Hurricane Irene Fights For Survival…Still An Impact for New England

By Meteorologist Joe Joyce

Hurricane Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout this morning bringing winds of 80 to 100 mph to the outer banks of North Carolina. Some gusts offshore have peaked over 110 mph. The storm continues to weaken with each update from the National Hurricane Center as it slowly drifts and spins inland across eastern NC. Further Weakening is likely but with a surface air pressure still at 953 mb…it is still a powerful storm with a large expansive wind field. This sort of air pressure is more typical of a category 2 hurricane.

The worst of the storm will occur from NC up through the mid-atlantic states. Moving NNE at 13 mph this will cross the outer banks and hug the coast all the way up through Long Island.  As an upper level trough picks Irene up, it will help to push her just enough east to remain just off the coast of New Jersey and barely maintain her Catergory 1 strength. We will have to watch the land interaction, dry air entrainment and increasing vertical wind shear, and cooler sea surface temps, as this should cause Irene to weaken as the storm approaches New England tomorrow..the potential is there for most of us to see just tropical storm conditions on Sunday…but must prepare for hurricane force gusts which could do damage.

Still, as the storm starts to accelerate in it’s approach towards Long Island tomorrow morning…the combination of the forward movement with a low level circualtion creating winds upto 75 mph…the potential is there for this storm to create hurricane force winds at the coastline for a brief time as the storm makes landfall sometime by the midday through the afternoon. With an expected track through western Long Island up through the CT valley and into Northern New England by late afternoon and evening..the storm will undergo a transition, become extratropical,, becoming cold core with an expanding wind field but still providing tropical storm force winds across the north country tomorrow night.

Details & Timing:

Rainfall:

A stalled front south of New England today. Clouds are advancing north today. The chance for a few scattered showers this afternoon and evening. Heavier rain will begin to track along this  front after midnight as it tracks back into New England as a warm front. Conditions will be quickly deteriorate by dawn tomorrow with rain becoming heavy in tropical downpours and tropical storm force winds developing at the south coast. Rain will start out heavy south but have a tendency to back further west during the day…allowing for lighter rains in eastern New England…1-4″..locally 5″ near Worcester…with the heaviest of the rain on the western side of the track …which should be the CT river valley where there will be a widespread 5-8″ rain fall with pockets of 10 further west.  This sort of heavy rain will give way to urban and river flooding west.

Wind:

As mentioned above, the accelerating movement of the storm with Weak cat 1 winds pushing onshore during the midday through the afternoon will make for a brief period of damaging winds especially for coastal locations in southeastern New England. Winds out of the SSE could briefly gust to 70 to 80 mph in these spots…but there will be a longer duration of tropical storm force winds over a large area on the eastern side of the track across the rest of the region with winds ranging from 30-60 mph which will make it feel like a really wet and windy nor’easter. Still these kind of winds will be strong enough to topple trees and the potential for scattered power outages..especiall for areas seeing the stronger wind gusts. Winds could be strong on the back side as Irene pulls away Sunday night with gusts out of the west at 40-50.

Surf and Surge:

Swells are already starting to arrive at the south coast. Seas should build along the south coast to 4-7 ft swells by the end of the day. By 8 AM tomorrow we enter our first astro high tide along the south coast. By that time, seas will range from 8- 12 feet. Conditions will become very rough through the afternoon as aseas build to 20-30 feet off the coast. Low tide will building seas and increasing onshore winds means the tide will not recede much. If anything, by the evening tide of 8 PM as the storm pulls away…This wind  and moon driven tide  pushing the water and rough surf right into  Buzzards Bay for an evening storm suge of 4-6 feet for most of Buzzards Bay…maybe a bit higher near the point of the Bay…depending upon how intense this storm is at landfall. The storm surge will have a damaging imapct of flooding for flood prone locations around the bay. Those of you who live along the eastern coast of MA…should escape with out much coast flooding…seas will be running high…there may be minor coastal flooding but nothing significant is expected. seas will quickly be subsiding into next week with the increasing sunshine and lightening winds.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Rob Rose says:

    Anyone have any suggestions about going to the Kenny Chesney show at Gilette tonite ? Starts at 5pm and ends around 11:30…am I gonna get soaked ? I really don’t feel like getting drenched….is this a likely scenario ? Or will the tropical downpours wait until AFTER that timeframe ? THanks for any input! I have been waiting for this show since last Winter !! This REALLY SUX! Will we enjoy ourselves or just be wading through water and puddles the whole time ?

