Summary of 11:00 AM EDT
Location: 20.5N 71.0W
Distance: 70 miles S of Grand Turk Island
Maximum Sustained Winds: 100 mph
Movement: WNW at 12 mph
Minimum Central Pressure: 980 mb
Hurricane Warning: Turks and Caicos Islands, Southeastern, Central, and Northwestern Bahamas
Hurricane Watch: North coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicolas eastward to the Dominican Republic border
Tropical Storm Warning: North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano westward to Haiti border, North coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicolas eastward to the Dominican Republic border
Tropical Storm Watch: None
Hurricane Irene has not strengthened since being classified a category 2 hurricane last night. In the last couple of satellite images, hint of an eye is visible, but recon says that Irene does not have a closed center of circulation.
Currently, 15-25- mph shear is affecting Irene and it will stick around for a couple of days; therefore, models don’t show much strengthening during this time. There are two models that aggressively show Irene as a borderline category 5 storm off the coast of the Carolinas. Most of the intensity models don’t show that and the NHC favors the less aggressive models for now.
Irene’s average motion during the last 6 hours has been WNW. A trough is expected to weaken the western portion of the High pressure currently steering Irene. Once the weakness is pronounced, it will provide an opening for Irene to pass through. If the trough is not a strong as the models are projecting, Irene heads west.
The Bahamas are in line to receive a major blow from Irene as the forecasted track calls for her to traverse through the heart of the Bahamas. Irene is expected to intensify as she approaches the Bahamas, but that won’t happen until she can escape the coast of Hispañola which is causing some disruption.
The models have been in good agreement since last night’s run due to the data collected using the NOAA G IV jet and the weather balloons that have been launched every six hours from the CONUS east coast to sample the atmosphere ahead of Irene. The NOAA jet was crucial for the models as the data collected really helped them come in agreement with a track off Florida, but approaching the Carolina Coast.
The billion dollar question is: At what point will Irene turn NW? The NHC believes it will commence tomorrow towards the NW and then gradually track in a northerly direction towards the outer banks of North Carolina by Saturday morning/afternoon as a major hurricane. Once landfall occurs, Irene is expected to continue to track over land as a minimal hurricane and affect Virginia by early morning Sunday. This is the current track and it can change.
Anyone along the track of Irene, please heed all warnings. Irene is forecasted to be a strong category 3 hurricane with the possibility of reaching category 4 status.
Elsewhere in the Tropics:
Tropical formation is not expected during the next 48 hours.
DISCLAIMER: I am neither a meteorologist nor a professional; just a weather enthusiast. For the experts please go to: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov.