Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Irene not so mean here at home but a different story from Carolinas Northward

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good Morning! I am happy to say with 99.9% certainty since you never say never with nature that Irene will miss Florida. The wind cone which I like showing more than the cone of concern since it gives you a better handle on where the damage impact will really be is still pointing to the Carolinas and points north. In fact it does look like it is curling toward Wilmington and the Outer Banks now which was what I was expecting. Notice here at home which includes our beaches we only have a 33% chance of sustained wind speeds of tropical storm force of 39 mph or greater. Even though Irene is expected to strengthen to a category 3 or 4 as it moves about 200-250 miles east of Jacksonville I do think we will escape the worst effects. Remember the most dangerous side of any hurricane is its north and east quadrant. So here is what I am thinking based on the latest data and if anything the wind forecast for our area has come down by about 5 to 10 mph over the last 24 hours.


1) High offshore seas will cause dangerous conditions for mariners, which could reach over 15-20 feet. Boating will not be advised from Thursday through the first part of the weekend.

2) Dangerous rip currents ( hard to believe this is the 2nd leading weather killer over the past 10 years but it is---you can go to the beach to check out the high waves but DO NOT SWIM)

3) High surf and beach erosion--Wave forecasts of 6-8 feet still holds with the highest surf on Friday. There could be a few 10 foot sets. This will pound the sand causing some beach erosion. The good news is the wind direction will not be northeast but north-northwest when the highest wind gusts hit  which will keep us from seeing a major event.

4) Wind gusts. I have wind speeds at the beach averaging 25-35 mph with maybe a few higher gusts near 45 mph. But you cross the Intracoastal and the wind should be in the 20-30 mph range. Farther inland across the river expect the wind to be in the 15-25 mph range. I am still not expecting any bridge closures. By time you cross the river the wind will be even lighter.

5) We will also have to watch for higher tides than normal but right now it looks minor especially with more of a land breeze winning out due to the hurricane staying to our east.

6) Rainfall---Very disappointing..maybe some brief heavy squalls for the beaches....but do not count on it...and areas near highway 301 may not see a drop of rain from Irene! Rain amounts well under an inch.

*This is a good average of what is likely to happen, but we will continue to fine-tune it as we get closer. But I do feel very comfortable with the big six above!

Next big question is how strong will Irene be. Are we looking at a category 3, 4, or 5? Looking at the  Atlantic water conditions compared to normal over the forecast path the water temperatures are actually normal to slightly below normal temperature-wise but still above the 80 degree threshold which allows hurricanes to develop and thrive. Farther north off New England waters are warmer than normal so if Irene could hold together longer and stronger. When all is said and done the worst effects from this tropical system will likely be felt farther north with areas from North Carolina to Maine and Nova Scotia really having to keep a close eye on this path. I am leaning toward a category 3 hurricane as it moves east of Florida and moves toward North Carolina and a tropical storm by time it moves to the Northeast.

Where is it going? Well let's look at climatology and my favorite model of choice out of the 80 weather models I look at. This morning my golden child of models has Irene making landfall between Jacksonville, North Carolina and the Outer Banks on Saturday and then from there it gets more complicated. I would not be surprised to see Irene make a run over those warmer waters toward Martha's Vineyard by Sunday night and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on Monday. Wind gusts should still be near hurricane force with plenty of flooding rain possible. The farther north these systems go they drop heavier rain on their west side with higher gusts to the east. So for now Irene not so mean here at home but I am still concerned about North Carolina and points northward. Even the beaches from Delmarva and Jersey northward will likely see more of an impact from this storm than our Florida beaches. Stay tuned. Have a great day. I am off to OSPREY TV! We will certainly be talking hurricanes this morning.

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