Aug 23, 2011

DAY 83

The 9th time was the charm in the Atlantic. Irene became our first hurricane of the season this morning at about 5am eastern. She did so as she was making landfall in Puerto Rico. So technically the streak is over. It had been 1,072 days since the last landfalling hurricane in the US. And with Puerto Rico being a territory of the US, you could say that the streak has come to an end. The streak for the 'lower 48' will likely come to an end this weekend as Irene is forecast to make landfall along the Carolina coast.

(Hurricane Irene)

Irene left behind some damage in Puerto Rico as well as St. Croix and the Virgin Islands. The National Meteorological Service this afternoon was reporting 10 inches of rain in Naguabo and 7 inches in the island municipality of Vieques. out of Puerto Rico reported homes flooded, powerlines down, roads washed away by landslides, and about 800,000 Electric Power Authority customers without power. And it has continued to rain there all day since that report.

(Damage in Puerto Rico Courtesty
Hurricane Irene is growing bigger and growing stronger tonight. It is forecast to become a major hurricane at some point tomorrow. But tonight as of the 11pm advisory, Irene had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and a pressure 980 mb. The Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas are next to encounter Irene over the next 48 hours.

Where Irene might head after Wednesday night is still up for debate. Will she make a northward move towards the Carolina coastline or will she continue on her current heading and scrape right up against the Florida coast? The official forecast track from the Hurricane Center has been the most accurate tool over the past few years, and it is targeting the Carolina's on Saturday night. But please note that most of Florida does still remain in the cone of uncertainty. 

Some of our most reliable computer forecast models are still in some degree of disagreement tonight, which worries me and should worry anyone on the east coast.  The GFDL has moved slightly to the east throughout the day. And the HWRF just moved quite a bit to the west with this latest run. They are all in agreement with the next 48 hours, but after that, they are all over the board.

All of the models are forecasting a strong Sub-Tropical Ridge, or else they would be sending Irene out to sea. Even this sea-level pressure model from the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch shows a very strong ridge remaining in place, guiding Irene on more of a Savannah, Georgia track. One thing that the models do agree on is the intensity. They all agree that Irene will become a major hurricane.

Invest 98L is still out there, by the way. It is still not forecast to become a tropical cyclone.

(Invest 98L)

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