I don’t have any changes on the expected impacts of Irene. The center of Irene has been very near or just a tad left of the forecast track. The storm moved more northerly during landfall in Cape Lookout, NC and is now resuming the 15 degree (NNE) heading at 13 mph. This is a very slow forward motion for a hurricane affecting the East Coast, especially this far north. Expect conditions in Ocean City, MD up to Sandy Hook, NJ to go down hill starting around 8 pm south and 11 pm north. Wind gusts have exceeded 110 mph in NC. Although I don’t expect to see those gusts further north, high rises will certainly be prone to those speeds.
I have no problem with the latest track forecast and guidance continues to be in good agreement. The question now is exactly where the eye of Irene goes. If it is just inland over the Delmarva and NJ, then the Southeast winds will be 60+ mph with gusts over 85 mph. If it is just offshore, winds will be more from the North around 45-55 mph with gusts to 75 mph. I can’t rule out some gusts over 100 mph, but I think those will be few and far between. Looking at the observations farther south, the highest official sustained wind around landfall in NC was 58 mph at Cape Lookout, though Cape Hatteras was gusting to 78 mph. I did see gusts of 101 mph and 110 mph in Carteret, NC. I have seen gusts in Norfolk at KORF of 53 mph and here at KBWI in Baltimore I have gusted to 36 knots or 41 mph.
Rainfall amounts from Norfolk to NYC are going to be impressive. Some preliminary amounts are over 15″ of rain in NC. Here at the airport, we’ve had about 1.30″ and counting. My station in NJ (Oceanport) has 0.84″ as of this writing. Feel free to following the live stream and if you want to climatology page, go here. I would expect on average about 8″-10″ of rain in NJ, with locally higher amounts exceeding 12″. I posted the HPC rainfall guidance above and the forecast is for an additional 4″-9″ of rain from DC through NYC and heading towards interior New England.
I included a satellite animation above as the storm impacts the Mid-Atlantic. Again, I stress, the worst impacts will be from about 9 pm EDT Sat to about 10 am EDT Sun. Tidal flooding is becoming the biggest problem along the ocean front and back bays. Please stay indoors as trees are falling in many areas and currently there are about 1 million people without power in NC and VA.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave me a message. I’ll keep you posted as long as I can.