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 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.


How about my area? I live just north of Wilmington, NC in Rocky Point.
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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.


Finally! Someone who knows what they are talking about!
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Im thinking Just west of Hurricane Bob's Track.
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Quoting Levi32:
We are almost definitely looking at an EWRC getting underway.



This also means we should expect even more erratic movement from the inner eye as the outer eyewall tries to develop. The inner eye may start rotating around the inner edge of the outer eyewall, continuing to give false short-term motions that average out into the overall long-term motion.
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414. angelafritz (Admin)
Quoting AllStar17:


What impacts do you expect western Massachusetts, western New Hampshire, and Vermont to recieve right now? I've asked others, too, but am curious for your opinion - I know it is early. Thank you!


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.
Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery


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412. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #10
TROPICAL DEPRESSION 15
6:00 AM JST August 25 2011
============================

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression In Sea Near Mariana Island

At 21:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression (1002 hPa) located near 17.0N 141.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving north northwest slowly

Dvorak Intensity: T2.0

Forecast and Intensity
=======================

24 HRS: 19.6N 140.9E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
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NICycloneChaser,

How strong is that model predicting Irene to be around NYC/Boston?

And can you post a link to that model run,

Thanks
Patrick
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Quoting MNhockeymama:
I don't want to bug you all, since I find the info you present helpful; but do you think the power outages will be as bad as some are predicting for NY et al? He looks to me for the info regarding this stuff and I don't want to be wrong. (His brother is a lineman too so now I have both of them asking me. darn it.)

Well, I think it depends on if your talking about NewYork(the city) or LongIsland or the mainland.
Alot of the power in Manhattan is underground, not so much in the burroughs. Water intrusion is going to be a big factor for them.

During Andrew, rows and rows of the super tall, super high power lines coming out of the power plant, as well as the long distance transmission lines were knocked down or broken in half. Those took several months to replace before power could be restored. Lineman will continue to work to fix the lower level lines so that they will be ready when power from the plants can be restored. Andrew was a cat5 though, so this might not be such a problem for your friend.

He and his brother will make boat loads of overtime money that's for sure and it won't be like dealing with ice/snow-covered lines in the Winter. Just remind them not to get in a rushed mode and wind up getting shocked. Also, hydration, hydration, hydration.
Last of all, crews will be coming from all over the east coast so any line crews working this won't be alone for long.
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409. bwat
Hello, from NE NC! Most of my friends are calling Irene another Earl. I hope this hold true, but I urged them to be cautious. Just looked at the graphical archive for Earl on NHC website and have noticed that Irene is much more west at this point than Earl was, and Earl was too close for comfort.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Yep. They'll find any reason to pin this on climate change. Any reason. Nothing new there.

That exceptional record shattering drought in texas is exactly what has been predicted for years. And who is "they"? But i could care less i don't have to live there, so i wish you guys a lot of luck in the coming years and decades, it won't be pretty.
Member Since: Septiembre 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
90L is something to watch but i'm still sticking with Irene.
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tornado warnings to my nw and west
tornado watch right over head
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Quoting RickWPB:

Exactly!! That's correct.


No, it's not. Pretty sure the NHC are well aware of what they are talking about. Also, the European model clearly shows that this more amplified trough causes a more westward track.
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Is Irene undergoing an EWRC?

LOL! Never mind (thanks for posting the image above!)
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We are almost definitely looking at an EWRC getting underway.

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Quoting presslord:


gimmee a heads up if you're out here....you can park at my house and go out to the beach if ya want


sweet...just have to make sure that we do NOT bring the boogie board or Andy would be on it in a second... only 7 and he is already beggin for a surf board...
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401. Remek
Quoting NICycloneChaser:
This ain't pretty.



That's a pretty ugly picture.
Member Since: Agosto 29, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 118
Quoting presslord:


my wife jokes that we never go out 'til there are small craft advisoires

Do you go out when there are large craft advisories?
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Quoting NICycloneChaser:


Interesting to note that the GFS has done pretty much the opposite with the trough, but yet it has a similar effect on terms of track.


