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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1938. Melagoo
Katia
Lee
Maria
Nate
Ophelia
Philippe
Rina
Sean
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Whitney
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Quoting donna1960ruled:
Bad forecasting has cost the metro nyc area more than 30 million dollars in unnecessary evacs, mobilizations, etc. The price is that 95 percent of the population will never take them seriously again. Next cut will be NOAA...NHC....bye bye. Dont bother studying meteorology in school....we have 80000, we will be needing 1200.
I do feel bad for the man in Brooklyn this morning that lost a cigarette in a 34 mph gust. It was his last one, and his first of the day.


I am a little late coming in, but was it really bad forecasting--or too much media hype?????? After all, I think we all know it is called FOREcasting for a reason.........all in all, the NHC and most forecasters did a pretty good job and could have saved MANY lives. After all, this is what it is about, SAVING LIVES. It is NOT about the money spent on evacs--you can't buy a life.

I will agree that the media hype and sensationalism can lower our sensitivity to the next storm--but then again, there are those people that you could hand them the future on a silver platter and they still wouldn't listen. Can't win.
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1936. Oct8
Quoting twincomanche:
1762.
"I get so sick of this argument. Roads, bridges, airports, safety matter are not really for private companies that are interested in profits."

Who does 99% of the construction of these? Private companies. Why? They do it for lower cost because there is competition.


I never said road construction should be private, but you bet the safety standards and engineering constraints are conformed to governmental standards. Same goes for flying a plane. It is just common sense that there are standards. Thank God for that. Can you imagine Company X deciding to use Chinese low grade steel because it is cheaper when the standard calls for a quality material? LOL You want that right?

Hey you want competition with the US government's weather prediction ability -- where perfect weather prediction is basically an intractable problem. You perhaps want competition with government itself. Well China is working hard to compete with the US. They have minimal safety standards for businesses. The rivers are well industrial waste. The air is largely smog ridden. But they are the manifestation of the "pro-capitalism" environment you speak of.

It is called balance. Demonize dedicated Americans all you'd like. You have any comprehension of the complexity of a civilization and the concept of leaving a little for your children and their children.
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1935. ncstorm
81 Hours

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I was trying to get a sense of wind damage, power outages, etc. and was looking at weather stations on this site.

the highest recorded wind gust i could find, 57.5 mph, was taken at the DCA station, Washington's National Airport, at 1 am. In fact, by looking at wind speed measurements taken at stations located farther east and much closer to the track's center, one would never have guessed that a hurricane had just passed through the area.

Examples include Salisbury MD, Ocean City MD, Norfolk VA, Atlantic City NJ, to name just a few locations where wind speed measurements were not even close to those taken at DCA. What am I not getting here?


Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


they're on the wrong side of the storm. Bridgeport, CT had a gust of 63MPH confirmed about an hour ago.


thanks, i was hoping to find some rough, though not that rough, periodic wind speed data from a handful of locations both in and out of the immediate path of the storm.
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1933. Melagoo
... look at poor little Jose all alone in the middle of the Atlantic
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Quoting atmoaggie:
That's because he's a former Aggie professor...

;-)

Ha-ha.
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Quoting ncstorm:
60 Hours 12Z GFS




Casper the one-eyed cyclops blob High Pressure monster attacks....lol look out!
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Welp, I live on the S. Jersey Cape & I have to agree with the people that labelled this storm like a minor Nor'easter - we literally avg at least one Nor' easter every couple years or so that gives us the similar effects as did Irene.

I think the slow movement actually was something that helped the people closer to the coast in the S Jersey area, as it helped weaken the storm as it passed north of 35 latitude where the conditions simply are favorable for weakening. I think a storm has to be travelling at a high rate of forward speed & coincide almost perfectly with high tide for a hurricane to really have significantly extreme effects in this part of the world.

Oh, and btw....I never realized how BAD the Weather Channel has got. The whole thing last night was stupud interviews with this mayor/ or the OCM's doing remotes. I literally watched for an hour and a half simply wanting the freaking coordinates & details of the hurricane sometime around 6-8 pm last night(didn't have accesss to a computer last night) , and the coordinates was never given. I find that unreal. That never used to be an issue.

