As of 2PM, Hurricane Irene was centered at 35.5N 76.3W, or about 45 miles west-northwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to 85 mph, with gusts up to 105 mph. Irene is moving to the NNE (15 degrees) at 15 mph. The forecast track has moved slightly to the west since the 8AM update. The hurricane models are hardly disagreeing with one another at this time. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Little River Inlet, North Carolina to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Chesapeake Bay from Drum Point northward to and the Tidal Potomac. Also, the warning is in effect from Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts to Eastport, Maine. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Rhode Island and Massachusetts from 11PM tonight into late Sunday evening.
As of this time, one fatality has been reported, in North Carolina. In New York, all mass transit was shut down, including buses, subways, and air travel, as of noon. In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, several parking bans are going into effect, and many churches have cancelled Sunday Services. To see the closings and cancellations for Rhode Island, click here. For the Boston area, click here.
Forecast Discussion: The first rand bands have moved through Rhode Island and the southern part of Massachusetts in the last couple of hours. We will see off and on periods of rain, along with some thunderstorms through the daylight hours. By this evening, rain and thunderstorms will begin to move into the southern part of Rhode Island, and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. The worst part of this time will be early Sunday morning through the late evening. We will see strong tropical storm winds (about 35 to as high as 60 mph at its peak), heavy rainfall, and numerous thunderstorms move through Providence and Boston. I think Providence will see 4-7 inches total rainfall, Boston to Worcester will see 3-6 inches, and Boston east seeing about 2-5 inches. Again, the south coast will be affected the most, due to coastal flooding from rainfall and astronomical high tide. I can see a storm surge of 4-6 feet for the south coast, as well as waves reaching 11-13 feet in the entrance of Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay, to about 8-10 feet along the eastern Massachusetts coast, to about 6-8 feet in the mouth of Boston Harbor. Seas will calm by Tuesday, as leftover swells from Irene will keep seas moderate on Monday. There may be numerous power outages, especially in the low lying areas, or areas with downed trees. By early Monday morning, there will be a few leftover showers, primarily in Boston. High pressure will bring back mostly sunny skies to everyone by late morning. The high will influence our weather for the entire workweek, which will help move along any cleanup projects from damage done by Irene.
72 hour forecast:
Today: Cloudy, with off and on rain bands/ scattered thunderstorms through the day. Expect a high of 79. Winds will be from the south-southeast at 8-12 mph.
Tonight: Rain, heavy at times, and scattered to numerous thunderstorms. Winds will increase to tropical storm conditions (up to 34 mph) after midnight. Also, storm surge along the coast may result in coastal flooding, as well as high seas. We will see a low of 71.
Sunday: Heavy rain, as well as tropical storm winds (up to 60 mph in Providence, 50 mph Boston eastward) by the afternoon. Rain bands and winds weaken into the evening. I’m forecasting a high of 76.
Sunday night: Rain dissipates to showers, and winds will weaken to 15-20 mph a few hours before sunrise. Gradual clearing is expected before sunrise, and a low of 60.
Monday: Leftover showers in Boston will end during mid-morning. Mostly sunny skies expected by the afternoon, with a high of 80.
Monday night: Clear skies, with a low of 60.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny. Highs 79-82, lows 62-65.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs 80-83, lows 58-61.
Thursday: Mostly sunny. Highs 77-80, lows 60-63.
Friday: Mostly sunny. Highs 76-79, lows 62-65.