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 TXInaSpin:


Oh Damn PrivateIdaho.. Time to take the Potatoes in..


Still harvesting wheat and barley (love barley-pops) They dig spuds next month.;^)
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36. weld
Fox news is wish casting dry air even after the hurricane came out with the latest update.
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35. HCW
92L Model runs from the NHC


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Quoting Grothar:


I still think it is an impressive image for a tropical storm. By the way Doc. Nice blog. Got a lot of family and friends up there.



Gro, its a 80 mph hurricane, not a tropical storm.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32703
CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TRACK THE TORNADO IN AC AND LET ME KNO ASAP I AM THERE NOW..WE HAVE TORNADO WARNING RIGHT NOW
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Are there any Live Cams to watch tonight?


In the dark?
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
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

Wow Grothar, even the good Dr is on the embarass Gro bandwagon.


I still think it is an impressive image for a tropical storm. By the way Doc. Nice blog. Got a lot of family and friends up there.

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Quoting P451:
Doc continues to downplay the winds yet people are reporting an awful lot of damage for such supposedly non existent winds.

The NWS also does not agree.

630pm updated forecast, coastal NJ:
NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO
75 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 90 MPH

820pm updated forecast, Manhattan:
NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO 75
MPH...BECOMING NORTHWEST 55 TO 65 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON. GUSTS UP
TO 80 MPH.


So what to believe? Those of us who have yet to receive the storm are curious.


Doctor vs. Weather Agency.

Hard choice.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32703
Quoting P451:
Doc continues to downplay the winds yet people are reporting an awful lot of damage for such supposedly non existent winds.

The NWS also does not agree.

630pm updated forecast, coastal NJ:
NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO
75 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 90 MPH

820pm updated forecast, Manhattan:
NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO 75
MPH...BECOMING NORTHWEST 55 TO 65 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON. GUSTS UP
TO 80 MPH.


So what to believe? Those of us who have yet to receive the storm are curious.


Don't forget that when the ground gets saturated with heavy rains, it takes a less wind to bring a tree down.
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Quoting P451:
Doc continues to downplay the winds yet people are reporting an awful lot of damage for such supposedly non existent winds.

The NWS also does not agree.

630pm updated forecast, coastal NJ:
NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO
75 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 90 MPH

820pm updated forecast, Manhattan:
NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO 75
MPH...BECOMING NORTHWEST 55 TO 65 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON. GUSTS UP
TO 80 MPH.


So what to believe? Those of us who have yet to receive the storm are curious.


They are still worried about the upper level winds mixing down to the surface ( I believe) mostly as gusts.
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I hope it's ok to repost this, I accidentally posted to the old blog--
Got a good whack from Irene here in northeastern SC yesterday and this morning despite being a good distance from the eye... please don't underestimate her, she's in a bad mood! Thoughts, prayers, and good wishes to everyone out there who still has more of her to go. Us down here may not have much to say, but we are thinking of you and hoping for your safety.
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23. DDR


5 inches?
wow,now when was the last time it rain this much pottery?
I've seen the flooding in Freeport,its bad and still rising not to mention the traffic.
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BULLETIN
HURRICANE IRENE INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 30B
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
900 PM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

...IRENE LASHING THE VIRGINIA TIDEWATER REGION AND SOUTHERN DELMARVA
PENINSULA WITH HEAVY RAINS AND HURRICANE-FORCE WIND GUSTS...


SUMMARY OF 900 PM EDT...0100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...36.9N 75.6W
ABOUT 100 MI...160 KM SSW OF OCEAN CITY MARYLAND
ABOUT 285 MI...460 KM SSW OF NEW YORK CITY
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...80 MPH...130 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 20 DEGREES AT 16 MPH...26 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...951 MB...28.08 INCHES
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32703
Somebody asked about Vermonters on the blog. I'm in Marshfield, about 13 miles outside the state capital of Montpelier. Nothing here yet. But a lot of rain and wind is being predicted. We run a Farm B&B and advised our guests to stay put tomorrow while it blows through.
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I am curious about the speed of Irene. Don't storms tend to move much when they get this far north? It seems like 11 hours to pass over NC is rather slow.

Guess I'd just like to see her GONE.. Feels like we've been watching her FOREVER..
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Are there any Live Cams to watch tonight?
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Quoting DFWjc:


Saw this on Kotaku, thought it was fitting for Sunday's NYC forecast...or should I say DOOMcast LOL


Hmmm... I believe they owe Dewey and DJ money now.
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Quoting NJcat3cane:


i am in brigantine..north of AC and we shouldent have all hell is breaking lose water is flowing everywhere


I really don't like to say this, but many of us warned you not to stay. I hope you survive to learn this lesson that being over prepared is better then being under and that mandatory evacuations mean MANDATORY EVACUATIONS.
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Thanks Dr. Masters!
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32703
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:


Where is this?
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Thank you!
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Good Evening.
Good to see Irene losing some of her "Punch".

At 1:00 pm today the sky opened here and we had 5" of incredible rainfall in less than 2 hours.
No wind, just a waterfall of rain.
Looking at the WV loops, it just flared up out of nowhere.
Pressure went from 1014 at 11am to 1010 at 2pm.

Localized flooding but nothing serious.
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
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

Wow Grothar, even the good Dr is on the embarass Gro bandwagon.


Oh Damn PrivateIdaho.. Time to take the Potatoes in..
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My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have experienced Irene thus far and continue to experience her wrath. Hopefully those still awaiting her arrival have fully prepared for any effects they have. Hoping to see some initial model runs on 92L, seems a bit further south than TD10 started. Might be a Caribbean cruiser, keeping my eyes open in Barbados.
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Wow! Where did everyone go?

Glad to see Irene losing a little of her kick.
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Looks like she wants to brush the Delmarva Peninsula and heading into New Jersey:

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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

Wow Grothar, even the good Dr is on the embarass Gro bandwagon.
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From the last blog entry: the complete 92L file:

BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_al922011.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
0000
201108280043
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
END
INVEST, AL, L, , , , , 92, 2011, DB, O, 2011082800, 9999999999, , , , , , METWATCH, , AL922011
AL, 92, 2011082700, , BEST, 0, 104N, 145W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 92, 2011082706, , BEST, 0, 104N, 157W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 92, 2011082712, , BEST, 0, 104N, 169W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 92, 2011082718, , BEST, 0, 104N, 182W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 92, 2011082800, , BEST, 0, 103N, 195W, 20, 1012, DB, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 220, 180, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
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Saw this on Kotaku, thought it was fitting for Sunday's NYC forecast...or should I say DOOMcast LOL
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It's going to be very interesting to see what happens overnight and into tomorrow. I expect we'll see some major flooding...
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thanks
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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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