The Weather Channel is nowhere near as good as it used to be.

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Irene wasn't as bad as it might have been because its eye wall collapsed shortly after leaving the Bahamas, and it entrained lots of dry air from Florida as it travelled north. It didn't recover from either, otherwise the prediction for a cat 2 in New England would probably have been borne out. People who call that 'overhyping' aren't very smart.

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Quoting Levi32:


I already kind of did in my video this morning lol.

6 hour miracle LOL
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1927. Melagoo
Quoting hurricanejunky:


Yeah, I agree.

Based on the models does anyone think Invest 92L could be the next great Cape Verde storm?


It sure is starting out at the right place ... I think a much more clear picture of 92L will be in 2-3 days
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
I miss Dr. Steve Lyons. He was the only met I respected on TWC.
That's because he's a former Aggie professor...

;-)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
1925. Walnut
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
I miss Dr. Steve Lyons. He was the only met I respected on TWC.
Dr. Greg Forbes is great unless he has one of the other twits with him kind nudging him towards sensationalism. Watch his facial expressions when Cantore is with him during tornado season. Kinda funny really... I still like Cantore for his commitment...but the guy has just gone Geraldo lately.
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Marshfield Vermont Report @ Noon: It's been raining here, hard at times, since last night but the wind is not that significant right now. From the tracking map, it looks like the remnants of Ms. Irene are coming right at us up the Connecticut River Valley (sort of like the path of the very destructive Hurricane of 1938?). Can anybody who's located down there in more southern New England tell us what we ought be expecting to be coming our way in the next couple of hours?
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1923. ncstorm
72 Hours

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Quoting Levi32:


I already kind of did in my video this morning lol.


Oh, didn't know you had made one. Watching it now. ;)
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Quoting donna1960ruled:
Amen, Brother!!!!! Losing John Hope was the beginning of the end.



wasn't John Hope a friend of Ted Turner? I think all of those wise men from Atlanta in the 80's got so pissed at the bullcrap so they made their money and in so many ways walked away from society.....lol
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1919. ncstorm
60 Hours 12Z GFS

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I miss Dr. Steve Lyons. He was the only met I respected on TWC.
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Quoting PcolaDan:
Dominion Electric Outage Summary - Virginia
Looks like:

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Not to mention, 3 LANDFALLS IN THE US! She's a monster.



i think it is also VERY impressive regarding her core. Katrina lasted for days, but this went way north into colder waters and still maintained strong winds although she land sheared for hours and hours several times. had she not eaten so much dry air a day before 1st landfall in cape lookout we may be talking about a way different scenario.

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Hurricanes have never been easy to predict and our technology is helping but it is still "Mother Nature" and she defies logic and is still causing more - she's not through yet! Grow up. This has been another deadly, dangerous and damaging storm. The media's hype gets tired but the governors and mayors did what they thought was best to protect people and property. Would all of you have been happier if these warnings were not given and we had hundreds of dead?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


LOL, we posted the same thing ;)

It's hilarious! XD
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Oh and guys you want to see damage tune in to

Link

Heavy damage I'm seeing, ok seriously I'm out now.
Member Since: October 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 544
Quoting weatherjr:
The Babylon Village station report is really suspicious to me. I don't believe that.


There's 2 stations reporting winds like that very close to each other:





Not sure....
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1909. Levi32
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


lol.

P.S. Look on the NHC page, and what is SW of Bermuda ;). That may make you rant some more, lol.


I already kind of did in my video this morning lol.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
No Way Jose





i wish Jose would stop mooning us
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
LoL look at New England. Makes Jose look more pathetic than he already is.


LOL, we posted the same thing ;)
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Awesome, lol.

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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Yes the cycle of insanity continues. Politics sucks...and so does destroying the middle class. If you like the thought of a third world country then keep considering the "right" to be a valid side. Why are there even any right wingers on this blog? The right has proudly become the anti-science crowd. Weather is science...

