Hurricane Irene Weakens on its Approach to North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 07:58 AM GMT on Augusti 27, 2011

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As of 300AM EDT, Hurricane Irene was located at 33.7N, 76.5W, 60 miles south of Cape Lookout. It was moving north-northeast at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, making it a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Irene has a minimum central pressure of 952 mb.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the US Atlantic coast from the Little River inlet in North Carolina to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts. Tornado watches are also in effect for the North Carolina/Virginia/Maryland coast. Figure 1 shows the hurricane, tropical storm, and tornado watches and warnings for Irene. Remember, a hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected, and tropical storm force winds (greater than 34 mph) will occur within 36 hours. Tropical storm warning means that tropical storm force winds are expected in the next 36 hours, but hurricane conditions are not. A tropical storm watch means tropical storm force winds are possible within 48 hours.

To find out if you need to evacuate, please contact your local emergency management office. They will have the latest information. People living in New York City can find their evacuation zone here or use this map. FEMA has information on preparing for hurricanes. FEMA also has a blog describing their response to Irene.


Figure 1 Map of watches and warnings taken at 225AM EDT, August 27, 2011

Satellite Views
Figure 2 shows that Irene is a large storm, with outflow reaching from South Carolina to Long Island, NY. Irene's eye is not visible.


Figure 2 IR satellite view of Irene taken at 226AM EDT, August 27, 2011

Track Forecast

Irene is forecast to make landfall on the North Carolina coast Saturday morning as a category 1 storm with sustained winds around 90 mph. I believe that Irene's center of circulation will make landfall somewhere between Cape Lookout and Okracoke on the Outer Banks around 9-10 am. Irene should then move roughly north, along the mid-Atlantic coastline before making landfall in western Long Island. However, it is important to not focus solely on the track forecast. Irene is a large storm with a large windfield and equally large areas of storms and showers. It's impact will be felt over a wide swath of the northeastern US.


Figure 3 Official track forecast of Irene at 11PM EDT, Aug. 26.

Irene and Flooding
Six to ten inches of rain are possible along Irene's track from North Carolina north into New England, with 15 inches possible in isolated areas. Radar estimates indicate at least 5 inches have already fallen near Morehead City, NC. As a result, flooding is very likely. The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) has issued their Significant River Flood Outlook for the next five days shown in figure 4. HPC thinks that river flooding from the Delmarva peninsula to northwestern Maine is likely, while river flooding in much of the rest of the northeastern US is possible.


Figure 4 Significant River Flood Outlook issued by HPC.

Impacts

Tropical storm forces winds are occuring at Cape Lookout now, with hurricane force winds expected on the North Carolina coast later today. Use this Wundermap to keep track of how the winds are behaving around the North Carolina coastline. Within the hurricane warning area in North Carolina, storm surge is expected to be 6-11 feet above ground. This is our storm surge forecast map. To see how high the tides are running, NOAA has an excellent page collecting all of the relevant tide gauges.

People living on the the east coast of the US from the Carolinas to Cape Cod should continue monitoring Irene and be in the process of finishing their hurricane preparations. If you have not started preparing for this storm, start immediately. If an evacuation order is given, please follow it, unless it is unsafe to do so. Irene will be a large storm, impacting areas far from the storm center track.

Links

If you're curious about power outages, here are some maps: Dominion Power Outage Map (NC/VA), Progress Energy Outage Map (NC/SC), and NOVEC Outage Map (Northern Virginia).

Dr. Masters will have a new blog entry this morning, and there will be another blog this afternoon. I'll be back with another blog entry late tonight.

Stay safe,

Dr. Rob Carver

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NNNNNEEEEEEWWWWWWW

BLOGGGGGGG
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Maryland1:
Pros: looks like earlier start and that due north for 5 hours means worse effects for DC and then points east. I wasn't expecting the rain bands nearly this early or that far west.


Same here - had a party to go to around 2pm but now we are chilling out instead. Weather isn't bad yet but should go downhill as the night goes on.

NHC local office has been increasing the winds for the DC area and calling for 3/4 inches of rain but I think it will be MUCH more than that:

Last night it was 20/30 with gusts to 40mph.

This morning it was 30/40 with gusts to 50mph.

Now it is 33/43mph with gusts to 55mph.
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Quoting Hurricanes12:


Puerto Rico is also part of the U.S., so anything significant that occurred there does also count towards the unfortunate fatalities, etc.

2 deaths in Haiti and 3 in the Dominican Republic, with 7 missing. 1 indirect death in PR as well.
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Quoting ncCANEiac:


Let me correct myself. 100,000 escaped in Floyd. Estimates are that there are now 200,000 in eastern NC.


That is quite a lot of generations for hogs, which likely have become Feral long ago.
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Quoting FLdewey:
After Andrew I lived in my car for a month... so a FEMA trailer in all of it's glory would have been sweet.


Thanks to you and the others who posted... restores my faith in humanity's ability to be grateful. Sometimes it seems to be a lost art.
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Quoting mcluvincane:
Anybody heard of damage reports in Atlantic Beach?


