Irene is now a category one hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph. The center of Irene is now moving away from North Carolina towards Virginia Beach. The National Hurricane Center track remains unchanged, taking the storm up the eastern coast of New Jersey, making landfall early in the afternoon near Stamford Connecticut as a weak category one hurricane. Even if Irene weakens into a strong tropical storm, her affect on us will remain the same.
Rain will become steadier and heavier as we move throughout the overnight hours. The heaviest rain will start around 2 AM with winds picking up around 5 AM. Damaging winds around Irene’s eyewall will begin at 10 AM with landfall on Fairfield County around 2 PM. Winds will begin to subside around 4 PM with rain moving out between 5 PM-9 PM.
Shoreline areas should prepare for hurricane force gusts around 74 mph, with tropical storm force gusts to 60 mph inland. The heaviest rain will fall in Western Connecticut where the ground is already saturated. This will cause flooding of streams, creeks and rivers. Typical flood prone areas and basements will likely flood. 4”-12” of rain will fall statewide with the lowest rainfall totals in southeastern Connecticut and the highest rainfall totals in Fairfield and Litchfield Counties.
High tide will occur between 9-11 AM around the same time Irene will provide the strongest winds. High tide combined with a long duration event will provide higher than usual storm surge. 4’-8’ storm surge is possible west of New Haven with 2’-4’ storm surge east of long island sound.
Isolated tornadoes are also possible as the storm approaches. When hurricanes make landfall winds at the ground level slow down while winds at the top of the storm keep their momentum and this can cause rotation that spawns tornadoes.
If the storm moves out fast enough you may even see the sun just before it sets tomorrow night.