HURRICANE Irene is hovering around the Major status and headed straight for the Outer Banks. The NHC have reduced the intensity estimate to 95knts/110mph with a central pressure of 942 mb. Whilst slightly lower in intensity Irene is still a large and dangerous storm.
Irene is moving through a weakness at the western end of the subtropical ridge and should make landfall in North Carolina on Saturday morning bringing with it a 12ft storm surge and winds in excess of a 100mph, this is not surfing weather. The track is then forecast to pass near the coast of the Mid-Atlantic states before making landfall in New England. After landfall Irene should merge with the westerlies and turn northeastward hard and eventually out into the North Atlantic next week.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for North Carolina through to New Jersey (meaning contact is expected in 36 hours) whilst a hurricane watch (likely in 48 hours) is in effect for New York, Long Island, Boston and Nantucket. Irene is encountering light to moderate southwesterly vertical wind shear and dry air, inhibiting further strengthening but still moving over seas of 28-29c which may counteract this and lift it from Category 2 to 3 just before landfall.