4 PM UPDATE

There’s still a very good chance this may intensify to cat 3 status before landfall. I still believe it lands around Moorehead City, NC then west of OBX and hugs the coast to NYC. It also can still be a cat 2 off the NJ coast – models have been painting a very windy picture for a storm that normally would weaken before it gets to us, but here’s the discussion from Mt Holly this afternoon:

INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT MUCH OF THE MODEL GUIDANCE DEVELOPS A STRONG 250 MB JET NORTH OF THE HURRICANE SATURDAY INTO SUNDAY, GENERALLY FROM THE EASTERN GREAT LAKES TO NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND. THIS UPPER-LEVEL JET EVEN HAS SOME ANTICYCLONIC CURVATURE TO IT AND GIVEN THE ORIENTATION OF THIS JET IT IS SUCH THAT IRENE IS WITHIN THE RIGHT ENTRANCE REGION AS SHE TRACKS NORTHWARD. THIS SCENARIO MAY TEND TO HELP WITH A POLEWARD UPPER-LEVEL OUTFLOW CHANNEL AND ASSIST IN THE INTENSITY OF THE SYSTEM AS A WHOLE. THEREFORE, DESPITE SOME INCREASING SHEAR AS THE HURRICANE GAINES LATITUDE ALONG WITH COOLER WATERS AND LAND INTERACTIONS, PERHAPS THIS IS WHY MUCH OF THE MODEL GUIDANCE NEARLY INSISTS THIS SYSTEM REMAINS A POWERFUL ONE ALL THE WAY INTO SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND. IT BECOMES EVEN MORE OF AN INTENSITY FORECAST CHALLENGE AS TROPICAL CYCLONES GET THIS FAR NORTH AND INTERACT WITH BAROCLINIC ZONES AND LARGE SCALE SYNOPTIC FEATURES. AN EXAMINATION OF THE WIND FIELD AT 925 MB IS CONCERNING WITH A LARGE AREA OF 60 TO NEARLY 85 KNOTS RACKING ACROSS THE CWA SATURDAY EVENING THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING. WHILE THE FRICTIONAL EFFECTS WILL TEND TO SLOW THE WIND DOWN SOME AND ALSO ALLOW FOR SOME DECOUPLING BETWEEN THE SURFACE AND ABOVE, THE PRESSURE GRADIENT COMBINED WITH ENHANCED MIXING WITHIN HEAVIER RAIN/CONVECTION SHOULD PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT/DAMAGING GUSTS. WE CONTINUE TO USE A 125 PERCENT OF THE SUSTAINED WINDS TO DERIVE OUR GUSTS BUT CAPPED THEM AT 90 KNOTS /20 PERCENT REDUCTION OF THE SUSTAINED WINDS OVER LAND/. THE WIND GUST TOOL THAT INCLUDES MIXING MAY BE TO HIGH ESPECIALLY OVER AREAS FARTHER INLAND.

Believe me, considering I just boarded up my shorehouse which I’ve been going to since I was born, I’m really hoping it doesn’t re-intensify and catch everyone off guard. But Hugo did, AND Charlie gained something like 40 or 50 mph in just a few hours while sitting over 90+ water, just as Irene is now. That’s the only reason why I’m saying it – until it crosses land, you cannot say it won’t…

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