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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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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Quoting BahaHurican:
Geez.... everybody's in such a snippy mood... except me.... aren't I the one who should be worried???


LOL


i have been praying for you Baha...and everyone else in the path...just wanted u to know :)
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Quoting Matt1989:
This hurricane has a very small core... And it is nearing the 90 Degree water temps in the bahamas... Can someone say rapid intensification tonight?
its not all about warm waters other factors like moderate shear and upper level patterns...
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397. TX2FL
Quoting Tazmanian:




fishcaster POOF


I'm actually not a fishcaster I was asking a freaking question, I've been mostly lurking and occasionally posting since 2008.

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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Back home again. On the way back yesterday my daughter-in-law, who was following me in her truck we'd just picked up from NO, back from Germany, was plowed into by a drunk driver. Luckily, though the truck flipped twice, she was released from the hospital with only bruising and cuts.

I saw this morning on TV that Irene was heading towards 'the Carolinas' and thought of Press. Also that she might hit Cat 3 or 4? I hope those wishcasters from there don't regret what they were wishing for.


Holy crap! Hope she remains ok (doesn't have delayed effects from whiplash or something) and hope the scumbag had insurance.
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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


I'm not snippy...which island are you on?
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Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Levi: I missed your response (if any) during the switchover of the blogs.... sorry to put you on the spot earlier btw.

So.. do you think Wilmington receives any different impacts than Fayetteville/Greensboro questions answered earlier?

And 2nd... does the slow movement of Irene, and possibility she could slow even more unexpectedly... leave the door open for a potential model shift again, more so than if this system was moving quicker (as earlier expected)?


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.
Member Since: 24 novembre 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
Quoting kmanislander:
Good evening

So, Irene on the way to Cat 3 and maybe before tomorrow morning. Really impressive deepening this afternoon.


Yeah, she is about to put on a show tonight. Sorry Bahamas...Batten down the hatches and stay safe all!
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Dropsonde in the SE eyewall found surface winds at 71knots (82mph).
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


No, being serious.


Wow. Ok. I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T-I-N-G.
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good evening

So, Irene on the way to Cat 3 and maybe before tomorrow morning. Really impressive deepening this afternoon.
hey kman. do you feel irene will move further west
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This hurricane has a very small core... And it is nearing the 90 Degree water temps in the bahamas... Can someone say rapid intensification tonight?
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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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Geez.... everybody's in such a snippy mood... except me.... aren't I the one who should be worried???


LOL
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

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

I'm listening...
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383. flsky
Looks like two eyes....
Quoting Patrap:




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What happened to the posts of the model runs?
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Dropsonde in southeastern eyewall brought back 82mph winds.
Member Since: 2 septembre 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
afternoon all
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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.
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Eastern Cuba Radar Loop
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Quoting Sflabuck:


Flacaster


And this kind of post is annoying.......
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Good evening

So, Irene on the way to Cat 3 and maybe before tomorrow morning. Really impressive deepening this afternoon.
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Quoting Sflabuck:


Flacaster


i didn't read it that way...i took it as it will be closer to FLA than what they think ATM
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Quoting washingtonian115:
shelfish


"Vanna, I'd like to buy an 'L'..."
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
1 woman drowns in her car due to swollen river...Dozens take shelter due to rising waters...80% of Maunabo's plantain crops lost...17"+ inches of rain...Curse you Irene...


Shows that even a Tropical Storm can bring massive destruction. It's not all about the wind categories.
Member Since: 16 octobre 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 544
Quoting presslord:


just commenting on some deep philosophizing read
I tried to read it but got lost in the first sentence. From MS ya no...LOL Evening All!!!
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Just a comment for meditation....

I give my respect to the thousands of A$trologers that told us in advance, using their "science", the trayectory that Irene was going to take befor PR, today's Virginia earthquake and the outcome and trayectory that Irene will end taking...
Also their announcement in advance of 911, Japan's earthquake, the Banda Aceh Tsunami.... and many other events, that helped to save many lives...

Well, where is the newspaper with my horoscope??

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Irene has doubled in size in the last 12 hours. Even a close East Coast miss will be felt strongly all the way up thru to the N.E. with massive storm surges if she goes Cat 3/4.
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Quoting Tazmanian:




fishcaster POOF

i dont think he/she was fishcasting seemed to be a question. But IMO during hurricane season any of the US can be hit so always be prepared
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Quoting zparkie:
The NHC is relying on the burmuda high to stay put and pull it east, but a local met here said that it could possibly move a little to the west and keep the storm on a WNW track and take it very close to florida because its not moving fast enough and time is of the essence.


