Irene continues to weaken

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 20:46 GMT le 26 août 2011

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Satellite data and measurements from the Hurricane Hunters show that Irene continues to weaken. A 1:32 pm EDT center fix by an Air Force Reserve aircraft found that Irene's eyewall is still gone, and the central pressure had risen to 951 mb from a low of 942 mb this morning. The winds measured in Irene near the surface support classifying it as a strong Category 1 hurricane or weak Category 2. Satellite imagery shows a distinctly lopsided appearance to Irene's cloud pattern, with not much heavy thunderstorm activity on the southwest side. This is due to moderate southwesterly wind shear of 10 - 20 knots. This shear is disrupting Irene's circulation and has cut off upper-level outflow along the south side of the hurricane. No eye is visible in satellite loops, but the storm's size is certainly impressive. Long range radar out of Wilmington, North Carolina, shows that the outermost spiral bands from Irene have moved ashore over North Carolina. Winds at buoy 41004 100 miles offshore from Charleston, SC increased to 47 mph, gusting to 60 mph at 3 pm EDT, with significant wave heights of 25 feet.


Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Irene taken at 11:50 am EDT Friday August 26, when Irene was a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds. The eyewall collapsed several hours before this image was taken, and no eye is apparent. Image credit: a href=http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/ NASA.


Figure 2. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 3:30 pm EDT Friday August 26, 2011, as observed by the Hurricane Hunters and buoys. The right front quadrant of the hurricane had about 90% of the storm's hurricane-force winds (yellow and warmer colors, bounded by the heavy black line between the "50" and "60" knot thin black lines.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 290 miles from the center of Irene. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Forecast for Irene
With its eyewall collapsed and just 18 more hours over water before landfall, Irene does not have time to build a new eyewall and intensify. The storm is too large to weaken quickly, and the best forecast is that Irene will be a strong Category 1 hurricane at landfall in North Carolina on Saturday. Based on the latest wind analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 2) and Irene's continued weakening trend, I predict that the 80-mile section of North Carolina coast to the right of where Irene makes landfall will receive sustained hurricane-force winds of 75 - 85 mph on Saturday at landfall; the 80-mile section of coast to the left will receive 55 - 75 mph winds. High wind shear of 30 knots will begin ripping into Irene Sunday morning when it is near Southern New Jersey, and more rapid weakening will occur. By the time Irene arrives on Long Island Sunday afternoon, it will probably have top sustained winds in the 65 - 75 mph range. However, since Irene is such a huge storm--tropical storm force winds extend out up to 290 miles from the center--it has set a massive amount of the ocean's surface in motion, which will cause a much larger storm surge than the winds would suggest. At 3:30 pm EDT this afternoon, a wind analysis from NOAA/HRD (Figure 2) indicated that the potential storm surge damage from Irene still rated a 5.0 on a scale of 0 to 6. This is equivalent to the storm surge a typical Category 4 hurricane would have. While this damage potential should steadily decline as Irene moves northwards and weakens, we can still expect a storm surge one full Saffir-Simpson Category higher than Irene's winds when it impacts the coast. Since tides are at their highest levels of the month this weekend due to the new moon, storm surge flooding will be at a maximum during the high tidal cycles that will occur at 8 pm Saturday night and 8 am Sunday morning. Wherever Irene happens to be at those times, the storm surge damage potential will be maximized. I continue to give a 20% chance that a 3 - 4 foot storm surge high enough to over-top the Manhattan flood walls and swamp the New York City subway system will occur on Sunday. The latest 11 am probabilistic storm surge map from NHC shows a 20 - 30% chance of a storm surge in excess of 3 feet in New York Harbor (Figure 4.) Keep in mind that these maps are calculated for normal tide level, and this weekend's high tides will be nearly 1 foot above normal.

Insurance company AIR-Worldwide is estimating that insured damages from Irene in the U.S. will be $1.5 - $6 billion. They estimate losses in the Caribbean at $0.5 - $1.1 billion from Irene.


Figure 3. Storm surge heights, in feet above normal tide level, which have a 20 percent chance of being exceeded during the next 3 days.  The graphic is based upon an ensemble of Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model runs using the current National Hurricane Center (NHC) official hurricane advisory. The exceedance heights depend on the historical accuracy of NHCs forecasts of hurricane track, and wind speed, and an estimate of storm size. Image credit: NOAA.


