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 Melagoo:
Wow Taz you have the record here!

Posts: 5084 Comments: 105046


During hurricane season, the quantity of comments is often inversely correlated to the quality of comments.
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She looks the same as last night before Hispaniola disrupted her. This time, there isn't much in her way.

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2km Storm Relative IR Imagery with BD Enhancement Curve


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I think we might be in for a few surprised with this storm. It evidently is strengthening as of now but still it is weaker than expected. It will have to be making its northward turn relatively soon or else it will track further west than expected. I am expecting that the models will only shift west if the storm itself starts doing so. I still don't trust the models and think they have been shifting so radically that it is hard for me to say there has been enough consistency to feel safe about their predictions. I mean it seems like there is some general consensus in the models I just think they are a bit too far to the east and recurve it too sharply.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
This Hurricane is much further west than it was forecast to be yesterday and at a lower latitude , yep it will probably end up on the East coast, but when does it make that turn?



when or if it dos it will be vary tight one at that
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Quoting Levi32:


I'm unsure what you mean. Obviously the storm starts to steadily weaken if the eye is onshore by any margin.
Someone lives 30 miles Inland from the GOM. The next person lives 60 away. The next a 100. I know the TC looses strength, by the time it gets to each point. Do you know what the strength would be at those points, with a hurricane?
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Wow... Irene surely had gotten stronger. Bad news for Bahamas as Irene is about to explode later tonight.
Member Since: 1 août 2011 Posts: 23 Comments: 7467
Clearing back out soon IMO

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This Hurricane is much further west than it was forecast to be yesterday and at a lower latitude , yep it will probably end up on the East coast, but when does it make that turn?
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:


near Guam


Quite a soup in the West Pacific... A lot of activity relatively close to each other

Link
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



If Irene takes the left side of the cone we would have a completely different night.


Yeah TS force gust in squall lines.
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:


near Guam
Hey, HGW. That's the depression u were showing last night?
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Quoting ecflweatherfan:


NWS Melbourne just issued one for my area. They are saying generally the same thing. They did say that wind gusts to Tropical Storm force can be expected along the coastline of central FL, regardless of whether we get sustained TS force or not. In other words, the Severe Thunderstorm Warning that I had today was probably worse than what Irene would give us.



If Irene takes the left side of the cone we would have a completely different night.
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Quoting DerOrkanWachter:
On a more serious note I feel like this discussion has been distracted by frivilous issues(Muppets) when we should be discussing about the hurricane. I am sure Dr. Jeff Masters would appreciate it if we kept our minds attended to the certain nature of his blog. We should try to avoid any de-railings at all cost.


It was the 200th anniversary of NOAA, ya bonehead. They're flying right now. If that ain't on topic, I don't know what is.

BLEEEAAAHHH.
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Quoting sunlinepr:


This is devastation:



EVERYTHING THAT WAS STANDING UP FELL DOWN!!!

Good Lord.
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The Frebreeze took a beating
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18Z HWRF
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


RI?
It was flaged so maybe.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
It's only a matter of time before the winds respond to these low pressures.


Yup...sometime tonight is my best guess.
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FunkTop Image

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Quoting MrMixon:
The First Photo Of The DC Earthquake Devastation:


This is real devastation:

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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


RI?


No.
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It's only a matter of time before the winds respond to these low pressures.
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Quoting Levi32:


It would be weakening steadily, but yes.


Thanks Levi!
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I think it is pretty clear the storm is strengthening right now..May see it back up again at 8PM depending on what recon finds in the next 45-60 minutes.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I see. However, the -PDO seems to favor more East Coast/Southeast coast landfalls. The heights seem to still be pretty high in the Central States on the map you posted.

I probably should have emphasized Gulf of Mexico being less prone to strikes.


That could be true. I have not researched the regional trend there, but that would make sense, because Texas does have more droughts during negative PDOs (was very dry in the 1950s too), and we are seeing what the drought is doing to the hurricane season this year. However, the overall trend is for more overall U.S. landfalls during a negative PDO.
Member Since: 24 novembre 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



Marine only, just FYI.

HURRICANE IRENE LOCAL STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
559 PM EDT TUE AUG 23 2011

...TROPICAL STORM WATCHES NOW IN EFFECT FOR THE ATLANTIC WATERS
OFF SOUTHEAST FLORIDA. THERE IS NO WATCH IN EFFECT FOR LAND AREAS
ACROSS SOUTH FLORIDA...


NWS Melbourne just issued one for my area. They are saying generally the same thing. They did say that wind gusts to Tropical Storm force can be expected along the coastline of central FL, regardless of whether we get sustained TS force or not. In other words, the Severe Thunderstorm Warning that I had today was probably worse than what Irene would give us.
Member Since: 19 Mars 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1146
Em...

Time: 22:41:00Z
Coordinates: 21.0667N 71.8333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 754.3 mb (~ 22.27 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,218 meters (~ 7,277 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 969.3 mb (~ 28.62 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 14° at 23 knots (From the NNE at ~ 26.4 mph)
Air Temp: 19.3°C (~ 66.7°F)
Dew Pt: 15.3°C (~ 59.5°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 25 knots (~ 28.7 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: -
SFMR Rain Rate: -
(*) Denotes suspect data

That isn't even quite the centre yet.
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so from 976 too 969 ouch


whats see what else they find
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Space Station just passed of Irene, when they passed it, it almost looked like Irene had an eye.
Link
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I'm wondering if power is out in the TCI's.. None of the PWS's have updated in about a half an hour..

