What exactly is keeping Hurrican Irene off the Florida coast?

Living four miles from the beach, 20 minutes south of west palm, I’m naturally a bit concerned. However, it seems the models have all changed yet none of the talking heads or the weather sites have any real information on why. That storm has not made a significant jog northwest, (despite it’s more northerly recent track), from long term animations. Why do they suddenly expect it to bugger off north? Is there a wind sheer they aren’t mentioning?

On last night’s weather news they mentioned that there was a large high pressure system over the mid Atlantic and another one over the Midwest which left a north-south alley for the hurricane to move into.

Fortunately (for you) that meant that it would miss Florida and hit the Carolinas instead… however they also said it could suddenly change direction, so it sounds like there is a certain amount of guessing going on here.

And that “alley” is typically present in summer here, and thus the storms go charging by to the north off the coast. On rare occasions tho they’ll hit at an oblique angle and impact our coast.

Thanks, that makes sense.

The local anecdote up here in NC is that the Florida Chamber of Commerce has mounted a large sign offshore from Key Biscayne that says. “HURRICANES TURN RIGHT HERE / CAROLINA COAST —>”


Since there has already been a serious answer, I guess I can propose:

What is keeping this hurricane away from FL? Well, God of course. FL = no SSM. NY = legal SSM. Where is the hurricane headed? Coincidence? I think not!

And the earthquake? That was because somebody gay-married an abortion.

Irene heard that OJ Simpson was playing golf in Florida, and wanted to stay far away from him. :slight_smile:

This is from the NOAA discussion on Irene, 5am EDT, 8/25:

“The initial motion continues to be about 315/10. There has been no change to the track forecast reasoning. Irene should turn northward as it moves through a break in the subtropical ridge during the next 48 hours. Thereafter…a shortwave trough moving through the Great Lakes is likely to turn the hurricane toward the north-northeast. In the latter part of the forecast period…global models show the shortwave bypassing Irene and the hurricane becoming embedded within a broad and slow-moving mid-tropospheric trough over the eastern United States. This steering pattern should prevent Irene from moving well offshore of the northeastern states.”

So the storm will be basically sucked in behind the ridge off the coast, like a plastic bag behind a moving car. Then a trough coming into the east coast will push it further off to the northeast.

Right now (9:30am EDT), the satellite pics and motion sure makes it look like it’s aiming straight at Florida. However, all the computer models are in very close agreement at it hitting first the Outer Banks. After that, they diverge stretching from NJ to CT.

If you watch the Tropical Update, especially when (swoon) Jim Cantore is giving the update (it’s at :50 past the hour every hour), this question may have been answered for you. If you are really interested in tracking and learning about hurricanes, please do not waste your time with CNN, MSNBC, Fox, or HLN. None of those are weather people. Stick to the Weather Channel. That’s what they do.

Alternatively, you can get all kinds of information directly from the National Hurricane Center, including discussions about why certain models project going in this direction or that. Basically, from what I saw, there’s a big high pressure system pushing down from the north that sort of shifted the path off to the right a bit.

The latest tracking forecast has indeed shifted the track west (after several days of eastward shifts). So it’s not turning north as fast as had been thought.

I like to track things at Weather Underground. For real tropics geekiness, follow the discussion at Dr. Jeff Master’s blog on the right of this page:


There’s the usual group of Internet message board clowns, but also some people who really know their stuff and post good charts and data (and pics!) on a rapid fire basis.