1830 EDT 26 AUG 2011
Every hurricane is different and every hurricane has its own subtleties and nuance and hurricane Irene is no different. Several times today hurricane Irene tried to rebuild a deep wall of inner convection but it’s clear that the dry air being pulled into the hurricane from the western side and from the southeast states has worked its way in and is preventing the storm from RE strengthening even though it is over the gulf stream.
In fact there are not many cases of a what seems to be a category 4 hurricane with a significantly different and lower Wind field …. crossing the Gulfstream and not regenerating in some capacity.
Over the past several days a lot of weather models have shown that in these last 12 to 18 hours before landfall Irene was or is going to regenerate. Clearly the hurricane center does not think so and looking at the information that I can see it doesn’t look like Irene is going to regain any lost intensity.
Obviously this has a significant impact on the forecast because my premise has been that Irene was gonna make landfall as either a strong category 3 or category 4 hurricane. On the other hand it is pretty clear that Irene is still moving due North along the 77th west longitude line and so far has not made any turn to the NNE. If Irene does not turn she will crash into Wilmington North Carolina which is not the location selected for landfall by me or by 99% of all the meteorologists on the East Coast. I still anticipate that turn will occur and a landfall somewhere around Morehead city Saturday morning.
I continue however to disagree with the track once IRENE makes landfall. Again all the short range models continue to show that Irene is going to come out across Virginia Beach or eastern Norfolk and NOT over Nags Head NC…. And by Saturday evening IRENE will make be located very close to or just off shore of Wallops island Virginia. From there most of the model data takes Irene close to or just offshore of Ocean city Maryland and Cape May ecame a New Jersey.
However because the GFS Model is 50 miles further east so that is the official forecast track . I am not gonna change the track now ..so we will see which foroecast track is going to end up being correct. And that 50 Miles makes a BIG difference with the wind forecast for eastern and central Virginia.
At this point it is time simply to sit back and watch Irene come in and see who gets hit how hard and where she tracks. The forecasting process is now over for North Carolina eastern Maryland and Virginia.
Most of my focus has been here in the lower Middle Atlantic region and I have not spent a lot of time in the big cities of the northeast. That being said I was completely unaware until this morning that hurricane warnings had been issued for the city of Philadelphia and interior portions of Western New Jersey and far Northern Delaware. That seems to me to be a little over the top…. And that is probably going to cause a pretty negative reaction with the public.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++0730 EDT 26 AUG 2011
First the weakening … Um what? I dont see that at all. Over the past 3 days all of the Model data I have seen showed that at THIS point in time Irene ‘s winds would NOT be as strong as they could be given the Pressure of 942 mb. At 5am NHC did say that some model data STILL some SIGNIFICANT winds strenghtening is POSSIBLE before landfall. I agree
Turn to the East? ….Um what!? so far I see NO sign of that. A slight bend to the NNE has been expected …in Fact Irene had better turn to the NNE today or she will crash into Wilmington NC. In other words the forecast has NNE track today.
The 00z GFS again has landfall West of Hatteras near Moorehead city then bends Irene to the East so perhaps this is the basis for saying the track has shifted to the east. The 0z GFS has the turn to the NNE AFTER landfall in NC which tkaes the Eye over Nags Head and east of Va beach.
The 6z GFS and the 0z Euro are INDENTICAL at Irene’s Landfall… WEST of cape Hatteras. The 0z Euro shows Irene going OVER VA beach and Cape Henry then along va eastern shore and over or JUST east of Wallops island and Ocean City MD then over of Just offshore — buy 25 miles ) Cape May NJ.
The 6z GFS is Tad further east but that is Model COLD Bias kickinf again. The Models at miday today- the 12z Models — IMO will be the last run of any Model data that will be useful diwn here in VA NC MD DE . After 4pm today for VA and NC it will be NOWCASTING time. Of course for NJ NYC Long island and southeastern New England that is not the case. http://1664596.sites.myregisteredsite.com/xxclients/6zgfs.jpg
The 0z and 6z GFDL are also shows Landfall well to the west of Hatteras and over Elizabeth City.
Later on I will issue a check list of things to watch as Irene closes in.
1630 EDT 25 AUG 2011
In a lot of ways it feels a somewhat empowering or liberating to see everybody else to scramble to catch up to the forecasted that I have been talking about since Monday as a real possibility. Just 24 and 48 hours ago… I was out there by myself alone in the woods so to speak and now suddenly I look what the weather god. Of course I am not really and I have had plenty of busted forecasts but the one thing that I try and focus on is the actual science of meteorology … which is something not everybody in the weather business does ( and that is especially true in the TV weather business). For those of you who are nNew to WXRISK.com I only sound the proverbial alarm when I see " IT" coming. I am NOT a hypster. There will be weather events when I say NOPE its not going to happens that way.
Most of my income is from ENERGY and from GRAIN commodites / weatehr forecasts … not just for the USA but for South America Brazil Russia Ukraine Europe China India and Australia.
