Hurricane Irene of 2011 now rated history's 6th most damaging hurricane

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:33 PM GMT on May 03, 2012

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New damage estimates released last month by NOAA now place the damage from 2011's Hurricane Irene at $15.8 billion, making the storm the 6th costliest hurricane and 10th costliest weather-related disaster in U.S. history. Irene hit North Carolina on August 27, 2011, as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds, and made landfalls the next day in New Jersey and New York City as a tropical storm. Most of the damage from Irene occurred because of the tremendous fresh water flooding the storm's rains brought to much of New England. Irene is now rated as the most expensive Category 1 hurricane to hit the U.S. The previous record was held by Hurricane Agnes of 1972, whose floods did $11.8 billion in damage in the Northeast. NOAA also announced that the name Irene had been retired from the list of active hurricane names. Irene was the only named retired in 2011, and was the 76th name to be retired since 1954. The name Irene was replaced with Irma, which is next scheduled be used in 2017.


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 winds. Image credit: NASA.

At last month's 30th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology of the American Meteorological Society, Paul Ruscher of Florida State University explained how Irene's storm surge came within 8 inches of flooding New York City's subway system, which would have caused devastating damage. At the current global rate of sea level rise of 3.1 mm/year, a repeat of Irene 65 years from now would be capable of flooding the subway system, if no action is taken. Since sea level rise is expected to accelerate as the planet warms in coming decades, an Irene-type storm surge would likely be capable of flooding the NYC subway system much sooner than that. To read more about New York City's vulnerability, see Andrew Freedman's analysis at Climate Central, Climate Change Could Cripple New York’s Transportation, or my November 2011 blog post, Hurricane Irene: New York City dodges a potential storm surge mega-disaster.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Adrian,something to raise the spirits of people who like to track systems, at least we can track a little bit more with a weak El Nino,rather than a Moderate to Strong one.

Looking at the SST anomalies you'll noticed that any possible el nino will not occur anytime soon...the CPC is saying that after September there is a 50-50 chance of having ENSO neutral or el nino conditions, if there prediction comes through I think we may have atleast a slightly above average hurricane season.
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Quoting RitaEvac:


This how the pine trees die by drought. They begin to secrete their sap that oozes out trying to catch any moisture there is, but what that does is attract the insects or beetles, then they feed on the sap that is coming out and literally suck the tree dry killing the pine tree quickly to dead brown.


Interesting. Did not know that. Thanks. :) I read somewhere that last years drought killed a half a billion trees in the east TX piney woods alone. Not counting those lost to fire. Makes me wonder how those numbers compare to the number killed by Rita and Ike? Sounds like a search for later. :)
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In northeastern Scandinavia, the temperature change could be as much as 6.0 degrees[celsius] higher by 2071 than the reference period, while the Mediterranean basin and parts of Eastern Europe will also see big changes.

physorg article here

How's that for "yawning"?
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
If you were ever wondering what a Mesoscale Convective Vortex looked like, here you go.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
Quoting hurricane23:


Most of this is being predicted by statistical models and the more important dynamical models are almost all showing el nino developing sooner rather. I think its pretty likely we will see atleast a weak el nino during the meat of the season.


Adrian,something to raise the spirits of people who like to track systems, at least we can track a little bit more with a weak El Nino,rather than a Moderate to Strong one.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
If anyone wants to see the May CPC ENSO update of Neutral thru July,August and September and wants to comment about it,go to my ENSO blog.

Link


Most of this is being predicted by statistical models and the more important dynamical models are almost all showing el nino developing sooner rather. I think its pretty likely we will see atleast a weak el nino during the meat of the season.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Good afternoon all.

Has anybody noticed that developing low in the Gulf of Mexico yet? I've not read back so I wouldn't know if y'all have talked about it yet.

Looks interesting.



It doesn't matter, it's still not gonna rain in Florida, nothing to see here, move along.
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179. etxwx
Quoting RitaEvac:
Supposed to be a pattern change next week for TX, possibly increasing rain chances, way to early too tell


Let's hope so. I'm in East Texas near the LA border and 60 miles north of the coast...it's getting a little dry here too. But at least we are starting with full ponds this summer.
Just wanted to take this quiet time to say thanks to the weather bloggers here. I've lurked for quite a while, and learned lots about weather, maps, forecast models, wishes and fishes. About all I can contribute is country weather lore, but wanted to let ya'll know you are appreciated.
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If anyone wants to see the May CPC ENSO update of Neutral thru July,August and September and wants to comment about it,go to my ENSO blog.

Link
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Good afternoon all.

Has anybody noticed that developing low in the Gulf of Mexico yet? I've not read back so I wouldn't know if y'all have talked about it yet.

