Hurricane Irene Update (1800 UTC 8/22/2011)

Figure 1. IR satellite image of Caribbean and location of Hurricane Irene that will pass just north of Hispaniola.

Hurricane Irene will pass just north of Hispaniola, which means more open water for Irene to intensify.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Irene becomes a major hurricane ( at least Category 3) in the next 24-48 hours, though some weakening is expected with any landfall with the Bahamas.  This, in turn, means that Florida is looking more and more in the clear (that is, not getting hit directly), but I’m not confident enough to say that it won’t make landfall there, just yet.  Consensus forecast models, as well as statistical and dynamical models are agreeing that the mid-level ridge will weaken enough for Irene to move on a more easterly track than previous model runs, and will turn Irene in a northwesterly direction.  This means that the GA/SC/NC/VA coastlines really need to be monitoring this storm very closely!  At this point, exact location of landfall doesn’t really matter.  What matters is if you live on or near these coasts that I listed above (even on the FL and entire east coastlines), start preparing now!  This storm has the potential to be deadly, wherever it makes landfall.

Here is the latest from NHC as of 2:00pm AST (1800 UTC) on Hurricane Irene:

LOCATION...19.3N 68.1W
ABOUT 150 MI...240 KM WNW OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
ABOUT 50 MI...80 KM NNE OF PUNTA CANA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...80 MPH(Category 1)...130 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 290 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...989 MB...29.20 INCHES

Figure 2. NHC's 5-day forecast track of Hurricane Irene. They have Irene making landfall as a major hurricane (at least Category 3).

*****NOTE: Categories 3-5 are considered “major hurricanes”******

Figure 3. Saffir-Simpson Scale of hurricane classification.

About Brian

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