Hurricane Irene not packing much of a "punch" so far

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?

Nope.

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:

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James

NOAA seems committed to overstating the intensity of this storm to the bitter end. We will see at 2pm EST…

The latest NHC track is moved west some 30 miles in New Hampshire. The NWS forecast had the remnant eye moving over me near Concord, now the track looks like it’s over our yurt on Mt Cardigan. My wife was already planning to go there tomorrow AM for the storm, I may go with her.

huishi

Is it a hurricane?

One thing about the Wunderground data – the stations with the highest wind may not have power. 🙂
Also, the anemometers are likely not at the 10 meter height that I think is the NWS standard, the difference between 2 meters and above treetops is often remarkable.
And, that’s one heck of a dry slot – that’s murder to a hurricane.

A Nor’easter in intensity is nothing to sneeze at! It certainly feel like an intense time in NYC right now with transportation shut downs and evacuations.

Doug Proctor

Another application of the Uncertainty Principle. I wonder how much this will have cost? And how much loss of credibility in NOAA and MSM?
I was worried that Gore might use Hurricane Irene in his 14 September Alarm-fest. He might, still. If observation is that the storm is no worse than many others, then New Yorkers might find him less credible, too.

Travis

With a number of places as far north as Hampton, VA currently (1:40 ET) reporting sustained winds in excess of 45mph, I’m doubting the veracity of WU’s numbers near the eye.

It will still cost million and and already has.

Travis

Follow-up: those 45mph winds are about 125 miles from the current location of the eye.

pat

Way too much land coursing to remain a full strength hurricane. But it will bring in a lot of moisture and it looks like it is hell bent on chewing up a lot of oceanfront. This will be very property-destructive.

Lawrence Beatty

I think Joe B is trying to resurrect the wow factor but as usual every meteorological organisation seem to over hype the situation, I’m just glad it didn’t hit the UK as UKMO with it’s pathetically over the top warning system would have had the popiulation committing suicide.
However Fox News are doing their best to put some life into the hurricane but as pointed out its really on the cusp off being a tropical storm. Could it deepen further though once back over warm water?

Daniela says:
“It certainly feel like an intense time in NYC right now with transportation shut downs and evacuations.”
Transportation was needlessly shut down, and people totally ignored the evacuation orders, crowding the beaches instead.
After a piddling earthquake caused a run on Depends, and a windy rainstorm shut down America’s biggest city, It looks like the thumbsuckers have taken control.
If you like, you can reply, “But what if ___________.”☺

Travis

Steve Goddard made Drudge by mocking NOAA that Weather Underground only showed winds of 33mph at landfall. His claims got so ludicrous that Joe Bastardi wrote in to refute him by listing a number of places where sustained winds have easily hit hurricane force, asking Steve and other posters not to give skeptics a bad name by continuing to mock the hurricane before it’s barely begun.
REPLY: For Goddard to call it a “phony” is clearly wrong. It is simply losing speed quickly and running out of moisture. As Ric points out, look at the dry sector to the east. It may regain some strength after leaving NC. – Anthony

Watching Fox News has been fun. There seems to be a sort of wan tone to it all…the hyperverbs are still there, “pounding”…”lashing”…but the background images aren’t too convincing. One commentator started off standing splay-legged as if bracing against the blast, but by the end of his segment he was standing with heels together. Once she gets over land, she’ll be losing her bluster. There’ll be a few buckets of rain, but I’m wondering if we’ll see the newsreel clips from 1938 any more (one of those unprecedented blows). In a few days there will be a lot of rain in New Brunswick (the province).

Leon Brozyna

Perhaps they should have named it … Hurricane Fizzle.
Lots of rain … localized flooding a concern
Strong winds, but nothing like I’d expect from a respectable hurricane
Then there is the storm surge to watch out for along the coast.
Maybe the media can find themselves a decent scandal on this slow news day …

Wade

It is a hurricane. I live in Nashville,NC which is about 3 miles west of I-95 near Rocky Mount. Electricity was lost at 11:30 this morning. No landline phone, so probably a tree fell on a main. Cell phone still works which is how I am able to post this. Sustained winds have increased in the last hour. My rain gauge says 3.5 inches, but I know it is probably close to 4 inches. A storm about a month ago dumped 5 inches in 3 hours so I know there is going to be some flooding down river. I never thought it would be this bad; but I’ve been in much worse.

Mike Mangan

Steve Goddard was only pointing out the obvious. He couldn’t find any proof of sustained hurricane force winds at landfall. Certainly, six hours after landfall this does not appear to meet the qualifications of a hurricane. There is nothing ludicrous in his claims that I can see…
http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/noaas-phony-hurricane-coming-on-shore-with-33-mph-winds/

But . . . but . . . exponentially increasing wind speeds!
& widdershins death spirals!
& tipping points!

