Irene strengthened into a hurricane overnight despite her interaction with land. Nearly all of Puerto Rico is without power as Irene battered the island with 80 mph wind gusts.
Here is a radar loop of Irene as she passed over Puerto Rico early this morning:
Our forecast guidance continues to track Irene just North of the Island of Hispanolia. If this were to occur, land interaction would be very minimal and Irene would likely continue to strengthen. With an extremely favorable upper air environment, Irene should have no problem reaching major hurricane status within the next 48-72 hours.
The track of Irene is the big question. With a weakeness in the subtropical ridge, Irene will likely take a turn towards the North or Northwest. The only caveat in this theory is the strength of the cyclone as stronger hurricanes will often exhibit or try to exhibit a leftward motion.
While some uncertainty still exists, most of our forecast models agree that a Carolina Coastline landfall is in the works.
Irene will likely have major impacts on nearly all of the Eastern Seaboard. The cyclone will likely be large in nature with tropical storm force and hurricane winds extending well out from the Central. Tropical Storm and Hurricane force winds are likely to impact much of the Eastern Seaboard with the Western part of Irene likely coming close to the Eastern Florida Coast.
Hurricane watches and warnings are in effect for much of Hispanolia, Cuba and the Bahamas.
In addition to strong winds, storm surge and extremely heavy flooding rains will be a significant threat across much of the Southeast and Eastern United States Coast. With a slow moving cyclone and a deep moisture connection/influx into the hurricane, flooding rains will be an extremely dangerous threat up and down the Southeastern and Eastern Coast. Our forecast models are already keying in on this threat with the GFS indicating widespread flooding rains from Florida to Maine.
Residents from Florida to Maine should be on high alert and be monitoring the progress of Irene. Hurricane Irene will be a large hurricane with her effects being felt well away from the center of circulation/eye wall. Irene will be a multi-facet hurricane bringing not only damaging winds, but torrential flooding rains, storm surge, strong rip currents and tornadoes.
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