28 August 2011
The image on the right is from NOAA/AOML and shows a very large wind field around Irene. The latest NWP models continue to show a track near New York and Boston, but while Irene is a minimal hurricane the large wind field will cause significant flooding. So far, Irene is turning into a very wet storm with 8″ rainfall reports coming in from NC.
Wind shear is affecting Irene and it will likely slowly weaken, but slowly is the operative word here and from New York to Boston, winds gusting to 70 mph are likely within of 50 miles of the center. The amount of flooding depends on more than just the wind speed, and the radius of tropical storm force winds is also a major factor. Winds being blown to the west in Long Island sound are likely to cause significant flooding as the pile up against land.
Hurricane warnings remain in effect all the way to Boston, and the latest recon fix indicated a pressure of 950 millibars. I doubt it will weaken much over the next 12 hours. That gust to 59 mph in Richmond is a perfect example of how large the wind field is around Hurricane Irene, and a lot of folks are going to spend tonight with no power.
More, later tonight, as the center approaches the Jersey coast.