Flacaster
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Quoting SeanyBoy:
Wait? Whoa! 969? Joke?


No, being serious.
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366. flsky
where are you located?
Quoting zparkie:
The NHC is relying on the burmuda high to stay put and pull it east, but a local met here said that it could possibly move a little to the west and keep the storm on a WNW track and take it very close to florida because its not moving fast enough and time is of the essence.
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Quoting NICycloneChaser:


Pressure at 969mb.


i will accept that WOW and raise you a "OH CRAP"
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Trying to clear out her eye?
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Levi: I missed your response (if any) during the switchover of the blogs.... sorry to put you on the spot earlier btw.

So.. do you think Wilmington receives any different impacts than Fayetteville/Greensboro questions answered earlier?

And 2nd... does the slow movement of Irene, and possibility she could slow even more unexpectedly... leave the door open for a potential model shift again, more so than if this system was moving quicker (as earlier expected)?
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Quoting Tazmanian:




fishcaster POOF
Taz he is not fish casting he is asking a question.
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Quoting kathyvb:



Another long time lurker, first post...and I absolutely agree with what you're saying about the locals here. I think most of them are downplaying it too. I think even the one local whose opinion I'm interested in hearing is being very cautious on what he's saying (Jeff Lawson_13). Thanks to everyone's info on here, cause I'd rather hear the opinions and info on here, than some of these mets locally. I think people here should be preparing for the possibility of a really rough weekend...hoping for the best here in Va Beach!

Jeff Lawson was the only one sounding the "let's really pay attention to this" alarm, and seemed to call out the other local mets (Mainly WAVY) for saying "Models east, this usually happens, blah blah no worries..." Which is why I appreciate his work. He's done this for a LONG time in this area and when Jeff Lawson says there's a 1 in 3 chance of us getting "smashed" i'm paying attention. But the info coming out of the other local mets is revolting, they're all running around Norfolk going "Hey, did you feel the earthquake? What was it like?"
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Irene getting her act together now...pressure low, sat presentation looking formidable and slowed down dramatically. Is the slowdown to 9mph indicative of the turn starting?
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Quoting zparkie:
The NHC is relying on the burmuda high to stay put and pull it east, but a local met here said that it could possibly move a little to the west and keep the storm on a WNW track and take it very close to florida because its not moving fast enough and time is of the essence.

She will come closer to Florida than NHC thinks. She is going to come very close.
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Wait? Whoa! 969? Joke?
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


elaborate please...i was off for a few and the blog is flying so dont want to scroll back as i will never catch up lol


just commenting on some deep philosophizing read
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Quoting DerOrkanWachter:
I like to keep things centered and symmetrical my particular philosophical system makes it imperative in order to approach ontological and metaphysical issues properly and inappropriately. I know it is natural as humans to sometimes get lost in the course of discussing an issue because the average human mind lacks the ability to focus for a prolonged duration of time. But having a prolonged duration to focus yourself on a certain topic will allow us all to become up with more sensible and structured speculations to the topic that is at hand. Being patient with a particular topic is the best way to come to understand it at a new and deeper level. I apologize though for trying to straighten out the general human condition of not being able to focus on the task at hand.


tl;dr
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big storms moving into sarasota, sustained winds at 30,gusting over 45img src="2011 08 23 19 15 07 364">
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


elaborate please...i was off for a few and the blog is flying so dont want to scroll back as i will never catch up lol


Pressure at 969mb.
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Quoting TX2FL:
Until the drought is broken in the midsection of the US will any other storms be out to sea or far away a-la 2010, or is the US still at risk for hits?




fishcaster POOF
Member Since: 21 mai 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437
Quoting Orcasystems:


Sorry.. just a pet peeve of mine.
I do like to consider everyone equally.
I guess because most user on here are from the U.S,and their interested in seeing what's gonna happen to their country even though it's quite shelfish.
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The NHC is relying on the burmuda high to stay put and pull it east, but a local met here said that it could possibly move a little to the west and keep the storm on a WNW track and take it very close to florida because its not moving fast enough and time is of the essence.
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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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