EDIT: Ok, nm, a couple just updated...


NE @ 20 Gusting to 60 Pressure 29.48
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It will be interesting to see if the recon extrapolated pressure continues to be significantly lower than the dropsonde, which has been the case since yesterday, and the dropsondes have been finding pressures over 5mb higher than the extrapolations.
Member Since: 24 novembre 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
213. bwat
Quoting KennyNebraska:
Oz just updated his FB page. I have to hand it to him. He is one determined fellow. LOL!

"UPDATE: Back to Buxton? Oh wow...been there done that last year with Hurricane Earl. I reserved a room at the hotel I stayed at last time. They have the highest property on Cape Hatteras. As we saw last year, that island floods pretty bad, and Earl's impact was no more than a tropical storm! Imagine a Cat 3 passing overhead! I am fairly certain when I land in Tampa, I am going to haul ass to the Outer Banks...a 16 hour drive. That would put me in Buxton on Friday afternoon. We'll "sea!" LOL!"
I will admit it was "entertaining" to watch him stream last year. Get to hear him mispronounce Chicamacomico about 100 times again.
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the noaa recone this found


969.3 mb
(~ 28.62 inHg
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Quoting Levi32:


Oh no. Negative PDO is very favorable for U.S. landfalls, certainly more so than a positive PDO. The positive phase leads to persistent troughing over the eastern U.S., while the negative phase promotes blocking up over southeast Canada. Now an inverted trough of anomalies exists over the southeast U.S. during the hurricane season with a negative PDO, and that illustrates the path that storms would like to take, and do take. Why do you think the 1950s nearly destroyed the Carolinas?



I see. However, the -PDO seems to favor more East Coast/Southeast coast landfalls. The heights seem to still be pretty high in the Central States on the map you posted.

I probably should have emphasized Gulf of Mexico being less prone to strikes.
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Seems like the blog really slowed down since FL was moved out of the cone lol.
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Quoting scott39:
Levi, Do you know how much power a hurricane looses if its going all the way Inland? ex:10 miles 20 miles ect...? TIA


I'm unsure what you mean. Obviously the storm starts to steadily weaken if the eye is onshore by any margin.
Member Since: 24 novembre 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Time: 22:41:00Z
Coordinates: 21.0667N 71.8333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 754.3 mb (~ 22.27 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 2,218 meters (~ 7,277 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 969.3 mb (~ 28.62 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 14° at 23 knots (From the NNE at ~ 26.4 mph)
Air Temp: 19.3°C (~ 66.7°F)
Dew Pt: 15.3°C (~ 59.5°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 25 knots (~ 28.7 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: -
SFMR Rain Rate: -
(*) Denotes suspect data
--
ummmm
Member Since: 6 septembre 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5695
Estimated pressure of 969mb:


000
URNT15 KWBC 232241
NOAA2 1009A IRENE HDOB 17 20110823
223130 2120N 07227W 7521 02439 9949 148 126 035060 061 048 006 00
223200 2119N 07225W 7520 02436 9940 152 124 033059 059 049 007 00
223230 2118N 07223W 7521 02431 9935 152 127 029058 058 048 007 00
223300 2117N 07221W 7521 02424 9930 149 130 026056 056 048 007 00
223330 2116N 07219W 7519 02424 9927 148 127 023054 055 051 012 00
223400 2115N 07217W 7521 02415 9917 152 136 023054 056 053 018 00
223430 2114N 07215W 7522 02409 9911 152 136 014052 054 058 024 00
223500 2113N 07213W 7529 02398 9914 143 140 013063 071 061 029 00
223530 2112N 07211W 7517 02401 9908 133 //// 028075 081 064 017 01
223600 2111N 07210W 7520 02382 9887 142 //// 034063 068 063 008 01
223630 2110N 07208W 7517 02376 9870 146 //// 034068 072 064 008 01
223700 2109N 07206W 7555 02319 9853 150 //// 030065 070 065 009 01
223730 2108N 07204W 7543 02317 9832 156 160 028060 060 065 007 00
223800 2107N 07202W 7545 02301 9810 161 //// 021058 060 067 009 01
223830 2106N 07201W 7550 02279 9783 172 167 006061 064 068 005 00
223900 2105N 07158W 7543 02270 9760 177 165 008064 064 063 005 03
223930 2104N 07156W 7544 02252 9736 185 163 012056 059 054 002 03
224000 2104N 07154W 7544 02237 9712 194 158 015042 049 046 002 00
224030 2104N 07152W 7543 02224 9697 196 156 017028 031 037 001 00
224100 2104N 07150W 7543 02218 9693 193 153 014023 025 /// /// 03
Member Since: 24 novembre 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
969.3 mb
(~ 28.62 inHg)
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203. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


near Guam
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Levi, Do you know how much power a hurricane looses if its going all the way Inland? ex:10 miles 20 miles ect...? TIA
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Oz just updated his FB page. I have to hand it to him. He is one determined fellow. LOL!

"UPDATE: Back to Buxton? Oh wow...been there done that last year with Hurricane Earl. I reserved a room at the hotel I stayed at last time. They have the highest property on Cape Hatteras. As we saw last year, that island floods pretty bad, and Earl's impact was no more than a tropical storm! Imagine a Cat 3 passing overhead! I am fairly certain when I land in Tampa, I am going to haul ass to the Outer Banks...a 16 hour drive. That would put me in Buxton on Friday afternoon. We'll "sea!" LOL!"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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About JeffMasters

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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