Category 3 Hurricane Irene tracks northwest through the Bahamas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:55 PM GMT en Agosto 24, 2011

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Hurricane Irene remains a powerful category 3 this afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. Irene is moving northwest through the Bahamas at 12 mph, and its center has cleared the northern edge of Crooked Island. The next islands in the path of Irene are Rum Cay (population 80) and Cat Island (population 1700), which it will encounter later tonight. Irene will track northeast of Long Island (in the Bahamas) over the next 24 hours. George Town has been reporting wind gusts up to around 40 mph this afternoon, and wind speed will likely increase during the next 12 hours as Irene's center passes about 30-40 miles to their northeast. Long Island in the Bahamas will likely see category 1 winds, which begin at 74 mph. Shelters on New Providence and Grand Bahama are open and ready for business, and Grand Bahama International Airport will remain closed until Irene passes.

Irene continues to look well-organized on satellite, especially compared to yesterday afternoon. Since then, intense upward motion, and therefore strong thunderstorm activity, has encompassed the center on all sides, which has led to a well-defined eye. Throughout the morning, Irene's eye wall has shrunk, and a new eye wall could be developing, although it remains unclear at this point. If this is the case, it could lead to some temporary weakening of the hurricane, which would be good for the Bahamas. This afternoon, Irene's hurricane-force winds extend 50 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extend up to 205 miles from the center. Earlier this morning, an Air Force Hurricane Hunter mission investigated Irene and a NOAA Gulfstream (Gonzo) is currently collecting data around the hurricane.


Figure 1. Microwave satellite imagery of Irene captured at 8am this morning. Image source: Naval Research Laboratory.

Track forecast for Irene
NOAA has continued dropsonde missions today, scouring the atmosphere for data as far north as the waters off of South Carolina. Every bit of upper-air data that the models can ingest will lead to better forecasts and decreased uncertainty. These missions are an investment that pay off. Irene will track through the central Bahamas today, the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday, and approach the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday. Beyond this there is a bit of divergence in the models. Both the GFDL and the HWRF are forecasting a landfall on Long Island, New York, and the ECMWF continues to suggest a landfall even further west than that. NOGAPS is still the eastern outlier, which misses the U.S. all together and makes landfall in Canada. Today the official track forecast from the National Hurricane Center agrees with the GFS forecast through Saturday morning, and then diverges ever so slightly to the west of that through Monday. It has become clear over the past 3 days that everyone on the East Coast from North Carolina to Maine should be prepared to feel impacts from Hurricane Irene.


Figure 2. Official track forecast provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Intensity forecast for Irene
Irene continues to be embedded in a large envelope of moisture, and wind shear is expected to remain low to moderate, 5 - 20 knots, for the next three days. With water temperatures very warm, 28 - 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification to a category 4 hurricane (winds of 131 to 155 mph). The only reliable model that's not forecasting this intensification is the GFS, and this is likely due to its relatively course spatial resolution. The National Hurricane Center expects Irene to intensify to a category 4 tomorrow, with a decrease in intensity back to a category 3 on Friday.

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

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

Our Wundermap is also a great resource for tracking hurricanes, with the ability to turn on multiple layers of data, including satellite, official track forecast, and current weather observations from not only the U.S. but the Caribbean and Bahamas, as well. Here's a link to get you started.

Angela

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Quoting Bluestorm5:
NHC just said that amp. though is causing 100 miles shift to west in Irene's track... am I'm being stupid or I'm right, anyone? I don't want to jump the gun.


The European model certainly showed a shift. However, most of that shift occurs after NC. It is a little closer to the NC coast though.
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Quoting TruthCommish:


Is english his first language? If not, our tax dollars are being wasted. I'm NOT joking here.


Tax Dollars hard at work list of words:

RESPECT
COMMON DECENTCY
EMPATHY
HUMANISTIC
TOLERABLE
and last but not least....trying not to be a JACKASS!!!
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Quoting Alockwr21:


Would an EWRC generally drive her more west? or just depends?


In the post you quoted I opened by saying it was not a major influence on her track. Inner core dynamics do play a role in short-term wobbles, but those are not terribly important except for when the eye is close to land masses. It may be important for Nassau in case Irene takes a short wobble closer to the island due to the inner core changes.
Member Since: Noviembre 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
Quoting kmanislander:


Taz has been on this blog for years and those of us that have been here with him understand him. If you do not know anything about someone you should be slow to criticize. It is both unkind and unnecessarily hurtful.


+1
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Quoting TruthCommish:


Is english his first language? If not, our tax dollars are being wasted. I'm NOT joking here.


Taz has been on this blog for years and those of us that have been here with him understand him. If you do not know anything about someone you should be slow to criticize. It is both unkind and unnecessarily hurtful.
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510. bwat
Quoting hurricaneben:
Is there any chance Irene might do a Jeanne-like loop and threaten Florida East Coast???
No expert, but I would say very doubtful. from what i've learned she is gonna follow the western edge of the bermuda high up to the weakness in the ridge created by the troughs. Path of least resistance is where they will head, just like electricity. The key now is seeing exactly where that "least resistant" path sets up.
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1 Bird Bent.... 2 on task
Member Since: Octubre 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting DallasGumby:
This "exceptional record shattering drought" is nothing compared to the long-term droughts of the 1930s and 1950s. Have you ever heard of the Dust Bowl?