Figure 4. Overall chance that storm surges will be greater than 3 feet above normal tide levels during the next 3 days.  The graphic is based upon an ensemble of Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model runs using the current National Hurricane Center (NHC) official hurricane advisory.  Storm surge probabilities depend on the historical accuracy of NHCs forecasts of hurricane track, and wind speed, and an estimate of storm size. Image credit: NOAA.

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

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

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Wunderblogger Mike Theiss is in Nassau, documenting the storm's impact on the Bahamas.

Internet radio show on Irene at 4:30pm EDT
Wunderground meteorologists will be discussing Hurricane Irene on a special edition of our Internet radio show, the Daily Downpour, today (Friday) at 4:30pm EDT. Shaun Tanner , Tim Roche, Angela Fritz, and Rob Carver will take your questions. The email address to ask questions is broadcast@wunderground.com.

Jeff Masters

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For those who are oohing and aahing over the massive waves at the Topsail Pier, consider this: from tomorrow evening through Sunday night, similar waves will be atop a storm surge and battering billions of dollars in beachfront property from Maryland to Providence.

By way of comparison, here are a few links:

Topsail Beach

Seaside Heights, NJ
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1251. K8eCane

Quoting CothranRoss:
Hey guys, I'm in ILM and somehow i still have power. probably won't after that next band though.
I still have power too but its been flickering....getting ready to shut the computer down
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Quoting cindyker:


You need to build your beach home like, Dome of a Home. This picture is after Ivan ran over it.


Or better yet, how about people don't build houses on beaches to begin with...it's idiocy.

Hopefully tax money (FEMA and insurance subsidies) don't pay for building houses on stilts on beaches.
Member Since: 5 août 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 290
Quoting Levi32:
Here's another cam. I have no idea where it is though.


Morehead City, NC...In the OBX.
Member Since: 6 juillet 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32080
Quoting dogsgomoo:
Thank you for your answers. You all are awesome.

I'm unsure of how to stress to them that they should leave because they are confident that everything will be fine. They have lived there all their lives. Their parents and grand parents as well.

They seem very confident that the 3 story house they are in will withstand because they are on the Bay side and not the Ocean side. Having seen it, I think it will as well, but...

I've lost the link to the surge reports for Irene and I'd like to post it on their face book page as a last ditch effort to get them facts. Does anyone have that handy?


Bays usually are higher than the ocean side, because water funnels into those. In Kemah during hurricane Ike, homes, businesses were wiped out and they are over 20 miles away from the ocean
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Quoting PensacolaBuoy:
Is that from The Day After Tomorrow?
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Quoting tiggeriffic:
Charleston, SC battery at high tide...look close, you can see the water level on the right is actually higher than the road on the left...no camera tricks people...it really was...by at least 2 feet if not more.


Hi Tig-- do you have that link?
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Quoting Levi32:


She might be trying to fill in the dry slot northwest of the eye a little bit, but it looks like too little too late for a Cat 3. My prediction of 115mph will end up a bit high, but Irene, from all appearances and recon data, is holding steady near the 950mb mark, which normally is characteristic of a strong Cat 3. There is no solid SFMR support for Cat 2 winds at the surface, but the stronger flight-level winds of 80-90kts could easily start mixing down to the surface due to turbulent mixing as the core moves close to the outer banks of North Carolina.
just a quick question i wanted to ask but now ssts in the nino 3.4 reigon are -0.7C consistent with a weak la nina although currently we are enso neutral. do you see la nina reforming once again and for how much longer do you think enso neutral conditions last?
Member Since: 23 août 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1724
1244. ncstorm
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I've seen several strikes over the past 30 minutes.


that aint good at all..I understood it that the hurricane was getting stronger when you see lightening..
Member Since: 19 août 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15317
Quoting JamesSA:
I think the pier will survive. The winds should be shifting around offshore now as the storm moves North and should start to diminish soon. It sure is taking a beating though!


The webcam is located at Topsail Island. To give a perspective, the eye of the storm won't be north of the system until it comes close to making landfall in the OBX.
Member Since: 6 juillet 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32080
Quoting PcolaDan:


Okay, I'm going to be blunt about this. Surge is NOT just a gradual rise in water level, like filling your bath tub. It's more like many small tsunamis, a lot of power with each surge of water that push ashore. These people are on an island. Unless they have a raised building that can withstand the constant pounding they have a good chance of ending up DEAD!

