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Morning Express with Robin Meade

A fast, personal, and smart blend of all the news you want in the morning. We call it "News in the Fast Lane." So buckle up.

Peak Hurricane Season hits

Tropical Storm Maria hovers in the Atlantic and will likely grow to hurricane strength in the coming days. However, the storm is expected to move away from the US and not pose a threat to the mainland. Katia, Lee, Irene and Nate were damaging, but they are gone. However, don’t let today’s lull in tropical activity fool you. We are actually in peak week for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic’s Hurricane Season.

Hurricane Season for the Atlantic, Gulf or Mexico and Caribbean Sea runs from June 1st to November 30th.  Notice on the graph above the peak of the season occurs on or around September 10th.  The sea surface temperature of the water this time of year is typically the warmest. Plus, wind shear is more relaxed, meaning that lighter winds would allow thunderstorms to grow taller and stronger.

Tropical depression Lee causes record rainfall in Louisiana

*Bonnie Schneider is filling in for Morning Express meteorologist Bob Van Dillen today.

Tropical Depression Lee is a moving – little by little. Unfortunately, small movement of a tropical system means BIG rains for the areas it impacts. Lee has been drenching southern portions of Gulf States all weekend. Record rainfall was recorded in parts of Louisiana Sunday. All of that heavy rain is causing floods to break out all along the Gulf Coast. As Lee moves inland, the flood threat begins for other southern states, including Tennessee and Georgia.

As Irene dies, Tropical Depression 12 is born. Could this become Katia?

I’m hearing reports from my friends and family in the NE, and they aren’t good. It appears power for some in NJ/NY all the way to ME may not be restored for 3-10 days. Flooding will peak today for all the major rivers in the NE from the 5-10” of rain that fell in the short period of time it took Irene to blow through. Heck, eastern NC got more than 15” of rain. Irene made three landfalls over the weekend. Two as a hurricane. The first was over the Cape Lookout area of NC on Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane. The second was over Little Egg Inlet (south of LBI, NJ) as a Category 1 hurricane, and from there it blew over my home state and into NYC where it made the third landfall as a tropical storm near Coney Island. Currently the storm is post-tropical and moving out of Canada. You’ll notice the breeze is in ME this morning, but that’s it from Irene.

Tropical storm Jose is moving into the North Atlantic now, no worries from him but tropical depression 12 formed this morning near the Cape Verde Islands. This will most likely be the next named storm, Katia. We have plenty of time to chart this storm’s potential.

Hurricane Irene storm surge could swamp "city that doesn't sleep"

Hurricane Irene’s impact is going to be huge. I’ve been following along with the National Hurricane Center the path and strength of the storm, and it looks inevitable that it will make at least one landfall on the US East coast. The timing goes like this: It will probably gain a little strength this afternoon south of NC. Tropical storm force winds will start to come into the state this afternoon. Hurricane force winds (over 74 mph) will build through the nighttime hours with the center of the storm reaching the shore by Saturday afternoon. It will chug across eastern NC for a few hours and emerge just off shore from VA, encountering the cooler Labrador Current. At this point the winds will be knocked down a bit, but since the storm itself is so large (tropical storm force winds extend nearly 300 miles from the center, with hurricane force winds extending 90 miles out) it really doesn’t matter much. There will be tons of power outages starting in NC Saturday, VA, DE, MD on Saturday night. The storm will roll past or over NJ on Sunday and into the NYC area Sunday afternoon, with numerous outages and flooding. From there Irene will rain through the Hudson Valley and into New England with 6-12” of rain and fast winds through Monday.

One of the biggest concerns is the storm surge for the NYC metro area. It’s likey that Irene will be a Category 2 storm once it reaches the area, and that means the storm surge will envelope and submerge the Brooklyn water front (including the Naval Yard). It will most likely put the FDR under water, flood portions of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, submerge Lower Manhattan (Battery Park, Wall Street), cover a good deal of Governor’s Island as well as Liberty Island and Ellis Island. The West Side of NYC will have flooding up the Hudson. Over on the Jersey side Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken up the base of the Palisades will have flooded roads. The Lincoln and Holland Tunnels will most likely see flooding too.

Hurricane Irene following in the path of Gloria

Hurricane Irene is a powerhouse of a storm this morning. It’s been plowing through the Bahamas Island chain since yesterday, and I’ve even seen an unofficial 100 mph wind gust in Nassau. The storm should continue to roll over warm sea surface temperatures which will allow for more strengthening this afternoon (the warmer the water, the more energy the storm can feed from. 80°F is the magic number for the storm to gain strength). The NHC ramps the hurricane up to a Category 4 storm by tonight (8/25) with winds around 135 mph but then buzzes the wind down a bit just before it closes in on the NC coast Saturday. As the storm emerges off the Mid Atlantic coast, it will be steered northward over the cooler Labrador Current waters that are off the VA/DE/MD/NJ coast. This should help to weaken the storm further before it reaches the NE coastline, but not by much since it’s so large that it will take time for it to wind down.

