Will Hurricane Irene Wreck The East Coast?

Tyler Durden's picture

Update: just as we post this we see the following report from Reuters:

U.S. says Irene could be "big threat" to northeast


Powerful Hurricane Irene could pose a "big threat" to the densely populated northeast United States, including New York, as it swings up the eastern seaboard from Saturday on its current forecast track, the top U.S. government hurricane forecaster said on Wednesday.


National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read gave the warning as Irene, now a major Category 3 storm with winds of 115 miles per hour, roared through the Bahamas on a path that will take it to the U.S. East Coast by the weekend.


As it swept over the southeastern Bahamas, its winds tore off home roofs and knocked out power, authorities reported.


Some tourists fled Nassau and other resorts in the low-lying Atlantic archipelago, while others hunkered down in hotels, and cruise lines canceled their Bahamas stops for the next few days.


Forecasters see the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season, turning north from Thursday to miss Florida and Georgia and clip North Carolina's Outer Banks region on Saturday afternoon. Irene is then seen taking a coast-hugging track up the U.S. mid-Atlantic and New England coastline.


States from the Carolinas northward were on alert and evacuations were already underway in some of North Carolina's most exposed Outer Banks barrier islands, such as Ocracoke.

Earlier today, Hurricane Irene was upgraded by the National Hurricane Center to category 3 as it passed above the Turks and Caicos, preemptively ending the holidays for quite a few Wall Streeters taking a well-deserved break from chasing levered beta. So admitting we know nothing about predicting the weather, we present the following update from Jeff Masters' Weather Underground blog.

First, here is his general update on the storm slowly approaching the Eastern Seaboard:

Powerful Category 3 Hurricane Irene stormed through the Turks and Caicos Islands overnight, bringing hurricane-force winds, torrential rains, and storm surge flooding. On Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where half of the population of these islands live, winds reached a sustained 65 mph at a personal weather station at Pine Cay, and the pressure bottomed out at 989 mb. The eyewall of Irene missed the island, with the center of the storm passing about 60 miles to the southwest. The center of Irene passed about 60 miles to the northwest of Grand Inagua Island, and Category 1 hurricane conditions were probably experienced on that island. Damage in the Turks and Caicos is likely to be much less than the $50 - $200 million wrought by Category 4 Hurricane Ike of 2008, since Irene's eyewall missed populated islands.


Monday, Irene hit Puerto Rico as a tropical storm with 70 mph winds, but reached hurricane strength as it emerged into the Atlantic northwest of the capital of San Juan. One drowning death is being reported from the island, and the storm dumped up to 20 inches of rain in some areas. About 11% of the island was still without power this morning, and numerous roads were closed due to flooding and landslides. Irene did an estimated $17 million in damage to agriculture and $2 million to ports in Puerto Rico. Satellite estimates suggest that Irene has brought only 1 - 2 inches of rain to Haiti. With Irene now pulling away from Hispaniola, Haiti can expect only another 1 - 2 inches from the hurricane, and appears to have dodged a major bullet. Heavy rains of 3 - 6 inches were common across the Dominican Republic, where moderate flooding but no deaths occurred.

Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Irene. 


Track forecast for Irene


Continuing dropsonde missions by the NOAA jet have helped to significantly narrow the uncertainty in the 1 - 3 day forecasts from the computer models. Irene will track through the central Bahamas today, the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday, and approach the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday. However, the models still diverge considerably on their 4 - 5 days forecasts, and we don't know if Irene will plow up the mid-Atlantic coast into New Jersey, as the GFDL model is predicting, hit New England between Long Island, NY and Massachusetts, as the ECMWF, GFS, and HWRF models are predicting, or miss the U.S. and hit Canada, as the NOGAPS model is predicting.


