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Irene sends 4.5 foot storm surge up Chesapeake Bay

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

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


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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1088. tpabarb
Anderson Cooper seems completely befuddled by this storm as it is only drizzling where he's standing. So what's up, has it fizzled out?
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Quoting Neapolitan:
TD 11 is alive:

invest_RENUMBER_al912011_al112011.ren


I'm not sure what surprises me more: the fact that they went ahead with the renumber already or that only one person on WU posted it.

EDIT: I spoke too soon.
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invest_RENUMBER_al912011_al112011.ren

Whoa!!!! That came out of no where!


Tropical Depression 11.

Highly sheared, might not make it to TS status.

Irene's making life difficult for it.
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Irene terrorizing New England.
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Live stream in NY

Link
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Quoting cutgr:


well they try to sensationalize it.thats the point.when you hype hype hype then nothing happens.the next one you get what happended during katrina everyone takes it lightly because the one they hyped non stop turned out to be no different than a strong nor'easter
It's their JOB to warn us.  There is no crystal ball. 

The TV folks are paid to over-hype.  If you watch too much TV, that aspect goes over your head.  I get better info here and on the NHC website.  Haven't watched the TV for TC forecasts since 2005 when I started lurking here....except for coverage of the damage afterwards....TV has an advantage there.

You might as well say that all of your teachers/professors were full of it too.  THEN who do you believe?  You have to take stock in these professionals.  Even the Levi knows that they are the last word....no one on this site could do better.  Weather is fascinating because it's unpredictable most of the time.  Hence our interest......; )

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Quoting P451:


A blend of the NHC/NWS and Dr. Masters wind forecasts is occurring. They didn't fail us but they over estimated the impact. However for you and I it's not quite done we will see some higher winds from here putting the NHC/NWS forecast in a better light.

One thing that always gets me is how many hurricanes make landfall with a maximum sustained wind of a certain value but the highest reported wind observation is but 70% that value - and that's in a recorded gust.

It's very rare to see a storm landfall at say 75mph and see observations of 75mph sustained winds.

Why that is I don't know.

Do they find one thunderstorm in the entire giant hurricane that had 75mph wind gust? While the rest of the storm is a 50mph gale?

Probably....


Well in major hurricanes usually the observation equipment fails at about 120MPH. You'll rarely ever see a widespread amount of measurements above that, no matter how strong a hurricane is.

Over-estimating the impact was inevitable really. The only thing that really signalled that Irene wouldn't be at least a Cat 2 when it reached NC was.... Irene's actions quite honestly. Nobody, including the Dr. Masters.... projected anything less than a Category 3 storm until around 24 hours before landfall. That would have meant a Category 2 storm in NYC/New England when it got here, which is obvious by the very slow weakening (not sure why some people have called this a RAPIDLY weakening storm)
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Is that blowup of convection on the NE part of the screen Ex-TD10?
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Quoting popartpete:
Friends, I can feel the pressure dropping. I have to check my barometer, but suddenly it's like something pushing down on me. Eye hit my county, Ocean County, and it's over us. People think it's over, but the backside, although lacking rains, will have winds in the other direction.


And from experience, when the winds change, it's a whole new ballgame with the trees. Ones that made it through the first round, succumb to the second.
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TD 11 is alive:

invest_RENUMBER_al912011_al112011.ren
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Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


it wasn't unjustified hype


+1 and we never get the full damage extent until a few days after the storm. There are a lot of people in a lot of misery right now. Just because large numbers of people didn't parish (thank goodness) does not mean it won't be catastrophic in a lot of other ways.
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Friends, I can feel the pressure dropping. I have to check my barometer, but suddenly it's like something pushing down on me. Eye hit my county, Ocean County, and it's over us. People think it's over, but the backside, although lacking rains, will have winds in the other direction.
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Quoting cutgr:


well they try to sensationalize it.thats the point.when you hype hype hype then nothing happens.the next one you get what happended during katrina everyone takes it lightly because the one they hyped non stop turned out to be no different than a strong nor'easter


well nothing might be happening where you live, but here in New England it has already been quite terrible... especially over southern and southwest New England.

Most rivers in my area are forecast to go into high moderate to major flood stage. And a few rivers in NJ are forecast to break all time flood records. But I guess nothing's happening just because it's not a major hurricane, right?
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Quoting primez:
So hurricane irene is turning out to be bad news for those of us on long island, but in a different sort of way.

Irene has really pulled its punch for us. We've barely received 2 inches of rain when we were forecasted to get 6 to 10. The wind hasn't been that bad. I can't say much about storm surge and waves, except that it hasn't reached me a mile inland (phew). Problem is, everyone now has a false sense of security and thinks they can ride out any hurricane.


