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August 24, 2011

Irene forecast track edges eastward

There are plenty of uncertainties still, but hurricane forecasters have nudged their forecast track for Hurricane Irene just a bit more to the east. If that holds up, it could mean this will be more of a coastal storm for the Maryland and Delaware resorts. And for the Western Shore, at least, that NHC Irenewould spare us an Isabel-like storm surge up the Chesapeake Bay.

That's not to say Central Maryland would escape Irene's wrath entirely. We can still probably expect some heavy rain over the weekend. And because we've been getting more rain lately, and are expecting more from a cold front due here on Thursday, weekend rain from Irene will fall on soils and in streams already full of water. And that raises the risks of flooding.

Here's Jeffrey Halverson, associate professor of geography and environmental systems at UMBC, on the rain potential:

"Big storms like Irene, even while along the coast or offshore, can circulate Atlantic moisture inland well in advance of the actual storm center. Moderate to heavy rain may actually begin spreading up the East Coast 24-36 hours ahead of the storm. The models are certainly presenting this scenario."

At 11 a.m., Irene was located about 285 miles southeast of Nassau, moving to the northwest at 12 mph. Top sustained winds were clocked at 115 mph, making Irene a "major," Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane-force winds were expected in the Central Bahamas by Wednesday night, and in the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday. Storm suges of 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels are possible in the Bahamas, along with large and dangerous waves. Rainfall could total 6 to 12 inches in the Bahamas.

The center of the National Hurricane Center's "cone of uncertainty" for Irene's future path turns her gradually to the northwest and then north in the next two days. That would take Irene ashore in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. Mandatory evacuation orders are already up for Okracoke Island.

The current path would place the storm at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay by 2 a.m. Sunday. Forecasters at the National Weather Service regional forecast office in Sterling, Va., say Irene will arrive there as a coldfront crosses Maryland from the northwest. As the moist tropical air runs up against the cold front, it would trigger heavy rain in Central Maryland.

The impact at the beaches will depend on Irene's strength - it's forecast to be a Cat..1 hurricane at that stage - and how close she comes to the shoreline. But those at the beaches can expected heavy rain, wind and surf. Here's a (clickable) map of the wind forecast for Sunday. It shows strong winds on the Lower Eastern Shore and the lower bay.

The NWS forecast office in Wakefield, Va., is saying that tropical storm conditions are possible for Ocean City Saturday night and Sunday. Here's part of their morning forecast discussion from Wakefield:


Here is the latest forecast advisory for Irene. Here is the forecast track. And here is the National Hurricane Center's forecast discussion.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:00 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Forecasts, Hurricanes


Irene can still cause some major problems on the eastern seaboard...

Hi, Frank-

I am supposed to go camping in the eastern mountains of West Virginia this weekend. For now, the forecast is not calling for rain. Is there much of a chance that Irene will dump a bunch of rain on that part of the country? Thanks.

FR REPLIES: NWS says you could get some rain FRiday night. The rest of the weekend looks dry.

how about O's game vs. Yankees on Sunday? 1:35 pm

FR REPLIES: Wet. But better than the Bronx.

Hi Frank
My weekend plans call for a trip down to Easton, MD. Would you recommend not going?

FR REPLIES: Go Friday. But don't go if you absolutely have to come back on Sunday. Expect flooding and storms, blocked roads and power outages.

I am running an event in Germantown MD where we have spent the past two weeks setting up a show inside a 40 foot x 80 foot pole tent. The tent can withstand some wind but we are concerned that powerful gusts could damage it, or cause it to flip over, but we are reluctant to undo weeks worth of work. How powerful will the wind be in this part of the state, and do you recommend that we take it down?

FR REPLIES: I'm not going to be able to advise everyone. No time. Can't accept responsibility if someone gets hurt. Check weather forecasts, check with local authorities and use your best judgement.

I planned to go to Ocaen Beach leaving tomorrow morning from NYC. Do you think I should go or you recomend to cancel my trip.

FR REPLIES: I'm not going to be able to advise everyone on their travel plans, and can't accept the liability if you go and get hurt. So check with your local authorities and monitor weather forecasts, and use your best judgement. Good Luck.

I am suppose to fly into Baltimore from WI on Friday for a wedding and leave on Sunday afternoon, I'm considering not going. What can you tell me about the weather and flying?

Dear Frank,

Why does mineral water that has "trickled through mountains for centuries" go out of date next year?

Why is a certain cereal called Grape Nuts when it doesn't contain grapes or nuts??

I have a boat docked on the western shore of the Chesapeake Ay south of Annapolis, MD. What's the latest expectation for surges and winds are expected? As of ~11 AM, Thursday, Aug. 25.

I have a yacht parked in MD ...what to do ?

FR REPLIES: Call the marina.

I will be traveling to Towson, Md this weekend to move my daughter into college.What do you expect the weather to be in that region of the country on Saturday/Sunday?

FR REPLIES: If you are talking about Towson University, the school has postponed move-in day to Monday. The area will be seeing heavy rain and wind Saturday, and tropical storm conditions Sunday.

I'm supposed to travel to richmond va this weekend from suitland, md, what will the weather be like saturday morning.

FR REPLIES: Here's the forecast for Fredericksburg.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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