If it never happens, so much the better. But IMO it is stupid to take that kind of chance.


You need to build your beach home like, Dome of a Home. This picture is after Ivan ran over it.
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1241. Dennis8
Quoting zoomiami:


I had forgotten about that -- it made it impossible for some people to evacuate didn't it?

We were talking today about flooding we had in Miami, by the beaches a few years back. No storm, just the onshore winds that blew for a few days, pushed the water up.

Bottoms of buildings were flooded, parking garages, streets etc. It might have been during one of the high tide events that they are having this weekend. A few feet of water doesn't seem like much, but it sure can cause trouble.


Yes..It was NOT expected to rise so fast..some of my family members rode in helicopters off Bolivar to safety on Friday afternoon HOURS before the storm....This Irene has a TS wind field larger than IKE and water can be moved up in a hurry and this thing is moving water up the east coast already more than we know.
Member Since: 15 août 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 446
1240. Levi32
Here's another cam. I have no idea where it is though.
Member Since: 24 novembre 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting atmosweather:


Great point to consider about the length of time spent enduring strong TS or Category 1 winds. Many older and vulnerable structures cannot withstand even these winds for any length of time. As any of us that rode out Hurricane Frances will tell these folks...18-24 hours of constant battering by 50+ mph winds takes its toll in a big way.


Was just trying to figure the time they will be under those conditions. If the eye is still approximately 10 hours away & the winds are already sustained at 45-50 miles, then by time the hurricane has pulled away, they will have had almost 20 hours of the winds and the rains.

That is going to add up to bad news for a lot of places.
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1238. Patrap
Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128348
1237. JamesSA
I think the pier will survive. The winds should be shifting around offshore now as the storm moves North and should start to diminish soon. It sure is taking a beating though!
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Quoting hahaguy:


Still showing they are on on my video



yes they came back on
Member Since: 21 mai 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115131
1235. jdjnola
Quoting njdevil:


That's ridiculous. Miami would be a pile of rubble 50 times over otherwise.


Miami building code is much more stringent than NY building code in this area, particularly concerning wind-borne debris typically caused by hurricanes.
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The front will save them..Out to sea....After a brush with N.C.....
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Charleston, SC battery at high tide...look close, you can see the water level on the right is actually higher than the road on the left...no camera tricks people...it really was...by at least 2 feet if not more.
Member Since: 16 septembre 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
Quoting ncstorm:
Someone reporting Lightening on a community facebook page that lives in Castle Hayne..isnt that a sign of strengthening?


I've seen several strikes over the past 30 minutes.
Member Since: 6 juillet 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32080
1231. Patrap
Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128348
i think that wave this took out that pire on topsail Islnad
Member Since: 21 mai 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115131
Do any of you have apps for you iphone or adroid phone that give you radar etc... because i found a great radar app its called radarscope it give you every possible radar out there i like it but it is a little over priced at 9.99 but i think its what reed timmer uses im not sure though.
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Okay, I'm going to be blunt about this. Surge is NOT just a gradual rise in water level, like filling your bath tub. It's more like many small tsunamis, a lot of power with each surge of water that push ashore. These people are on an island. Unless they have a raised building that can withstand the constant pounding they have a good chance of ending up DEAD!

If it never happens, so much the better. But IMO it is stupid to take that kind of chance.


So true. I remember what happened to the bridges during Ivan...
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Quoting rv1pop:
I was a facilities manager at a high rise. The windows and structure (walls) are rated for a specific wind speed for either 0.1 or 0.2 hours. That is 6 to 12 minutes. Our 1 inch glass was rated at 110 MPH for 0.1 hour, then it was supposed to crumble so no one below was hit with large shards. A hurricane lasts longer than 6 minutes. Tornadoes, usually not. The windows, by the way, are part of the shear stability of the walls. When the windows go the walls have almost NO structure. Picture a 60 story building with the windows blown out at floor 35. Twenty-five stories probably are coming down on top of the others, then the rest come down - remember the towers.

1) Windows have nothing to do with any highrises intergety.
2) the Towers had damage alot deeper than windows, and to compare them to buildings that have a few blownout windows is insane.
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


i know for charleston, it was astronomical...morning high was 8 steps higher on the beach access than normal and tonight...the water at the battery wall was higher than the street...if the wall wasnt there...ugh...


