Thursday, 25 August 2011: 11:00 p.m. CDT
Well, it’s finally come down to this: Hurricane Irene stands a high probability of having significant impacts on not only the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but much of the Mid Atlantic and Northeast coastline. Irene is a large storm, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. Hurricane force winds extend seventy miles to the northeast of the eye, and 50 miles to the northwest. That means even though the eye may only be skirting parallel to the Mid Atlantic coast this weekend, hurricane force winds will be felt well inland all along the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.
Irene’s minimum central pressure has dropped to 942mb, but that still hasn’t translated to an increase in maximum sustained winds. The lack of immediate wind increase may be the result of an eyewall replacement cycle. But Irene is expected to strengthen over the next 12 to 24 hours.
Hurricane Irene is growing in size and is not only likely to cause widespread power outages and damage across the East coast, but is also going to bring a damaging storm surge. Her winds are forecast to increase to 125 mph as she approaches the Outer Banks of Norther Carolina (If you live there you need to be evacuating right now!). Then wind shear is expected to increase this weekend, causing a slow but gradual weakening. But don’t let that make you drop your guard — Irene is a large storm. Hurricane force winds will likely extend at least fifty miles or more to the west and north of the eye this weekend. That is enough to cause widespread power outages. I think it’s safe to say Irene is going to have lasting impacts all across the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.
This entire situation is reminiscent of Hurricane Ike (for me I mean, not in storm comparison, although Ike was also very large) because Ike hit Galveston/Houston not long after I had moved from Houston to Connecticut! Now, having recently moved back to Houston, I find myself staring at yet another very large, intimidating hurricane heading to my previous home. Maybe the big storms wait until I leave to hit, who knows. It’s for the best though. After 60+ inches of snow this winter, my apartment in Connecticut had more water leak problems through the walls and roof than I’d like to get into. Follow that with a hurricane bringing flooding rains (see image below) and I think that it’s better I’m not there. But the weather enthusiast part of me is still a little jealous!
’till next time,