Irene Gaining Strength

NHC 5pm Forecast Track for Irene

The late afternoon update from the National Hurricane Center indicates Irene now has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.  The storm is tracking northwest at 12 mph with a minimum central pressure of 28.17″.  The forecast is for Irene to reach category 4 status with winds of 135 mph by midday Thursday before some weakening begins Thursday night.  Irene is forecast to clip the outer banks of North Carolina as a category 3 hurricane, with winds of 115 mph, Saturday afternoon, then track to a position 75-100 miles east of Ocean City, MD by Sunday morning.

Probability of Hurricane Force Winds (74mph or greater)

Probability of Tropical Storm Force Winds (40-73mph)

On this track, there is a 40-50% chance that Ocean City will experience tropical storm force winds (40-73 mph), very heavy rain, rough surf, and higher than normal tides Saturday night into midday Sunday.  The chances of tropical storm conditions decreases to 20-40% for areas north and west of Ocean City across the eastern shore.  If the storm stays on this forecast track, there is less than a 20% chance of tropical storm conditions for areas west of the bay.  With the center of the storm offshore and moving north/northeast, storm surges on the bay become less likely, but tides around the bay may still run a couple feet above normal.

The margin of error with 3-4 day forecasts of hurricane positions can be a couple hundred miles, which means the entire Chesapeake Bay region should remain on alert for possible changes in the path of this dangerous storm.

Tom Tasselmyer

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