Intensity forecast for Irene
Latest data from the Hurricane Hunters shows that Irene has paused in its intensification cycle. A gap has opened in the eyewall, and the central pressure has remained constant at 956 - 957 mb over the past few hours. However, the hurricane is embedded in a large envelope of moisture, and wind shear is expected to remain low to moderate, 5 - 20 knots, for the next three days. With water temperatures very warm, 28 - 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification to a Category 4 storm sometime in the next two days. Satellite loops show that Irene is well-organized, with excellent upper-level outflow, and impressive spiral banding.

And here is the key update on what is coming to New York:

Irene's impact on the mid-Atlantic and New England 


The impact of Irene on the mid-Atlantic and New England is highly uncertain at this point, because we don't know if the core of the storm will miss the coast or not. In general, the heaviest rains will fall along a 100-mile swath just to the west of where the center tracks, and the worst wind and storm surge damage will occur to the east. If the core of Irene stays offshore, the mid-Atlantic and New England may escape with a few hundred million dollars in damage from flooding due to heavy rains and storm surge. If Irene hits Long Island or Southeast Massachusetts, the storm has the potential to be a $10 billion disaster. Irene is one of those rare storms that has the potential to make landfall in New England as a Category 2 or stronger hurricane. It is difficult for a major Category 3 or stronger hurricane crossing north of North Carolina to maintain that intensity, because wind shear rapidly increases and ocean temperatures plunge below the 26°C (79°F) level that can support a hurricane. We do expect wind shear to rapidly increase to a high 30 - 50 knots once Irene pushes north of Delaware, which should knock the storm down by at least 15 - 30 mph before it reaches New England. However, this year sea surface temperatures 1 - 3°F warmer than average extend along the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. Waters of at least 26°C extend all the way to Southern New Jersey, which will make it easier for Irene to maintain its strength much farther to the north than a hurricane usually can. During the month of July, ocean temperature off the mid-Atlantic coast (35°N - 40°N, 75°W - 70°W) averaged 2.6°F (1.45°C) above average, the second highest July ocean temperatures since record keeping began over a century ago (the record was 3.8°F above average, set in 2010.) These warm ocean temperatures will also make Irene a much wetter hurricane than is typical, since much more water vapor can evaporate into the air from record-warm ocean surfaces. The latest precipitation forecast from NOAA's Hydrological prediction center shows that Irene could dump over 8 inches of rain over coastal New England.

Well, if the expert says he has no idea what is going to happen we could keep our mouth shut, or pull a Dick Bove and claim that the storm will be hugely beneficial for the Tri-State area, knowing absolutely nothing about anything, while advising anyone dumb enough to listen that selling Kansas Torando insurance is the guaranteed to make one wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

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Ausperity's picture

Irene = Keynesian wet dream

Ahmeexnal's picture

Oil and Corexit raining over NYC.

anynonmous's picture

I am surprised Tyler would not have drawn on his inhouse expertise, weathergeek Bruce K for the forecast and disastermonger  GW for the aftermath

Canaduh's picture

Interesting tidbit- remember that plane crash that killed 12 in northern Canada last week?

"Right in the middle of a joint agency simulated disaster designed to prepare government and military agencies to prepare for an air crash in the Arctic, tragedy struck Saturday.

The First Air civilian charter, a Boeing 737 that crashed around 12:50 p.m. near the Resolute Bay airport, went down at what might arguably be called the region’s most prepared moment, according to Capt. Andrew Hennessy, a spokesperson for Operation Nanook — the largest of three annual joint operations aimed at preparedness.

“We’re here to improve our capabilities to operate in the Arctic … The operation was going to involve an air disaster scenario that would have seen us responding to an aircraft going down in the Arctic, which, unfortunately, is exactly what played out today,” Hennessy said. “The aircraft was not involved in the exercise – this was a civilian charter.”"



The Governor General was in the area, and the Prime Minister was scheduled to be there the next day.

JW n FL's picture

Surfs Up!


Serfs Down!!


Spirit Of Truth's picture

Irene is my aunt's name, and if this storm wiped the Northeast off the map, it'd be richly deserved IMHO:



I'm so sick of this arrogant, money-loving BS around me.

