Irene sends 4.5 foot storm surge up Chesapeake Bay

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:45 AM GMT on August 28, 2011

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The eye of Hurricane Irene is back over water, after the hurricane completed a 11-hour crossing of eastern North Carolina. Irene came ashore over Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 7:30 am EDT this morning as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. The Cedar Island Ferry Terminal measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 115 mph at 7:19am, as measured by a Department of Transportation official. I suspect this measurement came when a thunderstorm near Irene's center collapsed, sending a powerful downburst to the surface. A trained spotter on Atlantic Beach, NC measured sustained winds of 85 mph, gusting to 101 mph at 10:35 am. The Hurricane Hunters measured 80 mph winds over water at the time of landfall. However, no regular weather station or buoy has measured sustained hurricane force winds in Irene, with the highest winds being 67 mph at the Cape Lookout, North Carolina buoy as Irene made landfall. Winds have peaked along the coast of Virginia, where sustained winds of 61 mph were observed at 6 pm EDT at Chesapeake Bay Light. Irene's passage over land weakened the storm slightly, and satellite loops show more dry air has wrapped into the storm. The radar presentation of Irene visible on the Norfolk, VA radar is still very impressive--Irene is dropping torrential rains over a huge area--but there is much less rain over the storm's southeastern quadrant, over water. Radar-estimated rainfall shows a 50 mile-wide band of 8+ inches of rain has fallen from where Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, northwards to Dover, Delaware. Some isolated amounts of 15+ inches may have fallen, according to the radar estimates. Bunyan, NC has received 14.00" so far, and the towns of Washington, New Bern, Grifton, Newport-Croatan, Wonona, NC, all received more than ten inches. Norfolk, Virginia had received 7.73" as of 7pm EDT, and Suffolk, Virginia, 8.00".


Figure 1. True-color MODIS image of Hurricane Irene over North Carolina taken at 11:35 am EDT August 27, 2011. At the time, Irene was a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Storm surge damage from Irene
The storm surge and wave action from Irene is likely to cause the storm's greatest damage. High tide is near 7 - 8 pm EDT tonight, meaning that the storm surges occurring now will be some of Irene's most damaging. The highest surges measured at any of NOAA's regular tide gauges at 8 pm were 4.5 feet at Sewells Point in Norfolk Virginia and Oregon Inlet, NC. Higher surges are occurring father inland where narrow inlets funnel the storm surge to higher elevations. It remains unclear if the ocean will overtop Manhattan's sea wall at The Battery Sunday morning during the 8 am high tide. Latest storm surge forecasts from SUNY Stony Brook predict a peak water level of 2.4 meters above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) at 7:15 am Sunday, which would put the ocean right at the top of the sea wall. Presumably, waves from the hurricane's winds would then push some water over the top of the wall, but it is uncertain whether or not this would cause significant flooding. The storm surge was already 1 foot at 8 pm tonight. Storm surge flooding continues to be a major concern all along the coast of Long Island Sound; I recommend the SUNY Stony Brook storm surge page for those interested in looking at observed and predicted storm surge levels along coast New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.


Figure 2. Storm surge at Sewell's Point in Norfolk, Virginia as of 8 pm EDT Saturday August 27, 2011. The green line is the storm surge, which is the difference between the observed water level (red line) and what the water level should have been without the hurricane (blue line). At 8 pm, the storm surge was 4.5 feet. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.


Figure 3. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 6:30 pm EDT Saturday August 27, 2011, as observed by the Hurricane Hunters, land stations, and buoys. The right front quadrant of the hurricane had all of the storm's shrinking hurricane-force winds (yellow and orange colors.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 290 miles from the center of Irene over water, but very few areas of land were receiving tropical storm force winds. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Wind damage
The emergence of Irene's eye over water will slow the storm's rate of weakening, but the storm is under too much wind shear to allow it to intensify. The latest wind distribution map from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 3) shows that all of Irene's hurricane-force winds are on the storm's east side, and also the large majority of the tropical storm-force winds. When Irene makes its 2nd landfall on Long Island, NY on Sunday, coastal locations to the right of the eye will likely experience top sustained winds of 50 - 60 mph. Coastal areas of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and the New York CIty area will mostly see top winds in the 40 - 55 mph range, since they will be on the weaker left side of the storm. Winds on the upper floors of skyscrapers will be up to 30% higher, but I expect there will be only isolated problems with New York City skyscrapers suffering blown out windows. The winds from Irene in New York City will be no worse than those experienced during some of the city's major Nor'easter winter storms of the past twenty years.

