Dangerous Tropical Storm Irene headed for the Dominican Republic

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 02:38 PM GMT am 21. August 2011

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Tropical Storm Irene roared into life last night, transitioning from a tropical wave to a 50 mph tropical storm in just a few short hours. Irene is getting organized quickly, and has the potential to become a hurricane by Monday morning. All interests in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and South Florida should prepare for the arrival of this dangerous storm. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm found the strongest winds near 18°N latitude to the north of Irene's center at 8am this morning. After passing through the center, the plane returned to the area of strongest winds two hours later, and found that flight level winds at 5,000 feet had increased by about 5 - 8 mph. However, the pressure in the latest center fix taken at 10am EDT remained the same as two hours previously, 1007 mb, and the plane noted that Irene's center was not circular, signs that the storm still has some work to do before serious intensification can begin. Visible satellite loops and radar out of Martinique show the storm has rapidly organized this morning, with well-developed spiral bands forming and a large area of intense thunderstorms to the north of the center. Irene has shrugged off the dry air that was bothering it yesterday, and wind shear has fallen to the low range, 5 - 10 knots, as analyzed by the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group. Torrential rains and strong gusty winds are affecting the northern Lesser Antilles this morning. A wind gust of 41 mph was recorded at St. Eustatius at 8am local time.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Irene.

Track forecast for Irene
The computer models are in agreement that Irene will pass just south of Puerto Rico tonight, then hit the south coast of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic or Haiti on Monday afternoon. Irene should then emerge into the channel between Haiti and Cuba on Tuesday afternoon, when the storm will have 12 or so hours over water before having to contend with Cuba. A trough of low pressure is expected to move across the Eastern U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday, turning Irene to the northwest and north by Thursday. The timing and strength of this trough varies considerably from model to model, and will be critical in determining where and when Irene will turn to the north. Irene's strength will also matter--a stronger Irene is more likely to turn northward earlier. The most likely path for Irene is a track just east of the Florida Peninsula and into Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina by next weekend, but a landfall near Miami then directly up the Florida Peninsula is also a reasonable solution--like Tropical Storm Fay of 2008 did. Fay formed just off the coast of Puerto Rico, and was never quite able to get organized enough to become a hurricane, due to passage over Hispaniola and Cuba. Fay topped out as a strong tropical storm with 70 mph winds, and did over $500 million in damage in the U.S., mostly due to flooding rains in Florida that accumulated to over 25 inches in a few areas. Fay also dumped heavy rains on Hispaniola, triggering flooding that claimed eight lives.


Figure 2. Track of Tropical Storm Fay of 2008.

Intensity forecast for Irene
Irene is embedded in a large envelope of moisture now, and wind shear will remain low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. With water temperatures very warm, 28 - 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification except when land is interfering. Irene's current appearance on satellite loops gives me the impression of a storm that is not fooling around, and I expect Irene will be a hurricane before hitting Hispaniola on Monday. Passage over Hispaniola will not destroy Irene, since it is a fairly large storm. Once the storm finishes with Hispaniola, it will have to deal with Cuba, which will keep Irene from intensifying significantly. Once Irene pops off the coast of Cuba Wednesday or Thursday into the Florida Straits, Irene will likely be a tropical storm. If the storm then has at least a day over water before hitting land, it will likely become a hurricane again, and could become a major hurricane if it ends up missing South Florida and moving over the warm waters on either side of the Florida Peninsula.

Harvey hits Belize
Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall at 2pm EDT on Saturday near Dangriga Town, Belize, as a tropical storm with 60 mph winds. Harvey continues to dump very heavy rains on southern Mexico, but dissipation is expected tonight as the storm pushes inland. Harvey was a small storm, and the strongest winds were confined to a short stretch of coast near where the center came ashore. Winds at Belize City, Belize on Saturday topped out at 15 mph.


Figure 3. Radar image of Harvey taken at 11:30am EDT on Saturday, August 20, 2011, a few hours before landfall in Belize. A small closed eye is visible just south of the offshore islands of Belize. Image credit: Belize National Meteorological Service.

Invest 98L northwest of the Cape Verde Islands
A tropical wave few hundred miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, Invest 98L, has become disorganized and lost most of its heavy thunderstorms. The disturbance is moving over colder waters and encountering drier air, and NHC is giving 98L only a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Tuesday. The latest set of model runs keep 98L well out to sea away from any land areas over the next five days.

