At 8 p.m. EDT, Irene was born when the hurricane hunter aircraft found that she skipped the tropical depression stage and went straight to tropical storm stage. For those keeping count (most likely just me), that is 8 out of 9 storms this year that have been classified as tropical storms on the first advisory. Also, the Atlantic has only had it’s 9th named storm by 8/21 two other time. . .2005 and 1936. At this rate, we will be headed towards another hyperactive year with a total of 25 storm or more. I’m not forecasting this to occur, but with the way storms have been named thus far this season, it is a strong possibility. I had forecasted 16 storms and I think I’m underdone now. But I digress. . .
Let’s talk about Irene. She is still in the process of getting organized over the northern Lesser Antilles, with a center showing up on satellite and radar just to the east of St. Kitts. It appears as though Irene is being stubborn and moving more northwest, which will change the forecast track.
Update: I see the aircraft may have a surface center southwest of what the radar imagery is showing. If this is the case, then I was mislead by a mid-level vortex and the true center of Irene is about 60 nautical miles west of Montserrat. Stay tuned!
Above is a radar image out of Guadeloupe with a red circle depicting the estimated center of circulation for Irene. That is on the far right, just outside the cone forecasted by NHC earlier this morning.
As you can see above, the track guidance is in good agreement as the models were initiated from the new center fix. The problem is that the center may keep jogging more north than west which would allow Irene to miss Hispaniola to the right. This would allow for more strengthening than currently forecast by models.
The majority of the guidance forecasts Irene to become a hurricane with a few models topping off at a modest Category 3. Only two models keep the storm a tropical storm, most likely due to land interaction. The synoptic environment is conducive for strengthening and rapid strengthening at that. If Irene misses the mountains of Hispaniola and Cuba, we could be talking about a Category 4 or 5 storm heading towards Florida. If it hits the islands, it will become more a rain-maker and less wind threat. If you are in Florida, now is the time to start preparing for possible evacuations and property protection. After Florida, the storm looks to run up the East Coast, with North Carolina receiving the strongest hit based on some recent model runs.
Above is the official forecast track issued by NHC, but do not be surprised if there is a northward shift to the track at the 11 a.m. advisory. I will have more on Irene either later tonight or tomorrow morning.
The Boulder area resides just northwest of our pesky summertime ridge that is parked over Texas. This will continue to provide a chance for isolated afternoon thunderstorms during peak heating as the storms drift off the front range. Temperatures for the next week look to be persistent around 90 with night-time lows in the low to mid 60s. No big changes expected until possibly after next weekend.