Tornadoes
Four tornadoes have been spawned by Irene, two in coastal North Carolina last night, and two in coastal Virginia today. At least two homes have been destroyed, and ten others damaged by the tornadoes. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for all of coastal Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

Links
Our Weather Historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an excellent post on Historic Hurricanes from New Jersey to New England.

For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting oceanbug:
Good. I've been skimming the political junk and wondering why everyone's acting as if Irene up and disappeared!!


I'm in NW VT and can confirm that Irene is still here. It's still raining and the winds are still with us. Watching my neighbour's near tree with a wary eye and wish the High Wind Warning wasn't up for all night to 8am. And people north and east of me still have this to deal with. Yes, Irene is not a hurricane anymore, but the storm isn't "over" just because there are no major cities in its path anymore!

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Bet nobody in southern New England, particularly the coast... is going to argue that even the worst Nor'Easters could hold up to Irene in terms of winds and the amount of time those winds lasted. A Nor'Easter and Irene can not even be compared quite honestly. The only people who are downplaying the effects are those who do not live in this area to see the damage first hand. This definitely can be considered a DISASTER here. No not as bad as a Cat 3... but that's irrelevant.
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I think the NHC was pretty dead on in there forecast. they had the track right days out. and as for the intensity the pressures were that of a cat 2 or 3 however other factor such as size kept the storm at a cat 1. Remember this is a "FORECAST" and once again NHC did an outstanding job. I think our tax dollars are well spent.
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2085. liljade
Quoting Trouper415:
Looks folks, the way i see it is...A very large and powerful storm was predicted by the models to run up the east coast. This is very rare, especially as it was forecasted only 3 days out. Irenen ended up taking in a lot of dry air from the west, along with some shear which kept her weaker as she was running up the Florida coast. She also went through an eyewall replacement cycle and couldn't fully recover from that before she hit north carolina. It also seemed as if she spent quite a bit of time over the outer banks.

It was these factors, coupled with others, as I am not a professional meteorologist that kept her weaker than the FORECASTED strength. we got lucky. we should be happy! because the economic and social losses of preparing for a strong storm, are MUCH MUCH MUCH less than actually experiencing a strong strorm.

Meteorology and forecasting is a science, and science is not perfect.

Irene could have just as easily been above the forecasted expectations, peaking at a strong cat 4 and bearly missing the outer banks, leaving a strong cat 2/3 for the NYC area. Then all of our dire predictions may have been true...we got lucky folks. chill out and be happy.

It is freaking mother nature we are dealing with here. She is not a robot, and I am glad she isn't. She is hard to predict just like us people haha. Just be glad many of us dodged a bullet, because some, such as those in north carolina, recieved tremendously serious flooding.
You are so right, I don't understand how people can be so ungrateful for someone trying to keep them out of harms way!
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Quoting RussianWinter:
So will 92L be a fish storm or what? All 5 day models show it going NW at the end of the five day period.

I don't think so
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2083. 996tt
Quoting Hurricanes101:


you do realize that we do not yet know what kind of damage those flood waters did


you two must live in a fantasy world where when flooding occurs it just goes away with no damage to structure. Can I live in that world? because that sounds good

Sadly getting back to reality, that is not always the case. It would be wise to wait until the waters recede to see what kind of damaged this storm did before we determine whether or not this was overhyped


Haha, so dramatic and closed minded. Not even really talking about the same things here. As I said, people read stuff and twist it to suit their prerogative. If cat three hit you, flood would be least of concerns. Floods suck. Just ask all of those in Midwest who went through floods this year.