I don't consider either side the "valid" side. For me having a side at all is foolish. United we stand. Divided we fall. ;)
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LoL look at New England. Makes Jose look more pathetic than he already is.
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A positive Nao will help strengthen the high and help it expand to the west. Shortwaves will still exit the coast but will be further north and not as strong an influence on the storm thus helping the storm to travel farther west.
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Quoting RussianWinter:
So will 92L be a fish storm or what? All 5 day models show it going NW at the end of the five day period.




too early too tell


i do not see this going out too sea the way the mode runs for casting the high is set up
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No Way Jose

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Quoting Levi32:
I really wish you guys would quit downplaying Irene and talking about how much she was overhyped and overforecasted. She's likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster.....what did you want? She's going down on the list of great storms to move up the eastern seaboard. She counts, and people there will tell you that. My goodness.

Not to mention, 3 LANDFALLS IN THE US! She's a monster.
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Quoting Levi32:
I really wish you guys would quit downplaying Irene and talking about how much she was overhyped and overforecasted. She's likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster.....what did you want? She's going down on the list of great storms to move up the eastern seaboard. She counts, and people there will tell you that. My goodness.


Absolutely Levi, when you think about there being a 300 mile swath from NC to Maine that will be either flooded, wind beaten or both it's quite a scope of damage. When all is said and done Irene will definitely be on the billion dollar disaster list for 2011...10 and counting...
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Quoting Levi32:


Well you've only been here for a year....I've done rants...lol.


lol.

P.S. Look on the NHC page, and what is SW of Bermuda ;). That may make you rant some more, lol.
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1894. Walnut
Quoting bappit:

Of course TWC has a conflict of interest to deal with. If they don't hype a storm then they lose viewers which is $$$$$$.
Being owned by NBC has contributed to a lot of what has happened to what was once a fine network. What disturbs me is you can see the experts trying to ignore the "hype" being generated (Forbes, Norcross, Knabb, etc) but even they start to give in when being pressured by the on-camera mets with the incessant "what if?" questions. And it's too bad we have to sit through the crap to find the nuggets of good info. Man I miss John Hope...
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So will 92L be a fish storm or what? All 5 day models show it going NW at the end of the five day period.
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1892. Levi32
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Plus 1

That's the first rant I've seen from you since I've been here Levi.


Well you've only been here for a year....I've done rants...lol.
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Quoting Levi32:
I really wish you guys would quit downplaying Irene and talking about how much she was overhyped and overforecasted. She's likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster.....what did you want? She's going down on the list of great storms to move up the eastern seaboard. She counts, and people there will tell you that. My goodness.

I agree, People here should go ask people that didn't evacuate and can't get out cause they are flooded, or talk to the family of the 11yo boy that was killed by a tree that fell on there house Or the people that have 10ft of water in there basement and kitchen from there local river that's has broken it's banks. Also the people that won't have power for 4 days cause of a whole street has it's power poles are snapped. Irene was over hyped by News services, not by NHC/NOAA/NWS.
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Quoting donna1960ruled:
WNBC just covered "Jose". You know, the tropical storm that yesterday had a ZERO percent chance of developing.

And yes, there are 400 trees down in NYC. Big woop. Meteorology has been set back 100 years.


There is massive amounts of flooding in areas from N Carolina to New York

Would you still feel the way you do if it was your town that was flooded?


Sadly I do not know the answer to that question based on the fact that 95% of your posts come off as someone who just likes to start something with people
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You guys upset Levi so much he said "My Goodness".....

hope you're happy.
Member Since: August 29, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5236
Quoting Levi32:
I really wish you guys would quit downplaying Irene and talking about how much she was overhyped and overforecasted. She's likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster.....what did you want? She's going down on the list of great storms to move up the eastern seaboard. She counts, and people there will tell you that. My goodness.


ABC live just said that we may have a 20-40 billion disaster...

As always, if authorities do take extra precautions or not, either way they will be criticized... Happens anywhere ...
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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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