Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricane Irene aims at New England, but its exact impact is still uncertain

Martin Finucane in the Boston Globe: The worst-case scenario sounds scary: Hurricane Irene could sweep ashore in New England this weekend, dousing the state with torrential rains, and lashing it with damaging wind gusts, while heavy surf pounds the coasts and water rises in streams.

But it’s still “highly uncertain” exactly where and how hard the storm will hit, NationalWeather Service forecasters said this morning. The key question, as the storm moves up the coast, is whether the storm will track more to the east or to the west, said weather service meteorologist Alan Dunham.

If the center of the storm tracks just east of Nantucket and the Cape, the Cape and islands could see some wind and storm surge and Central and Eastern Massachusetts could see 8 to 10 inches of rain, said Dunham....“A 30-mile difference in track is going to make a huge difference in what people experience,” he said....

This graphic from the National Hurricane Weather Center shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The orange circle indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone. The black line, when selected, and dots show the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast track of the center at the times indicated. The dot indicating the forecast center location will be black if the cyclone is forecast to be tropical and will be white with a black outline if the cyclone is forecast to be extratropical. If only an L is displayed, then the system is forecast to be a remnant low.

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