The big waves, rough water and outer most rain bands are in south FL this morning, and they should spread to the Jacksonville area by late today. Winds will probably top out near 40 mph for Miami today.

Hurricane Irene following in the path of Gloria

Hurricane Irene is a powerhouse of a storm this morning. It’s been plowing through the Bahamas Island chain since yesterday, and I’ve even seen an unofficial 100 mph wind gust in Nassau. The storm should continue to roll over warm sea surface temperatures which will allow for more strengthening this afternoon (the warmer the water, the more energy the storm can feed from. 80°F is the magic number for the storm to gain strength). The NHC ramps the hurricane up to a Category 4 storm by tonight (8/25) with winds around 135 mph but then buzzes the wind down a bit just before it closes in on the NC coast Saturday. As the storm emerges off the Mid Atlantic coast, it will be steered northward over the cooler Labrador Current waters that are off the VA/DE/MD/NJ coast. This should help to weaken the storm further before it reaches the NE coastline, but not by much since it’s so large that it will take time for it to wind down.

The big waves, rough water and outer most rain bands are in south FL this morning, and they should spread to the Jacksonville area by late today. Winds will probably top out near 40 mph for Miami today.

Hurricane Irene following in the path of Gloria

Hurricane Irene is a powerhouse of a storm this morning. It’s been plowing through the Bahamas Island chain since yesterday, and I’ve even seen an unofficial 100 mph wind gust in Nassau. The storm should continue to roll over warm sea surface temperatures which will allow for more strengthening this afternoon (the warmer the water, the more energy the storm can feed from. 80°F is the magic number for the storm to gain strength). The NHC ramps the hurricane up to a Category 4 storm by tonight (8/25) with winds around 135 mph but then buzzes the wind down a bit just before it closes in on the NC coast Saturday. As the storm emerges off the Mid Atlantic coast, it will be steered northward over the cooler Labrador Current waters that are off the VA/DE/MD/NJ coast. This should help to weaken the storm further before it reaches the NE coastline, but not by much since it’s so large that it will take time for it to wind down.

The big waves, rough water and outer most rain bands are in south FL this morning, and they should spread to the Jacksonville area by late today. Winds will probably top out near 40 mph for Miami today.

Category 3 storm Hurricane Irene taking aim at North Carolina

Hurricane Irene is now considered a major hurricane over the Bahamas, and is a major threat to the island chain. Winds are up to 115 mph (with even higher gusts) making it a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The storm has an impressive presentation on the satellite imagery with a well-defined circular eye (about 25 miles in diameter), thunderstorms showing good banding features, and good outflow evident by the high cirrus clouds. A storm surge around 7-11 feet, 5-10” of rain, and winds over 100 mph will slam the SE and Middle Bahamas today, and work to the NE Bahamas tomorrow. By Thursday, it should emerge well off the FL coast and edge towards the NC coast by this weekend. The path could change, but you can see the National Hurricane Center’s thinking on the track (above).

Here’s my thinking: A cold front will move off the East Coast tomorrow, and that will weaken the ridge that is in place over the Western Atlantic that would otherwise steer Irene to the West. Irene will be drawn northward on Thursday, and take aim in extreme Eastern NC Saturday. We’ll see, and I’ll update tomorrow.

Hurricane Irene could be a Cat. 4 by Thursday

Irene is now a Cat. 2 storm with sustained winds around 100 mph. The hurricane is moving away from the Dominican Republic this morning, but edging to the Turks and Caicos for the afternoon. From there the path will stretch into the SE/Central Bahamas, all the while gaining strength over warm water and relatively light winds. Irene could become a major Cat. 3 storm today with winds over 110 mph and a Cat. 4 by Thursday with winds around 135 mph. Check out the track from the NHC. FL should start feeling the effects with rough seas and a noticeable rip current threat by late Wednesday. A weak trough of low pressure is headed out from the NE today, and weak high pressure will build in from there. Irene should make a run at that, which will draw her a little farther to the North over the next 2 days. I’ll share the forecast from the NHC on the show with you.

Powerful storms are slamming MN, IA and WI early this morning and will continue into the Chicago area later today. I think air delays will be lengthy at ORD and MDW. Heat is back for the South and SW, with highs around 108 for Las Vegas and 115 for Phoenix (they broke a record for the day in Phoenix, 113 yesterday!).

Hurricane Irene

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.

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