While we are enjoying a beautiful stretch of weather with sunshine, low humidity and highs in the 70s and lower 80s through the weekend, the east coast is bracing for Major Hurricane Irene. If the area of high pressure dominating our weather was stronger, it would help the East Coast by keeping the hurricane further away from the coastline, but unfortunately these are weak high pressure systems and the path of this storm with affect millions along the coast from North Carolina on Saturday to New England on Sunday.
North Carolina’s Outer Banks look to take a direct hit from Irene’s eye and 120+ mph winds as it sticks out nearly 250 miles further east than Miami. The storm could even hit Wilmington, North Carolina which is part of the mainland. Once it passes there, the storm weakens to a category 1 or 2 hurricane with winds up to 110 mph and pushes north into New Jersey and New York on Sunday. In addition to damaging winds and storm surge, flooding is a major concern in metropolitan areas with more than 10” expected. Irene could be the worst NE hurricane since the 1930s. Wherever Irene makes landfall, it will be the first hurricane to hit the U.S. in 3 years. The last one was Hurricane Ike that hit Texas in September of 2008. Two tropical storms hit the U.S. in 2009 and one last year.
The Bahamas were ravaged by Irene's 145 mph wind gusts on Thursday. It was the first hurricane to hit the Bahamas in 6 years.
The Tropics have been busy the past few years, but fortunately, they have missed the U.S.. With that said, the SE United States, especially Florida, is under a severe drought. The tropical systems are vital to their water table even though they do not want the damage. The Florida Everglades are drying up.