Irene sends 4.5 foot storm surge up Chesapeake Bay

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:45 AM GMT on August 28, 2011

Share this Blog
22
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 88 - 38

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42Blog Index

Quoting presslord:


laughed because it was good sound obvious advice....cried because it even had to be said...


Ah, I understand now.

---

To the blogger who asked - Yes, the pier survived. :)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32830
Quoting BrockBerlin:


Yeah we better watch out for an African landfall.
Return to sender
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Now we got a fourth Tornado Warning up for Northeastern Cape May County, Northeastern Cumberland, and Southwestern Atlantic County, including the cities of Vineland and Millville.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Where can I find a chart that will help me define the wind barbs on the map. I never known what 1,2,3 etc hashes meant. Hope someone knows what i'm talking about. Levi posted a map by nws mesonet observations and trying to figure out what I'm looking at
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoted wrong person
Member Since: June 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 888
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Huh?


laughed because it was good sound obvious advice....cried because it even had to be said...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting rkay1:
Add NOLA to the list, they are still waiting



Ive done allot of contracting in NOLA, I know many in the DA's office as well as the PD. Don't get me started.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NJcat3cane:
CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TRACK THE TORNADO IN AC AND LET ME KNO ASAP I AM THERE NOW..WE HAVE TORNADO WARNING RIGHT NOW


Please take shelter NOW if you haven't! Get on the lowest floor possible and move to an interior room with no windows. A closet if possible. Bring pillows to cover yourself.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting violet312s:


My guess is they'll think it'll be just like a nor'easter. The forget that this time of year the trees have leaves.
Oh, boy, yes. Leaves give a lot of resistance. As someone said earlier today, the hardwoods of that area don't bend like palm trees.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey guys, I was here last night. I'm sitting here in NYC, just logged on to the blog and ready for the storm.

Questions:
1. Did the topsail pier survive last night?
2. Did the JD's gas on Oz's cam topple? I watched until 5AM and fell asleep...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:


as God is my witness...I laughed and cried at the same time when I read this


Huh?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32830
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Quoting wunderweatherman123:
wait which one is 92 L?


The wave off Africa.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32830
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting P451:
Doc continues to downplay the winds yet people are reporting an awful lot of damage for such supposedly non existent winds.

The NWS also does not agree.

630pm updated forecast, coastal NJ:
NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO
75 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 90 MPH

820pm updated forecast, Manhattan:
NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO 75
MPH...BECOMING NORTHWEST 55 TO 65 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON. GUSTS UP
TO 80 MPH.


So what to believe? Those of us who have yet to receive the storm are curious.


Well put, I agree and would love to know. Surprisingly calm here raining but almost no wind.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting rkay1:
From the video coverage I've seen I wasn't impressed in the slightest of her winds.  She is not a wind storm.



Tell that to the 500,000 without power in NC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Take shelter.


Really, I must have missed that on th 7:00 pm NHC update, CNN, Doctor Master's blog and the Weather Channel. Please keep me informed if there are any other changes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Three tornado warnings currently in effect, including one for Atlantic City, NJ until 9:15 PM. I have a storm report from a tornado earlier in Delaware highlighted on radar.

In terms of conditions here at home, we're getting a moderate rain at the moment. Radar indicates another region of heavy rain is about to move through.

I was just driving through Montclair and saw that some storefronts had been criss-crossed with duct tape. Also, many of the streets are almost deserted.

I expect to lose power at some point in the early morning hours. Seems like the borough hall agrees with me judging from the reverse 911 calls we've gotten the past few days. We have tons of tall, old oaks around here that are asking for it.

For more updates from Northeastern New Jersey and Irene, visit my blog. If you're being affected by this thing or have any advice, feel free to comment!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


lol at the BAMS, BAMM, and LBAR.



lol i noted that
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Take shelter.


as God is my witness...I laughed and cried at the same time when I read this
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Take with a grain of salt

wait which one is 92 L?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting treehuggingsister:

We were lucky. She just ate our backyard.


She gave me a wedgy.
:^(

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FLdewey:


You're comparing apples and oranges my friend.

The good doctor states a fact. You compared that to a forecast. One is past tense, one is future tense.

There is no way you'll have 55 to 75 sustained in NYC when so far no station has recorded sustained hurricane force winds. That forecast is just not going to happen.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FLdewey:


You're comparing apples and oranges my friend.

The good doctor states a fact. You compared that to a forecast. One is past tense, one is future tense.

There is no way you'll have 55 to 75 sustained in NYC when so far no station has recorded sustained hurricane force winds. That forecast is just not going to happen.


And that is a forecast.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32830
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Well, we watched that pier cam for hours last night...thought there might be some on tonight...


My download speed is too slow. I couldn't watch it, and didn't know about the lights.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Picture from Times Square

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HCW:
92L Model runs from the NHC




Gotta love early models. Especially the one that has it recurving back to Africa!
Member Since: June 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 888
Take with a grain of salt

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32830
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


She ate mine too!

We were lucky. She just ate our backyard.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just FYI, NC, VA, MD, NJ, NY, and Porto Rico are on FEMA's standby lists.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It appears that our guys in North Carolina will be going into the affected areas right behind the S & R folks and the NC National Guard...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:
here are the mode runs for 92L and its vary far S and the mode runs take this thing W but how far W dos it get




lol at the BAMS, BAMM, and LBAR.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32830
Quoting lilasc:
I hope it's ok to repost this, I accidentally posted to the old blog--
Got a good whack from Irene here in northeastern SC yesterday and this morning despite being a good distance from the eye... please don't underestimate her, she's in a bad mood! Thoughts, prayers, and good wishes to everyone out there who still has more of her to go. Us down here may not have much to say, but we are thinking of you and hoping for your safety.


Always okay to post well wishes. Let's hope folks up the coast heed the warnings. My guess is they'll think it'll be just like a nor'easter. The forget that this time of year the trees have leaves.
Member Since: June 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 888
Quoting Bielle:


In the dark?


Well, we watched that pier cam for hours last night...thought there might be some on tonight...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HCW:
92L Model runs from the NHC




Ah, LBAR has 92L and its 180 degree turn nailed.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bielle:


In the dark?


We had a nice Topsail Beach Pier webcam to watch last night. Was a well-lit pier and it was quite the show all night long.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FranAteMyRoof96:


She ate mine too!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
here are the mode runs for 92L and its vary far S and the mode runs take this thing W but how far W dos it get


Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Doctor vs. Weather Agency.

Hard choice.


Hence the grain of salt rule.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NJcat3cane:
CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TRACK THE TORNADO IN AC AND LET ME KNO ASAP I AM THERE NOW..WE HAVE TORNADO WARNING RIGHT NOW


Take shelter.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32830

Viewing: 88 - 38

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron