Earlier this month when TS Emily cruised across the Caribbean all eyes were on Hispanola. Would Emily hit the island? If it did how would the mountainous terrain affect continued development? We learned quickly what can happen to a developing tropical feature as it interacts with land as Emily's run at becoming the season's first hurricane quickly ended.
Fast forward three weeks and we are in a similar situation. Within the next 24 to 36 hours Hurricane Irene will be traveling over the island in a similar fashion as Emily. However there are some pretty big differences to examine.
First Irene is already twice the storm that Emily was. Emily never really had a closed area of circulation. The storm was barely a tropical storm when it went over the island. Irene on the other hand is much more organized.
The other difference is all about location. If the storm rolls across the north eastern edge of Hispanola as current guidance suggests, it won't encounter any mountains.
[TOPO MAP OF HISPANOLA]
In fact that part of the island is mainly coastal plains.
Worse still for the Carolinas is the very real possibility that the system stays north of the island. Should that be the case Irene will not only keep her source of energy, but she will likely strengthen as water temperatures in that area are some of the warmest in the Atlantic basin.
Without trying to promote fear, just awareness, it is important to remember many Carolina landfalling hurricanes including Fran, Bertha and Hazel had a track that moved to the north of Hispaniola.
Again, many things could happen over the next couple of days. We will have a better focus of intensity and track by early morning Tuesday. The official guidance pushes the storm right over the Florida Peninsula from south to north which would be great for us. In that scenario we would receive rain (perhaps a lot) but wouldn't feel the winds or storm surge. None the less, no matter what happens, the end result will have a lot to do with what Irene does as it passes Hispaniola in the coming day.
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