Candidly, storms such as 19 or so Noreaster seemed much worse. You guys got a weak tropical storm with a bunch of wind. That was a best case scenario and I am happy for you.

Pointless to try and go back an explain what I was talking about since you chose to jump on something said at tail end to prove your point. Look at my pictures in my album. That is what a strong hurricane does. That is a slab of a four story condo unit you see wiped clean with cars thirty feet up in trees hundreds of yards away after the earth was wiped clean for a 1/2 mile. Then look around NYC. Count your blessings and prayers your way that everything will be alright.
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It sure is getting windy here now! Our lights keep flickering in a weird way ~ rapid fire flickers instead of the usual slow blinks. The rain is still from the northeast side. I'm in NW VT.




... High Wind Warning remains in effect until 8 am EDT Monday...

The National Weather Service in Burlington continues the High Wind Warning... until 8 am EDT Monday.

* Locations... Vermont and the eastern slopes of the northern Adirondacks of New York.

* Hazards... strong and damaging winds.

* Winds... north 30 to 40 mph with gusts 60 to 70 mph.

* Timing... strong winds will develop this afternoon and continue through tonight.

* Impacts... significant tree... power line... and property damage will occur. Expect power outages and travel will also be very difficult.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

This is a dangerous weather situation! Strong winds will impact the area and cause damage and power outages. Prepare for adverse weather conditions and follow weather information from the National Weather Service in Burlington Vermont.


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*Click graphic to magnify (graphic is also able to be magnified in Link window by clicking on it)
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Looks folks, the way i see it is...A very large and powerful storm was predicted by the models to run up the east coast. This is very rare, especially as it was forecasted only 3 days out. Irenen ended up taking in a lot of dry air from the west, along with some shear which kept her weaker as she was running up the Florida coast. She also went through an eyewall replacement cycle and couldn't fully recover from that before she hit north carolina. It also seemed as if she spent quite a bit of time over the outer banks.

It was these factors, coupled with others, as I am not a professional meteorologist that kept her weaker than the FORECASTED strength. we got lucky. we should be happy! because the economic and social losses of preparing for a strong storm, are MUCH MUCH MUCH less than actually experiencing a strong strorm.

Meteorology and forecasting is a science, and science is not perfect.

Irene could have just as easily been above the forecasted expectations, peaking at a strong cat 4 and bearly missing the outer banks, leaving a strong cat 2/3 for the NYC area. Then all of our dire predictions may have been true...we got lucky folks. chill out and be happy.

It is freaking mother nature we are dealing with here. She is not a robot, and I am glad she isn't. She is hard to predict just like us people haha. Just be glad many of us dodged a bullet, because some, such as those in north carolina, recieved tremendously serious flooding.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
Well, looks from all reports that the worst case scenario with IRENE(cat 3 pressure and huge storm) evolved and turned out to be a best case scenario(TS at landfall, no big surge), considering the track. I think this one will go down as historical for us weather geeks, considering the track, but for the average citizen up in the NE, they're thankful at the relatively little damage. In New York and New Jersey, the citizens are giving Irene the Bronx cheer.


there actually was a big surge all along the southern New England coast. with some homes over half under water, and some flooding as far as half a mile inland. There's also a ton of tree damage. At last check over 650,000 people with no power in CT alone, over 2,000 telephone polls knocked down by winds, many rivers going into major flood stage, almost 9 inches of rain in some areas.... and maximum wind gusts recorded at 64MPH. Strong tropical storm force. Imagine was a strong Cat 1 or 2 would do here
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Quoting HurricaneLovr75:
Nothing too bad here in Rockland MA :)
Good. I've been skimming the political junk and wondering why everyone's acting as if Irene up and disappeared!!
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2071. zosimo
Of all the the biggest 'predictions' about Irene the worst disaster that was going to happen to NYC and beyond was the hysterical prediction of a 5-10foot storm surge that was going to begin at lower Manhattan (Battery Park area. The Weather Channel (i.e. Jim Cantore) etc. continued to hype this as a certainty so NYC shuts down the entire subway system based on this being a done deal.

