Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene Presses On

Hurricane Irene First U.S. Land Falling Hurricane Since 2008
The image below shows Hurricane Irene south of Cape Lookout, NC just before landfall early Saturday morning.
It's official, with Hurricane Irene making landfall near Cape Lookout, NC at 7:30am EDT Saturday, she became the first U.S. land falling hurricane since Ike in September of 2008. The winds were intense, but not as bad as they could have been. Thankfully, Irene weakened more than expected before landfall, which was good, but there were still some significant problems across North Carolina.

Irene Brings Flooding Rain
Take a look at the radar estimates of rainfall through early evening Saturday. Irene's slow movement to the north, hugging the coast, kept copious amounts of Atlantic moisture churning inland.

Irene Slams Ashore With Category 1 Strength Wind Gusts
Individual Mesonet sites across North Carolina showed mostly Category 1 strength wind gusts. I see one Mesonet site that reported a Category 2 strength wind gusts northeast of Raleigh at 103mph. 
Hurricane Katrina & Hurricane Irene Comparison
  Hurricane Irene is a very large and is nearly the size Hurricane Katrina was back in 2005, but didn't have as strong of winds when it made landfall. The National Weather Services' Facebook account has a nice writeup on the comparison:
Hurricane Irene is a large storm, as far as tropical cyclones go, with hurricane force winds extending outward up to 90 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 290 miles.

This is very similar to the size of Hurricane Katrina nearly six years ago to the date. The following quote from the official NHC tropical cyclone report on Katrina shows how, during its peak i...ntensity on 8/28/05, Katrina's wind field extended out almost as far as Irene's currently does:

"Katrina attained its peak intensity of 150 kt at 1800 UTC [2:00 p.m. EDT] 28 August about 170 n mi [196 statute miles] southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The wind field continued to expand on 28 August, and by late that day tropical storm-force winds extended out to about 200 n mi [230 statute miles] from the center, and hurricane-force winds extended out to about 90 n mi [104 statute miles] from the center, making Katrina not only extremely intense but also exceptionally large."

The image below shows the relative size of these two monster storms. Links to the original images, courtesy of the NOAA Visualization Laboratory, are given below.

NOAA Visualization Laboratory Image of Katrina:

NOAA Visualization Laboratory Image of Irene:

NHC Tropical Cyclone Report on Katrina:

Latest Info. and Resources on Irene:

Hurricane Irene Presses On
Hurricane Irene is expected to make another landfall on Sunday as she lifts northeast towards New England. High tide, additional storm surge and heavy rain will likely flood more low lying areas along the coast.

New York - Calm Before the Storm
A good friend of mine, Peter Brooks, lives in Manhattan and sent me this picture yesterday from 2nd Ave. in the East Village. Peter said he's never seen it this quiet as most businesses were closed. However, he mentioned that the bars were still open and actually pretty busy Saturday afternoon. Thanks again Peter for the picture, stay safe!

More Heavy Rain Expected
Again, I don't expect wind to be the most significant part of this storm in New England (which will still gust to category 1 strength at times), but heavy rain up to an additional 6" to 10" may be possible from PM Saturday to PM Monday. Flooding will likely be the biggest threat from Irene in many areas.
Twitter Keeps It Fresh - @NYTLive
New York Times created an account with all the latest New York City updates during Irene.
Closer To Home
I'm happy to say that our weather in comparison to what's happening out East will be rather tranquil. A weak disturbance will slide through today and perhaps kick off a spotty shower or storm this afternoon, but rainfall amounts look fairly light.