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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If the NAO goes positive like the models suggest then this will strengthen the A/B high causing storms to travel father west into the Carribean and the Gulf.If I lived anywhere from Texas to the Southeast coast I would keep an eye on 92L.
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Yeah, I agree.

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


Who knows it is very far south and the Euro predicts a positive NAO pretty soon, but then again the dynamical models seem to point to a weakness in the Central Atlantic developing which could turn it out to sea.
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Very favorable wind shear for 92L..Invest 92L is almost certainly going to become our next hurricane and major hurricane, as it has unanimous model support for being such.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32499
1833. ncstorm
VA

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15990
Quoting Unfriendly:
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
PS Pretty sure weather is still happening.


Yeah, I agree.

Based on the models does anyone think Invest 92L could be the next great Cape Verde storm?
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kk back to weather. do you all think that Irene will have long lasting effects on the ULL's with the moisture she has created.....The season was slow to start due to dryness so has this event changed that?
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Quoting fsumet:


If it was privatized, the entire system would fall apart. Would the private sector do the upkeep on the radars? How about the weather radio? It would probably disappear. What about warnings? Now you would be able to sue the private company that issued the warning if it was wrong or didn't issue the warning that they were supposed to and someone died. How much are you willing to pay for your local weather (per forecast, per year, or for a private forecast, the cost would continue to go up as it would be driven by profit)? The private companies just jazz up the products they get DIRECTLY from the National Weather Service. The relationship the National Weather Service has with the Emergency Managers is second to none. These are just a few examples.
In cases where we can offer a specialization, we supplement what is offered to our local city and parish (county) leaders and emergency managers by various NOAA components from the NWS office, NHC, NOS, etc.

When a hurricane is local threat, we add more to the model runs, our interpretations, some discussion of biases, and most importantly, answer questions. We do this for the city mayor and the parish president's office and their respective emergency management people.

In addition, they call on us for special events. During the BP oil spill, for example, they had us setup, test, and make operational a coupled high resolution wind and hydrodynamic model system. The point was that they wanted a forecast of water movements into and out of Lake Pontchartrain within a few hours of oil being spotted within a certain distance of the lake's opening to the Mississippi Sound and Gulf of Mexico. They couldn't boom off the lake indefinitely, but could effectively deploy boom given enough notice that oil slick movements into the lake were imminent. For that one, one worked for 3 SE LA parishes, as well as the city, in conjunction with the Coast Guard and UNO.

We've been brought in on a number of tropical events, only some of which ended with local effects (Gustav, Ike, Ida), a couple of severe weather threats, the oil spill, a couple of winter weather threats, etc.

These local leaders keep coming back as we can offer more detailed local modeling, some digestion of NOAA's models and discussion of the results, evaluation of NWS forecasts and data, but with an extremely localized point of view.

But, if this was all we did, we'd be starving...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
actually comanche in a way there is competition.....universities can compete for grants and funding if they make contributions to the science.


for example....

Univ. of Colorado, Boulder -->Earthquake
Univ. of Wisconsin, LSU, Washington, etc -->Weather

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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Leave the page be, lol. He deserves it, after forming outta nowhere.


lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32499
1825. Oct8
Quoting presslord:


I dunno....Micorsoft has done pretty well....


LOL. They sure can market a facelifted software package from the 1990s. No doubt. But all critical infrastructure is run by computers using Linux or its cousins products developed by those horrible people that are not motivated by profits.

But I will stop feeding this Private Weather Company X idea since it is ludicrous.
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Quoting BrockBerlin:


I think you have the wrong impression of the NWS a bunch of old men resting on their laurels not really caring... well I hate to tell you that is absolutely false (at least at the NWS offices I have been at it).
In no way am I suggesting. Please don't put words in my mouth. Unlike some here I am not slamming everyone.
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I want the models for 92l to point directly at So Fla for the next few days, the safest place to be in a storm is where the models started out.
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Quoting Unfriendly:
Regarding Privatizing the NWS...

Joe Bastardi as President and CEO.

That SHOULD be all I have to say on the matter.


that's the type of thought that precedes waking up startled in a cold sweat.
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Quoting twincomanche:
All you anti-capitalists are hung up on the profits that someone might make and you don't understand that in the long run NO business has ever been successful selling shoddy merchandise. That is the biggest problem with government. There is little incentive to do a good efficient job because there is no competition.
Whether it is a good idea to do anything with the NWS I have to say that at this time I have no clue if it is a good or bad idea. I just think under zero based budgeting nothing should be off the table and anyone who just says "no change" is not considering the best way forward.


You are doing the exact same thing but on the other side. On both ends of the spectrum it depends on the PEOPLE who are doing the work and those who make the decisions that direct the business/gov entity. There are thousands of people working for government who take great pride in what they do. Profit is not the only reason to do a good job.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Please God, stop quoting Twin Commanche. I have him on the iggy list for a reason - so I don't have to listen to the right wing psycho babble.
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Quoting CaribBoy:


We could see this in a few day... Also, take a look at the date!
WOw! tha was Marylin or Luis?1
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Quoting P451:


Have something to add? Or was his inaccurate description of my posts good enough for ya?



What was inaccurate about the description of your posts? I think we disagree on the NHC forecast. I can't find them calling for the winds you are claiming they called for. Your using local NWS forecasts, interchangeably with NHC forecast, to criticize the NHC. The NHC probability charts, released in their last two advisories on Saturday, had NYC between 30-45% chance of receiving 50k winds. Dr. Masters was agreeing with them, not contradicting them.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Irene's butt.


lmao

sounds like something my grandson would say!
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Quoting Neapolitan:
No, it's not Katrina. But does it have to be?

