One of the great things about Internet, technology, and personal weather stations today is that I can sit comfortably in my home in California and watch the storm progress on the other coast. This map from Weather Underground suggests that Irene isn’t packing hurricane force winds as it makes landfall in North Carolina, and is rapidly weakening.
click image to enlarge
When I look at the station with the highest wind speed on the map above, it is rather surprising.
Maybe there are hurricane force wind speeds nearer the eye?
So what we have here at this point appears to be a tropical storm. By the time it reaches New York, it may very well just be a tropical depression on par with a Nor’easter in intensity.
The next NHC bulletin will probably see a further downgrade in this storm, which now looks to be not as bad as forecast at this point. This is good. Storm surge for the outer banks will of course be an issue, but the fact that we are still getting automated station reports from there is encouraging.
If anyone needs help reading the weather station surface plot symbols for wind, see this.
UPDATE: TWC seems to concur. If they have a reporter standing on the beach, then I suppose it isn’t all that bad:
UPDATE2: latest from NHC, it’s still a hurricane, that’s our story and we are sticking to it:
BULLETIN HURRICANE IRENE INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 29A NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011 200 PM EDT SAT AUG 27 2011 ...IRENE MOVING ACROSS EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA... SUMMARY OF 200 PM EDT...1800 UTC...INFORMATION ---------------------------------------------- LOCATION...35.5N 76.3W ABOUT 45 MI...70 KM WNW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA ABOUT 95 MI...155 KM S OF NORFOLK VIRGINIA MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 15 DEGREES AT 15 MPH...24 KM/H MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...950 MB...28.05 INCHES WATCHES AND WARNINGS -------------------- CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY... ENVIRONMENT CANADA HAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WARNING FROM THE UNITED STATES BORDER NORTHEASTWARD TO FORT LAWRENCE INCLUDING GRAND MANAN...AND FOR THE SOUTH COAST OF NOVA SCOTIA FROM FORT LAWRENCE TO PORTERS LAKE. SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT... A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR... * LITTLE RIVER INLET NORTH CAROLINA NORTHWARD TO SAGAMORE BEACH MASSACHUSETTS...INCLUDING THE PAMLICO...ALBEMARLE...AND CURRITUCK SOUNDS...DELAWARE BAY...CHESAPEAKE BAY SOUTH OF DRUM POINT...NEW YORK CITY...LONG ISLAND...LONG ISLAND SOUND...COASTAL CONNECTICUT AND RHODE ISLAND...BLOCK ISLAND...MARTHAS VINEYARD AND NANTUCKET A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR... * CHESAPEAKE BAY FROM DRUM POINT NORTHWARD AND THE TIDAL POTOMAC * NORTH OF SAGAMORE BEACH TO EASTPORT MAINE * UNITED STATES/CANADA BORDER NORTHEASTWARD TO FORT LAWRENCE INCLUDING GRAND MANAN * SOUTH COAST OF NOVA SCOTIA FROM FORT LAWRENCE TO PORTERS LAKE INTERESTS ELSEWHERE IN EASTERN CANADA SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF IRENE. FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA IN THE UNITED STATES...INCLUDING POSSIBLE INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE. FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE. DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK ------------------------------ AT 200 PM EDT...1800 UTC...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE IRENE WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 35.5 NORTH...LONGITUDE 76.3 WEST. IRENE IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHEAST NEAR 13 MPH...20 KM/H. A NORTH-NORTHEASTWARD MOTION AT A SLIGHTLY FASTER FORWARD SPEED IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO. ON THE FORECAST TRACK...THE CENTER OF IRENE WILL MOVE ACROSS NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA THIS AFTERNOON. THE HURRICANE IS FORECAST TO MOVE NEAR OR OVER THE MID-ATLANTIC COAST TONIGHT AND MOVE OVER SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND ON SUNDAY. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS REMAIN NEAR 85 MPH...140 KM/H...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. SLIGHT WEAKENING IS FORECAST AS IRENE CROSSES EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA...BUT IRENE IS FORECAST TO REMAIN AT OR NEAR HURRICANE STRENGTH AS IT MOVES NEAR OR OVER THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES AND APPROACHES NEW ENGLAND. IRENE IS A LARGE TROPICAL CYCLONE. HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 90 MILES...150 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL- STORM-FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 260 MILES...415 KM. A WIND GUST TO 78 MPH WAS RECENTLY MEASURED AT CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA. A WIND GUST TO 67 MPH WAS RECENTLY REPORTED AT LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE IN SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA. THE LATEST MINIMUM PRESSURE REPORTED FROM A DROPSONDE RELEASED BY AN AIR FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT WAS 950 MB...28.05 INCHES.
UPDATE3: From a comment left on Goddard’s site:
Out of the local NWS office in Morehead City, NC:
First, in the northeast part of the eyewall at landfall, and about 30 minutes before your radar map posted above…
0719 AM HIGH SUST WINDS CEDAR ISLAND 35.00N 76.33W
08/27/2011 M90 MPH CARTERET NC DEPT OF HIGHWAYS
CEDAR ISLAND FERRY TERMINAL REPORTS SUSTAINED WINDS 90
MPH WITH GUSTS TO 110 MPH.
Secondly, in the southwest (weakest) part of the eyewall…
1035 AM HURRICANE ATLANTIC BEACH 34.69N 76.74W
08/27/2011 CARTERET NC TRAINED SPOTTER
SUSTAINED WINDS 85 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 101 MPH.
So I think what we have here is a narrow area of hurricane force winds, and a broad area of tropical storm force winds associated with this storm. Near the eyewall it would of course be quite dangerous, whether or not Irene can sustain hurricane intensity will be the question of the day.
UPDATE4: That question seems to be answering itself, just over a 90 minutes after I posted the first images, we see the eye disappearing: