Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tropical Storm Irene Forms, Florida and Georgia on the chopping block

Tropical Storm Irene has formed as of last night in the Caribbean area. While I was conferring with a few meteorologists, it became apparent that Irene was shifting more north, thus her track would as well. It appears her center had relocated slightly north.
The National hurricane Center is opting for a Florida landfall, while most models are either doing the same thing or going east of the NHC's track. That said, areas west of the state of Mississippi may have an incremental chance of being hit by this storm. I cannot guarantee that, but latest model guidance and my gut feeling indicate that is what should be laid down.
The ECMWF model takes Irene and slams her into Georgia. Now, Georgia has not had a major hurricane in a large number of years. It is possible their hurricane preparation tactics may not be implemented as skillfully as they would be with Florida residents due to lack of experience with hurricanes. I would advise residents of Georgia to have evacuation plans ready, or, if you cannot leave for some reason, stock 2 weeks of food, water and batteries for safety in a sturdy building on higher floors. The ECMWF, along with several other models, has formed a consensus which we will show you in a moment.
The GFS model takes Irene to a stronger level than the ECMWF, but appears to hit Florida's coastline, ride that north and then hit Georgia at the strength shown above. This could be even more devastating than what the ECMWF shows, but we are still 5 days from impact and these models will change.
Here is the experimental FIM model developed by the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL). The plot mapped above is surface winds about 5 days away from now. We can see the wind strength around 65 knots. While that may seem like a lot, it is only a Category 1- Category 2 hurricane (wind may fluctuate). However, even that strength can make a big impact on any state, even one that is prepared for hurricanes.

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