It appears now that the core of Hurricane Irene, as it churns toward the WNW, will remain just north of Hispaniola. That’s not good news. That means the mountains of the Dominican Republic won’t get a chance to knock the stuffing out of the storm.
But there’s worse news. Irene is about to be fertilized with Hurricane Miracle-Gro… from both above and below.
Irene is churning relentlessly toward warmer ocean waters, premium fuel for hurricanes, in the Bahamas and off the southeast coast of the U.S. Not only are the waters warm, they’re warmer than normal. Ouch.
More importantly, the upper-air pattern, the exhaust system of hurricanes, is forecast to become super zoomy–shades of the glass packs on my ’67 ‘Vette–as Irene spins northward. (The ‘Vette, by the way, is long gone… misspent youth and all that.)
Thus, Irene stands an excellent chance of becoming the first major hurricane (winds in excess of 110 mph) of the season. In fact, that’s exactly what the National Hurricane Center is predicting.
The bigger question is, of course: What’s Irene’s target?
The models keep shifting the track of Irene to the right (east) suggesting that perhaps Florida and Georgia are off the hook. But that’s only a suggestion, not an all-clear signal. Keep in mind that the models have been shifting and haven’t yet stabilized. No reason they couldn’t swing back in the other direction. In fact, there is one not-to-be-discounted model that warns Miami is the bulls-eye!
So the bottom line for now is that all of the Southeast Coast and Florida Peninsula remain in play. [Wring hands here.]
-August 22, 2011-
IMAGE: Color-enhanced IR image of Irene at midday today.