Why don't you give us an update in a few hours...after the worst has hit you?
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Irene's circulation is effecting the cloud pattern from Labrador, Canada to the Bahamas. I find that impressive.
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Quoting Melagoo:
CNN tries so hard to justify their hype where again is just a big fizzle ... I guess its better to be safe than sorry.


it wasn't unjustified hype
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Quoting lockwood1j:
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?
I often check weather stations around my area, and have found that there are some stations that show no or little wind on days when it is visually windy. I think it is the location of the sensors and that the sensors may be blocked from wind.
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Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:
Recording video from my high quality web cam for the rest of the storm. I will be cutting out the best highlights and make a youtube video, and will post it here for you guys. My position is near the center of Naugatuck, CT.... just to the East of expected track, and about 15 to 20 miles north of the coast. Things are very impressive out there right now I can say that much.

I am in East Torrington at 870ft. AMSL.  This is no Nor'easter or snowstorm.  Reminds me of Gloria also.....her eye went right over me.  2 for 2 possibly?

Glad our topography is helping to tamp down the nastier cells....flooding will be pretty bad though.
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1064. smuldy
Quoting CharlestonTigress:


Thanks. How about background on how these models are developed?

And I'm actually here a lot (I read the blog posts every day and the comment discussion whenever something significant is happening) I just rarely decide to post :)
the models are just run to run computer takes on everything that may happen given the pattern they perceive; 0z and 12z are more solid that 6z and 18z on GFS since they have the latest data and 6/18 are just repeats based on any minor changes, and GFS and ECMWF are long term the best. UKMET performed best last two years but is still suspect; CMC is a decent one but still second tier like UK; hurricane models are for once a storm has formed, HWMRF and GDFL are the two top models, GDFL is based on data the GFS observes, HWRF is its own entity, avoid the BAMS model as its just saying what a storm would do should synoptic pattern stay static, and XTRP is not a model it is just saying what a storm would do should it keep doing what is is doing (extrapolated position), but the overall synoptic pattern is the biggie, steering layer maps per the GFS, wind shear, and water vapor loops can tell you alot. As per whether a storm will form look to run to run consistency and if the models persist the odds are higher. Same with intensity, but as for track follow steering and pay attention to the two areas of high pressure in the globals (the ab high in the atlantic, and the continental high over the states) as the storm will move to the weakness upon forming depending on how it deepens and which layer it is steered at. Stronger storms are steered by the deeper layers of the upper atmosphere (ie 500mb map) and weaker are steered by the lower layers (850mb map) and generally as a rule of thumb weaker move west, stronger north, though pattern determines that. If an area of high pressure is set to drive the layer of steering, it will follow that and generally take a path east to west until the ridge ends and it can turn north. Otherwise a stronger storm cam eat away at the high pressure and force itself north, unless outflow to the east becomes so strong it 'pumps' and strengthens the ridge (only usually seen with majors) and creates its own steering. Hope that helps some.
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1063. cutgr
Quoting KarenRei:


Well, what do you want, them to be psychic? Should they have been less doom and gloom when Katrina was on its way for the offchance that Katrina collapsed like Irene did?


well they try to sensationalize it.thats the point.when you hype hype hype then nothing happens.the next one you get what happended during katrina everyone takes it lightly because the one they hyped non stop turned out to be no different than a strong nor'easter
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Quoting popartpete:
The eye of Irene is over Seaside Heights, NJ although I'm off the barrier island. It's high tide and a new moon. I wonder what surge happened. It's the first direct landfall in NJ since 1903.


I spent many summers in Highlands and I remember Seaside Heights as being a pretty narrow barrier island. After watching video of the surge in the sounds of NC, I'd say there was a hefty surge in Jersey ahead of Irene.
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Quoting cutgr:


we can thank the media for that..they were constantly over hyping the situation preaching doom and gloom.i hate when they do that.all the media and weather stations need to do is give tips on how to be safe and give updates on the storm.


Well, what do you want, them to be psychic? Should they have been less doom and gloom when Katrina was on its way for the offchance that Katrina collapsed like Irene did?
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1059. cutgr
Quoting Melagoo:
CNN tries so hard to justify their hype where again is just a big fizzle ... I guess its better to be safe than sorry.


same with the weather channel.did you see the clip of the people in Virginia beach running by the camera as the guy from the weather channel had on goggles and acting like the wind was so strong yet the people were just walking by.one guy mooned the camera full flesh pulled his pants down.
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1058. cutgr
Quoting primez:
So hurricane irene is turning out to be bad news for those of us on long island, but in a different sort of way.

