Hurricane Irene, a threat to Bahamas & U.S. East Coast

By: Civicane49 , 5:15 AM GMT on August 23, 2011

Hurricane Irene, the ninth named tropical storm and first hurricane of the Atlantic season, is now a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds and the pressure of 980 mbar as of the latest National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisory. It is currently located just north of Dominican Republic. Over the past several hours, satellite imagery shows Irene's deep convection has continued to be better organized. It has a central dense overcast appearance and seems to start forming an eye, indicated from the microwave satellite imagery that shows a developing eye. These observations suggested a strengthening hurricane. The system is moving west-northwestward at roughly 12 mph. Residents in Bahamas and U.S. East Coast are urged to prepare and monitor closely for Irene.

Figure 1. Latest infrared satellite image of Hurricane Irene.

Track forecast for Irene
All forecast models show Irene's predicted path remains north of Dominican Republic and Haiti and pass over Bahamas. Most models take Irene hitting the U.S. East Coast from southeastern Florida to Connecticut but especially the Carolinas. The latest NHC official forecast track shows the cyclone passing over the Bahamas from Tuesday to Thursday and make landfall between South and North Carolina by Saturday evening.

Figure 2. Latest NHC's forecast track of Hurricane Irene.

Intensity forecast for Irene
The conditions for the cyclone's area and forecast path remains favorable over the next 3 days with very warm sea surface temperatures, light wind shear and moist environment. These conditions should allow Irene to intensify into a Category 3 hurricane, with 111-130 mph winds, or a major hurricane by tomorrow. The system is anticipated to be a major hurricane over the Bahamas and make landfall on the Carolinas likely as a weak Category 3 hurricane.


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