Hurricane Irene First Major Bahamas / TCI Threat of the 2011 Season
Category 2 Hurricane Irene as it approaches the Turks and Caicos Islands and Southeastern Bahamas. Notice an eye is becoming visible.
Irene, the ninth storm and first hurricane of the 2011 hurricane season, is poised to deliver a major blow to the island archipelago of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The NHC issued the following positon statement at 11 a.m. this morning:
SUMMARY OF 1100 AM EDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
ABOUT 70 MI...110 KM S OF GRAND TURK ISLAND
ABOUT 50 MI...85 KM NNW OF PUERTO PLATA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...100 MPH...160 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 295 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...980 MB...28.94 INCHES
Our Department of Meteorology is currently issuing Alert #17 based on the same information. A list of shelters in the warning area is also being issued.
At 10:30 a.m. the National Emergency Management Agency held a press conference, during which the Bahamian prime minister, Hubert Ingraham addressed the nation. He emphasised the size and serious nature of the storm, along with the potential for serious flooding, and encouraged residents to remain alert and vigilant.
The Southeastern Bahamas should begin to feel Irene's effects sometime later this afternoon, while the Central Bahamas can expect effects to begin for them on Wednesday.
According to the NEMA director, assessment teams will move through the islands after the storm to determine what level of assistance will be provided.
According to the latest advisory, Irene is expected to impact the entire Bahamas over the next three days and to become a major storm as it moves through the islands. The potential for category 4 impacts appears greatest on Thursday morning, based on NHC's Maximum Wind Probability chart.
Forecast Cone for Hurricane Irene.
Irene is expected to be rounding the western periphery of the mid-Atlantic high as it passes through the Bahamas, heading nortward into a weakness left behind by a trough currently moving through the northeastern United States. NHC confidence in the forecast track is high during the next 48 hours, but somewhat lower after that, since the forecast models differ on how much the trough will impact the high and how quickly Irene will respond to the resulting weakness.
On this track, the eyewall of Irene will pass sufficiently east of New Providence to keep the worst of the storm's effects from impacting the country's most heavily populated island. It also would lower the potential for storm surge impacts along the flood-prone southern coast. However, Category 2 impacts would still be likely.
SLOSH map showing surge potential in the Central Bahamas, where Irene is expected to have its greatest impact. Special thanks to Dr. Jeff Masters
According to the Weather Underground's storm surge maps, portions of islands in the Bahamas can expect flooding and storm surge on the order of 9-12 feet in a category storm. Bahamian residents who live in areas that are lowlying or prone to flooding were urged by NEMA officials to identify appropriate shelter and monitor news updates for evacuation orders.
As the storm progresses, I will be adding updates and whatever local reports I get in the comments section below. I will probably make a new blog entry on Thursday morning.