Looks interesting.


What's up TAwx13?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Good afternoon all.

Has anybody noticed that developing low in the Gulf of Mexico yet? I've not read back so I wouldn't know if y'all have talked about it yet.

Looks interesting.



Is the topic as you can see back most of the past posts.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Good afternoon all.

Has anybody noticed that developing low in the Gulf of Mexico yet? I've not read back so I wouldn't know if y'all have talked about it yet.

Looks interesting.




It's likely just a short term meso-vort that is convective induced, and will mostly fall apart pretty soon.


Such is a common occurrence with a relatively, persistent MCS.
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The talk about the thermohaline story sometimes becomes a little too wild-eyed. Carl Wunsch sent a letter to the Economist after some headlines about the Gulf Stream shutting down, ice ages, etc. In part he says:

"If the sinking motion at high latitudes were completely stopped, by covering that part of the ocean by sea ice for instance, there would still be a Gulf Stream to the south, and maybe an even more powerful one as the wind field would probably then become stronger. If the sinking were stopped by adding fresh water (a deus ex machina often invoked to change the climate), the Gulf Stream would hardly care except in so far as the wind system changed too. The amount of heat transported by the system would shift, but could not become zero.

"Many writers, including scientists, toss around the words “Thermohaline Circulation” as though they constituted an explanation. In the ocean, most of the movement of heat and salt, the real Thermohaline Circulation, is driven directly and indirectly by the wind field. Thus the Gulf Stream, and hence the wind, rather than being minor features of oceanic climate are best regarded as the primary elements. Many real climate change effects exist and require urgent attention; focusing on near-impossible Gulf Stream failure is an unproductive distraction."

The folks at RealClimate.org do not agree with everything Wunsch says, but they do point out the following in commenting on Wunsch's letter.

"However, the Economist is using the term in a much more colliquial [sic] (and common) sense that conflates this current with the Meridional Overturning Circulation ... "

Nota bene: I doubt that conflating the two is common at the Economist since I doubt the average staffer there knows what the MOC is, but perhaps the conflation is common among climate scientists.

" ... (MOC, often conflated with the Thermohaline Circulation) which involves convection in the waters around Greenland and the deep currents that cool the deep ocean. This use of the term is often synomymous with northward ocean heat transport (the North Atlantic Current) that contributes to Europe’s warmth and which have often been fingered as a particularly sensitive aspect of the climate. While in one sense the water flow associated with the MOC does contribute to the Gulf Stream, it is definitely the junior partner, and so any changes in the MOC are not going to threaten the Gulf Stream in any existential way. However, a shutdown in the MOC does not make as good a headline as a shutdown in the Gulf Stream, and so this misuse persists in the media and public alike (though not in the Day After Tomorrow – they used ‘North Atlantic Current’ throughout!).

"If the definition of Gulf Stream was really all that this was about, I doubt Wunsch would have picked up his pen, however, what Wunsch really objects to is the casual use of the word ‘driven’. This is a much more subtle point and one which even the scientific community hasn’t fully assimilated yet."

Ahhh, back to the scientific community. The public picks up scientists' bad habits. These habits then can run amok among innocent minds ... or not so innocent.

The comments at the RealClimate post are interesting.
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Good afternoon all.

Has anybody noticed that developing low in the Gulf of Mexico yet? I've not read back so I wouldn't know if y'all have talked about it yet.

Looks interesting.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
161) Think - Beatles, England(British), Invasion
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170. BVI
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Puerto Rico and adjacent islands will continue to see plenty of rain at least until next Sunday as the upper trough lingers nearby.Here is part of this afternoon's discussion by the San Juan NWS.


UNSTABLE CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN THROUGH THE INCOMING WEEKEND.
GENERATING NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ACROSS
LARGE PORTIONS OF OUR LOCAL FORECAST AREA. SHOWERS WILL PREVAIL
THROUGH EARLY EVENING AS UPPER LEVEL CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN
FAVORABLE. ON FRIDAY...WINDS ARE FORECAST TO DECREASE
SIGNIFICANTLY...THIS WILL HELP LARGER AMOUNTS OF RAINFALL
ACCUMULATIONS OVER AREAS WITH SATURATED SOILS... THEREFORE
INCREASING THE CHANCES OF FLASH FLOODING

SOILS ACROSS MOST OF PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS ARE
SATURATED...ANY ADDITIONAL RAINFALL WILL AGGRAVATED THE MUDSLIDES
IN AREAS OF STEEP TERRAIN...AND RIVERS WILL REACT QUICKLY TO NEW
RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS. AS A RESULT..A FLASH FLOOD WATCH STILL IN
EFFECT FOR ALL OF PUERTO RICO...INCLUDING CULEBRA AND
VIEQUES...AND FOR ALL OF THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS THROUGH FRIDAY
EVENING.