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Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico

Jeff Masters

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3473. Levi32
51-kt surface wind from SFMR:


URNT15 KNHC 212249
AF302 0309A IRENE HDOB 05 20110821
223900 1816N 06432W 8459 01494 //// +140 //// 119051 055 045 010 01
223930 1817N 06431W 8428 01523 //// +140 //// 118047 048 045 010 05
224000 1818N 06430W 8439 01514 //// +143 //// 115053 054 044 005 01
224030 1818N 06429W 8427 01527 0058 +146 //// 117051 052 042 003 01
224100 1819N 06427W 8434 01520 0057 +153 //// 120051 051 041 003 01
224130 1820N 06426W 8432 01526 0060 +152 //// 122049 051 042 001 01
224200 1820N 06425W 8430 01529 0059 +157 +150 123050 050 040 002 00
224230 1821N 06423W 8438 01523 0060 +162 +143 124048 049 041 000 00
224300 1821N 06422W 8428 01537 0060 +165 +136 125047 048 040 001 00
224330 1822N 06421W 8435 01528 0060 +165 +141 127047 047 039 002 00
224400 1823N 06419W 8433 01533 0063 +160 +154 127046 047 039 001 00
224430 1823N 06418W 8434 01533 0065 +158 +157 128044 046 040 003 00
224500 1824N 06417W 8433 01535 0071 +151 //// 126045 047 040 005 01
224530 1825N 06415W 8430 01535 0066 +156 +156 129046 047 040 004 00
224600 1825N 06414W 8433 01535 0074 +148 //// 129048 051 040 008 01
224630 1826N 06413W 8439 01529 //// +131 //// 129047 048 047 019 01
224700 1827N 06411W 8432 01537 //// +130 //// 128047 050 051 030 01
224730 1827N 06410W 8449 01521 //// +132 //// 126046 048 050 022 01
224800 1828N 06408W 8425 01546 //// +145 //// 125042 045 041 009 01
224830 1828N 06407W 8433 01532 //// +143 //// 127036 042 042 017 05
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That dry air pocket actully helped set a format for the eye, you can tell cause its getting smaller.
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good evening

I haven't been on since early this and was wondering if Irene's center reformed further to the North for a second time. It is well North of where I expected to find it from this morning.

TIA


Hey, Kman.

It certainly reformed farther to the north under the mid-level center. It has been consolidating ever since then and is now the best organized yet.
Member Since: Juli 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
SFMR found 51kt winds
Member Since: Mai 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114785
Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:
More interesting for comparison than Fay, I think.




not going to turn that quick
Member Since: August 17, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 22
3467. WxLogic
Well 18Z HWRF initialized ok, but 6HR into the run already has Irene NE of PR which clearly is not the case:

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more 48 knots winds.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Your eyes because the hole is getting smaller.


Did you see that eyeish feature tightening off southward on radar....there is no way this is suddenly wobbling southward...is there?
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Your eyes because the hole is getting smaller.

I need better glasses LOL
Member Since: Juli 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5650
51 knots
(~ 58.6 mph)

That's surface, btw.
Member Since: Juli 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



Warm water, well established ULAC, DMAX, Shut off the dry air... Anything else?



I was kind of being sarcastic, lol.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



Warm water, well established ULAC, DMAX, Shut off the dry air... Anything else?

Nuclear night?
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Recon's Latest:
60 Mph 995 MB
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Did it just stop when it reached St. Croix? Or is it just my eyes fooling me?


Your eyes because the hole is getting smaller.
Member Since: Juli 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
""

Almost on another pass
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Quoting RukusBoondocks:
looks like Irene is taking a dip to the wsw..........


Thank you!
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
55 Mph found mostly, though they wont upgrade the winds til they find 60+


They'll round the 49 knots up to 50 knots, convert the 50 knots to 57.6 mph, and then round that up to 60 mph. XD Either that or they'll just use 55 mph, which is extremely unlikely. Although they did use 55 mph for one of Beatriz's advisories.
Member Since: Juli 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)

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Quoting weathergeek5:


Baseball, I think he is talking about. Phillies all the way, but those pesky Nats beat us this weekend.
Cholly can't handle those long rain delays...
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This is starting to remind me of Jeanne of 2004. It's looking like it could whack the same area of FL she did, but just a bit north. I wonder if they ever rebuilt this marina dry storage building near Sebastian inlet:
Dry boat storage pinata



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More interesting for comparison than Fay, I think.