In southeast VA . the weather folks at WAVY TV 10 were doing their best to make sure NO one had any need to worry and simply Parroted the NWS forecast. Why worry simply because there is a category 4 Hurricane coming to the Outerbanks and passing close to Hampton Roads ? Just some gusty winds some gusty winds…..
The data overnight was MUCH further west. Yet even then the early morning Thursday NWSAKQ discussion finally conceded that the model guidance was "SLIGHTLY more west than before." You read analysis like that and think "welcome to 12 hrs ago". The data overnight was NOT just slightly west. That was the case Wednesday afternoon and evening. It was MUCH further west. Imagine the surprise and the dancing that WAVY TV 10 weather folks had to do this morning when NWS had a Hurricane watch out for Northeast NC and Tropical storms conditions likely for all of se Virginia Saturday and Saturday Night.
FINALLY this Thursday afternoon WWBTV TV 12 here in central VA has upped their Richmond Forecast to SOME rain — recall he went for NO rains for central VA on Saturday all day Wednesday and Wednesday night – and to 20-40 MPH with some locally heavy rains. That is word for word NWS 4PM forecast. Based on the Model data that is an extremely timid forecast.
The midday weather models continue to show a ominous trend as we get closer and closer to the landfall hurricane Irene. One of the basic and most important rules we your forecasting weather is that weather models are much less accurate at six days out then they are at two days out.
It follows then that as you get closer and closer to a weather event the weather models should move in closer agreement towards each other and towards one final solution and in this case however it is happening. The brand new and hot off the presses 12z or d midday GFS model has again shown a SHIFT TO THE WEST and is very close to the ominous and scary looking European model we saw very early Thursday morning and again on Wednesday afternoon .
The new GFS model takes the eye of hurricane Irene well to the west of Cape Hatteras making landfall over More head city. That is a significant change from what the GFS is showing early this morning . The GFS model now takes the eye over southeastern Virginia — Hampton Roads —which again is a significant change from what the GFS is showing early this morning. It then takes hurricane Irene through the lower Chesapeake Bay and across the lower Virginia and Maryland eastern shore…. which again is significantly further to the west than what the previous runs of the GFS model was showing. The GFS has hurricane Irene weakening as it parallels the southern New Jersey Coast and makes landfall over far Western Long Island . Again this is significantly further to the west.
In every instance the European model has been showing this track for the past 4 runs…. and it is this sort of superior performance which is why knowledgeable and experienced meteorologists know that the European model is vastly superior to the GFS model.
It is likely that hurricane watch will be extended into all of Southeast Virginia as well as the lower Virginia and Maryland Eastern shore by 5:00 PM this afternoon.
It is likely that tropical storm watch or Hurricane watch could be extended as far west as interstate 95 in Central Virginia and eastern NC. Conditions look a lot worse for the eastern portions of North Carolina especially east of interstate 95 as well.
The impact of this Hurricane track is going to have a significant affect upon the U.S. economy if the Insurance losses are indeed as high $50 Billion dollars.
The worst portion the storm for Eastern North Carolina will be occurring on Saturday.
For southeastern Virginia it moves in Saturday afternoon continues Saturday night and ends early Sunday morning.
For central and eastern interior Virginia the worse part comes and Saturday afternoon continues Saturday night ending Sunday morning.
And for the northeast US the worst portion of the event will be on Sunday.
It is tempting to use hurricane Isabel in 2003 as some sort of measuring stick since it was a significant event in most people’s lives over Eastern North Carolina …southeastern and Central Virginia… and the lower Maryland Eastern shore areas.
However there are some differences here. Isabel came in from the ocean in a southeast to northwest heading… From Morehead city to Richmond. It was a middle intensity category 2 hurricane that weakened to a category 1 as it reached North Carolina border. But on the other hand much of eastern and Central Virginia as well as Northeast North Carolina was on the stronger eastern side of the system. In addition the tree damage was extensive because of the excessively wet late summer and early autumn pattern of 2003 produce saturated ground conditions which are made it a lot easier for large trees to come out because of strong winds. Irene will be stronger by far BUT Central Virginia will definitely be on the western side so it is kind of a tradeoff.
HOW BAD WILL IT BE?
The following forecast is going to be based upon the assuming that the current track will verify AND that Irene will be a strong category 3 or weak category 4 at the time of impact. information is going to verify.
It should be noted that at 220 pm the 12z Thursday afternoon run of the European model has now come out and it is even more stunning in its ferocity with regard to hurricane Irene then the last several runs. The model takes hurricane Irene as a category 4 hurricane showing a MSLP around 940mb as it makes landfall in Morehead City then moves over Elizabeth City –losing very little strength because of low swamplands over Eastern North Carolina tracks — then tracks over Norfolk Virginia. From there Irene bends NNE tracking over Wallops island / ocean City MD and making another landfall at Cape May New Jersey as a category 2 hurricane and eventually passing over NYC as a category 1 hurricane on Sunday afternoon.
