Hurricane Irene continues to become better organized, takes aim at Bahamas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 09:12 PM GMT am 22. August 2011

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Hurricane Irene remains a category 1 on the Saffir Simpson hurricane wind scale, and continues to be a U.S. landfall threat for anywhere from southern Florida to North Carolina. In the 5pm EDT update from the National Hurricane Center, Irene had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. Irene is moving west-northwest at 13 mph along the northern Hispaniola coastline. Estimates from radar suggest Puerto Rico has seen anywhere from 1 to 5 inches of rain from Irene so far, with the heaviest rain probably being enhanced by topography. Satellite imagery shows a new burst of intense thunderstorm activity began near the center of the hurricane this afternoon, and despite land interaction, Irene continues to become larger and better organized, with tropical storm-force (39 mph) winds extending 160 miles away from the center on the northeast side of the hurricane. The latest Hurricane Hunter mission found maximum sustained winds just above 80 mph, with a minimum central pressure of 988 millibars. The strongest winds continue to be found on the north side of the storm. Another Hurricane Hunter mission is scheduled for this evening, and a NOAA Gulfstream is on its way to Irene as I type.


Figure 1. True-color image of Hurricane Irene taken at 11:20am EDT Monday August 22, 2011, shortly after Irene moved off the coast of Puerto Rico. At the time, Irene was a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Track forecast for Irene
The models agree that the center of Irene will stay north of Hispaniola, which will allow the storm to continue to organize. The question that remains is how the trough of low pressure, which is expected to move across the Eastern U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday, will affect Hurricane Irene. The timing and strength of this trough, as well as the intensity of the hurricane, will determine just how quick Irene will turn away from the U.S. coast, if at all. This afternoon, the GFDL has finally started to inch its forecast track to the east, with a landfall in southern Florida. Both the HWRF and the UKMET models are suggesting a landfall in South Carolina, and the ECMWF and the GFS are forecasting a brush with the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center is a track north of Hispaniola over the next 24 hours, and through the Bahamas Wednesday and Thursday. While the center of the Hurricane Center's cone of uncertainty has Irene making landfall near the North Carolina/South Carolina border, it's important to note that the error in 4 and 5 day track forecasts remains high—around 200 miles in either direction. The official track has nudged a bit east since this morning, which reduces the threat to southern Florida, but increases the threat to the Carolinas.

Intensity forecast for Irene
The environment around Hurricane Irene remains moist, and wind shear is expected to remain relatively low (5 to 15 knots) along its forecast path over the next 5 days. Sea surface temperatures are certainly warm enough (29-30°C) to support intensification to a major hurricane (category 3+). Irene is still disorganized on its south side due to land interaction and dry air, but recent satellite imagery suggests increasing outflow at high levels to the south of the center, which is necessary for the hurricane to intensify. Both the GFS and the ECMWF are forecasting Irene to develop into a very large and intense hurricane. The National Hurricane Center expects Irene to intensify to a category 2 hurricane tomorrow evening as it moves away from Hispaniola. Beyond that, Irene will most likely intensify into a category 3 major hurricane with maximum sustained winds around 110 mph. Like Jeff said this morning, however, Irene could just as easily remain a category 2, or even reach category 4 wind speeds. In any case, Irene will be a powerful hurricane and a serious threat to the Bahamas and the East Coast of the United States.

Angela

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3872. Pj3
Surface water temperatures along the Atlantic coast would
seem to be higher than usual which can/will only add energy
to what looks to be a dangerous storm.
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Holy Cow! I'm sitting her worrying about Irene, and suddenly an earthquake shook my house VIOLENTLY for 15 seconds. I'm in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. It was the scariest thing ever. It was centered in Virginia. No damage here, except for a couple of things fell off the walls and stuff. In all my wildest imagination, I didn't think that we'd have an earthquake here, let alone an earthquake and a potential hurricane in the same week. The ground stopped, but I'm STILL SHAKING.
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Quoting RukusBoondocks:
Irene will miss the U.S


Didn't you have it hitting Florida last night?
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3869. 996tt
She is going to wind up pretty quickly and become soarge she can almost create her steering through influencing what ever weak and trough and ridge may be present. I have to say the models with the Eastern outliers are looking more reasonable. No one let their guard down, but a direct hit with CONUS seems unlikely with forecasted strengthening. Maybe it will stay far enough off shore for us to follow it up the coast and find some epic swells. Waxing my board and rearranging calendar at work.
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Irene will miss the U.S
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Hey Everyone! Just a young mind with plenty of knowledge looking to learn more! No trolling from me!!! Lol.
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Dr Master's just posted a new blog, we are all posting under that one now so if this one seems dead.. thats why :-p