Anything is possible

I’ve had the same screen up as Anthony for the last few hours, but have been monitoring pressures, rather than wind speeds, as these IMO are likely to be more accurate.
The lowest I can find right now is 28.43 inches (966 mb) at Cresswell,about 20 miles to the north of the storm’s centre.

Sean Peake

Is it me or is the “official” reaction by government authorities to the storm (mandatory evac, staying is illegal, write name and SSN on your arm with a sharpie, and other scare tactics) reminiscent of “Close Encounters” or better yet, a scene from The Haunting (the good one from 1963), “So there won’t be anyone around if you need help… We couldn’t hear you. In the night… No one could. No one lives any nearer than town. No one will come any nearer than that… In the night. In the dark.”

Tony Raccuglia

The pressure is so low without the windspeed, because it is not 100 percent tropical anymore-its a hybrid noreaster and tropical system.

Anything is possible

Check. That should be 963 millibars.

Jon McCall

I think some are ignoring the fact that the barometric pressure has been sustained at 950mb since last night. This is equal to a cat 3 storm. It is dangerous to downplay this situation. Also, the eye will soon be over water.

Kevin

If you click through on a lot of those stations you find the wind speed to be the last measured before power loss. A lot of these were at 4 – 6 AM.

I don’t know what type of weather stations Wunderground is using, but the “personal” stations using inexpensive cup anemometers are not going to be terribly accurate in high speed winds. These also do not respond quickly to gusts so the readings are more of an average.
NOAA owned/operated station at Duck Pier showing ~55kt gusts, offshore buoys with 20+ ft waves.
REPLY: Note one of the examples I gave was a MADIS station, which is in fact a professional station with an RM Young Aerovane IIRC for that location – Anthony

pat

I don’t think this is a hurricane any longer. Might pick up a bit in a sustained ocean crossing given the warm water, but I think it more likely that it will continue up the coast land-ward.

Bruce Cobb

The media have created a perfect storm of spin and hype on this for sure. Diane Sawyer on ABC has been babbling about “the body bags”. Good grief.

j ferguson

Anthony, some of us have more exposure to whatever is coming than others. I like your observations and hope that they will continue, but it might be very useful, if you decide not to regularly monitor this thing, to leave a note to that effect. Wind just started after light and variable (not much of anything) to 15 knots on our on-board anemometer anchored in Rondout Creek just south of Kingston NY. Rain just now too.
3:10PM EDT

Roger Knights

It’s good the storm surges so far have been less than predicted. Those are the main threat to NYC. Maybe the subways will be back in business by Monday.

pat

Still steering west-ward. Good news.

johanna

Having watched many (and experienced one or two) of those scary swirly circles on the weather maps, I do wonder how much of what we have seen is a function of 24 hour media and its demand for incessant content.
I am watching WeatherWatch on SBS (Australia) as I type and there are scary swirly things over the sea in quite a few places.
To a seasoned observer of hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones around the globe, there is no doubt that the vast majority of them are fizzers. They weaken into more intense than average lows, with strong winds and rain, by the time they hit land. Once they do, of course, they weaken even further (in most cases).
So, the question is – what is the best way to respond? What are the real risks (bearing in mind that they were there 50 or 100 years ago)?
Insurance companies will make a motza out of people’s fear and lack of information. Combined with ‘climate change’, it opens whole new horizons.
As the Irene thread on this site has shown, more (gross) information does not necessarily equal better decisions.

If the pressure continues to drop, will it reform?

You know whats amazing, is people not living under this storm, telling us that do, how bad it is.
For those that think this thing has “weak” winds might want to take a look at the street sign set in concrete that was ripped out of the ground in Norfolk.

JDN

In Baltimore, we’re getting ready for a serious hurricane: http://looka.gumbopages.com/2010/05/08/the-original-hurricane-cocktail/
Seriously, wind speed at 100′ elevation affects very few people. Wind speed has been extremely mild on the ground in Baltimore. The wind readings for Baltimore have been off all day. We have currently very mild wind and basically haven’t had any even though the anemometers around town say we are getting near 30 mph gusts. It’s complete crap. Don’t believe it.

Expected her to head out to sea and fizzle out some days ago. Got the trajectory wrong, but glad she was so weakned. Hope you who are hit will not experience too much damage.
But for the media hype, i hope this will be a lesson learned. Media here in Norway labeled this a “monster-” and a “super”hurricane. As they did with “super”typhoon Muifa about to devastate China earlier this month. (also cat.1.)
Nothing wrong in crying wolf when there is one around, but yelling OMG IT’S A MONSTER WEREWOLF COMING TO KILL US ALL gets old fast.