Irene has really pulled its punch for us. We've barely received 2 inches of rain when we were forecasted to get 6 to 10. The wind hasn't been that bad. I can't say much about storm surge and waves, except that it hasn't reached me a mile inland (phew). Problem is, everyone now has a false sense of security and thinks they can ride out any hurricane.


we can thank the media for that..they were constantly over hyping the situation preaching doom and gloom.i hate when they do that.all the media and weather stations need to do is give tips on how to be safe and give updates on the storm.
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Quoting lockwood1j:
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?


they're on the wrong side of the storm. Bridgeport, CT had a gust of 63MPH confirmed about an hour ago.
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1056. Melagoo
CNN tries so hard to justify their hype where again is just a big fizzle ... I guess its better to be safe than sorry.
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Recording video from my high quality web cam for the rest of the storm. I will be cutting out the best highlights and make a youtube video, and will post it here for you guys. My position is near the center of Naugatuck, CT.... just to the East of expected track, and about 15 to 20 miles north of the coast. Things are very impressive out there right now I can say that much.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
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?
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Irene Visible

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Quoting WxLogic:
92L Info (since it may be a potential threat to the Northern Leeward Islands):

AL, 92, 2011082806, , BEST, 0, 103N, 205W, 20, 1011, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 220, 150, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,

- Pressure down 1MB




Yes,we have to watch it as is at low latitude and may miss any weakness in the Atlantic.
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1051. cutgr
11:21 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
weather channel is saying 70mph winds yet still calling it a cat 1 hurricane.i dont buy that its still a hurricane.just trying to hype it going into NY as a hurricane it seems.
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1050. WxLogic
11:19 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
Thankfully Irene has decreased further after passing through NC which helped keeping her further under control with the additional assistance of dry air.

Should be comparable to a winter storm, but without snow.
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1049. smuldy
11:19 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
i think i have encountered rocks more intelligent than that cnn meteorologist
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1048. Seastep
11:18 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
Good morning Irene.

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1047. popartpete
11:17 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
The eye of Irene is over Seaside Heights, NJ although I'm off the barrier island. It's high tide and a new moon. I wonder what surge happened. It's the first direct landfall in NJ since 1903.
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1045. CharlestonTigress
11:16 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
Quoting smuldy:
umm youre on the clear for someone who doesnt hang here much so that means neutral, but for models go here : http://raleighwx.americanwx.com/models.html

keep in mind they are far from sure and are just a suggestion of possibilities study what the long term pattern means and pay more attention to what the models say of that if you want to get a good handle of what could happen


Thanks. How about background on how these models are developed?

And I'm actually here a lot (I read the blog posts every day and the comment discussion whenever something significant is happening) I just rarely decide to post :)
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1044. CTSkywatcher
11:14 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
I think the NHC and Dr. Masters and his team did a fantastic job with this storm.  We don't see that many TC's up here in NE, and never usually believe that they are going to hit us, let alone follow the forecast to a T and head right over my house.  Just amazing.   The only thing they got wrong was the intensity at the NC landfall.  Otherwise - spot-on track and very good job with the intensity forecast.  Of course, it wouldn't be any fun without the WUBloggers who contribute and care about others here.

No Quarter......
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1043. WxLogic
11:14 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
92L Info (since it may be a potential threat to the Northern Leeward Islands):

AL, 92, 2011082806, , BEST, 0, 103N, 205W, 20, 1011, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 220, 150, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,

- Pressure down 1MB


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1042. WeatherNerdPR
11:13 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
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1041. smuldy
11:12 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
Quoting CharlestonTigress:
I know most people have me on their ignore list but in case somebody doesn't, could you tell me where I can go to learn more about the different models for long-range predictions, like of 92L?
umm youre on the clear for someone who doesnt hang here much so that means neutral, but for models go here : http://raleighwx.americanwx.com/models.html

keep in mind they are far from sure and are just a suggestion of possibilities study what the long term pattern means and pay more attention to what the models say of that if you want to get a good handle of what could happen
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1040. CybrTeddy
11:09 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
Quoting atmosweather:


Just looked at the best track from the post-season report and you are correct, it was adjusted down to 961 mb at 8PM 08/29/05. So Irene may still break or tie that.


One difference though -

Katrina was overland.

Irene is over water still (technically)

They tried to downgrade Earl last year to a TS when it hit Canada, had a very low pressure.. and in truth it was a hurricane when it hit.
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1039. CharlestonTigress
11:07 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
I know most people have me on their ignore list but in case somebody doesn't, could you tell me where I can go to learn more about the different models for long-range predictions, like of 92L?
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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