    1. KWM-Hingham says:

      Rob. My guess (and its strictly an amateur’s viewpoint) is that showers will become more numerous as the day wears on. tonight will be bring bands of rain and showers that will get heavier as the night moves on. I would say you might be a little damp early in the evening but soaked by 11pm. IMHO.

    2. SH says:

      Wasn’t the Chesney show moved to last night?

      1. KWM-Hingham says:

        Heh LOL. You are right. Looks like Rob may be sitting there wet and all alone.

      2. melzzz says:

        He is playing two nights. They moved the Sunday show to Friday night

      3. KWM-Hingham says:

        My bad on the two show thing.

  2. KWM-Hingham says:

    Thanks Joe. As you said the storm might be weakening somewhat but central pressure is still quite low. Usually these storms start to pick up a lot forward motion at this point (40mph or better). Do you think that is going to happen with Irene or something in the order of 20-25mph forward motion more in order?

  3. leo says:

    this thing is going to be downgraded this afternoon to a tropical storm. it is moving almost due north right now over more land than previously forecasted. I truly believe it will be almost a non event when it comes this way.

  4. coach23 says:

    noticed that too. if you look at weather.com and the “cone”, it has moved a little to the west.

    1. KWM-Hingham says:

      I see that too. As recently as early this morning I thought this thing was going to curve a little more NE. NWS still has it moving NNE (about 15 degrees).

      1. KWM-Hingham says:

        In fact looking at the intellicast loop it almost looks like a little jog slightly west of north.

    2. KWM-Hingham says:

      Just looked at the national radar again (intellicast) and NC is getting soaked (as well as TS force winds). Irene seems to be just sitting over the Outer Banks ara.

  5. Matt Souza says:

    this storm is just going to be a nasty nor easter type storm. 30-70 mph is what we get all the time of here not 70 but 45 and 50 mph is common around here this thing is not a big deal for eastern new new england also the storm surge is not going to be as big .

    1. KWM-Hingham says:

      Agree with some of what you say but the long duration of this storm could cause flooding. Also the long duration of even gale force winds can cause some issues. Usually when these systems start heading up in to our latitude they are moving forward at 30-40mph. Irene is still plodding along at 15mph.

      However, As I and others noted in previous posts Irene seems to heading almost due north right now. If that holds then your prediction might even be a little excessive. Interesting situation either way.

    2. coach23 says:

      but when get nor’easters on the winter there are no leaves on the trees. t

      1. KWM-Hingham says:

        Very good point Coach. Just talked to a friend in CT (just sw of Hartford) and they have already had 2 inches of rain.

      2. Matt Souza says:

        coach it equalls out with the heivy snow and ice.

      3. coach23 says:

        not on the trees that are fully leafed out.

  6. Italo says:

    I agree that because these storms’ eventual landfalls and tracks can be unpredictable, and they are so huge and of longer duration, we should always err on the side of caution rather than not. No fooling around is acceptable when we’re talking about flooding, heavy rain, high wind, and storm surge effects. That said, this type of storm coming closer to us here in New England than many in a long time, has helped remind me of how frightening and unfamiliar it’d be if we ever did someday get socked with a high-Cat hurricane, and to be thankful for the fact that our sometimes impossible winters notwithstanding, it’s a price we pay for being spared the types of events like Andrew or Katrina that our southern warm-weather neighbors unfortunately get to experience more regularly than we do!

  7. Love Triple H says:

    Big fat bust. Like I said last night, any layman with half a brain could see that with as much land and coast line as the storm will have interacted with before it gets here, it would be a decent little Nor’easter at best. I’ve seen march rains more than we’ll get and more wind in January. Jeez what a hyped up mess!

    1. KWM-Hingham says:

      Maybe but its also to come late in the game and make a “I knew it all along claim”. Once again as some pointed out to yesterday (I’m sure you were too busy basking in the glow of your greatness to pay attention) but people living along the south coast of MA, RI and CT may feel a little differently than you.

