Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday night Irene update

There are no major changes in thinking tonight about the future of Tropical Storm (and eventual hurricane) Irene.

The National Hurricane Center's five-day forecast calls for Irene to pass near or over Puerto Rico tonight, then cross the northern part of the island of Hispaniola, before taking aim at the Bahamas and eventually Florida.

The bottom line: Nearly every forecaster agrees that the Carolinas should pay close attention in coming days to Irene.

At 8 p.m., the center of Tropical Storm Irene was at 17.8 degrees north and 64.9 degrees west. That's about 10 miles northwest of St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and 90 miles east-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Irene's top sustained winds were 60 mph, and the storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane Monday before hitting the Dominican Republic, which occupies the eastern half of Hispaniola (Haiti is on the west).

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, with tropical storm warnings posted for the Virgin Islands, Haiti and a few islands east of Puerto Rico. Tropical storm warnings also are in effect for the Turks and Caicos islands and for the southern Bahamas, with a tropical storm watch posted for the central Bahamas.

The computer models on Sunday afternoon shifted the predicted path of the storm a bit east. Some of the models show it staying east of the Florida coast and then curving out to sea. One of the highest-regarded models, the European, shows a direct hit on the South Carolina coast (possibly as a strong hurricane).

The National Hurricane Center is sticking with its forecast of a Florida landfall Thursday, and then the storm is predicted to move northward through Florida, headed for Georgia and the Carolinas.

I'll repeat what I said this morning ... a lot depends on how much interaction Irene has with Hispaniola's mountains. If the storm passes directly over the island, it will be weakened considerably as it heads toward Florida or the Carolinas. If it stays north, then look out!

Another player in this situation is a trough (weakness in the atmosphere) predicted for the East Coast late in the week. If the trough deepens and pushes a cold front south of the Carolinas, it could force Irene out to sea. If the trough is not that deep, then the Carolinas are in play.

On Sunday evening, Irene is lashing the Virgin Islands.

I received this YouTube video a short time ago from some Concord residents who are in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. It gives you an idea of conditions there earlier this evening.

Very heavy rain is moving into Puerto Rico at 8 p.m. Sunday, and that island is in for a rough night.

Throughout the day, I've been monitoring messages from amateur meteorologists in Puerto Rico. About an hour ago, one of the more reliable weather watchers messaged that the winds are picking up and electricity is flickering on and off.

This could be a nerve-wracking week on the Southeast Coast.


Anonymous said...

Really interesting video! You forget about how the winds hit and then let up in a storm like that.

Anonymous said...

Well isn't this dandy? If it isn't a heat wave, it's hurricanes. Not to mention heavy rain and winds here this evening.

It's always something, isn't it?