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Member Since: Juli 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
Good evening

I haven't been on since early this and was wondering if Irene's center reformed further to the North for a second time. It is well North of where I expected to find it from this morning.

TIA
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Quoting MississippiWx:

Did it just stop when it reached St. Croix? Or is it just my eyes fooling me?
Member Since: Juli 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5650
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Really? What makes you say that?



Warm water, well established ULAC, DMAX, Shut off the dry air... Anything else?

Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5046
Can't wait to fish the runoffs in florida thanks irene :) bring me some rain please
Member Since: August 17, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 22
Quoting Jax82:
rut row, is she gonna pass north, south, or right over PR? Looks like directly.



south, in my opinion
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3442. Patrap
Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (4 km Mercator)


Member Since: Juli 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
3440. hulakai
maybe it's wishful thinking (i'm, in the crosshairs), but isin't this storm North of the predict? Is the Bahamas the likely destination? got my h20 today
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Quoting Jax82:
rut row, is she gonna pass north, south, or right over PR? Looks like directly.



Is it just me...or does that radar loop show a southward wobble...its like the center went WNW to pass just N of St. Croix...then suddenly is tightening off SOUTHWARD...what is going on? Ugh....
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55 Mph found mostly, though they wont upgrade the winds til they find 60+
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Member Since: Juli 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
Well according to the last HDOB we know the NHC is probably going to go with at least 50 kts (60 mph) at the 8PM advisory. It could be stronger as the NHC investigates more areas or later on between now and the 8PM intermediate advisory.
Member Since: Juli 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
3435. Patrap
Member Since: Juli 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
3434. Levi32
Surface winds approaching 60mph:

000
URNT15 KNHC 212239
AF302 0309A IRENE HDOB 04 20110821
222900 1750N 06442W 8302 01589 9958 +166 //// 157022 024 /// /// 05
222930 1752N 06442W 8310 01580 9959 +174 //// 140024 025 /// /// 05
223000 1754N 06443W 8312 01578 9960 +166 //// 131027 031 /// /// 05
223030 1755N 06444W 8317 01578 9964 +163 //// 117029 030 /// /// 05
223100 1757N 06445W 8302 01590 9967 +166 //// 104034 038 /// /// 05
223130 1758N 06446W 8310 01587 //// +154 //// 100043 044 /// /// 05
223200 1800N 06446W 8302 01598 9978 +162 //// 101047 049 /// /// 05
223230 1801N 06445W 8306 01601 9983 +168 //// 106044 044 /// /// 05
223300 1802N 06444W 8361 01570 //// +152 //// 111046 046 /// /// 05
223330 1804N 06443W 8445 01466 9997 +169 //// 112043 044 /// /// 05
223400 1805N 06443W 8433 01484 //// +158 //// 111045 045 /// /// 05
223430 1807N 06442W 8430 01489 //// +150 //// 109047 047 /// /// 05
223500 1808N 06441W 8430 01494 //// +145 //// 111048 048 /// /// 05
223530 1809N 06440W 8434 01494 //// +145 //// 111054 054 /// /// 05
223600 1810N 06439W 8434 01498 //// +145 //// 113053 054 /// /// 05
223630 1811N 06438W 8429 01505 //// +143 //// 114054 056 049 006 01
223700 1812N 06437W 8434 01504 //// +147 //// 115055 056 049 004 01
223730 1813N 06436W 8431 01509 //// +145 //// 118053 054 048 005 01
223800 1814N 06435W 8433 01512 0043 +154 //// 120054 056 045 004 01
223830 1815N 06433W 8429 01518 //// +147 //// 116054 057 043 006 01
$$
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" There is no one as blind, as he who refuses to see"
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Good evening, all! It looks like Irene is shedding a lot of convection to the northeast (at least to my amateur eyes). What effect, if any, will this have on the strength or stability of the storm as it gets closer to Puerto Rico? Thanks!
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
:O

Kinda Fat.


It shows the comma head of the storm heading right for you too...man I hope things don't get too bad for you in PR...stay safe....
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""

This is good
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
:O

Kinda Fat.


You better be lucky you won't be in all that convection to the NE.
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3427. xcool
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Surface MAX winds is 50 knots so far... this is 60 mph tropical storm so far...
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Irene looks primed for significant development overnight.


Really? What makes you say that?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
surface winds is 43 knots though...



ok
Member Since: Mai 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114785
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 56 knots (~ 64.4 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 49 knots (~ 56.3 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 4 mm/hr (~ 0.16 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
At least a 65 mph storm.
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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.