My dad used to tell me stories about the 1950s drought - it was so dry, they never drained dishwater after washing dishes. Instead, they used the dirty water to water their flowers.

It was the decade-long drought of the 1950s which caused Dallas city leaders to be very long-term looking (100 years or so) in water planning, which is why we have so many reservoirs across North and East Texas to supply drinking water.

And, if you want to talk about just one summer - 1980, at least so far, was worse than this summer. Although this summer is giving 1980 a run for the money.
+1000
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Last 4 GFS runs. The consistency is pretty scary for New England.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Last four GFS, 18Z in red



That 18Z GFS is almost identical to the current NHC track.
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504. JeffM
Quoting Bluestorm5:
not anymore... MAJOR changes is what I'm hearing now. GFS shifted west by 50 miles.... I would get out of Atlantic Beach tomorrow.


I agree. Living right on the water like that with a potential Cat 4 heading your way, no thanks.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Last four GFS, 18Z in red




Hopefully not the beginning of a trend westward...
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Quoting Grandpato4:
Good news all around for most of NC. I talked to my daughter in Raleigh and they only have a 30% chance of tropical storm winds and are expected to get less than 1/2 inch of rain. Here in Atlantic Beach we may get gusts to 50 mph. The waves will be big, but I am confident the dune will hold.
Glad to hear it Grandpa. Just keep being vigilant.
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Quoting DallasGumby:
This "exceptional record shattering drought" is nothing compared to the long-term droughts of the 1930s and 1950s. Have you ever heard of the Dust Bowl?

My dad used to tell me stories about the 1950s drought - it was so dry, they never drained dishwater after washing dishes. Instead, they used the dirty water to water their flowers.

It was the decade-long drought of the 1950s which caused Dallas city leaders to be very long-term looking (100 years or so) in water planning, which is why we have so many reservoirs across North and East Texas to supply drinking water.

And, if you want to talk about just one summer - 1980, at least so far, was worse than this summer. Although this summer is giving 1980 a run for the money.


DallasGumby your dad's stories are nice stories that is, but when it comes to statistics, empirical data, facts and science your memory is a pretty weak indicator. Anyway we facing now a potential record shattering (impact wise) hurricane approaching the US coast. Good luck to you guys in Dallas and the rest of Texas with your drought, you need it!
Member Since: Septiembre 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Quoting WhereIsTheStorm:

You have already experienced 50 to 55 mph winds if you have been through a Northeaster, so don't worry about the plywood at this point. The issue comes in if she doesn't turn and you get hit with high winds, then the issue comes from other people not taking in their lawn furniture. Wait and see at this point; but definitely plan on taking in the hanging plants and lawn furniture anyway.
btw: my sis in down the shore and I'm going to have to convince her to leave there and I'm not calling her yet. But I will by tomorrow after to start the talk and if all goes as modeled by Irene I get to tell her to get away from Cape May as quickly as possible before everyone else tries to leave at the same time. Just saying


Hey. If you can put up some cheap fiber board, do so.

Worse comes to worse, your neighbors get to make fun of you for a week till someone else does something unexpected. And you will have fiber board to use around the house, then lend to the neighbors when they need some. ;)

Edit* oops. I thought that would quote who you quoted! Where IsTheStorm! d'oh.

Member Since: Marzo 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 316
Quoting Grandpato4:


Where did you hear this information?
NHC just said that amp. though is causing 100 miles shift to west in Irene's track... am I'm being stupid or I'm right, anyone? I don't want to jump the gun.
Member Since: Agosto 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7912
496. 996tt
Quoting Grandpato4:
Good news all around for most of NC. I talked to my daughter in Raleigh and they only have a 30% chance of tropical storm winds and are expected to get less than 1/2 inch of rain. Here in Atlantic Beach we may get gusts to 50 mph. The waves will be big, but I am confident the dune will hold.


Haha, you keep saying the same thing over and over. What do you need to convey or hear? The storm will miss you completely. Well, I certainly hope so and I hope UT stays plenty far from shore so we can get a nice swell for surfing. Sorry to tell you this, but your dune will be where you house was if a cat 4 hits you. Fircasting Ralieghs rain and wind field at this time is tantamount to mere conjecture.
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scraping NJ with 932mb pressure noon Sunday Aug. 28
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Quoting Cayman2010:
How's this for scheduling. The history channel is currently airing a show (entitled mega disasters for extra effect) examining what would happen if a cat 3 hit New York.

surely you don't think that's coincidental
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Hey Tiggerific, do you know what day the waves are supposed to be the biggest at Folly Beach? My son wants to go see them again.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Looks like the inner eye rotation in already occurring on the RSO Loop


From early afternoon it looked as if an EWRC was underway. If so the Northern Bahamas might be facing an intensifying hurricane on the way to CAT 4 as the new eye clears out. That is also where the greater part of the population lives as well as most of the development.

