Woke up with an awful stomach ache last night and haven’t been able to sleep much so I’ve had lots of time to watch Irene on the laptop. The storm has become the first hurricane of the 2011 season and lashed Puerto Rico overnight with heavy rain and damaging winds. Over 1,000,000 homes and businesses are in the dark.
The storm is pulling away from Puerto Rico and will likely pass north of or scrape the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. The island of Hispaniola is very mountainous so the amount of interaction with land will determine the strength of Irene over the next 24-36 hours.
Beyond there it’s a difficult forecast. The National Hurricane Center brings Irene up along Florida’s east coast and into Georgia as a 95 knot hurricane. The model trend, however, is for the storm to move even more to the east which indicates a South Carolina or North Carolina landfall.
In the overnight weather porn department the 00z GFS ensembles and even the 00z Euro showed the possibility of some impact in southern New England next weekend.
I don’t think the pattern looks like that of a classic New England hurricane but rather one where a “scraper” or an “inside runner” could happen. That means a storm that either passes to our east like Earl last year or a storm that makes landfall in the Carolinas, weakens over land, and travels along the coast toward New England like Bertha or Floyd. A direct hit like Gloria, Bob, or Carol seems quite unlikely given the currently forecast setup.
It will be important to watch Irene closely in the coming days.