The pier is pretty much gone. Heavily damaged.
Member Since: Augusti 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
1035. Levi32
Water vapor continues to show dry air getting wrapped in to the east of Irene's center, and that's why we don't see many strong bands directly east of the eye. However, all of that air piling ashore to the north of the eye hits the land and encounters friction, causing it to pile up more, forcing it to rise upward. That is why the bands are intensifying so much west of the eye over North Carolina and Virginia. Also, the water vapor loop reveals a frontal boundary which came southeastward through Ohio over the last several hours associated with the upper shortwave trough over southeast Canada, and this is providing baroclinic support to the western side of the hurricane, also intensifying the rainfall.

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Anybody heard of damage reports in Atlantic Beach?
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Quoting FLdewey:
FEMA trailers staging in NC

Them ain't FEMA trailers. Them is FEMA trailer-trucks (lorries). If you don't believe me ask Pat. He has done extensive research on the topic and should be well qualified to speak on the subject.
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Quoting zoomiami:


Thank you -- forgot about looking for the traffic cams, usually use those during winter storms,, duh

trafficland.com
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Can't find any. But here are some traffic cams in Norfolk/Virginia Beach.


Thanks! Those are actually quite interesting as one goes from state to state.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
the Empire State Building could be looking at 100mph winds on the higher floors


Yeah, that's what is bad about those high buildings and hurricanes.
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Pros: looks like earlier start and that due north for 5 hours means worse effects for DC and then points east. I wasn't expecting the rain bands nearly this early or that far west.
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the Empire State Building could be looking at 100mph winds on the higher floors
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Quoting AransasBayRat:


I don't mean to criticize, but could we not show a little more gratitude for an accomodation that is freely given to us in times of disaster? Fema trailors are not meant to be luxury suites. They are meant to be temporary housing in times of distress. In this entitlement generation it would be really pleasant to see more people show thanks instead of expecting better handouts.

X10
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1021. jpsb
Quoting AransasBayRat:


I don't mean to criticize, but could we not show a little more gratitude for an accomodation that is freely given to us in times of disaster? Fema trailors are not meant to be luxury suites. They are meant to be temporary housing in times of distress. In this entitlement generation it would be really pleasant to see more people show thanks instead of expecting better handouts.

After Ike those FEMA trailers looked pretty good to me. Unfortunately I did not get one. There are still a few of them around. And I still wish I had one. :)
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1020. 996tt
Quoting txarchitect:


He must have been cold.


That is some funny sh . . .
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
2 deaths in the US and one missing.


Puerto Rico is also part of the U.S., so anything significant that occurred there does also count towards the unfortunate fatalities, etc.
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FYI - WU has a good twitter feed going
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1017. Smikey
Irene is looking better and better with each passing frame: This is the best she has looked in almost 24 hours. Amazing....

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Long Beach, NY Cam.

Southern Chesapeake Bay.


Atlantic City
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
Mt. Holly - NWS office still concerned about the 250 MB Jet to form later tonight.

MUCH OF THE MODEL GUIDANCE STILL SHOWS THE DEVELOPMENT OF A STRONG
250 MB JET NORTH OF THE HURRICANE INTO SUNDAY, GENERALLY FROM THE
EASTERN GREAT LAKES TO NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND. THIS UPPER-LEVEL JET
EVEN HAS SOME ANTICYCLONIC CURVATURE TO IT AND GIVEN THE ORIENTATION
OF THIS JET IT IS SUCH THAT IRENE IS WITHIN THE RIGHT ENTRANCE
REGION AS SHE TRACKS NORTHWARD. THIS SCENARIO MAY TEND TO HELP WITH
A POLEWARD UPPER-LEVEL OUTFLOW CHANNEL AND ASSIST IN THE INTENSITY
OF THE SYSTEM AS A WHOLE. THEREFORE, DESPITE SOME INCREASING SHEAR
AS THE HURRICANE GAINES LATITUDE ALONG WITH COOLER WATERS AND LAND
INTERACTIONS, PERHAPS THIS IS WHY MUCH OF THE MODEL GUIDANCE NEARLY
INSISTS THIS SYSTEM MAINTAINS A RATHER LOW CENTRAL PRESSURE ALL THE
WAY INTO SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND. IT BECOMES EVEN MORE OF AN INTENSITY
FORECAST CHALLENGE AS TROPICAL CYCLONES GET THIS FAR NORTH AND
INTERACT WITH BAROCLINIC ZONES AND LARGE SCALE SYNOPTIC FEATURES.
THE PRESENCE OF THE SURFACE FRONT AND UPPER-LEVEL JET IS CONCERNING
AS THIS MAY PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN ENHANCING THE RAINFALL RATES.
THE AMOUNT OF RAIN THAT LOOKS TO OCCUR WITH THIS SYSTEM MAY END UP
BEING THE MAIN TOPIC OF DISCUSSION FOR MANY YEARS. AN EXAMINATION
OF THE WIND FIELD AT 925 MB IS STILL CONCERNING WITH A LARGE AREA OF
60 TO NEARLY 85 KNOTS TRACKING ACROSS THE CWA THIS EVENING THROUGH
SUNDAY MORNING. WHILE THE FRICTIONAL EFFECTS WILL TEND TO SLOW THE
WIND DOWN SOME AND ALSO ALLOW FOR SOME DECOUPLING BETWEEN THE
SURFACE AND ABOVE, THE PRESSURE GRADIENT COMBINED WITH ENHANCED
MIXING WITHIN HEAVIER RAIN/CONVECTION SHOULD PRODUCE
SIGNIFICANT/DAMAGING GUSTS.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
what kind of damg could we see in DC and new york?


