Posted by: pyeager | August 21, 2011

Will Irene Be First Lanfalling U.S. Hurricane Since 2008?

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast for Tropical Storm Irene projects that the storm will be a hurricane when it makes landfall in southern Florida on Thursday night. If it is, then it will be the first hurricane to make a direct landfall in the United States since the devastating Hurricane Ike in September 2008.

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Irene

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Irene

Since today is Sunday, nothing is certain about a late-week U.S. impact. Earlier this season, NHC forecasters had initially predicted that Emily would hit southern Florida as a hurricane; however, its interaction with Hispaniola and a slight eastward shift in the track meant that Florida was spared.

Irene is also expected to interact with Hispaniola early this week, which will certainly weaken the storm; however, it’s expected to be a more glancing blow with the northern part of the island rather than crossing from north-to-south through the rugged terrain. As a result of that and overall favorable atmospheric conditions, warm water, and general computer model consensus, the NHC is expecting that Irene will hit Florida as a hurricane on Thursday night.

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