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 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.
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Quoting Krycek1984:
So basically Irene was barely a hurricane when it made landfall?
Nope, it made landfall with 150 km/h winds, which is a rather intense Category 1.
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I am almost starting to think that one should report their age before posting here.
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Quoting Krycek1984:
So basically Irene was barely a hurricane when it made landfall?


No, Irene was a strong Category 1 hurricane at landfall.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31409
234. amd
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


According to? Recon found 951 mb...It has been 950/951 mb. all day.


check the latest recon vortex
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i think we just got our first 10 mph gust in se ct
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Latest band from Irene brought around an inch more of rain to Boston. The Charles River out at Waltham is up to 2.3 ft, from about 1.5 earlier today. Flood stage is 5 ft.

Bunch more of the "usual suspect" streets, like Morrissey Boulevard, are flooded too.
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So basically Irene was barely a hurricane when it made landfall?
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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.
Still, the pressure is highly unusual for its intensity. 951 mbar at low-end Category 1? Wilma had 980 when she was a tropical storm before intensifying.
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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.


According to? Recon found 951 mb...It has been 950/951 mb. all day.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31409
Quoting FLdewey:
Maybe a stong tornado in DE

22352 SW LEWES SUSSEX DE 3876 7518 AROUND 15 HOMES DAMAGED IN THE NASSAU STATION AND TRADEWINDS SUBDIVISIONS SW OF LEWES. ONE HOME DEMOLISHED.


Before this thing is over, I bet we are going to see LOTS more reports like this.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
226. 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.
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So if it doesn't cause damage to the CONUS = lacklustre and overhyped? I feel sorry for the folks in the Bahamas as an island's community was just literally levelled by Category 3 winds.
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Quoting SamWells:


Be nice ... rich people, poor people, young people, old folks, and a lot never did evacuate and never will. Katrina-like comments about certain minorities should not be tolerated or accepted.


You know, I reread his comment three times, and I still don't see that part. Could you point it out to me please.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
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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Quoting druseljic:
One of the best overall views I've seen for Irene


That is cool! Thanks for sharing :)
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Quoting vortextrance:



What exactly are you talking about. His statements about the likely winds are not much different the NHC's forecast. The are currently very few tropical storm force conditions being observed to the west of Irene. Flooding is the main concern, and Dr. Masters mentions this.


Thank you sir or ma'am, you would be most correct. It is The Weather Channel and some wishcasters who are supporting all the hype.
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Irene just won't give up, will she? She's generating an awful lot of rain for the water vapor becoming so low... Radar does not seem to support evidence of a system that is sucking in dry air.
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Quoting txag91met:
Ranking of the models for Irene ( my 2 cents )
1) ECMWF
2) GFS (sort of)
3) HWRF
4) GFDL
5) UKMET -- slow on the turn.
5) GEM --- slow on the turn, then takes it out to sea.

GFS ensembles were too right with the track, ECMWF ensembles too many in the Gulf.

What about NOGAPS and then NGFDL? First CMC pointed at the SE NC coast, then went back to GA or SC. Next cycle NOGAPS and NGFDL pointed at SE NC coast and stayed there until the others joined a full day later.

My list:
1. NOGAPS
2. NGFDL
3. CMC
4. ECMWF
4. GFS
6. UKMET
7. HWRF
7. GFDL
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218. JLPR2
Quoting txag91met:
Ranking of the models for Irene ( my 2 cents )
1) ECMWF
2) GFS (sort of)
3) HWRF
4) GFDL
5) UKMET -- slow on the turn.
5) GEM --- slow on the turn, then takes it out to sea.

GFS ensembles were too right with the track, ECMWF ensembles too many in the Gulf.



Up until the NE Caribbean the GFS ruled.
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Quoting tinkahbell:

Really? Tell that to the people in Lewes, DE who had tornado damage to their homes.
Or the 50 million people that are being affected.
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Quoting tinkahbell:

Really? Tell that to the people in Lewes, DE who had tornado damage to their homes.
...and the Bahamas which received the full brunt of the storm.

It already caused 3 billion dollars of damage before hitting the CONUS.
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215. DFWjc
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
You seem to know something about weather but not much about people. It's not wishcasting. It's called having been there and developed a fear of being there again. You need an attitude adjustment.


Let me get John Cena on the line, brb...
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214. Vero1
Quoting txag91met:
Ranking of the models for Irene ( my 2 cents )
1) ECMWF
2) GFS (sort of)
3) HWRF
4) GFDL
5) UKMET -- slow on the turn.
5) GEM --- slow on the turn, then takes it out to sea.

GFS ensembles were too right with the track, ECMWF ensembles too many in the Gulf.

And XTRAP nailed it at landfall
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Quoting KingofNewOrleans:


If a storm misses the US but hits Great Britain does that make it a fish and chips storm?

