Tropical Storm Irene Forms (8/20/2011)

A new tropical storm has developed about 190 miles east of Dominica.  Computer forecast models have been agreeing that this system would develop for many days now.  Tropical Storm Irene is currently moving westward at 22 mph and is set to enter the Caribbean tonight.

Mid-level ridging in the western and central Atlantic will direct Irene in west-northwest direction in a couple of days.  Exact track is still uncertain at this time and will depend on any weakness of the Atlantic ridge and a mid-latitude trough that will move through the eastern United States early to mid-week, next week.  ECMWF and GFS forecasting models have this storm trekking towards southern Florida and the east coast of Florida, while CMC and UKMET have a more southerly and westerly track into the extreme eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Intensity is also questionable at this time. Irene is forecast to make landfall with the Lesser Antilles, Hispaniola and Cuba over the next 3-5 days.  Due to high elevations, I believe it will be difficult for Irene to either achieve hurricane status or keep hurricane status, as it is possible that it will develop into a hurricane before coming into contact with Hispaniola.

Figure 1. 2315 UTC Infrared satellite image of tropical storm Irene.

Figure 2. National Hurricane Center's forecast track of Irene as of 7 pm EDT.

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About Brian

University of Oklahoma graduate with a degree in Meteorology. Follow me on Twitter: @WeatherInformer
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