****For local information pertinent to your area of interest please refer to the services of the National Weather Service. For individuals living south of Fort Pierce that would be the office out of Miami. From Ft. Pierce (St. Lucie County and north through Volusia)..that is the office located in Melbourne. North of Volusia County (Flagler)..visit the website for the office in Jacksonville, Florida.****
I write this because changes will be ongoing as Major Hurricane Irene approaches and parallels the state from early Thursday through sunset Friday. These offices are already issuing special statements concerning the potential hazards involved ...most of which involve those associated with the ocean such as rip currents and erosion. Other hazards involving wind and rain are not expected to be so prevalent to go beyond awareness and general safety rules involved with driving in the rain and wind. It is the beaches that will feel the bite with Irene .
TODAY: There is an obvious pattern established today so far with plentiful moisture across mainly the south half of the state...but moisture convergence due to a fairly deep but relatively light easterly flow component is able to make up the difference even north toward JAX for rain shower development. One thunder storm formed earlier toward Titusville, but already its presence cannot be seen on this satellite image. But it likely left a boundary around. Virtually every model disagrees with the tid bits today due to the approach of now Major Hurricane Irene. but in general most of the east side of the state should be fine with the rain and thunder chances working toward the west side of the state during the remainder of the afternoon. These should occur from near lake Okeechobee north to west of St. Augustine..but thunder restricted to South Central Florida
TONIGHT: Onshore winds near the coast remain light with a warm evening in store. A few showers Mainly SE Florida over night...with some reaching the coast and making it about 10-20 miles inland. These showers will work north with time just as Irene moves North and west (and eventually curves away from the state late Friday).
What is a "Major Hurricane?" . The term is being thrown around loosely as if everybody on the planet should already know by radio and TV. I wonder if even 1/3 of the news crews out there even know..the very ones who are spreading the word. Any storm classified as 'Cat'egory 3 or above. In light of the damage level shown here on a Cat 3, No Wonder it is "Major"....currently, the storm is approximately 550 miles SE of Cape Canaveral moving NW. It is anticipated that Irene will reach Cat 4 strength during it's peak performance..prior to reaching the Atlantic Coast very close to Cape Hatteras.
It is difficult to determine if the storm will actually cross the coast in entirety (at least the eye portion)..the track has ever evolved and shifted east with time since the day of its inception.
THURSDAY/FRIDAY: In a nutshell - **Completely contingent upon the future size and track of Major Hurricane Irene** What we can do is take the only tools we have which is current guidance and real time data..and extrapolate between the two into the future. The latest GFS actually has the storm center tracing just offshore the entire eastern sea board from where the yellow highlight is shown..and then comign on shore near Long Island or Connecticut..and fully into Maine. Florida will be in the clear for sure of any direct strike once the storm has torn its way PAST the area shown in lavender.
CURRENT OFFICIAL FORECAST TRACK:
But even so, that might not do well enough. Consider, we are talking about a living, breathing , and maturing teenager turning manic and out of control without meds on the way to adulthood in the course of 24 hours. With that, the worst case scenario looks like the first showers directly associated with the outer bands of Hurricane Irene will arrive sometime between 9AM-noon. From whatever time they arrive, they should be able to continue through later Friday and increase in number and degree into at least early Friday ..to even late Friday evening. It is possible the first bands of rain could contain some thunder and stronger wind gusts due to down drafts ...the showers/storms will move through quickly, perhaps followed by a lull in the rain but not the wind. But the lulls will be briefest along A1A at all times.
During the day Thursday more fast moving but small sized showers will continue to pour in from the Atlantic Ocean gradually working into Volusia and possibly Flagler Counties. Winds appear will be steady state and at their strongest over night Thursday night into early Friday morning. Perhaps continuous 22-32mph range with gusts in the fast moving squalls of rain above tropical storm force in the 38mph range or so. Throughout the day Thursday and Friday the true winds of the storm's circulation will come in from the east to ENE...and gradually back to ENE then NE. and NNE with time as the storm approaches. When Irene is directly east of Central Florida the wind will be due north over Central Florida. Further south this evolution will all transpire earlier in the time frame continuum.