At the end of Battery Park, there are plyons in the water by the wall there. The pylons probably go 5-7ft above the wall. Several times during the coverage over the lead up to Irene getting to NYC, the reporters (i.e. Cantore and last nite and a rather tall reporter from MSNBC, I think he was) continued to stress that the storm surge was going to be at hite of those pylons, if not higher, meaning of course lower Manhattan (Wall Street) would be like Mississippi was when the Katrina surge struck there.

In my humble opinion, this was irresponsible reporting at its zenith. Evidently, the geography of lower Manhattan in its relation to the OCEAN makes it very difficult for a storm surge to happen specially when the Hurricane is barely a cat 1.
Once Irene came a shore in NC then VA it was obvious it was getting weaker but the coverage continued to hype it as it was going to be the end of NYC etc as we know it. There was no way it was going to be a huge wind event after it came ashore in NC/VA but the media continued to stress the wind and of course the storm surge.

Still last nite before I turned the coverage off, the hype for probable catastrophic (sp?) damage Irene was going to cause in the NYC etc area was still being hyped. Amazingly awful reporting based on what I still can not determine.

all in all, the media overall has egg on its face with its coverage to the lead up to Irene. Hopefully it will be years before another hurricane comes close to the NYC area again. Ok get the subway up and running, it is back to work.
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NEW BLOG
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Quoting HoustonWeather:


Man give your poor butt a rest. It must be completely off by now with all the "LMAO" you do.

XD
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Question about the Hudson

Here in the Carolina Lowcountry, during a tropical system, typically we would experience a surge, but it is in and back out again. Since the marshes function to distribute the water - the problem of rivers rising and cresting days later was an issue with which I was unfamiliar until North Carolina's experience with Floyd. (remember the floating pig carcasses? yikes!)

I understand the Hudson is a tidal about as far as West Point, and certainly there is plenty of marsh at it's mouth so I am guessing that the Hudson would follow the same sort of pattern as our Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Is that correct or do we need to be concerned about the Hudson cresting in a few days?



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Why do some people want to egg on the trolls? Please, enough. The trolls come here because they need attention and people give it to them, over and over. Ignore them, no response and they will leave. Now I've given them attention as well by posting this. We could have pretty much a troll-free blog if they were all ignored completely. There's probably a troll site out there that lists places to go to have fun. We're at the top of the list.
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NEW BLOG
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31554
Quoting Neapolitan:
I wish to thank some recurring trolls for certain reliable signatures, such as UZEN ALL CAPS AND NO PUNCHUASHUN AND BAD MIZSPEELINGS. It makes you guys so much easier to detect and ignore.
A new and profitable business line might be in the offing. Someone should start an online course in troll training.

Course description would include instruction in proper spelling, pronunciation, correct use of capital letters, proper English grammar, clever and pertinent content of material with regard to the flow of discussion on a blog and so forth.

Also included and offered for extra credit would be successful completion of sidebar studies, such as learning how not to use highly juvenile and easy-to-ignore ad hominem attacks and slurs, i.e: "You guys are so gay to think this storm means something...get a life or whatever.."

It seems as if the demand for such a course may be growing exponentially with the passage of time.
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Where did Jose come from?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
FWC

Q: How many named storms will we see in September?

A. 1-3
B. 3-5
C. 5-7
D. 7-9
E. None of 9+

Somewhere around 6-8 IMO.


C.
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2056. Buhdog
NEW BLOG!
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2055. breald
Quoting StormPro:

Ditto....now back to my reading and learning


ooops, I fed one of the many trolls. :(
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Well, looks from all reports that the worst case scenario with IRENE(cat 3 pressure and huge storm) evolved and turned out to be a best case scenario(TS at landfall, no big surge), considering the track. I think this one will go down as historical for us weather geeks, considering the track, but for the average citizen up in the NE, they're thankful at the relatively little damage. In New York and New Jersey, the citizens are giving Irene the Bronx cheer.
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2053. ncstorm
252 Hours.


