Irene won’t go away. The east trend that I was hoping would continue has ceased and in some cases reversed. The 12z Euro and 18z GFS computer models are frightening scenarios for Connecticut with a direct hit from a category 1 or 2 hurricane. The damage would be immense. Power would be out for some people for a week or two.
I am still thinking this hurricane will pass east of Connecticut, though not by much. Since we are still talking about a 96 hour forecast there will no doubt be adjustments and the possibility of a significant and direct strike are just as high as they’ve ever been. I can’t think of a single threat in 20 years that has come close to Irene.
Here are the 18z computer models that have ticked west after run after run after run shifting east.
Even if the center of the hurricane passes over Block Island and stays east of Connecticut the impacts will be felt across the state. Damaging winds and exceptionally heavy rain and serious flooding are likely. If the track winds up over or east of Buzzards Bay the wind threat is reduced but the heavy rain threat is not.
This storm is also going to be moving much more slowly than most New England hurricanes. That tells me the inland fresh water flood threat and storm surge threat in Long Island Sound is higher than usual.
If the track comes west again overnight it will be time to start preparing on Thursday. If I had a boat I’d try to get it out of the water Thursday or Friday. It’s also a good idea, especially along the shore, to stock up on flashlights, batteries, candles, water, and food. Prepare for a week without power.
By Friday if the storm’s path hasn’t shifted east we will likely go under a hurricane watch and preparations such as boarding up windows on the beaches, filling up your gas tank, evacuating if in an evacuation zone, bringing in outside furniture should be done. Inland residents in flood prone areas should thinking about moving valuables out of the basement.
Plan on having all preparations done by sunset on Saturday. Rain will begin shortly thereafter and wind will begin by Sunday morning.
In summary, even though my current forecast brings Irene east of Connecticut, there is uncertainty and this is a very significant threat to the state. Even if the eye misses we will still be under the gun. Take this threat very seriously and prepare to act beginning Thursday to protect life and property if the forecast is still as ominous as it is right now.