Link to the new blog.
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Quoting surfsidesindy:


yep. And I don't think a hurricane is going to help. I will say though, my husband works for a small commercial door and window company and 2004 was a very good year for them...HOWEVER, not wishing this storm on anyone, anywhere.
i am sure glad the nhc know what they are doing. hope they are well paid. can you imagine the pressure of getting this right? .
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Quoting TampaBayWX:


WX Grl thank you!


No problem :)
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3863. ABlass
New Blog
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3862. LargoFl
Quoting TampaBayWX:
Look how big Irene is getting.... huge storm... :-(

Click here for the water vapor view of the Atlantic
man its growing in size
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Quoting traumaboyy:


I am afraid that uncle sam may be broke.....so this could kill many large insurance companies!! You mentioned David, My grandfather slept through David in a Sailboat.....or so he told us!!


My husband slept through a tornado as a teen, with the window blown in on him and everything, so I guess your grandpa could "sleep" through a cane!
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Quoting LargoFl:
wow we are close, im off east bay drive


Yeah your about 4 miles from me...
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NEW BLOG ENTRY
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Quoting TropicalWeatherGrl88:


This is a good one to look at it too

http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxlo op.cgi?wv_east_enhanced+12


WX Grl thank you!
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3857. LargoFl
Quoting TampaBayWX:


Largo I leave near 4th street and Gandy :-)
wow we are close, im off east bay drive
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Quoting islander101010:
i have been living in e cen fl. now for about 30 yrs only reason we live here is my wife and family are from here. otherwise i'd be living back in the west where im from. this community here has been hit hard with the shuttle shutdown its hard to be told you are not needed no more.


yep. And I don't think a hurricane is going to help. I will say though, my husband works for a small commercial door and window company and 2004 was a very good year for them...HOWEVER, not wishing this storm on anyone, anywhere.
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Quoting LargoFl:
Pinellas


Largo I live near 4th street and Gandy :-)
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Post 3824:

No matter how you look at it, that EURO solution is the doom scenario for the Northeast. It basically suggest that the NE quadrant of the storm would rake the Northeastern coastline, bringing the strongest winds and surge to highly populated region.

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Quoting TampaBayWX:


Yeah look at it here....


This is a good one to look at it too

http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxlo op.cgi?wv_east_enhanced+12
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Look how big Irene is getting.... huge storm... :-(

Click here for the water vapor view of the Atlantic
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3851. LargoFl
Quoting traumaboyy:


Northwest!!
Pinellas
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Quoting surfsidesindy:


And we already HAVE an insurance nightmare over here and has been that way since 2004. I went through David as a teen. Can't even imagine that scenario with Irene.


I am afraid that uncle sam may be broke.....so this could kill many large insurance companies!! You mentioned David, My grandfather slept through David in a Sailboat.....or so he told us!!
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i have been living in e cen fl. now for about 30 yrs only reason we live here is my wife and family are from here. otherwise i'd be living back in the west where im from. this community here has been hit hard with the shuttle shutdown its hard to be told you are not needed no more.
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3848. scott39
Quoting TampaBayWX:


Yeah will be interesting to see what it looks like in the next 6 - 12 hours ya know?
very!
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Quoting scott39:
Look at the trough coming down,then look at the dry air with it. It looks to be flatning out, W to E.


Yeah will be interesting to see what it looks like in the next 6 - 12 hours ya know?
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3846. scott39
Quoting TampaBayWX:


Yeah look at it here....
If I am right. This may be a game changer in the track.
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Quoting traumaboyy:


LOL Hope not!! Major skirting up the east coast of Florida would be an Insurance nightmare!!


And we already HAVE an insurance nightmare over here and has been that way since 2004. I went through David as a teen. Can't even imagine that scenario with Irene.
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Quoting yonzabam:


Not an expert, either, but it would obviously have to start tracking west of the forecst points.

This would happen if the Bermuda high pressure region were to become unexpectedly stronger.

Miami is still on the edge of the NHC cone.


Whats the likleyhood of the High becoming stronger??? I mean does that happen often?