      1. melzzz says:

        The sickening way in which the locals TV stations have hyped this thing is embarrassing. It is like they enjoy scaring the lemmings and making them run to the store for their milk, water and bread. It seems to me that it has been clear for at least 24 hours that the impact here was going to be pretty minimal, yet they continue with the stories to panic people who don’t know any better.

      2. matt says:

        The internet?? Really. Then I guess you must the NWS has agenda just like the mets. Guess you haven’t checked the NWS site out recently.

  8. shotime says:

    EASTERN ESSEX MA-SUFFOLK MA-EASTERN NORFOLK MA- EASTERN PLYMOUTH MA-
    1111 AM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011

    TROPICAL STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT.

    WINDS.
    AS HURRICANE IRENE APPROACHES.SUSTAINED TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO BEGIN SUN MORNING. MAX WINDS ARE FORECAST TO BE IN THE 45 TO 65 MPH RANGE WITH GUSTS TO 80 MPH.

    STORM SURGE & STORM TIDE.
    IT IS STILL TOO EARLY TO DETERMINE THE EXACT HEIGHTS OF COMBINED STORM SURGE & TIDE WATERS FOR SPECIFIC LOCATIONS WITHIN THE FORECAST AREA. MUCH DEPENDS ON THE PRECISE SIZE.INTENSITY.
    TRACK & TIMING OF IRENE. PRELIMINARY EXPECTATIONS FOR THE EAST COAST ARE FOR STORM SURGE VALUES OF 2 TO 4 FEET SUNDAY. THIS COULD TRANSLATE TO WATER LEVELS OF 1 TO 3 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL.

  9. leo says:

    I have to unfortunately agree Love Triple H. It doesnt have a prayer by the time it gets up here,especially with the fairly slow movement. In order for us to get a strong event up here we need the storms to accellerate so the storm doesnt have enough time to die in the cooler waters. As of right now we have a minimal hurricane, a slow mover, lots of land interaction before it gets here. That equals just a moderate rainstorm for us with maybe a few descent wind gusts to 40 or so. Thats all folks!Hurricane warnings should be lifted now for south coast. Maybe a gust to 50.

  10. leo says:

    T.v. stations already got their big ratings already.

  11. melzzz says:

    But Leo, then the local TV stations wouldn’t have anything about which to panic people. They can’t report the truth, because that would be too boring.

  12. The Graupler says:

    By contrast the first Nor’easter or March 2010 dumped tropical downpours for 52 hours in the Boston area dropping 9-13 inches of rain and pumping 40 MPH winds with 55 MPH gusts. As for a “slow mover” yeah this is slow but about 1/4 the longevity. We’ve seen this before in VERY recent history

    1. KWM-Hingham says:

      I can remember quite a few recent Noreasters that had 40-50mph winds for well over 24 hours. Quite correct sir. I even lost a couple of antennas due to one.

  13. sxdgfbhdbgrfv n says:

    I never really trust Pete, he’s not a bad met just irresponisble with his predictions, for him to talk in this manner is either a change from his regular shtick, or a sign of whats ahead

  14. Dave says:

    Name calling? Take a look at yourself coward.

    1. melzzz says:

      I am calling out the local TV stations, not calling anyone names. Big difference.

  15. manowx says:

    If the storm can get back over the ocean, it will regenerate to a minimal cat 2 possibly a cat three at landfall

    1. jj says:

      You must be already into the alcohol. Your comment makes no sense at all but then again most of yours don’t.

  16. manowx says:

    JJ,

    Your former colleague M Noyes has been persistent with a nudge east such that second landfall is in the vicinity of New London CT. Maybe it was wise for you to abandon the NECN ship. which may be sunk after the tale is written on this storm.

    1. aqua says:

      What do u think will happen on the north shore, are u saying this could still hit ma. hard?

      1. Stormy says:

        aqua i would prepare for 40-50 mph winds and 65+ mph gusts

      2. aqua says:

        Glad to see u back stormy where have u been?

  17. WeatherWizard says:

    Do you want the local TV stations to provide 24 hour coverage tomorrow or do you want them to only expand their 6 pm news?

    1. Love Triple H says:

      Oh they’ll do 24 hour coverage, but why? This is notighng more than a modest little Nor’easter storm by tomorrow noon.

    2. coach23 says:

      doesn’t matter if the power is out!