Ratscam's picture

cui bono?
in other words, who was on board the plane?

marsdefIAnCe's picture

we got the gulf stream on a crawl and a permanent high pressure zone over the gulf


corexit & craig venter's synthetic life is moderately contained


barry bin laden's got this, if you ignore his slip up letting synthetic bacteriophages out of the lab

Clueless Economist's picture

Great, another excuse for Mr Hopey-Changey. "The awful economy is because of the summer earthquakes and hurricanes"

pupton's picture

"...we've had a run of bad luck."  I'd say he will have to add these natural disasters to his excuse arsenal.  Now he just needs to find a way to blame his enemies (Tea Party, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Jesus, etc.) for this run of bad luck.

knukles's picture

Temporary, transitory, kinda not so really bad, just another blip, supply chain disruption, no radiation leaked, confidence'll bounce back, never underestimate the power of the totally bankrupt broke Amerikan consumer, Krugman says another Alien Invasion'll take care of it and the PPT is alive and well up Jackson's Hole, so we got you covered, never mind, move along nothing to see here, shut the fuck up and go about your business serf or you'll be officially deemed a turrderist and sent off to a FrEeMeAand YouCamp.

asdasmos's picture

Indeed, Krugman is chaining himself to the beach as we speak so he can get a full frontal view to masturbate to.

dwdollar's picture

Hardly...  He will run away like the coward that he is.

flacon's picture

You're right, Keynesian stimulus only works when it's the other person's property and savings that gets destroyed. 

TruthInSunshine's picture



Krugman claims that a Cat 5 hurricane brushing along the entire eastern seaboard (including hitting NYC), a 9.8 earthquake centered in Washington D.C. or New York City and 50,000,000 spacecraft invasion of earth by extremely hostile extraterrestrials are the trifecta of utopian events needed to get the economy going again.

Failing this, he is urgently lobbying the U.S. and a few foreign governments for an 'Archduke Franz Ferdinand' or 'invasion of Poland' moment.

zenbones's picture

How do we know there aren't alien spacecraft in the hurricane clouds?  You're on to something Paulie!!!  Economic recovery here we come!  Who needs fundamentals when you have aliens.

AlaricBalth's picture

Krugman has no idea about that which he speaks. Wealth is not created from destruction, it is only misallocated from more productive uses. The economic value of replacing something that was destroyed is a hinderance to economic growth. Bastiat explained this very simply and eloquently with his Parable of the broken window.

"Society loses the value of things which are uselessly destroyed"

Mactheknife's picture

Hopefully he gets hit with a flying Volvo.

Milestones's picture

Replying to your handle--Ever heard Ella's version done in Berlin in 1958? Blows the lyrics half way in front of 12,000 people. Pure magic.    Milestones

Sudden Debt's picture




Gene Parmesan's picture

This is just another completely fabricated story, planted on ZH. I'll believe it when I have rain and debris hitting me about the head and shoulders.

Two Towers AU AG's picture

You stole my thoughts.. you ARE from amongst the little green people... who can read thoughts..and are planning an invasion on earth to boost the global economy. but you aint getting my gold or my precious marbles. :) :) :)

Sudden Debt's picture

Don't worry, you get to keep your gold. I'm only here for the anal probings.


CrashisOptimistic's picture

You are correct, sir.

General rule of thumb for hurricanes:

If they go up the US east coast, they are stimulative.

If they curl around Florida to the west of Florida and into the Gulf, the oil platforms get precautionary evacuated, oil production stops and it is decidedly not stimulative.

So destroy the east coast is good.  Destroy the Gulf coast is bad.

e_goldstein's picture

betting Krugman has a funny feeling in his pants.

trav7777's picture

uh, Durden, there is more to the East Coast than your motherfuckin beloved NYC

I did it by Occident's picture

What, no mention of Krugman and his invading aliens/earthquakes and now hurricanes?  Irene is right up Krugman's 'broken window' alley. 


putbuyer's picture

My mother is worried about her tomato plants

Id fight Gandhi's picture

"underground weather blog"?