If the trough lifts out faster, you still have basically the same effect.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Best one I heard was after Hugo...Feeble Emergency Management Attempt


I sure hope I don't get banned for saying this... But a few months after Katrina, we were in New Orleans and saw a t-shirt on Bourbon Street that said, "Fix Everything My A$$"... Best one I ever saw.

To be fair though, many dedicated and talented people work for FEMA... They were just being run by nincompoops. Not really accurate to say the whole organization is worthless, because it isn't...
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Quoting presslord:
If you know anyone in New England...contact them now to leave now...warn them that FEMA is deploying to their area...oh, yea...tell 'em about the hurricane, too....


LOL! Didn't the people in Joplin tell FEMA "We don't need you?" after the tornado? Looks like they're getting the rebuilding done just fine on their own now, too.
Ironic how their HS was destroyed but school's in session; an earthquake outside DC has closed the schools for up to 2 weeks...
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with all of this new western shifting and the slowness of the turn that is expected but not materialized as of yet how will this impact central fl coast?
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New 18z GFS is pretty similar to the latest Euro. Pretty much a doomsday scenario.
Loop
Link
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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.

La Nina? There is no a LN atm and LN is part of the climate anyway, i guess you suggest to pray for rain? But actually i won't discuss this with you because i checked the empirical data. Put that vs your "claims".
Member Since: Septiembre 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Quoting tiggeriffic:


thought about goin out to Folly just to stand on the pier...it really rocks when the waves are that high plus the high tide + 2 ft they are calling for


gimmee a heads up if you're out here....you can park at my house and go out to the beach if ya want
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90L is continuing to become better organized and I expect the NHC to raise the chances again at the 8:00pm TWO.
Member Since: Junio 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
Quoting presslord:


my wife jokes that we never go out 'til there are small craft advisoires


thought about goin out to Folly just to stand on the pier...it really rocks when the waves are that high plus the high tide + 2 ft they are calling for
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Hi All

Been at least a year since I posted last... have been looking at the steering layers at CIMSS Link
and I have to say that the Atlantic High has bucked the trend and certainly strengthened / built back west. I dont think enough for the panhandle to be in trouble but I think a CONUS landfall around OBX is a much stronger possibility now than 1 day ago (as reflected in the latest ECM run) Essentially Irene will eventually head north but I see nothing on the horizon that will be strong enough to curve Irene away from a CONUS landfall. My thoughts are with all.
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Quoting NICycloneChaser:
This ain't pretty.


A hurricane over New England...might look like this:
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Quoting Alockwr21:
I don't understand. How does an amplified trough make Irene go more west? I thought that a trough would pick her up and move her east?

Exactly!! That's correct.
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Quoting Alockwr21:
I don't understand. How does an amplified trough make Irene go more west? I thought that a trough would pick her up and move her east?


Tropical cyclones want to go counterclockwise around troughs, and we have two separate troughs here. The first trough is expected to force Irene to the northeast. This is because the hurricane would be at 5 o'clock, if we put the center of clock over the center of the trough. However, the second trough, if it is deep enough, would be far enough south (and Irene far enough north) for the counterclockwise flow to steer Irene to the northwest, as Irene would be at roughly 2 o'clock this time.
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Quoting dan77539:


The one hurricane I've been through was very large in size (Ike, '08, Houston). Even if this storm weakens by the time it gets to NY, the TS-force winds are likely to be very broad. The worst of the doomsday scenarios are probably overboard, but it takes a long time to repair all of those electrical lines if the area impacted is huge.


Thank you. I appreciate the reply.

My hubs actually went to Ike and put up the lines afterward. The photos he took were quite amazing - the devastation was unbelievable. He was on the crew that put up the lines in Galveston bridge (?) - very proud of how quickly they got them up, too. He was there for 6 weeks and could have stayed longer but got tired after 6 wks of 16 hr days w/no time off and came home.