Tree damage and flooding is likely in DC with power outages - but we shouldn't see major wind damage.

Not sure about New York but if Irene stays like she is now, the high rise buildings in New York could sustain window damage.
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Quoting Dakster:


Every time I had done hurricane clean-up or worked in the aftermath of one - I have gotten sick... Not fun. and I routinely get all of the vaccinations. All kind of bateria, mold, fungus, and must nastier stuff is floating around.



Could be the vaccinations that are making you sick.
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2 deaths in the US so far.
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Quoting Levi32:


How about this?


Thank you -- forgot about looking for the traffic cams, usually use those during winter storms,, duh
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Quoting Levi32:


Unless widespread reports of over 85mph sustained occur, I doubt they will upgrade it, especially since it is gradually weakening over time.


I can't find any surface winds > 85 mph.
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1007. 996tt
Quoting Jax82:
Its hotter than blue blazes here in NEFL. Says its going to get up to 97 at the beaches but its only 92 right now, not a cloud in the sky. Just saw a reporter on TWC on Nags Head island on the beach, houses are just losing some shingles etc but they said damage is not that bad. Luckily Irene's eyewall never redeveloped, but still going to be a major flood/storm surge concern from here on out to the Northeast.


No doubt. Just South of you and ready for fall to get her. Supposed to be like 98 back home in Destin today.
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Quoting nola70119:


In New Orleans most of the damage from Katrina was from flooding, and from the looks of Irene, she might surprise some people. 10-12inches of rain is an extremely dangerous flood situation locally, regionally it could be a Biblical flood...
Let's keep religion out of it.
Quoting zoomiami:
Does anyone have pics or links to cams for Chesapeake Bay Bridge?
Google 511 with the state name of interest and it should link you up with that's state road conditions site which usually contains a set of links to their road cameras.
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1005. Patrap
Norfolk
NEXRAD Radar

Storm Total Surface Rainfall Accumulation


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Justed checked the rain gauge and we're just under 5" so far.
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1003. jpsb
Quoting unc70:
NJ, NY, or New England will have much greater damage from this storm than in NC.

I agree, I figured N.C. could handle Irene, my worry has always been NYC, Long Island and coastal New England. Been reading that the Storm Surge in N.C. was only 6 or 7 feet, Great news, but I fear water will pile up better in the LL and NYC area then in N.C. Also somewhat concerned about the Delaware Bay. Bays are where the surge could be really bad.
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<>img src="">
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998. 996tt
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Searching for answers?


Haha, typing on iPhone has its disadvantages. Still think it funny that people in cars are in danger and this guy standing in the middle of the street with goggles on is the smart one.
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Quoting ncCANEiac:


During Floyd there was an estimated 200,000 hogs escapeinto eastern NC from the floods. Just this past year NC wildlife has opened season year round to try to control the exploded population of these hogs since Floyd.


Let me correct myself. 100,000 escaped in Floyd. Estimates are that there are now 200,000 in eastern NC.
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what kind of damg could we see in DC and new york?
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We spent 27 months post K in Our FEMA trailer

And without it,,our Lives would have been very different.

So we were grateful for it as many others as well.


Those who speak ill of calamity and its affects on Lives,,usually have never experienced it in theirs.
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Some of what my family is expecting.

Forecast for Wilmington, Delaware tonight, it is located in the very North part of the state.

Tropical storm conditions expected with hurricane conditions possible. Periods of rain and scattered thunderstorms. Rain may be heavy at times. Lows in the upper 60s. Northeast winds 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 55 mph...becoming north and... increasing to 45 to 55 mph with gusts up to 65 mph after midnight. Chance of rain near 100 percent.

Forecast for Manhattan, New York, Sunday morning.

Tropical storm conditions expected with hurricane conditions possible. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning. Rain. Rain may be heavy at times. Humid. Near steady temperature in the lower 70s. Northeast winds 55 to 70 mph...becoming northwest 55 to 65 mph in the afternoon. Gusts up to 80 mph. Chance of rain near 100 percent.
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Quoting FLdewey:
Actually I didn't bring it back up Aussie... was trying to keep it from starting all over again. ;-)

hmmmmmm
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962

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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.

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