The only true hazard with Irene is the ever increasing storm surf. Any danger associated with the movie "Victory At Sea" one can imagine will be present anywhere above knee deep water. Best advice for any one is don't go beyond ankle deep. Should a large wave come in and catch you off guard...oh well. Or for that matter, do not get on the beach at all. But, it will become obvious just exactly whether or not it is even safe to go on the dunes...especially during times of high tide. The other possible hazard is waterspouts near the coast which if they come ashore would be tornadoes..but, this seems pretty unlikely to occur on the west side of the storm, but it has happened. High tide in general using Cape Canaveral as a reference point in Brevard County will be around 5:30pm Thursday and an hour later on Friday. It will also occur around 4:30 AM to 6:30AM (Saturday) as the storm departs. Winds by Saturday sunrise will be offshore for surfers and big waves.
Additionally, at high tide or even a few hours before and after there could be a danger of beach erosion. The NWS is not toying around and simply painting the worst scenario..which is the right way to go until proven otherwise. In that case, beach erosion could become a real issue, but it won't last too long (not like a northeaster)..so the hype to some degree might be over done...it is simply too hard to know because we do not know how large of an area the wind field with Irene will be, nor how strong the wind contained in that field will get.
In turn, the coverage of rainfall is also difficult. The consistency in plots would indicate that the most heavily affected area both in wind and rain will be east of US1 from St. Augustine South..but the biggest area to be affected when all is said and done will be southern Volusia county along and east of US1 to Vero Beach or Ft. Pierce. Given the winds fields over the entire event, there might be two 'hot spots' of bigger rainfall,
1) Near Ft Pierce; 2) North Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral, Central and South Rockledge into Eau Gallie, and perhaps North Cocoa Beach...with some of this activity skimming by Titusville and into Port St. John as well. 3) Also south of Ft. Pierce to Key Largo area.
These same area will also receive the strongest wind gusts, but the strongest winds through the event will occur along and east of A1A in Southern Volusia, Brevard, Indian River Counties...extending to ocean front south to Miami.and briefly toward key Largo and west of there as well. Believe the strongest winds of all, which could reach tropical storm force in gusts will occur as Hurricane Irene begins to get not only stronger but larger. This will occur as she reaches the Latitude of Melbourne beach and continue for quite some time north of that latitude. This could be the bench mark location to just ENE of Cape Canaveral because from there and north the ocean water is not quite as warm...but the storm size itself could spread out. With that..the showers could continue up until Friday evening north of Vero Beach..with the last to pull out near the Cape...as soon as mid-afternoon Friday to as late as midnight Friday night...there is simply no way to know until we see how big the areal coverage of Irene will be...and the fact that it should be expanding in circumference as it tries to pull away.
Overall, I'm envisioning the biggest impact in both winds and rain to the state to run from the North Side of the Cape (Playalinda Beach) to Port Canaveral and south to Cocoa Beach Pier beach-side specifically and up to one block from the beach...then beach-side immediately south to Sebastian Inlet..and perhaps North Merritt island.
Outside of these areas, rainfall with less of the wind gusts will or could occur west of I95 in Southern Flagler South through Volusia and Brevard..perhaps into eastern Orange and Seminole County...NE Osceola.
Rain and winds will lessen from South to North and from west to east..with the last to end far East Central.
"PLAN B" - Irene continues to shift its course further to the east and the only impact will be Marine related.
AFTER IRENE: More... lots more to discuss in the local forecast involving more early through late afternoon thunderstorms and showers (into Monday) and hot afternoon temperatures beach-side with NO SEA BREEZE. The focus will be across Central originally it appears on Saturday and Sunday. ..becoming state winde Monday and Tuesday.
Beyond the weekend into early September.... I'm watching the Gulf of Mexico..not the Atlantic. Irene will be leaving behind a trail of low pressures in the Gulf that will linger for quite some time to come. This area is unfettered of storms due to high pressuer over Texas. That is problematic though..but somewhere is of that high pressure..and where it will be effective will or could pay homage to future Tropical Weather Outlooks. Waters here are near 90F, winds are light, and this area has been just waiting since late winter for this opportunity. Florida and anywhere east of the Mississippi will be in for more forecasting headaches I have a feeling in September.
And what's that I see? The ridge over Texas breaking down!?? Finally?..too far out in space to tell. But it has been indicated...if it is showing September 10th though..that could end up being October..or not at all.