Just had very heavy downpour, lots of thunder with it. Over half inch rain in 30 minutes in East of Tortola
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Interesting forecast ahead for the Midwest tonight.  This made me laugh though.  Forecast discussion out of the Quad Cities NWS.  In other words it is a wait see ballgame right now. 



THERE ARE AT LEAST FOUR POSSIBLE SCENARIOS THIS AFTERNOON.

ONE...THE EASTWARD MOVING BOUNDARY HELPS INITIATE CONVECTION OVER
NORTHEAST ILLINOIS THAT DEVELOPS SOUTHWEST CATCHING THE FAR EAST
AND SOUTHEAST PARTS OF THE CWFA.

TWO...THE AREA REMAINS QUIET THROUGH THE AFTERNOON WITH CONVECTION
FIRING ON THE NORTHWARD MOVING OUTFLOW BOUNDARY FROM MISSOURI. IN
ORDER TO GET CONVECTION IN THE CWFA THE CAP ACROSS KS/MO WOULD
HAVE TO MOVE FURTHER NORTH.

THREE...THE CI/CS SHIELD KEEPS TEMPERATURES BELOW CONVECTIVE
TEMPERATURE. CONVECTION THEN FIRES TONIGHT WITH THE SOUTHWARD
MOVING OUTFLOW BOUNDARY FROM THE MN CONVECTION.

FOUR...THE CWFA REMAINS QUIET THROUGH THE AFTERNOON AND CONVECTION
DEVELOPS TONIGHT ON THE MN BOUNDARY AND KS/MO BOUNDARY AND REMAINS
OUTSIDE OF THE CWFA.
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One thundercloud has passed. But it seems that there at least two other T-clouds in the range of 20 km(12 miles),and they are closing(at least one of them)
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D
Quoting jeffs713:

The 850mb vort is too far to the west. The "center" of the MLC is roughly south of Panama City, while the 850mb vort is roughly south of Mobile.
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Puerto Rico and adjacent islands will continue to see plenty of rain at least until next Sunday as the upper trough lingers nearby.Here is part of this afternoon's discussion by athe San Juan NWS.


UNSTABLE CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN THROUGH THE INCOMING WEEKEND.
GENERATING NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ACROSS
LARGE PORTIONS OF OUR LOCAL FORECAST AREA. SHOWERS WILL PREVAIL
THROUGH EARLY EVENING AS UPPER LEVEL CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN
FAVORABLE. ON FRIDAY...WINDS ARE FORECAST TO DECREASE
SIGNIFICANTLY...THIS WILL HELP LARGER AMOUNTS OF RAINFALL
ACCUMULATIONS OVER AREAS WITH SATURATED SOILS... THEREFORE
INCREASING THE CHANCES OF FLASH FLOODING

SOILS ACROSS MOST OF PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS ARE
SATURATED...ANY ADDITIONAL RAINFALL WILL AGGRAVATED THE MUDSLIDES
IN AREAS OF STEEP TERRAIN...AND RIVERS WILL REACT QUICKLY TO NEW
RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS. AS A RESULT..A FLASH FLOOD WATCH STILL IN
EFFECT FOR ALL OF PUERTO RICO...INCLUDING CULEBRA AND
VIEQUES...AND FOR ALL OF THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS THROUGH FRIDAY
EVENING.




Good afternoon tropics i've notice that Puerto Rico and the eastern Caribbean have been wet over the past couple of days
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Supposed to be a pattern change next week for TX, possibly increasing rain chances, way to early too tell
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Don't get your hopes up for that :)

Good afternoon everyone...

Good afternoon MAweatherboy1
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Quoting Jax82:
A tad bit of spin on the 850mb Vort map.


The 850mb vort is too far to the west. The "center" of the MLC is roughly south of Panama City, while the 850mb vort is roughly south of Mobile.
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Puerto Rico and adjacent islands will continue to see plenty of rain at least until next Sunday as the upper trough lingers nearby.Here is part of this afternoon's discussion by the San Juan NWS.


