides in the Bay of Fundy will look like
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Quoting P451:



TrafficLand.Com gives a lot of highway cams. Great great site.


Hardly any traffic in New York on a Saturday night! HA!
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good evening

Although Irene is center stage invest 92 is the feature that that models have been developing. Once Irene exits the stage this is the next threat to focus on.


Fishy or East Caribbean Island/East Coast threat (Like Irene)?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
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...


The South is the nation's punching bag...that is one true thing.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Wait... what?

It's time to pray for those in the Canadian Maritimes.
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Quoting Vero1:
And XTRAP nailed it at landfall


If you give the XTRP model enough time, it gets to be highly accurate.
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Good evening

Although Irene is center stage invest 92 is the feature that the models have been developing. Once Irene exits the stage this is the next threat to focus on.
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H.Irene's_12amGMT_ATCF : Starting 27August_12amGMT and ending 28August_12amGMT

The 4 southern line-segments represent HurricaneIrene's path
and the northernmost line-segment is the straightline projection.

Using straightline projection of the travel-speed&heading derived from the ATCF coordinates spanning the 6hours between 6pmGMT then 12amGMT :
H.Irene's travel-speed was 14.8mph(23.9k/h) on a heading of 21.9degrees(NNE)
H.Irene was headed toward passing ~1mile(1.6kilometres) east of BarnegatLight,NewJersey ~13&1/3rd.hours from now

Copy&paste 32.1n77.1w-33.4n76.6w, 33.4n76.6w-34.7n76.6w, 34.7n76.6w-35.5n76.3w, 35.5n76.3w-36.7n75.7w, konx, aiy, 35.5n76.3w-39.756n74.081w, nj24 into the GreatCircleMapper for more info

The previous mapping (for 27August_6pmGMT)
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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...
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249. Oct8
Looks like no one on the roads in NYC:

http://webcam.mta.info/mta3/servlet/StillImageOpe ner?cam_id=13

Eerie
Member Since: August 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
The guy is bumping up his own posts. That should clue you in to his antisocial tendencies. Guilt trips don't work: he doesn't care about people. He's just smacking you all across the face so that when you start crying he can pretend that he is better than you. It's just a game to him.
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Have been watching the Weather Channel throughout the duration of this storm, as well as the National Huricane Center. The NHC deals entirely with facts and the best computer models available to us. As well, they also have the top notch weather people working in this field...
My oint being. Pay a little more atention to the NHC, and look at TWC as a media outlook for dramatization, just a little to far overboard in the hype. Do not get me wrong, TWC also has top notch experts involved. The only distinct difference is, the NHC gives facts that they have analyzed over and over a thousand times. When we watch TWC, we do get very good advise and experts as well. However, there is much more over dramatization happening and slight over hype involved. It is not a bad thing to an extent, but the NHC has it down to a point where as TWC tends to take this Irene event and make it sound likes doomsday. JMO, Stay safe all in the path of Irene..
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Quoting Brock31:
We didn't even lose power or cable!


Location?
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We didn't even lose power or cable!
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I am guessing my damage estimates and the death toll the the name Irene will be retired
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Clickable

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09L/TS/I
MARK
40.38N/75.55W forecast point





ALWAYS FOLLOW NHC/TPC FORECASTS FOR ALL WARNINGS REGARDING THIS STORM
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Quoting howardnyc:


this is new york. of course there are (traffic cams; no beach cams overnight that i am aware of.)

nycdot traffic cams

mta bridges and tunnels cams


Thank you very much, howard.....some good ones :) Am still searching for one on the shore, bridge or pier ...will share if I find one....
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Quoting DFWjc:


Let me get John Cena on the line, brb...
You take it lightly but people from the places he keeps mentioning do not. Do you really think anyone from NOLA would wish for another Katrina or the Cayman Islands would wish for another Ivan or South Florida for another Andrew. People who have been through these types of destructive hurricanes do not WISH for another but FEAR another. I would not presume to downplay Irene or the damage she is causing but P451 would do well to find some compassion in his heart for those who have been there.
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Quoting amd:
Irene is starting to fill in quickly now that it has moved away from the sounds of North Carolina and is ingesting drier air.

Pressure is up 4 mb in less than 2 hours.



Yep. Radar and satellite shows this is happening quickly.
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 700

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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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