      1. Love Triple H says:

        It wont be wide spread even if it is. Besides, i have a generator.

  18. Love Triple H says:

    I just looked at the NWS radar loop. Seems to me this thing went much further west/inland than predicted. I dont see how it moves much further east and out over water to keep going much more. If anything, it seems a little stalled at the moment and is moving mostly north. If it stays with the current track, seems to be it will blow itself out over NJ, pennsylvania, and NY.
    At this point, I honestly dont see how it can impact us much at all with more than some good, soaking rain and some wind. My guess is a tropical depression by tomorrow at noon. We’ll see.

  19. Dave says:

    Joe, expect you to be on Nantucket doing cartwheels right now. Sucks to be stuck at work, doesn’t it?

  20. Chris says:

    It would be nice if the Weather Channel could tone down the rhetoric just a little. Yes this is a serious storm down in the mid-atlantic, but they still act like the world is coming to an end based on what is still on their website. They definitely lost some credibility on this storm.

  21. KWM-Hingham says:

    Leo said earlier that Irene would be downgraded to a TS by this afternoon. While this hasn’t happened I agree and think that in the next 6-8 hours it will be a TS. Current forward motion is supposed to be 13mph NNE (15 degrees) but it seems to be a lot slower than that. Watching the track on the radar it does seem to be wobbly to the NNW then to the NNE. A few downpours here in SE Mass with Thunder (no lightning noted yet). The radar trends seem to indicate the rain bands getting larger now.

  22. Joshua says:

    Too much hype on this one. It will pretty much be a non-event in most of Massachusetts, except for some flooding rain in the Western part of the state. I doubt whether Boston sees a gust over 60mph. Having lived in places where 60mph wind is commonplace; happens at least 10 times a year in the UK, Irene will not pack much of a true punch once it arrives on our doorstep. 36 hours ago when the storm failed to upgrade to Category 3 status and in fact weakened, with winds decreasing by the hour to below 100mph, forecasters should have seen the writing on the wall. Where was the storm going to go from there, as it approached both cooler water and land? Furthermore, the storm was too spread out, not compact enough. Unlike major hurricanes, this one’s eye was barely noticeable, especially yesterday as it weakened. Forecasters spoke of an organized hurricane. Though I know little about hurricanes, I respectfully disagree. Irene never looked terribly organized. It almost looked like a storm that was stretched out so much, it forgot to focus on its core activity.

  23. Italo says:

    I’m a little peeved that after all the weeklong pre-doom and gloom news flooding, now the 3 major area stations plus NECN have pretty much gone off-air in the still-serious storms’ coverage. I know there are the sports events people don’t want to miss (even though I wouldn’t mind giving a serious pass on “golf” on NBC to hear Barry’s reports instead)…but NECN with its usual Saturday afternoon infomercials today, too?? I’d like to see more than just 5-minute-drop-in coverage from the local media outlets this afternoon, now that the storm has begun to affect our viewing areas. Also: in main page Irene story, under Massachusetts it describes there being a Hurricane Watch in effect from southern coast to Merrimack River…………isn’t it a Tropical Storm Warning from Sagamore to Merrimack, and a Tropical Watch from Merrimack up to New Brunswick or something? Hurricane Watch up through Merrimack River is a latest accurate weather warning??

  24. Matt Souza says:

    7 out of the 12 models are saying a more of an easterly track than what the NHC has there main track. most of the models also have it going over more water . i think it will still be a cat 1 storm when it makes land fall. instead of a tropical storm.

    1. Carl says:

      Sorry but I’m going with the NHC and not some high school kid.

  25. Matt Souza says:

    The first band is moving north and will be out by 6pm.
    a longer ,windy round of rain will arrive some time after 6pm
    around 2 inches of rain has fallen in Billerica Ma
    I had seen the rain but not the wind.

    1. coach23 says:

      What are smoking? I also live in Billerica and we got half inch tops. Better get a new rain guage.

      1. Matt Souza says:

        what part??

  26. MJEP says:

    BORING. Enough already with the storm. Isn’t there something else in the news we should know about???????

  27. Sean F in Mashpee says:

    Please get the story straight folks…we are down here in Mashpee, and trees are falling in these huge gusts. Still not safe to go outside, at least on Mashpee Neck.

    Storm is not moving out yet, Jack.

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