Dangerous Tropical Storm Irene headed for the Dominican Republic

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:38 PM GMT on August 21, 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.

Links
Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico

Jeff Masters

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I know many people here tonight that have been watching these things for years have that gut feeling this will be one of those fabled East Coast hurricanes.

I know I've had it for a number of days now. Atmospheric pattern resembles August 1955, which serves as a great analog month for this one.
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Quoting Chicklit:


Dean, that's the GOM Solution.
Is not going to weaken much since center is going to be moving just north of the island and skirt the Dominican Republic, barely touching some land of northern Spaniola.
Quoting MississippiWx:


Still have TDWR...

Center is just SE of PR.

Thank you, im in the NW side of the island , winds here gusting 35mph...
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989 with a 17 knots SF

Methinks it's a bit deeper.
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I would venture to guess she is a hurricane with the 990mb
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
North side of Hispaniola.

Sorry NAM folks.

(A collective sigh can be heard throughout the blog)




thank GOD
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
Quoting sunlinepr:
Being positive.... very positive: we had to wait 13 years for Irene.... So does this means that the next one will be in 2024? ....;-)


I hope so for you sunline....or maybe 20.
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5817. GetReal
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Quoting RevInFL:


That's what he said Chicklit.You aren't too far from me. I watch Tom Sorrells on Local 6. He said he can go to bed and sleep easier knowing the models are continuing to take her east of Florida. I am still learning how to read all the model trends.
I would almost guaranty that Brevard will still be in the cone at 5am
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990 mb? Wow...
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8025
Quoting kmanislander:
990 mbs !


Just had to pick my jaw up from the floor. Wow!
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5813. Relix
Emily is a hurricane? Not surprising.
Emily is passing through PR? Not surprising.
That PR still has power? HOLY *^*^%#
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2725
5812. mrjr101
storm looks like it will split PR in half. Expect some weakening within the next 12 hrs.
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New center fix still showing a track of about 275. Not currently WNW
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
989.9 mb
(~ 29.23 inHg)
img src="">
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Here's your center

17.883N 65.517W
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5808. tarps3
0z GFS Hr 42

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5806. JLPR2
Still seeing lightning in Carolina,PR.
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Time: 03:41:30Z
Coordinates: 17.9N 65.5333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.4 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,414 meters (~ 4,639 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 989.9 mb (~ 29.23 inHg)
D-value: -
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Jupiter, FL

Thursday: Tropical storm conditions possible. Rain likely. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Thursday Night: Hurricane conditions possible. Rain likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 86. Chance of precipitation is 60%.


Winds for Jupiter, Florida

img src="">
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Absolutely beautiful storm...but she procrastinated on becoming a hurricane (right at landfall time)...just like when we do taxes...


Lol...well, I agree she's definitely a cane now...
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NOUS62 TJSJ 220326
FTMJUA
MESSAGE DATE: AUG 22 2011 03:26:00
THE FAA SAN JUAN WSR-88D DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR (TJUA) HAS GONE
DOWN...MOSTLY LIKELY DUE TO A LOSS OF POWER AT THE CAYEY RADAR
SITE...AS RAIN BANDS ASSOCIATED WITH TROPICAL STORM IRENE MOVED
ACROSS THAT AREA. WE ARE UNABLE TO RESTART THE RADAR AT THIS TIME
AND FAA AOCC HAS BEEN NOTIFIED. RESTORATION TIME IS UNKNOWN.
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5801. msphar
Fajardo 34 Kts. ENE gusting to 46 Kts.
Esperanza 27 Kts. E gusting to 40 Kts.
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989.9 mb
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North side of Hispaniola.

Sorry NAM folks.

(A collective sigh can be heard throughout the blog)

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shes still moving slighty north of west about 275
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Large vortex! Wow. it's actually taller than PR from the looks on the radar.
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ime: 03:41:30Z
Coordinates: 17.9N 65.5333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.4 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,414 meters (~ 4,639 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 989.9 mb (~ 29.23 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 152° at 3 knots (From the SSE at ~ 3.4 mph)
Air Temp: 21.4°C (~ 70.5°F)
Dew Pt: 17.9°C (~ 64.2°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 9 knots (~ 10.3 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 17 knots (~ 19.5 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 0 mm/hr (~ 0 in/hr)
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Time: 03:41:30Z
Coordinates: 17.9N 65.5333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.4 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,414 meters (~ 4,639 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 989.9 mb (~ 29.23 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 152° at 3 knots (From the SSE at ~ 3.4 mph)
Air Temp: 21.4°C (~ 70.5°F)
Dew Pt: 17.9°C (~ 64.2°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 9 knots (~ 10.3 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 17 knots (~ 19.5 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 0 mm/hr (~ 0 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
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990 mb and 850 mb heights below 1360m...welcome to Hurricane Irene.
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Quoting SouthDadeNative:


Just tape Cantore


Or use that file footage of the awning blowing over in Hugo- the TWC uses it every 15 minutes during hurricane season.
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989.9 mb
(~ 29.23 inHg)
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989.9 mb
(~ 29.23 inHg)
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Still have TDWR...

Center is just SE of PR.



I know one thing...Jim Cantore would be having a ball in eastern PR based on that radar image....
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 490 Comments: 3687
5787. nigel20

WOW!
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990 mbs !
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5785. tarps3
0z GFS Hr 36

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5784. RevInFL
Quoting Chicklit:


oh really...



That's what he said Chicklit.You aren't too far from me. I watch Tom Sorrells on Local 6. He said he can go to bed and sleep easier knowing the models are continuing to take her east of Florida. I am still learning how to read all the model trends.
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Quoting WeafhermanNimmy:
What are some best places to take videography of the future hurricane Irene without being evacuated if it makes landfall in Charleston, SC?
NOT Sullivan's Island that's for sure. Downtown Charleston is also a bad place. I don't know where is a good place (not local)
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8025
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5781. JLPR2
Quoting Gearsts:
Is a miracle that power is still on.


Aleluya! :)
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Quoting Drakoen:
Looks like she wants to ramp up:



awesome sat presentation classic
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5778. Drakoen
The GFS 00z takes it across southern PR. Nothing unexpected.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Looks like she wants to ramp up:



Absolutely beautiful storm...but she procrastinated on becoming a hurricane (right at landfall time)...just like when we do taxes...
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 490 Comments: 3687
Quoting WeafhermanNimmy:
What are some best places to take videography of the future hurricane Irene without being evacuated if it makes landfall in Charleston, SC?


Just tape Cantore
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Hasn't the Models been down playing the Bermuda High thus far with all the storms........JUST SAYN
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5774. Gearsts
Is a miracle that power is still on.
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Being positive.... very positive: we had to wait 13 years for Irene.... So does this means that the next one will be in 2024? ....;-)
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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.