Only if malt vinegar is involved.
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Respected New Smyrna Beach high school math teacher dies while surfing post hurricane storm surf Link Ironically i was surfing yesterday here in Jacksonville and got slammed head first onto the beach myself feel very fortunate to be alive. Please think long and hard before venturing into the ocean during this storm. Ive been surfing 30 years and have never seen waves as large and treacherous as the ones i rode in Jacksonville yesterday. My thoughts and prayers go out to this mans family .
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Quoting rkay1:
Its interesting how easy people get upset on here if you disagree with the hive.  I am stating my opinion.  I apologize if I'm not pretending that Irene is the next Andrew or Katrina.  It is IMO that Irene is being hyped up and doesn't even have CAT1 winds to back it up.


Really? Tell that to the people in Lewes, DE who had tornado damage to their homes.
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Quoting KingofNewOrleans:


If a storm misses the US but hits Great Britain does that make it a fish and chips storm?


especially if it was named Gortons
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Looks like Irene is vacillating back towards the coast and another landfall anywhere from Ocean City to Atlantic City seems likely
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go on the Atlantic City Electric website, storm center section. Power outages springing up in multiple clusters of hundreds and thousands of affected Cape May County residents. Very pinpointed data, good site. Wind gusts in the area now in the 40 - 50mph based on some reports.
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Ranking of the models for Irene ( my 2 cents )
1) ECMWF
2) GFS (sort of)
3) HWRF
4) GFDL
5) UKMET -- slow on the turn.
5) GEM --- slow on the turn, then takes it out to sea.

GFS ensembles were too right with the track, ECMWF ensembles too many in the Gulf.

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It seems all the action is on the west side of the storm instead of the usual east side.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Wait... what?



If a storm misses the US but hits Great Britain does that make it a fish and chips storm?
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Are there any Live Cams to watch tonight?


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
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Quoting rkay1:
Irene will go down for the most hyped CAT1 hurricane in recent history.  I don't care what tweets TWC reads, what flashing/strobing background CNN/Foxnews has or what huge size they have "HURRICANE IRENE" on the bottom of the screen.  This is just a huge rain storm.
Hype? I could also say Ike is hyped up because it's JUST a Category 2 ummm how about TS Allison, that event never intensified to a hurricane but it caused billions of dollars worth of damage and was retired.

8 people died that isn't even funny.
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On the Bay here in Leonardo, NJ - Wind starting to howl, and the rain is insane!
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Quoting P451:


Unfortunately you have to wait for NOLA, South Florida, Cayman Islands, and the deforested mountains of Haiti to relinquish their claim to it first.

With all that wishcasting to fight through....it's no wonder Texas has been bone dry all year long.
You seem to know something about weather but not much about people. It's not wishcasting. It's called having been there and developed a fear of being there again. You need an attitude adjustment.
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Quoting P451:
Thanks for all the replies to the discrepancies regarding Dr. Masters' forecast and the NWS/NHC forecast.


Dr. Masters didn't go into any detail which is unfortunate. You'd think to make such a bold statement that contradicts the NHC and NWS forecasts that you'd be detailed in explaining your thinking.


Just wondering is all. I guess we will find out as tomorrow wears on.




What exactly are you talking about. His statements about the likely winds are not much different the NHC's forecast. The are currently very few tropical storm force conditions being observed to the west of Irene. Flooding is the main concern, and Dr. Masters mentions this.
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Quoting HCW:
92L Model runs from the NHC


I lol'd, especially at BAMS.

Somethings telling me Irene will be retired by Spring 2012, it already caused roughly $3 billion of damages prior the CONUS landfall.
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Quoting Skyepony:


Here's one.


Hey Skye, since you seem to have quite a bit of knowledge. Is there a millibar point that determines high and low pressure? For instance, is over 1010 consider high and below low? This maybe a stupid question, but an answer i do not know none the less. TIA
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Quoting P451:


Where the hell do you evac from Newark to anyway? If you live in Newark it's because you have no where else to go in the first place.

If people could evac Newark they would and they wouldn't need a natural disaster as an incentive. The city itself is a natural disaster.



Be nice ... rich people, poor people, young people, old folks, and a lot never did evacuate and never will. Katrina-like comments about certain minorities should not be tolerated or accepted.
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Quoting P451:


Where the hell do you evac from Newark to anyway? If you live in Newark it's because you have no where else to go in the first place.

If people could evac Newark they would and they wouldn't need a natural disaster as an incentive. The city itself is a natural disaster.



be careful. your talking about someones "hood"
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Quoting P451:


Where the hell do you evac from Newark to anyway? If you live in Newark it's because you have no where else to go in the first place.

If people could evac Newark they would and they wouldn't need a natural disaster as an incentive. The city itself is a natural disaster.



You almost owed me a new laptop. Gagged on a sip of wine laughing at this. Newark is a cesspool. They give the rest of NJ a bad name.
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Quoting WaterWitch11:


It explains so much. Lol....Lots of love.


you ain't kiddin'
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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.