I've heard that due to the saturated soil from the massive amounts of rain in the area, trees & power-lines will come down w/o too much wind pressure and considering the age of the grid out there, it won't take too much for the poles to break down, either.

Thanks for the reply!
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Quoting MississippiWx:


That means it's digging more to the south, which in turn makes the trough slower to move to the east and northeast. This makes Irene less likely to turn before hitting NC.


Interesting to note that the GFS has done pretty much the opposite with the trough, but yet it has a similar effect on terms of track.
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evere one on the E coast if you have plans on wave watching on the beach has the wave will likey be high at times not sure how high the waves will be but plzs ware a life jacket.. if you have plans on going too the beach this weekend on the E coast you nevere no when a big wave can this come right up and take you out too sea
Member Since: Mayo 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115362
Quoting MississippiWx:


That means it's digging more to the south, which in turn makes the trough slower to move to the east and northeast. This makes Irene less likely to turn before hitting NC.


Crap...I thought this was going to be like Earl last year where the models started out with him coming here and eventually just kept trending east...hopefully this is just one run and not a trend
Member Since: Septiembre 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 725
Quoting reedzone:


If the EURO pans out.. I would be speechless. Category 3-4 storm surge, lets not forget the waters are warmer then they were 10 years ago up there.. This could be historic and devastating. I have alot of family on Long Island and am waiting to see the 00Z runs before I make calls to persuade them to evacuate. I knew all along it would be an East Coast system, but didn't think it would go that way..


As you know Reed, I was born on Long Island and I have a lot of family there. I only called the ones I liked.
Member Since: Julio 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
This ain't pretty.

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I was going to write a long comment, but eventually wrote a new blog entry instead. However, its content is likely incomplete. Please tell me about any errors, suggested additional info, or analysis you may be able to offer.

Due to a heightened tornado risk tonight in Southern Ontario, I may or may not have to cease commenting for the next few hours. As a result, I might (not) actually update my blog.
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Doomcon level?
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Quoting Alockwr21:
I don't understand. How does an amplified trough make Irene go more west? I thought that a trough would pick her up and move her east?


That means it's digging more to the south, which in turn makes the trough slower to move to the east and northeast. This makes Irene less likely to turn before hitting NC.
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Quoting tiggeriffic:



ummm...lemme see....NO! talkin 5-7ft waves with extra high tide on top...been there done that when i did NOT have a choice in the navy...make sure you wear your life jacket...


my wife jokes that we never go out 'til there are small craft advisoires
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Quoting Alockwr21:
I don't understand. How does an amplified trough make Irene go more west? I thought that a trough would pick her up and move her east?


a hurricane will move towards weakness. a low pressure trough draws it in like two magnets coming together. low pressure zones will always look for the path of least resistance.
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Quoting dan77539:
I'd also suggest that people living along the East Coast not get manic-depressive with every jog to the west or north today and tomorrow. You can drive yourself crazy doing that. You'll just have to look at 3- or 6-hr average direction.


That's no fun. What do we do in the meantime? Play checkers? This way when my wife asks me what I was doing all day, I can say I was with a bunch of joggers. I jogged East then I jogged West.
Member Since: Julio 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26891
Quoting reedzone:


If the EURO pans out.. I would be speechless. Category 3-4 storm surge, lets not forget the waters are warmer then they were 10 years ago up there.. This could be historic and devastating. I have alot of family on Long Island and am waiting to see the 00Z runs before I make calls to persuade them to evacuate. I knew all along it would be an East Coast system, but didn't think it would go that way..


Has to be said Reed, the GFS has also shunted west quite a chunk up in that area of the world.
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Quoting Remek:


gobble-gobble goo? I is haz hurricane plsjehggh??


I've never said this publicly before but

POOF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Quoting Bassfishing123:


I am always game for a good fishing trip



well....it's a sailboat...but you can always throw a line off the stern
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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.