Thanks for the info bro
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3843. scott39
Quoting scott39:
can you see on the water vapor loop?
Look at the trough coming down,then look at the dry air with it. It looks to be flatning out, W to E.
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Quoting scooster67:

That last wobble looked a little south of due west?

Honestly, it's hard to say what the center is doing since we don't have a true eye yet, nor do we have radar.

However, if we were to use just satellite imagery, then yes, it does appear that your observation may be true.

Still, it's really hard to say if that is true since we do not know if that is actually the eye or just an area of warmer cloud tops.
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Quoting scott39:
can you see on the water vapor loop?


Yeah look at it here....
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Quoting TampaBayWX:
So what would have to happen for the caine to hit FL? I mean Im not trying to be negative, just trying to know what to look for, indicators or such.

Would a ridge or trough have to remain or break down?

Sory im not a weather expert.


Not an expert, either, but it would obviously have to start tracking west of the forecst points.

This would happen if the Bermuda high pressure region were to become unexpectedly stronger.

Miami is still on the edge of the NHC cone.
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Quoting surfsidesindy:


East Central beachside. I'm afraid since the shuttle program has ended that NASA has turned off the very expensive hurricane deflector shields.


LOL Hope not!! Major skirting up the east coast of Florida would be an Insurance nightmare!!
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Quoting Dunkman:


I mean it's possible, but more likely just the infrared satellite playing tricks with us.


I'm sure your'e right. It's probably just its interaction with Hispaniola. Sure seems to be going more west than expected the last 4 hours or so.!?
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3837. scott39
Quoting TampaBayWX:


Scott interesting idea... I think this needs to be investigated more to see really how much of an impact it will have on the high....

Makes sense....
can you see on the water vapor loop?
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Quoting scott39:
The trough that is going to cause a weakness in the high, seems to look like it is flowing W to E instead of SW to NE. I think this would cause the trough to flatten out and not have that much of a negative impact on the high. This could cause more of a WNW trend with Irenes path. I think this is right? IMO


Scott interesting idea... I think this needs to be investigated more to see really how much of an impact it will have on the high....

Makes sense....
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last storm the gfdl nailed was ernesto the other models had him way over in the western carib. while he stuck and moved very slowly near hispanola. its still mid aug. it will be take a strong pull to get irene away from those big islands.
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Quoting TampaBayWX:
Anyone in here from FL?


Northwest!!
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3833. scott39
Quoting Dunkman:


8/23 0z GFS hits the OBX, 8/23 0z Euro hits just east of Wilmington, 8/23 0z UKMET hits Wilmington.
Thanks, I was wanting to know if these runs were any futher E or W from the runs before the most recent
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My Blog on Irene

For those interested. It's pretty much the same as comment 3803, but I figured I'd post it anyway.
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Quoting TampaBayWX:
Anyone in here from FL?


East Central beachside. I'm afraid since the shuttle program has ended that NASA has turned off the very expensive hurricane deflector shields.
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Anyone in here from FL?
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3828. Dunkman
Quoting scooster67:

That last wobble looked a little south of due west?



I mean it's possible, but more likely just the infrared satellite playing tricks with us.
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3827. scott39
The trough that is going to cause a weakness in the high, seems to look like it is flowing W to E instead of SW to NE. I think this would cause the trough to flatten out and not have that much of a negative impact on the high. This could cause more of a WNW trend with Irenes path. I think this is right? IMO
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3826. Dunkman
Quoting scott39:
Do the most recent GFS or ECMWF runs take Irene any futher E or W than the 8/22 6Z?


8/23 0z GFS hits the OBX, 8/23 0z Euro hits just east of Wilmington, 8/23 0z UKMET hits Wilmington.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Agreed.


That last wobble looked a little south of due west?

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Anyone care to talk about possible impacts to the mid-Atlantic/ Northeast?

After seeing the latest GFS:

And the latest Euro:

I think we have something to talk about
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Quoting scooster67:
Check out the NOAA HFIP experimental HWRF.

Re-post from Skypony last night. Thank you Sky.

Back to bed. Have a nice night, night crew.

Link


*falls over*..... That would take out the Harley Shop in Daytona... where will I cruise my bike to now? (Note: This is a sarcastic post dont freak out on me, no I dont want anything to hit FL.)
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Quoting scott39:
Do the most recent GFS or ECMWF runs take Irene any futher E or W than the 8/22 6Z?
not sure what you're asking, but you can see for yourself at Dr. Maue's website or at Allan Huffman's website
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.