Hoboken, NJ:
Irene

Southampton, NY:
Irene

Manteo, NC:
Irene

Virginia Beach, VA:
Irene

Montauk, NY:
Irene

NYC:
Irene
n o t e v e n c l o s e!!!!!! to the same thing
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Regarding Privatizing the NWS...

Joe Bastardi as President and CEO.

That SHOULD be all I have to say on the matter.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting odinslightning:




good god, could you imagine the weather in the hands of 2 sides......Beck vs. Maddow.....Olberman vs. O'Reilly......you said it....Scary!


Link


....Two Tribes....


No doubt, can you imagine if Fox Noise was able to start distorting weather reports too? The possibilities are endless...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Neapolitan:
No, it's not Katrina. But does it have to be?

Hoboken, NJ:
Irene

Southampton, NY:
Irene

Manteo, NC:
Irene

Virginia Beach, VA:
Irene

Montauk, NY:
Irene

NYC:
Irene

There is a minority on this blog that want to see another Katrina. Most of us don't for obvious reasons.
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Quoting hahaguy:
I find it funny how all these people are complaining about how it wasn't as bad as first thought. All those people should be happy that it wasn't what they thought it was going to be.


But then the Ustream feeds wouldn't be nearly as entertaining! LOL!
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Quoting presslord:
at any rate...I have determined through information gleaned from Weather Undergound ( a private weather info source) at no cost to me...that today will be a good day to go flying...so I'm off to drill some holes in the sky with my son...y'all play nice...
What would site look like without National Weather Service? I'm sure Dr Jeff is just itching to own some Airplanes. How much is fuel these days? BTW keep up the good work with Port-Light whatever the incentive.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Got around to posting a blog update, I talk about Irene, Jose, 92L, and how active this season has been. Enjoy!!

Damaging Irene hits the NE, Jose a oddity, 92L - the one to watch. 8/28/11

Thanks Cybr. Excellent as always.
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1805. bappit
Quoting presslord:


I dunno....Micorsoft has done pretty well....

US car makers had a run of luck until foreign competition did them in.
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Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:
the idea of NWS getting privatized is scary. It would undoubtedly harm the future of meteorology and the accuracy of weather forecasting. Private competition between weather services would only enhance media ploys, not help the situation. I think the NWS does a fine job, and there is absolutely no reason to fix what aint broken.




good god, could you imagine the weather in the hands of 2 sides......Beck vs. Maddow.....Olberman vs. O'Reilly......you said it....Scary!


Link


....Two Tribes....
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a Friend of mine in sect.,mystic to be specific he just said downtown is flooded and impasssable,the water in the mystic river is over the bridge,reports now coming in of what i feared its going to be worse in sect east to ,the cape
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1802. Melagoo
Chad Myers says Irene was never really a WIND STORM but mainly about WATER ... so CNN posts IRENE IS MAINLY A WIND STORM LOL WTF!
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Quoting MahFL:
This map is plain untrue, nowhere in CT has sustained TS winds.



How do you define sustained winds?
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1800. bappit
Quoting ncstorm:


I know..you do catch ringworms from dirty water..I was always taught not to play in rain water or puddles..

I think hepatitis is a bigger risk.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


We shouldn't close the Gulf Of Mexico off. You know why? Because it will be opening for business within the next 7-10 days, according to the models.



did Irene have any effect on breaking the Texas high? our neighbors in the lone star need rain BAD.....something needs to finally break the Texas high....


in fact, all of us along the gulf coast need rain. This has been the driest summer I have ever seen in Mobile.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
the idea of NWS getting privatized is scary. It would undoubtedly harm the future of meteorology and the accuracy of weather forecasting. Private competition between weather services would only enhance media ploys, not help the situation. I think the NWS does a fine job, and there is absolutely no reason to fix what aint broken.
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We could see this in a few day... Also, take a look at the date!
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if you live in NC i would keep a vary close eye on 92L
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
You go Irene!


Nice upwelling! Hopefully that will put the breaks on anything that treks through the area for a while.
Member Since: February 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 140
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.
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Tha was Irene on road 30 Juncos PR.. I was going to my work early in the morning... Irene again at Ocean Park, San Juan later afternoon in my home
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


General rule is, if the storm is located near any landmass, and watches and/or warnings are issued, it deserves an article. However, people always debate over this, such as I, so it may end up getting deleted.

Leave the page be, lol. He deserves it, after forming outta nowhere.
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Here in Owings Mills, MD, lots of large branches down, a few trees 12-16" diameter as well. Had some decent gusts, I'd say it peaked around 2 AM.

Lost power once, saw lots of transformers going up... that green glow is not something you see every year around here.
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1790. MahFL
This map is plain untrue, nowhere in CT has sustained TS winds.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting twincomanche:
All you anti-capitalists are hung up on the profits that someone might make and you don't understand that in the long run NO business has ever been successful selling shoddy merchandise. That is the biggest problem with government. There is little incentive to do a good efficient job because there is no competition.
Whether it is a good idea to do anything with the NWS I have to say that at this time I have no clue if it is a good or bad idea. I just think under zero based budgeting nothing should be off the table and anyone who just says "no change" is not considering the best way forward.


I think you have the wrong impression of the NWS a bunch of old men resting on their laurels... well I hate to tell you that is absolutely false (at least at the NWS offices I have been at it).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Got around to posting a blog update, I talk about Irene, Jose, 92L, and how active this season has been. Enjoy!!

Damaging Irene hits the NE, Jose a oddity, 92L - the one to watch. 8/28/11
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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