Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene makes landfall with 110 mph gusts and lashes us with record heat!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wow! I did not even need the coffee this morning! Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout just before 7:30 a.m. with 85 mph winds and gusts to 110 mph. As it was doing so it took out a pier at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina and our sister city Jacksonville, North Carolina had wind gusts to 94 mph! We can all count our blessings we live in the Jacksonville, Florida area. We woke up with a brief shower in the Golden Isles but that was it! Here are some more Irene facts and yes the streak is over!

The last time a hurricane hit the US was way back on September 13, 2008. Now one thing to not focus on with this storm is the Saffir-Simpson Scale. A lot of folks are under the false impression if the storm is only a category it is not harmful. This cannot be further from the truth. Tropical storms have been known to bring record flooding and this hurricane is not just any typical category one.

Size does matter with hurricanes and this one has cloud bands from Cuba to Canada or about 1,600 miles! Now what this means is a longer duration of wind and rain so by time all is said and done I do expect historic flooding and widespread wind damage. We have already seen 55 mph wind gusts as far inland as Richmond, Virginia. An unfathomable 17" of rain has fallen in New Bern, North Carolina and they are not even close to being done yet!

Here at home it is about epic surf and heat! We will likely break the all-time record of 98 degrees set back in 1954. Today is also all about the surfers for autism in St. Augustine. Even though that is a hot west wind it will make for some nice smooth surf. You see the nice 7-10 foot waves at Amelia Island yesterday. I need to learn to surf after seeing this picture sent in by John Adams. Thank you! Keep in mind surf will fall to 1-2 feet by late today so hurry up and catch the wave. Rip currents could still be a bit tricky but they are out of the dangerous range. Just have fun and be careful! Temperatures at 2 p.m. had already hit 97 in St. Augustine and 100 in Orange Park with a humidity of 34%. This is all due to Irene wrapping in dry air and a west-southwest wind being forced to blow into the center of Irene all the while cancelling the usual cooling effects of the sea breezes and storms we normally see this time of year!

Now for our friends and family up north. I think they would rather be having the heat right about now. There are already over a half-million power outages and there have been four fatalities. The track this morning shifted about 30 miles farther west so notice it looks like the eye could in fact be very close to Ocean City, Maryland by midnight. I think the Baltimore/Washington area will still escape the worse but flooding rain of 4 to 8 inches is likely along with 30-50 mph winds with isolated higher gusts. It will be a much different story for Rehoboth Beach Delaware that is in the red zone with 60-80 mph winds with gusts to 95 mph. A storm surge near 6-8 feet is likely with 15 foot waves crashing on top of that. Very scary.

Farther north the latest models show that westward shift and have Atlantic City possibly being grazed by the eye wall by late tonight and then heading right over New York City first thing on Sunday. Notice the large wind fields due to this storm not having a tight inner core and an unusually low pressure for a category one hurricane.

New York could see Isabel's eye and if it holds together as a hurricane it would be the first direct strike since 1938. I think a big concern has to be a storm surge of 6-7 feet with a tidal surge of 5 more feet and then pounding waves on top of that. You combine this with 10 inches plus of rain and you are looking at a disaster in the making. I just hope everybody heeded the warning. New England will see Isabel as a tropical storm but as we now know deadly flooding can happen with tropical storms and record crests will be likely on many rivers. We are looking at a long clean-up. I will keep you updated and I wish I had better news. Here at home we will not get back to any normal late summer weather for quite some time. Make sure to tune in and find out why. Take care and be safe my friends!

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