The mountainous terrain of Hispaniola has proceeded to weaken Irene slightly over the last 24 hours. As Irene continues to move off to the west northwest, it will pull farther and farther away from land. Irene will re-intensify tonight and this is already evident per the latest recon observations. The surface pressure is now down to 969mb and the surface winds are sustained at 90 mph with gusts of 115 mph. Even though the winds have not really changed, the pressure has fallen, and it is only a matter of time before the winds catch up (this usually takes a few hours).
The projected track of Hurricane Irene has continued to shift to the east, but now most of the models have finally come into fairly good agreement. Irene will make a turn more to the northwest tonight and then more to the north by Friday. Irene will continue to strengthen into a Major Category 3 Hurricane by late tonight or tomorrow and then into a Category 4 hurricane shortly thereafter. She will make landfall as a high-end Category 3 hurricane somewhere between Emerald Isle and the Outer Banks of North Carolina Saturday or Saturday night.
Hurricane Irene will then move back out across the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the DelMarVa and will be able to maintain hurricane intensity. Irene will then make a second landfall somewhere along the northeast coast by then end of the weekend. It could be as strong as a category 2 or 3 hurricane, depending on just how far inland it tracks across North Carolina.
Impacts From Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene will pass far enough off shore of the east coast of Florida to where only minimal impacts will be felt. Rip currents will be stronger along the southeast coast of Florida as early as Wednesday and by Thursday farther north. A few rain bands may affect parts of extreme eastern Florida, including Miami, Thursday. There may also be a few wind gusts to tropical storm force along the southeast coast.
Much of the same effects that will be felt in Florida will be felt along coastal Georgia. Rip currents will become dangerous starting Thursday afternoon or night. Georgia has only a slight chance of any outer rain bands making it onshore, but if they do, a tropical storm force wind gust will be possible.
The northeastern coast of South Carolina will feel the worst effects in the state. While the eye of the hurricane will pass well offshore, there will be a couple of rain bands that make it onshore producing heavy rain and strong winds to tropical storm force, or perhaps even hurricane force. This will only cause minimal damage across this part of the state.
Coastal North Carolina will be the hardest hit by Hurricane Irene. Irene will make landfall somewhere between Emerald Isle and the Outer Banks. There is a slight possibility that she just grazes the Outer Banks. Conditions will begin to go downhill quickly Friday night. There will be a storm surge of 5-10 feet (possibly higher on the northeast side of the storm?), flooding, and widespread damaging winds. Wind gusts along the Outer Banks can reach as high as 120 mph. If you live in this area, you are urged to heed any evacuation orders given.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Irene will bring extensive flooding and coastal damage to areas from Virginia northward to the New England coast. The exact intensity of Irene off the DelMarVa coast is still a little uncertain, but it looks like it will be at least a Category 1 hurricane, and potentially as strong as a Category 3 hurricane! Obviously, the stronger the hurricane, the worse the damage, flooding, and storm surge. Be sure to stay up-to-date on the latest forecast of Hurricane Irene.
This is shaping up to be a very dangerous situation for millions of people from eastern NC northward along the I-95 corridor. Richard C. Putnam said it well…”I am beginning to become increasingly concerned that this will happen and people will be unprepared, so, let me make this clear: Major Hurricanes have hit Long Island before….they will hit again….just cause you live in the Northeast and you haven’t seen this before, does not mean it can’t or won’t happen. When is the last time Virginia saw a 5.9 earthquake for example. Keep your eye on the weather and TAKE THIS THING SERIOUSLY!!“