This is a dangerous and historic track far exceeding the intensity of any hurricane in Hampton roads and last 100 years. Hurricane Donna did not pass directly over Hampton roads in 1960 but instead tracked over Nags head and the northern outer banks of North Carolina and then headed NNE paralleling the East coast. The track here is similar but its shift to the west by 50 miles which is the European Model has Irene crossing through Hampton roads and the lower portion of the Chesapeake Bay and the lower Virginia eastern shore.
There is No other word to describe the European model depiction of this hurricane for Northeast North Carolina southeastern Virginia ….the central and lower portions of the Chessy Bay and the lower Delmarva as anything short of catastrophic. The European model implies sustained hurricane force winds as far west as Richmond and the European model is extremely wet showing large areas of excessively heavy rains well to the Western Richmond greater than 5 inches. The European model track brings in a large area of Hurricane conditions that exceeds what was seen by Isabel …by a large margin.
For the time bring I am NOT going to go 100% with the European solutions….
EASTERN NC AND THE OUTERBANKS
Hurricane Irene is going to be the strongest and largest hurricane to hit the entire outer banks of North Carolina from Morehead city to Corolla since mighty and historic hurricane Donna in 1960. That Hurricane brought 120 MPH sustained winds to all of the North Carolina outer banks for over 6 hours. As this system comes up from the south its large wind field out of the east and southeast ill really pile up the water up against the Outer Banks . In addition water in the sounds will also pile up against the western side of the NC sounds into locations such as Elizabeth City Edenton Washington and New Bern.
Over land in Eastern North Carolina winds will 60-80 mph with some higher gusts. By the time you reach interstate 95 in Eastern North Carolina conditions will not be as bad . Winds over Raleigh NC could reach 50 MPH but areas just to the east such as Wilson and Rocky Mount could see winds to 60 ot 70 MPH in gust
Conditions over all of eastern NC will be significantly worse than what the expanse of Isabel 2003.
Given how threatening hurricane Irene is and how unbelievably bad most of the TV forecast were in southeastern Virginia and Northeast North Carolina a lot of these TV stations are going to look awfully stupid today as they have to backtrack and start warning everybody about something which yesterday they said was not going to be a big deal.
Again if we make the assumptions about the track and intensity of Irene will be correct then for all of Hampton roads and the lower portions of the Chesapeake Bay and the far Virginia low eastern shore this would be the worst hurricane since the Chesapeake Bay hurricane of 1933 and possibly the worst hurricane 100 years for that area.
As the hurricane comes up from the south and passes just over or to the west of Cape Hatteras the circulation of the hurricane will produce prolonged easterly winds that will pile the water up into Virginia Beach and the southern portions of the Bay so that locations such as Oceanview in Norfolk could see massive flooding. This also applies to locations such as Portsmouth the coastal areas of Suffolk Newport News Hampton Gloucester and Poquson. There should be sustained winds around hurricane force for most of this area but across areas such as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel the Hampton roads bridge tunnel could see winds gusting up to near 100 miles per hour.
The rainfall will be close to what this area experience of hurricane Floyd 1999 with some areas getting up to 10 inches of rain. This will cause widespread inland flooding but drought conditions are much drier them what we saw the hurricane Floyd hit in 1999 if so that is a compensating factor. Conditions here will be Much worse than what this areas experienced with hurricane Isabel.
from Emporia to CHESTER to tappahannock to the Patuxent river naval air station in St Mary’s county Maryland…. Conditions here will either match or exceed what this area saw with hurricane Isabel. Winds will range from 60 to 80 miles per hour and rainfall amounts will range from 5 to 10 ” There will likely significant power loss as well especially in area with a lot of tree areas but I do not into see tree damage to nearly the same degree tree damage as what we saw with Isabel in 2003. The areas near the bay will see the worst damage… Power Loss will be bad.
RICHMOND to Fredericksburg and west into the PIEDMONT …
condition here will be about the same as what this areas saw with Isabel: 30 60 MPH winds with to 5 inches of rain . SOME power Loss.
Northeast VA- DC — western NORTHERN NECK to BWI TO PHL
about the same as what this area saw from Isabel. Bay area flooding will be serious. Wind will be 30-60 mph higher Gusts over the bay areas. Rains of 3 to 6″
EASTERN N.NECK into far southern MD -
ST MARYS CALVERT and across the BAY into DORCHESTER TALBOT QUEENS and KENT and NEW CASTLE…
condition here will be about the same as what this areas saw with Isabel: 30 60 MPH winds with to 5+ inches of rain . SOME power Loss. Winds on area by the Bay or over the bay Gust to 75 mph.
SUSEX DEL into WICOMICO SOMERSET and WORCESTER and all of VA eastern shore.
historic Hurricane … Possibly worst on record in 100 years. Winds INLAND 40-80 MPH… Ocean City and Lower VA counties 80-100 massive coastal flooding probably breaking all records. Power Loss up to 2 weeks and this extended into Cape May County NJ as well.