So, the Battery Carriage House and neighbors are safe? Hstoric Charleston and Savannah are my favorite towns.
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1225. ncstorm
Someone reporting Lightening on a community facebook page that lives in Castle Hayne..isnt that a sign of strengthening?
Member Since: 19 août 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15317
1224. Remek
Quoting violet312s:


An hour tops...if not gone already. HUGE waves hitting it


The waves are getting closer as the water rises - that cam may get submerged before the pier does! :D
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Thank you for your answers. You all are awesome.

I'm unsure of how to stress to them that they should leave because they are confident that everything will be fine. They have lived there all their lives. Their parents and grand parents as well.

They seem very confident that the 3 story house they are in will withstand because they are on the Bay side and not the Ocean side. Having seen it, I think it will as well, but...

I've lost the link to the surge reports for Irene and I'd like to post it on their face book page as a last ditch effort to get them facts. Does anyone have that handy?
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


I hope that the core does not get any larger and the storm restrengthens. It appears that the shrinking of the wet core may be helping the storm reorganize, looking at the satellite pictures. The dry air has wrapped completely around the main core, cutting it off from the rain bands. At the same time it has acted to shrink the storm, lessening it's land interaction. Due to less interaction the center has developed new hot towers and is developing a new eyewall, which is not good news for the Carolinas. Therefore IMO the dry air is actually helping the storm right now.


This is certainly possible. In fact if you look at the shape of the "ministorm within a storm" at different times, you see a much more organized core right now. Below are snapshots of 9:45pm (at the top) and 6:15pm (at the bottom).

The more recent shot has a classic hurricane "S" shape, indicating at least that it is more organized, if not stronger at this point.

A good analogy is a house plant that is diseased or overgrown ... you prune off the top (which is what has happened to Irene in the images) and then the remaining part will sprout fresh leaves and end up stronger.

OK, here are the images:

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just shows you dont need a major to cause lots of damage. she will be one to remember this season and who knows, we might have more hurricanes affect the US and Irene is just only 1 of them....
Member Since: 23 août 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1724
Quoting Levi32:
The swath of dry air between the inner and outer rain bands might be filling in a little bit on radar, but it is probably too little too late for Irene to strengthen much. However, she is in a steady state, and her central pressure is characteristic of a strong Category 3 hurricane. This speaks to how much water is being pushed by the storm and how large the circulation is. Prolonged exposure to Cat 1 winds can be just as bad as short-term exposure to winds of a category stronger.



Great point to consider about the length of time spent enduring strong TS or Category 1 winds. Many older and vulnerable structures cannot withstand even these winds for any length of time. As any of us that rode out Hurricane Frances will tell these folks...18-24 hours of constant battering by 50+ mph winds takes its toll in a big way.
Member Since: 24 septembre 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
1219. Dennis8

Gloucester, NC aka CAPE LOOKOUT
21:53 77.0 °F - 77.0 °F 29.49in ENE 45.0mph 55.0mph 100%
Member Since: 15 août 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 446
1218. hahaguy
Quoting Tazmanian:
the lights this went off at topsail island


Still showing they are on on my video
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Interesting to note that wunderground shows the danger for places like Wilmington, NC and Duck, NC as a Typhoon, not a Hurricane...or are those cities supposed to be blown into the Pacific Ocean?
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the lights this went off at topsail island
Member Since: 21 mai 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115131
1215. virga1
I wish all you experienced people would consider writing a line under the radar and map type images you post saying what is interesting about it and why you put it up. New people like me can only guess. Just trying to learn! TIA
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1214. hahaguy
.
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1213. Levi32
Quoting violet312s:


Here:

Link


Thank you very much.
Member Since: 24 novembre 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Sorry I was gone - lost power literally. Its back on now.


Welcome back, how are things in your place?
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Evening guys. I'm looking to see if any of you can post updated probable rainfall totals. Family in DC, NJ and NY area could use some info. TIA
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Quoting Dennis8:


Just like Ike.. we woke up Friday morning 6am with water topping Galveston seawall and the eye was 18 hours away...2:10 am Saturday!


I had forgotten about that -- it made it impossible for some people to evacuate didn't it?

