Hurricane Irene slides toward Bahamas; Strong earthquake rattles eastern U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 21:57 GMT le 23 août 2011

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Hurricane Irene is a category 1 on the Saffir Simpson scale as of 5pm EDT, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and a minimum central pressure of 976 mb. Irene is moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph, and continues to impact Hispaniola. Satellite imagery shows a strong rain band continuing to linger over the eastern Dominican Republic on the southeast side of Irene, but wind speeds appear to have decreased substantially in the country since this morning. Winds are gusting to around 50 mph in the Turks and Caicos Islands this afternoon. Wind shear is currently around 10-20 knots in the vicinity, which could delay intensification over the next 48 hours. The strongest winds and thunderstorm activity remain on the northwest side, and the eye that was visible on satellite earlier today has become obscured by new thunderstorm activity near the center of the hurricane. The most recent Hurricane Hunter mission found a minimum central pressure of 978 mb and a large wind field. In their 2pm EDT fix, the National Hurricane Center estimated that tropical storm-force winds extended 180 nautical miles from the center in the northeast quadrant of the hurricane. A NOAA Gulfstream plane (Gonzo) is currently flying Irene and providing dropsonde data, something that was critical in gaining model consensus yesterday. A NOAA P-3 (Kermit) is also on its way to the hurricane to provide dropsonde data, as well.


Figure 1. Satellite imagery of Hurricane Irene at 4:45pm EDT. Image credit: NOAA.

Track forecast for Hurricane Irene
Models are in better agreement on the track forecast for Irene today, although the GFDL and HWRF continue to be the western outliers. Both of these models are forecasting Irene to make landfall near the Outer Banks of North Carolina on an almost due north track. The rest of the global models continue to slide every so slightly east in their forecast track, with some not making landfall until the hurricane is as far north as Long Island. This afternoon, the ECMWF, which has been performing well this season, forecasts Irene to brush the Outer Banks before sliding up the east coast toward New York. The official track forecast from the National Hurricane Center is similar this afternoon. They're expecting Irene to take a more central track through the Bahamas over the next 48 hours and make contact with the Outer Banks on Saturday afternoon, with a second landfall in New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. Again, it's critical to note that the errors in the track forecast 4 and 5 days out are quite large, and also that the consensus in the models over the past couple of days has been to nudge the track eastward, which can be seen in this track graphic archive.

Intensity forecast for Hurricane Irene
Despite the slight weakening that happened today, Irene is still expected to reach major hurricane status (category 3+) in the next 36 hours as it moves away from the Greater Antilles and into warm "open" water. The models tend to agree on a maximum intensity of category 3, however, the GFDL is the upper outlier, and is suggesting a category 4 on Friday. The intensity forecast from the National Hurricane Center is a wind speed increase to 125 mph (category 3) by Thursday. Irene will surely be a very intense hurricane by the time it nears the Mid-Atlantic.

Magnitude 5.8 earthquake rattles eastern U.S.

A relatively large and shallow earthquake struck the Mid-Atlantic just before 2pm EDT this afternoon, and shaking was felt up and down the east coast and as far west as Ohio. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter was located 5 miles southwest of Mineral, Virginia, and was 3.7 miles deep—a very shallow earthquake. Buildings were evacuated all over the Mid-Atlantic, including the Pentagon, the White House, and NCEP, but have since been reopened. The National Cathedral in Washington D.C. was apparently significantly damaged in the earthquake. National Mall monuments and memorials have closed for the afternoon. Light aftershocks have been reported by people in the region, and the USGS has reported at least one aftershock (a 2.8 in magnitude).


Figure 2. "Did you feel it?" map from the USGS. Shaking reports from today's earthquake can be submitted to the USGS here.

This earthquake appears to be the strongest to occur in Virginia since May 31, 1897, when a magnitude 6 (approximately) struck Giles County. Reportedly, shaking was felt from Georgia to Pennsylvania and west to Indiana and Kentucky, which is an area that covers approximately 725,000 square miles. It's likely that this quake will have a similar extent when all the reports come in.

Angela

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shes about to pop an eye in the next two hours...u can see it coming on IR
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We will be having a conference call @ 8p EDT to discuss our response to all this. If you'd like to join, please WU mail me and I'll send you the call in # and participant code.
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Quoting kmanislander:


The wind speed always lags behind the pressure fall.
Another 3 to 6 hours from now you will see what I mean
Ike is a perfect exsample of pressure falling but no winds topping(It's a saying meaning winds not going up).And so is Alex.
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Quoting hahaguy:


That's a big hole.


Good thing it is there otherwise Florida would be in a panic
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Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (4 km Mercator)
AL092011 - Hurricane IRENE


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If you live up the NW coast near Daytona or Jacksonville, be prepared for tropical storm force winds, and possible hurricane force winds. That is a good possibility.


sigh...ya just HAD to throw J'ville into the mix, eh? I'd be happy with just some good rain.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Geez.... everybody's in such a snippy mood... except me.... aren't I the one who should be worried???


LOL


Baha - Where exactly are you in the Bahamas?
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
For all you people claiming that Irene is a fish storm, 4 words:
SHUT THE HELL UP
Do you know how much mass chaos has Irene caused in PR?! I just heard there were tornadoes and hailstorms in the eastern half of the island! So in all respect to the people that have or could lose their lives in this situation, SHUT UP.

Sorry if I sound rude to some, the mass chaos has gotten to my head.


You know, it isn't really nice to tell people to shut the hell up. See, you made me say it! You are a bad influence!

LOL!
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

She will come closer to Florida than NHC thinks. She is going to come very close.


