Hurricane Irene formed over PR this morning, and already I’m seeing reports of damage and power outages on the island. Winds are around 75 mph, which makes it a weak Cat. 1 hurricane, but the winds are gusting to well above 100 mph on the hills and mountains of PR. I’ll have the details on the show. The most troubling thing about the storm is the path it appears it will take. High pressure up to the north is steering Irene to the WNW this morning, and that will allow it to roll over PR early and then head to the northern DR coast later today. The track then blows through the Virgin Islands. Later in the week and may ultimately head just off the eastern FL coast by Thursday. The track is very much up in the air at this point for later in the week.
The strength of the storm is going to rely on three things:
Number one is how much the mountains of Hispaniola will disrupt the circulation. The longer it stays around the DR/Haiti and it’s mountains, the weaker it should become.
Number two is how warm the ocean temps. are over it’s the path. A hurricane needs 80F water temps to sustain or build on its strength. At last look, the water temps over the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos was about 84-85. That’s not a good sign.
Number three is how quickly the high pressure region to the north will allow it to move northward. The quicker Irene can get North, the more chance the SE will take a direct hit. Check out the NHC track, but keep in mind that it certainly can change 4-5 days out.
As for the rest of the country, there is a cold front steering rain away from the NE now, but the wind may slow you down at the NYC metro airports. Storms will fire along the front in the SE, and more storms are plowing through NE into IA and MO this morning. Rain is headed back to the NW and heat is back for the South/SW. Phoenix hits 113 today!