Not a good scenario
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Irene went through the eastern Hebert didn't she?
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Quoting Cayman2010:
How's this for scheduling. The history channel is currently airing a show (entitled mega disasters for extra effect) examining what would happen if a cat 3 hit New York.


Thanks
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Quoting txag91met:


1980 doesn't surpass this summer. Houston has had the hottest August EVER! So far we are averaging 101.7F for the month, which blows away 1980. We just broke are string of > 100F days from 1980.
I am referring to North Texas.
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good afternoon

If anyone has any doubt about the size and strength of Irene they need only look at the obs in the Caymans. Right now we have WNW to NW winds and a pressure of 1006.4 and still falling. This from a hurricane several hundred miles away. pretty impressive.


Just got out of work here in Miami Fl and felt it was windier. Not sure is related to the storm as she is far from us...
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ah...unless Angela, Jeff or Rob say it here...I wouldn't necessarily take it as Gospel...
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Last four GFS, 18Z in red


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Quoting cat5hurricane:

That's a big LOL!!!!


I couldn't make that LOL any bigger.
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


Best word in the ENGLISH language eh Taz... ignore people like him...we all know what you said



i re move the commet
Member Since: Mayo 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114775
Quoting Levi32:


Not a major role in her track. She could weaken this evening and tomorrow morning before strengthening later tomorrow, if the EWRC lasts as long as they normally do, but it is nearly impossible to predict how long it will take it to complete. Once it does, Irene could emerge even stronger than before.

The bigger issue is that EWRCs almost always cause the hurricane's wind field to expand. Interestingly enough, the HWRF and GFDL have both been forecasting an enlargement of Irene's eye and wind field.
If you look at the infrared this past hour she is already expanding.
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Quoting angelafritz:


I think there's a decent chance (40%) youll see tropical storm-force wind gusts (around 35-40 mph). In terms of rain, probably around 6 inches according to HPC, which I trust. The thing is, the difference between western Mass and NH/VT is probably 3 inches of rain. It all depends on where the heaviest bands set up.

That kind of felt like I was giving a Nor'easter snow forecast.
Thanks for popping in to answer questions, Angela.

Have you seen any sort of a surge or SLOSH.model out yet? I was looking at 38 and the Great Atlantic Hurricane In the historical simulations, and this thing looks like it could produce the same effect - surging an enormous wall of water up Naragansett Bay (which narrows) in particular. But I've got a Mac , so I can't run the SLOSH model myself.
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Is there any chance Irene might do a Jeanne-like loop and threaten Florida East Coast???
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good afternoon

If anyone has any doubt about the size and strength of Irene they need only look at the obs in the Caymans. Right now we have WNW to NW winds and a pressure of 1006.4 and still falling. This from a hurricane several hundred miles away. Pretty impressive.


Hi kman. Wow. She's a monster. What's your wind speed there?
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Quoting Levi32:


Not a major role in her track. She could weaken this evening and tomorrow morning before strengthening later tomorrow, if the EWRC lasts as long as they normally do, but it is nearly impossible to predict how long it will take it to complete. Once it does, Irene could emerge even stronger than before.

The bigger issue is that EWRCs almost always cause the hurricane's wind field to expand.

I think the scariest thing about this EWRC occurring now is that once its done, like you sai could emerge stronger, and given that that would be at a later time period most likely, then irene could be stronger going towards New england/NE. Just a thought.
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Quoting Levi32:


Not a major role in her track. She could weaken this evening and tomorrow morning before strengthening later tomorrow, if the EWRC lasts as long as they normally do, but it is nearly impossible to predict how long it will take it to complete. Once it does, Irene could emerge even stronger than before.


Would an EWRC generally drive her more west? or just depends?
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i know everyone is focused on irene but for just a second is there anything else to be concered in the tropics? not 90L becuase that will go out to sea, i mean do models show anything trying to develop? thanks
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How's this for scheduling. The history channel is currently airing a show (entitled mega disasters for extra effect) examining what would happen if a cat 3 hit New York.
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473. cutgr
how many hurricanes have you guys/gals been through i went through hugo was my only one was 6 when it happened now im 28.so one hurricane in 28 years and have dodged many bullets.
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this is vary bad news for the E coast
Member Since: Mayo 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114775
Quoting Tazmanian:


poof


Best word in the ENGLISH language eh Taz... ignore people like him...we all know what you said
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This ignore thing is addicting. I started with Larry jason Flyntt this morning and now its growing faster than my lawn. I "ignored" ignore for all these years and now i cant stop...do I need help? Am I over-reacting?
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Quoting DallasGumby:

Geeeeeezzzz. Give us one very hot, dry summer, caused by a La Nina event, and people are extrapolating to the "new norm." Well, what we've had here for just over a half year is nothing compared to the 1930s and 1950s; and, the summer of 1980 still surpasses this summer. We had a cold, wet winter (schools were out for 5 days here in Dallas!), and people were extrapolating that that perhaps is the new normal. So much for that.


1980 doesn't surpass this summer. Houston has had the hottest August EVER! So far we are averaging 101.7F for the month, which blows away 1980. We just broke are string of > 100F days from 1980.
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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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