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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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
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
How does Jose get a Wiki Page?! lol


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.
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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.


I dunno....Micorsoft has done pretty well....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
You go Irene!


Irene > Big Momma
Irene joins Ike and Ivan as a bad storm hitting The Caribbean and USA leaving multi-billion dollar damage and whose name starts with "I".
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

89 mph?!


I'm assuming that's accurate even if you go +/- 5% that's pretty high..
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Quoting Floodman:


Moi? Cause trouble? You know me, press, I don't need to buy trouble or create any...I just sit in the yard and that stuff finds me all by itself
Some of us just have magnetic personalities. How are you? Must be "Homecoming Sunday" you, press, who else?
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Quoting 900MB:


All I am saying is, tell me the truth. The storm was nowhere near 65 or 75mph sustained coming into NYC. Forecast what you want, just give me real current conditions. It's not too much to ask!


The truth is the NHC ADMITS to having a very INACCURATE wind forecast. When Flight Level winds were still being reports from recon to be 80-90 knots the fact of the matter is the winds should've mixed down to 75 mph sustained. Irene was one of if not the weirdest storms in recent memory and didn't do anything a "normal" storm would've. There are exceptions to the rule you know that's how you prove the rule.
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Quoting charlottefl:

89 mph?!
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1779. ackee
Quoting Tazmanian:
TropicalAnalystwx13

noaa has a Floater on ex TD 10 and it dos seem like it has got in a little better today


agree
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You go Irene!

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How does Jose get a Wiki Page?! lol
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Latest ECMWF brings 92L up to TS status, Hurricane status, Major hurricane status, and past Category 3 status.

925 mb...That is a high-end Category 4, or low-end Category 5.

Not liking where it may head on this model run...




ECMWF had Irene at 926 mb just off Cape Hatteras at one point (I think when things headed north).

Since we're talking models, NHC was never more than a hairs breadth away from TVCN for the run up the coast by Irene. I'll be paying more attention to that in the future.
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@NotifyNYC
NYC OEM
Due to flooding, the FDR Drive is fully closed, with the exception of E Houston St to E 34 St, MN. Consider alternate routes.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Discussion for Jose is very long (*rolls eyes*)
000
WTNT41 KNHC 281437
TCDAT1

TROPICAL STORM JOSE DISCUSSION NUMBER 2
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL112011
1100 AM AST SUN AUG 28 2011

THERE HAS NOT BEEN MUCH CHANGE IN THE ORGANIZATION OF JOSE IN RECENT
HOURS. CONVECTION HAS BEEN RE-DEVELOPING NEAR AND EAST OF THE
CENTER...BUT STRONG NORTHEASTERLY SHEAR IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE
OUTFLOW OF HURRICANE IRENE HAS PREVENTED ANY BURST FROM LASTING
TOO LONG. EARLIER ASCAT DATA SUGGESTED THAT THE INTENSITY WAS NEAR
35 KT...AND WITH NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGE TO THE CLOUD PATTERN...
THIS WILL BE THE INITIAL INTENSITY. ALTHOUGH THERE COULD BE SOME
REDUCTION IN THE SHEAR DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO...IT WOULD NOT
LIKELY BE ENOUGH TO PREVENT WEAKENING AS THE CIRCULATION OF JOSE
BECOMES DEFORMED. GLOBAL MODELS INDICATE DISSIPATION WITHIN 24-36
HOURS IN PART BECAUSE OF THE SHEAR...AND THE OFFICIAL NHC FORECAST
REFLECTS THIS LIKELIHOOD.

THE INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE IS 350/12. JOSE IS MOVING NORTHWARD
AROUND THE WEST SIDE OF A LOW-/MID-LEVEL RIDGE OVER THE CENTRAL
ATLANTIC. AFTER WEAKENING...THE REMNANTS OF JOSE SHOULD TURN NORTH-
NORTHEASTWARD WITH SOME INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED BEFORE LOSING ITS
IDENTITY.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 28/1500Z 31.5N 65.7W 35 KT 40 MPH
12H 29/0000Z 33.6N 66.0W 35 KT 40 MPH
24H 29/1200Z 36.6N 65.6W 30 KT 35 MPH
36H 30/0000Z...DISSIPATED

$$
FORECASTER KIMBERLAIN/PASCH
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Another update.

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1769. 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.
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1767. mbjjm
Quoting charlottefl:


Wow that station is off the charts still..


I think that weather stations malfunctioning, near by stations reporting 15-25mph
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1766. 996tt
Quoting reedzone:


I know.. It's like Dr. Masters is god or something.. It was wrong for the Doc, while I respect him, to claim that Irene would not be a Hurricane in NYC.. Yet pressure remains under 960 mlb. with winds over Hurricane force. I didn't think he would quickly downplay Irene.


So much for disparaging the experts and Dr. Masters with all those comments. You kept saying they were wrong and this was historic, catastrophic, one for the records books and hit as category 3. Pressure this, pressure that. Hit Long Island with TS wind, if that in most places, and wimpy storm surge. So much for the high rises being blown down and glass falling everywhere and people needing to evacuate the high rises. Not even traffic lights down in Manhattan. Oh, Cantore did see some small branches down in a park nearby.

Kind of like the weather channel nerd continuing to tell people in high rises to run for cover even after TWC interviewed a Structural Engineer expert in NYC who said no worries. It was like TWC kook interviewing the engineer was like wanting to cut dude off because their alarmist scare tactics were getting undermined.
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Quoting Felix2007:
Wait a minute... where the heck did Jose come from???????????