Use of Weapons's picture





No really.. there was a government response: $2.1 billion for law enforcement, train drivers, tribe members (!) to get prepared.





That list is mighty tasty... apply now! Cheeeeeese! Anonymous are attacking BART, have $200 million! [Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP)—more than $200 million to owners and operators of transit systems to protect critical surface transportation from acts of terrorism and increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.]


  • State Homeland Security Program (SHSP)—more than $526 million to support the implementation of state homeland security strategies to build and strengthen preparedness capabilities at all levels. The 9/11 Act requires states to dedicate 25 percent of SHSP appropriated funds to law enforcement terrorism prevention-oriented planning, organization, training, exercise and equipment activities.
  • Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)—more than $662 million to enhance regional preparedness capabilities in 31 high-threat, high-density urban areas. In order to focus limited resources to mitigate and respond to evolving threats, the 11 highest risk areas (Tier 1) were eligible for more than $540 million, while the remaining 20 urban areas, designated Tier II were eligible for more than $121 million. The 9/11 Act requires states to dedicate 25 percent of UASI appropriated funds to law enforcement terrorism prevention-oriented activities.
  • Operation Stonegarden (OPSG)—more than $54 million to enhance cooperation and coordination among local, tribal, territorial, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to secure the United States land and maritime borders.
  • Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS)—more than $34 million, to enhance and sustain comprehensive regional mass casualty incident response and preparedness capabilities, divided evenly among 124 MMRS jurisdictions.
  • Citizen Corps Program (CCP)—more than $9 million to engage citizens in community preparedness, planning, mitigation, response and recovery activities.




NotApplicable's picture

The 9/11 Act requires states to dedicate 25 percent of UASI appropriated funds to law enforcement terrorism prevention-oriented activities.

Well, this explains lots of the stupidity I've seen lately. Just last week after work, I saw over 50 of the city's finest forming up into squads in a parking lot. I had to stop and wonder just what size of an incident they believed they were practicing for.

Also, I wonder, do the "papers please" checkpoints count as terrorism prevention, or are those still all funded by DOT grants? (which btw, are an easy way for those nearing retirement to pad their base pay in order to increase their pensions)

TruthInSunshine's picture

I am henceforth declaring Hurricane Irene a 'terrorist,' and am issuing a capture or kill standing order regarding her.

Gamblor's picture

Come on Irene.  I swear I won't leave.  At this moment, you mean everything...

Agent P's picture

That's the Asian version of the song.

RichardENixon's picture

I think that version goes "Come on Irene I swear I won't reave"

slaughterer's picture

Spreads opening up on the Irene index counter. 

Iriestx's picture

Could bring a lot of death and destruction.  Krugman is probably stroking it furiously at the thought.

buzzsaw99's picture

Hopefully it plows right into his house mid-stroke.

TzaristBondHolder's picture

First there is an Earthquake.  Now a hurricane.  Then HAARP

Milestones's picture

I'd settle for Denniger's wish for a 30 foot wall of water in D.C.       Milestones

Ausperity's picture

It goes like this: earthquakes, hurricanes, HAARP, ELENIN, Solar flares, Ron Paul, Collapse, Bluebeam, victory, ends with gold standard and one world government.

Oh regional Indian's picture

That was a great list till I saw old RP's name in there.

Pfffffffffttttt...... no earth mover/shaker, Dr.P.

I hope everyone stays well (even the banksters). Nature is like a woman scorned and WV, with it's fracking and table top mining and mountain destruction, must have made her angry. Is here name Irene?




Nothing To See Here's picture

gold standard and one world government = oxymoron

Ausperity's picture

Can you expand upon that idea for me?  I don't see how the two are diametrically opposed.