Hey CAT5,

Do you think we are going to get Tropical Storm Winds down in SFL?

Thanks,
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I really feel for those in path of Irene, plz be prepared!!
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waterspout funnel pic just took looking from sarasota bay out into the gulf,had easly 45mph winds
img src="2011 08 23 19 22 42 291">

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Quoting MississippiWx:


Indeed.
thats a first i have seen
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Did you know...

That on this very date, 138 years ago, the first ever type of hurricane warning was issued?
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I was googling a bit to learn more about pressures in hurricanes and ran across this chart and thought it was interesting.  I dont know if it is accurate or right but it seemed interesting to me. i apologize if it is incorrect

http://www.library.beau.org/~oem/hurr.html




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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


At its current path, would we say hurricane force winds from Irene?


NHC track says no, as it is 100 miles east of Wilmington. Hurricane force winds wouldn't extend that far to the west. Again though, the track isn't set in stone.
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Quoting ShelterNurse:
Anyone know of damage on Hispanola?


lookin' into that right now
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Irene will also have an impact on SE Texas weather this weekend. The flow around her will bring dry Canadian air into the region and since dry air heats up faster, our temps will climb to 105 - 106 this Sat. and Sun.
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431. 900MB
Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
Pressure:969mb Wow. Weird if the wind is still 90mph. Reminds me of Alex.


Wind will jump. We are going to 110 tonight.
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
2 recon planes ???


Indeed.
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
Pressure:969mb Wow. Weird if the wind is still 90mph. Reminds me of Alex.


The wind speed always lags behind the pressure fall.
Another 3 to 6 hours from now you will see what I mean
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
For all you people claiming that Irene is a fish storm, 4 words:
SHUT THE HELL UP
Do you know how much mass chaos has Irene caused in PR?! I just heard there were tornadoes and hailstorms in the eastern half of the island! So in all respect to the people that have or could lose their lives in this situation, SHUT UP.

Sorry if I sound rude to some, the mass chaos has gotten to my head.


+10000000

PR really took a whack with Irene. Hope brighter days are ahead for you.
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Quoting kmanislander:
No problem seeing where Irene is going



That's a big hole.
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Man... this is getting interesting. I don't think I'll go on here more often until Thursday Night due to that stupid AP homework. Good luck Bahamas! Be back later tonight.
Member Since: 1 août 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8031
Think it's safe to say the NHC will add the Cat-4 strength back to the track.
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Quoting mrpuertorico:


Wow just got power back what a storm. still raining here stuck in the tail end and watching an impressive lightning show the nws says by the end we will exceed 20+ inches of rain! calling it the 50 year rain event


Yeah, I figured you guys were getting some terrible rain. She really hasn't left you alone in 3 days.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
2 recon planes ???
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Local storms closing in here in Naples, FL...

Member Since: 2 septembre 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 744
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Hey all,

I've been lurking for the last day or so, and have a few newbie questions...

1.) With regards to the anatomy of the hurricane, what is the "ridge" and how does it impact the hurricane's motion?

2.) What is a TROF?

3.) I'm seeing references to something called the "Bermuda High." What is that?

If you read these, thanks. It's been a treat watching y'all banter over the last day or two. :)

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Quoting tiggeriffic:


i have been praying for you Baha...and everyone else in the path...just wanted u to know :)


just in case you missed it at the turn of the page lol
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Quoting 2ifbyC:


"Vanna, I'd like to buy an 'L'..."
And I would like to buy a "b" for boot.
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Quoting reedzone:
My first gig was canceled, I'll be here till 8:30


Reed, the hurricane hunters found 969 mb.
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415. MahFL
Intense convection near the eye too.
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Quoting kmanislander:
No problem seeing where Irene is going

wnw still
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Anyone know of damage on Hispanola?
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Big Duke NOLA 7 to CRS,,

ya got yer ear's on CRS?..

Come back
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yes Baha you have been in my thoughts too- hoping for the best outcome possible...
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Quoting NHCaddict:
Huh, Charley was NOT a big storm, but retained hurricane strength through Orlando after coming ashore in Charlotte County...

Every storm is different, never assume.


Charley was also moving VERY quickly up the state. Exiting near Daytona Beach as a Cat1. It was moving about 25 mph. It would not have remained a hurricane if it was going slower. Again, because it was a very tightly wound system.
Member Since: 19 Mars 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1147
My first gig was canceled, I'll be here till 8:30
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Really hate it for our Bahama friends. Irene is really strengthening now and is going to be terrible for them. Remember, she hasn't gone out to sea. PR, Hispaniola, and now the Bahamas are the bearers of a formidable storm. The Continental U.S. could be next.


Wow just got power back what a storm. still raining here stuck in the tail end and watching an impressive lightning show the nws says by the end we will exceed 20+ inches of rain! calling it the 50 year rain event
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No problem seeing where Irene is going

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Quoting NCSCguy:
What happened to the posts of the model runs?


the individual images stopped loading on Allan's site..here is the link so far of the run

Link
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Quoting Levi32:


Wilmington would experience stronger impacts than inland cities in any event because it is on the coast and farther east.

A change in speed unexpected by the model forecasts would probably shift the track a bit, yes, due to different interactions between Irene and the shortwave troughs passing by to her north. However, right now her speed is consistent with the forecast track.


At its current path, would we say hurricane force winds from Irene?
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Pressure:969mb Wow. Weird if the wind is still 90mph. Reminds me of Alex.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Geez.... everybody's in such a snippy mood... except me.... aren't I the one who should be worried???


LOL


At least you know it's coming to you... LOL.

I assume you have everything in place?
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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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