Posted at 8:55 AM on August 22, 2011
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Hurricanes
Get ready for non-stop news coverage of what could be the first hurricane to strike the USA in nearly 3 years. It's been 1073 days since Hurricane Ike slammed into Texas.
They'll be battening down the hatches from Florida to the Carolina's this week as what could become "major" Hurricane Irene moves toward the U.S. coast.
Irene lashed Puerto Rico as a tropical storm Sunday.
Radar loop shows swirling center as Irene lashes Puerto Rico Sunday.
Irene is now Hurricane Irene as the system moves over open water north of Hispaniola. (Click on images to enlarge)
So where is Irene headed?
Let's start today with the "official" NHC track. NHC forecasts Hurricane Irene to graze the east side of Florida Friday, with a potential landfall near the Florida-Georgia border Saturday. Keep in mind that the 5 year average track error for hurricanes is 200-250 miles 4-5 days out.
Many models indicate the track may be shifted further east. The suite of hurricane "spaghetti models" clusters Irene's track east of Florida with landfall somewhere in the Carolinas this weekend.
If that track verifies, what could be good news for Florida may be very bad news for the Carolinas and the east coast of the USA. More time over the open, warm waters of the Gulf Stream may "flare" Irene into a monster. Rapid intensification is possible over the super charged Gulf Stream, and a Category 3 hurricane with winds over 115mph is possible as it approaches land.
Check out the intensity forecasts for Irene. A few of the models intensify Irene to a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111 mph+!
As you can see there is still great variabiliy in track and intensity forecasts for Irene. It is still way to early to be married to any one track scenario. People from Florida to the Carolinas (and beyond) should be making hurricane preparations today and tomorrow.
East Coast Hurricane nightmare track?
Many of the models are suggesting a track for Irene that could bring the storm right along the East Coast of the USA. This could leave the eastern side of the storm out over open water, as the storm rakes the east coast from Washington, D.C. through New York & Long Island all the way to Boston.
If that happens, even a Category 1 Irene may become a devastating storm affecting millions. Damage from Irene could rise into the billions.
All of this of course depends on the exact track of Irene. There could be a merciful shift east that would keep the most destructive part of the hurricane out over open water, but at this point that does not look like the most likely solution.
Stay tuned as we track Irene this week. This has the potential to be a major weather disaster for the eastern USA.
Minnesota: Amazon Jungle heat, thunder & a perfect start to the Fair this week?
If you like variety, you may enjoy our forecast. It looks like we may see a little bit of everything this week in Minnesota.
Monday: Can you dream up a more perfect summer day?
Plenty of sun today. Highs in the lower 80s. More humid by late afternoon. Wind SSW increasing to 10-20 mph late.
Overnght & early Tuesday: a 40% chance of thunderstorms after midnight into Tuesday AM. Some could be heavy.
Tuesday Afternoon: Barbaric heat & humidity. Hazy sun, intensely hot & humid. High near 92-95 in the south. Dew points 75+. Heat index could reach 103 in some areas by late Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday: Relief! Cool front brings fresh NW breezes at 10-20 mph. High near 85, but much less humid with dew points falling into the upper 50s late.
Thursday: State Fair Opening Day! Weather perfection? Sunny with comfortable humidity and a high near 83. Light west winds. Wow!
Friday: Mixed sun & clouds. Warm & more humid. Thunder threat? High 85.
Stay tuned as we track the two major weather stories this week...Hurricane Irene and State Fair weather!