We were talking today about flooding we had in Miami, by the beaches a few years back. No storm, just the onshore winds that blew for a few days, pushed the water up.

Bottoms of buildings were flooded, parking garages, streets etc. It might have been during one of the high tide events that they are having this weekend. A few feet of water doesn't seem like much, but it sure can cause trouble.
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Quoting dogsgomoo:
This is a question for anyone that might be able to give a reasonable opinion.

I have some acquaintances living just a bit north of Seaside Heights New Jersey. I've visited them recently and even at regular tide the streets flooded so I've taken a look at the surge predictions for that area. They look high but these people say that they have seen those exact predictions before and all that happened was some decent winds, some street flooding, and the power went out. There will be a voluntary evac and curfew only. Once you're off the island you don't get back on. So they are staying. At least they are prepared with supplies for a week to ten days.

Now that Irene is weaker do you think that this is a reasonable decision on their part? I'm worried but it's hard for me to understand how the surge is really going to go.


Okay, I'm going to be blunt about this. Surge is NOT just a gradual rise in water level, like filling your bath tub. It's more like many small tsunamis, a lot of power with each surge of water that push ashore. These people are on an island. Unless they have a raised building that can withstand the constant pounding they have a good chance of ending up DEAD!

If it never happens, so much the better. But IMO it is stupid to take that kind of chance.
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1207. Levi32
Quoting 900MB:
Hey Levi and crew-
What are the odds that this landfalls as a major? I am putting it at 30%.

Wish that hurricane hunter would get back to the center, I think we are at 947 or 948 with a good accurate drop.

Presentation looks better, and notice the SW side, actual outflow! Looks like the SW shear is dying down.


She might be trying to fill in the dry slot northwest of the eye a little bit, but it looks like too little too late for a Cat 3. My prediction of 115mph will end up a bit high, but Irene, from all appearances and recon data, is holding steady near the 950mb mark, which normally is characteristic of a strong Cat 3. There is no solid SFMR support for Cat 2 winds at the surface, but the stronger flight-level winds of 80-90kts could easily start mixing down to the surface due to turbulent mixing as the core moves close to the outer banks of North Carolina.
Member Since: 24 novembre 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1206. njdevil
Quoting rv1pop:
I was a facilities manager at a high rise. The windows and structure (walls) are rated for a specific wind speed for either 0.1 or 0.2 hours. That is 6 to 12 minutes. Our 1 inch glass was rated at 110 MPH for 0.1 hour, then it was supposed to crumble so no one below was hit with large shards. A hurricane lasts longer than 6 minutes. Tornadoes, usually not. The windows, by the way, are part of the shear stability of the walls. When the windows go the walls have almost NO structure. Picture a 60 story building with the windows blown out at floor 35. Twenty-five stories probably are coming down - remember the towers.


That's ridiculous. Miami would be a pile of rubble 50 times over otherwise.
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1205. jdjnola
Quoting MelbourneTom:
It has been E of forecast for a couple of hours now. this is good for the populated areas of NC.



In addition even though it is trying to intensify a bit now the dry air earlier prevented intensification that was expected.


But not so good for the prospects of weakening by land interaction.
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Quoting MelbourneTom:
It has been E of forecast for a couple of hours now. this is good for the populated areas of NC.



In addition even though it is trying to intensify a bit now the dry air earlier prevented intensification that was expected.

You know, that worries me though. If the core can stay over water, it may not degrade as fast. I don't know if it matters, as it's so dang huge that it's going to push half the Atlantic ahead of it anyway, but it's still got to be concerning.
Member Since: 28 août 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 153
The C-MAN station at Cape Lookout is now receiving sustained winds of tropical storm force...conditions near the Outer Banks are going downhill fast now.
Member Since: 24 septembre 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:
What's ironic about the complaints I've seen in these forums about the precautionary actions being taken in NYC is.... most of them probably don't even live in NYC, or the Northeast for that matter! A few of my friends in Manhattan have told me most of the people there aren't too upset about the evacuation orders and transit being shut down. It's an excuse to miss work and go party somewhere out of the evacuation zone, to most of them.


I've been advocating this whole time for people to take this storm seriously and I'm not even in a city that can get Tropical Storms let alone Hurricanes. Victoria British Columbia here.
Member Since: 16 octobre 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 544

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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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