From an ULL that descended to the surface after it sheared one of the African invests to death. It's been out there for days.
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1762. Oct8
Quoting twincomanche:
We just have to disagree on this. I take the position that some things are far too important to entrust to any government.


LOL. The government is supposed to what sell all its radar, HH planes, satellite and buoy assets at pennies on the dollar to a private company that will not maintain the system, since it will cut into profits and we will all hope for the best in terms of service.

I get so sick of this argument. Roads, bridges, airports, safety matter are not really for private companies that are interested in profits. They are for government to handle as best it can given its funding because it is critical infrastructure. You can not profit when being safe costs money and cuts profits. LOL Let me guess liability would, however, be capped by Congress when private Weather Company X is created by an act of Congress. This is why we pool our resources to hedge these risks as best we can as a community, rather than privatize the profits and leave the liabilities and risks for the public.

Member Since: August 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
Quoting mbjjm:
Sayville,Ny

70.0 mph from North Wind Gust 109.0 mph must be thunderstorm related


Wow that station is off the charts still..
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1760. MZT
Certainly the insurance total will be several billions. Irene hit Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, the east coast of the USA from N.C. to Maine. There will probably will be claims in Nova Scotia before it's over.

It doesn't need to be a horrible storm in one place - a messy, unpleasant one across a thousand miles adds up to plenty of damage.
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Quoting JGreco:


geez..we might as well call the Gulf closed for business. Nothing seems to want to enter the Caribbean. Well thats goof news since the Gulf and the Caribbean have the highest energy potential for storms. Something get's in and explodes:0


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.
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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...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting presslord:


NASA has done pretty well with it...


Yeah, I wish them success with that. Still, I wonder were they would be if the Saturn program had been continued. I went to The Kennedy Space center with my Soviet father in law a few years back. He was a colonel in the rocketry division. He was astonished by the exhibits, but could not figure out why we killed our space program. Sad.
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Quoting KEHCharleston:
Question for folks from Mid Atlantic & New England.

TV coverage is showing quite a few people wading through water. Around here we would need to be wary of snakes, clumps of ants etc. Do you have similar hazards?


nope. Worst ants we have is red ants, however there is a theory that fire ants will be in the region in the next decade or so. Our only poisonous snake is the rattlesnake, but I've never actually seen one... despite the fact I spent much of my youth going through perfect places for rattlers to live. So I can only assume that population is extremely low
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Jose mooning us
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1753. bappit
Quoting vortextrance:


So the NHC controls local forecasts? Don't think so. We can agree to disagree on whether or not you criticized Dr. Masters. You were calling him out for downplaying Irene. You did this numerous times, despite solid data backing him up. He also consistently played up the flooding threat. This was forecast to be the biggest threat for the northeast, and has proven to be accurate.
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1752. JGreco
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Latest ECMWF brings 92L up to TS status, Hurricane status, Major hurricane status, and Category 3 status.

925 mb...That is a high-end Category 4, or low-end Category 5.

Not liking where it may head on this model run...




geez..we might as well call the Gulf closed for business. Nothing seems to want to enter the Caribbean. Well thats goof news since the Gulf and the Caribbean have the highest energy potential for storms. Something get's in and explodes:0
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
Quoting KrazyKaneLove:
Thanks p541 and Charlotte. Its frustrating with this storm..cant recall one in the past that hit so many cities. Harder to get the news on a specific area.


If you scroll down this page to the weather stations page you can see all the readings from all the weather stations in the area, a lot of them update every few secs:

Link
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Full Loop...The ECMWF likely sends it into SC/NC in this run.

Link
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@CTLightandPower
CL&P
We’ve surpassed the outage record set by Hurricane Gloria in 1985! 486,000+ customers now without power #CTIrene
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting Felix2007:
Wait a minute... where the heck did Jose come from???????????


Irene's butt.
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TropicalAnalystwx13

noaa has a Floater on ex TD 10 and it dos seem like it has got in a little better today


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It seems plenty of rain is still falling in the interior, any estimate on how much have fallen up till now?, All that water gotta go somewhere
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1745. Relix
92L should go north of the Antilles so I am not worried about it much. There's a general consensus about that and the usual rule of a stronger system goes north will apply here. Now the wave behind may pose bigger trouble for me in the long range.
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1744. mbjjm
Sayville,Ny

70.0 mph from North Wind Gust 109.0 mph

must be malfuctioning
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Wait a minute... where the heck did Jose come from???????????

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Quoting Neapolitan:

I'm not worried about the dissemination of bad data; I'm worried about the non-dissemination of data, period. Imagine this: you browse over to see the day's weather. On the free site, you see highs, lows, sunrise, sunset. But you also see a little red box: "Severe weather is forecast for your area! To find out more, click here!" You click, and see this: "Severe weather information is a service offered to premium members. To gain access to this and all other premium content, please provide credit card information below!"

No, thanks.


there are any number of ways it could be monetized...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Latest ECMWF brings 92L up to TS status, Hurricane status, Major hurricane status, and past Category 3 status.

925 mb...That is a high-end Category 4, or low-end Category 5.

Not liking where it may head on this model run...


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1739. JRRP
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Look at the outflow on the northwestern side of the storm...WOW.


jose vs IRENE
lol
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Gross Jose, put some clothes on!
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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.