UNSTABLE CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN THROUGH THE INCOMING WEEKEND.
GENERATING NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ACROSS
LARGE PORTIONS OF OUR LOCAL FORECAST AREA. SHOWERS WILL PREVAIL
THROUGH EARLY EVENING AS UPPER LEVEL CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN
FAVORABLE. ON FRIDAY...WINDS ARE FORECAST TO DECREASE
SIGNIFICANTLY...THIS WILL HELP LARGER AMOUNTS OF RAINFALL
ACCUMULATIONS OVER AREAS WITH SATURATED SOILS... THEREFORE
INCREASING THE CHANCES OF FLASH FLOODING

SOILS ACROSS MOST OF PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS ARE
SATURATED...ANY ADDITIONAL RAINFALL WILL AGGRAVATED THE MUDSLIDES
IN AREAS OF STEEP TERRAIN...AND RIVERS WILL REACT QUICKLY TO NEW
RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS. AS A RESULT..A FLASH FLOOD WATCH STILL IN
EFFECT FOR ALL OF PUERTO RICO...INCLUDING CULEBRA AND
VIEQUES...AND FOR ALL OF THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS THROUGH FRIDAY
EVENING.



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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Hey, Nigel! I'm good, looking out for some isolated severe storms to maybe get some photos of today. How've you been?

I've been good...thanks for asking
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Quoting N3EG:


They came from England in the '60s, right?


I don't know.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


This could get tagged 92L soon.

Don't get your hopes up for that :)

Good afternoon everyone...
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


This could get tagged 92L soon.

hope so...
Member Since: June 23, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 589
Quoting Jax82:
This visible satellite loop sure makes that Blob in the GOM look like a developing low! Pretty cool to see it.

Visible

I think it may be developing a pinhole eye, and it may be becoming Annular?


This could get tagged 92L soon.
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Quoting nigel20:

Hey WxGeekVA. What's up?


Hey, Nigel! I'm good, looking out for some isolated severe storms to maybe get some photos of today. How've you been?
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3476
Electricity gone off - incredible as on May!
And it's just the beginning of the season...
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Quoting RitaEvac:
If you want to see what drought does, go on google maps and zoom in, way in on Memorial Park in Houston, TX and see how many dead brown pine trees there are, it is insane!!

Bottom number is 50M resolution


That is very bad. It reminds me of sections of forest that have been ravaged by the pine beetle here in Colorado, which is also very visible on Google maps. This section is just west of the Eisenhower/Johnson tunnels and its shows clearly how bad it is. Click link to zoom in all the way.
Link

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Strong cluster of t-storms on the SE side of the northern blob...
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153. N3EG
Quoting StormTracker2K:


The drought is taking a toll on the pine trees around here as they are dying left and right due to the pine beatle invasion.


They came from England in the '60s, right?
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Quoting Jax82:
A tad bit of spin on the 850mb Vort map.


There was no spin on the 850 earlier today...
Do you think this could possibly change our forecast, and give us some rain?
Member Since: June 23, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 589
150. MTWX
Quoting Jax82:
This visible satellite loop sure makes that Blob in the GOM look like a developing low! Pretty cool to see it.

Visible


I was just looking at it too. Don't think it will do anything, but quite interesting to watch none the less! Link
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Does anybody have a link to the 850 mb map?
Thanks
Member Since: June 23, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 589
If you want to see what drought does, go on google maps and zoom in, way in on Memorial Park in Houston, TX and see how many dead brown pine trees there are, it is insane!!

Bottom number is 50M resolution
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lol
Member Since: June 23, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 589
Quoting fmbill:


A "pinhole" eye. :-)

pressure at 945 mb and falling rapidly.....
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Thunders directly overhead. I think it's the best storm I've ever seen in May,
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Lower level clouds look like they are rotating on the loop...

Hey WxGeekVA. What's up?
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Quoting RitaEvac:
There's an eye!



A "pinhole" eye. :-)
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


The drought is taking a toll on the pine trees around here as they are dying left and right due to the pine beatle invasion.


This how the pine trees die by drought. They begin to secrete their sap that oozes out trying to catch any moisture there is, but what that does is attract the insects or beetles, then they feed on the sap that is coming out and literally suck the tree dry killing the pine tree quickly to dead brown.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
StormTracker2K how are the crape myrtles?


Those are fine it's the Oaks and Pine Trees by me that are starting to take a beating.
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Time to tag this little critter an invest. It's looking better and better as we head through the day.

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Quoting RitaEvac:
There's an eye!



Lower level clouds look like they are rotating on the loop...
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3476
We need a powerful stationary front to stall out over the state...
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136. MTWX
Quoting MississippiWx:
First it was exceptional warmth and now most of the country is experiencing abnormally dry to drought conditions. I really believe it is hard to deny that our climate isn't in a highly variable state right now. You can blame the cause on whatever, but I believe it's hard for anyone to say it's not happening at this point. I'm not sure I've ever seen the drought monitor map look like this:



Our colors will start showing up here in MS too if we don't start getting some real rain soon! We has slightly above average rain for March, but April finished out 4-8" below average for the month! Looks like we are heading into another drought ridden summer!
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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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