Wade

An update. Still no electricity. But winds have definitely slowed down. One loblolly pine tree near me snapped about half way up. Its two neighbor loblollies are leaning over. Still raining. About 4.5 inches so far. Things are getting better.

Mike Mangan

The Post is counting someone who died of a heart attack a hurricane victim? How lame.

~FR

I am watching the predicted tracks on stormpulse.com, and it seems they have shifted westward, closer to NYC. GFS Ensemble used to be showing landfall on LI, now it is plowing through NJ; NOGAPS (USN) has it pointed at Philadelphia.
I am wondering if this is a website problem, or have the models really shifted in a non-negligible way?

shunt1

Darn, I made my prediction when the computer models were showing a path towards Key West or South Carolina. I missed it by about 50 miles, while their error of margin was almost 1,000 miles.
I have been doing this since the 1970’s and kinda have a feeling about hurrican paths. For me, it has always been a personal challenge.
But yes, today I am rather proud of my prediction on August 22!
……………..
shunt1 says:
August 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm
Why did I not designate North Carolina? I think that it will run along the coast between North Carolina and Virgina, but I doubt that the eye will actually cross over the land.
Actually, it will all depend upon what is happening around Northern California today and the interactions of the low pressure systems when they interact.

DesertYote

Doug Proctor says:
August 27, 2011 at 10:38 am
Another application of the Uncertainty Principle. I wonder how much this will have cost? And how much loss of credibility in NOAA and MSM?
###
Small price to pay for all of the wonderful propaganda it has generated. Don’t fret to much over the lose of credibility. The next news story will be out to distract everyone, and before you know it, the only thing people will remember will be the pre-storm reports. This will go down as a AGW caused freak storm in the collective consciousness.

boballab says:
August 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm

take a look at the street sign set in concrete that was ripped out of the ground in Norfolk

You bring up a good point: cars rip street signs set in concrete out of the ground on a fairly regular basis. Cars kill upwards of 40,000 people per year in the United States. Irene has killed four people. Therefore, Irene is 0.0001 of a car.

JohnInNJ

Watching NJ Governor Christie’s news conference yesterday made one thing abundantly clear. He was not about to let this become his Katrina. I have a feeling that that’s the prevailing sentiment among all elected officials right now. Wind speed is only a small part of the story, so if the hurricane/tropical storm intensity is concentrated close to the center of the storm, it still makes sense to get people out of coastal and riparian flood zones.
Sitting here in NJ watching the videos from friends in NC and VA, I’m not at all convinced that this storm is fizzling. Even after 11 years the memory of Floyd has made me extremely cautious about large, wet tropical systems that seem to have lost their punch. Several feet of water in your living room has that effect.

LearDog

It seems to me that this was a ‘win’ on trajectory and a ‘fail’ on intensity projections…. But the real interesting part is the reporting: NOAA and NBC.

Reaujere

Checking out the data from the National Data Buoy Center, station CLKN7 on Cape Lookout, NC (which was about 3 miles from where the “center” crossed the coastline) showed a max sustained wind of 58 knots at the 3 a.m. reporting, and a max gust of 68 knots. Looking at other buoy and station data from the NDBC shows the same thing, pretty much no sustained winds greater than 64kt.

Tony

Is Bloomberg going to prosecute those who stayed? After all, there must be someone to blame.

Leslie

It is impressive that the earlier models correctly predicted the track so far. But I’m curious why the projected category did not materialize. Could it be that the the ocean temperatures fed into the models were inflated?

Stark Dickflüssig says:
August 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm
boballab says:
August 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm
take a look at the street sign set in concrete that was ripped out of the ground in Norfolk
You bring up a good point: cars rip street signs set in concrete out of the ground on a fairly regular basis. Cars kill upwards of 40,000 people per year in the United States. Irene has killed four people. Therefore, Irene is 0.0001 of a car.

What an epic fail at logic.
Using your logic since cars rip up street signs on a fairly regular basis and they kill 40,000 people per year then since construction crews rip up street signs even more frequently then cars they kill more people?
They only way your logic works is that every single one of those car caused deaths, the car also ripped up a street sign.

I guess the alarmists picked a good middle name for this when they said its middle name was global warming. Truth in irony. maybe Josh should do a cartoon

Frank K.

Well I’m here in western New Hampshire dead center in the path of Irene. I didn’t sense any panic around here, but there are lots of low lying areas that are flood-prone along the Connecticut River (and other rivers that feed the Connecticut), so those folks will have to be wary of the rain fall amounts (should be in the 4 – 8 inch range). The NWS is calling for 35 – 45 mph winds with higher gusts – that will likely take out some power lines, but it may not be any worse than a typical Nor’easter. We shall see…I’ll post a full report if my power doesn’t go out tomorrow afternoon.