348 Hours

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Quoting HoustonWeather:


Man give you poor butt a rest. It must be completely off by now with all the "LMAO" you do.


LOL.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31554
Troll alert,troll alert(Hey I couldn't help myself.)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


WHAT? I CANT HEAR YOU!!! CAN YOU SPEAK UP?!?!?!?

WATZ DID YA SEI?! lmao
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FWC

Q: How many named storms will we see in September?

A. 1-3
B. 3-5
C. 5-7
D. 7-9
E. None of 9+

Somewhere around 6-8 IMO.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31554
Quoting nostorminflorida:
THEY HAD WORSE BLIZZARDS IN NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK GEEEZZ THIS REALLY TURNED OUT TO BE A HYSTORICAL STORM LMAO DONT YOU PEOPLE REALIZE THAT THEY DO THIS EVERY YEAR TO CREATE RETAIL PROFIT MR. WALTON SAID YEARS AGO THAT IF YOU WANT WEALMART TO SPONSOR THE WEATHETR CHANNEL WE NEED AT LEAST 2 OR 3 PANIC SITUATION A YEAR AND THAT HE ABOSULTLY QUOTED YEARS BACK AND IT HAS HAP[PENED EVERY YEAR WITH NOTHING


Trolling along under a new name???
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



It's a weather forum? Would you rather us talk about making brownies or something? Cause, that would be fun :-/


I LOVE BROWNIES!!.......:-)
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Quoting Neapolitan:
I wish to thank some recurring trolls for certain reliable signatures, such as UZEN ALL CAPS AND NO PUNCHUASHUN AND BAD MIZSPEELINGS. It makes you guys so much easier to detect and ignore.

Ditto....now back to my reading and learning
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2043. breald
Quoting nostorminflorida:
THEY HAD WORSE BLIZZARDS IN NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK GEEEZZ THIS REALLY TURNED OUT TO BE A HYSTORICAL STORM LMAO DONT YOU PEOPLE REALIZE THAT THEY DO THIS EVERY YEAR TO CREATE RETAIL PROFIT MR. WALTON SAID YEARS AGO THAT IF YOU WANT WEALMART TO SPONSOR THE WEATHETR CHANNEL WE NEED AT LEAST 2 OR 3 PANIC SITUATION A YEAR AND THAT HE ABOSULTLY QUOTED YEARS BACK AND IT HAS HAP[PENED EVERY YEAR WITH NOTHING



What, not enough people loss their lives for you?
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Quoting nostorminflorida:
UT OH HERES COMES 92 RIGHT FOR FLORIDA AGAIN CREATE MORE PROFIT FOR LOWES AND WALMART I KNOW EVERY MODEL SES ITS COMMING TO FLORIDA AGAIN LIKE EMILY AND IRENE LMAO


Man give your poor butt a rest. It must be completely off by now with all the "LMAO" you do.
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another one coming off of africa 92L needs watchin looks like similar track...
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Quoting odinslightning:
i feel bad for people responsible for evac'ing people (the governors, the weathermen, etc). it seems like a no win situation. if they try to protect people and the event isnt as bad as feared they are considered stupid and blamed for wasting everyones time. if they downplay events then when a bad one happens everyone is gonna blame em for all of the injured parties......how do you win in that scenario?


The evacuation of New Orleans only began 48 hours out from tropical force winds because they were waiting on another model run of Katrina's landfall when the city was well in the cone. Everyone was on those calls, NHC, FEMA, etc. Hopefully we've all learned from that experience.

Fortunately I was lurking here and on the phone all Friday calling everyone I knew and telling them not to wait for the evac call but to get the hell out of Dodge. You have to err on the side of caution. One hopes that emergency managers everywhere have learned from the experience of six years ago.


Although I have to admit that given the re-entry policies enacted in New Orleans after Gustav, I'm probably staying through a Cat 1 at least.

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about half a mile inland in Westport, CT
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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.