Irene has our attention. It's time to make preparations before the storm comes!

The National Hurricane Center is predicting tropical storm IRENE will be around south Florida as a hurricane late Thursday and early Friday. The storm will become the season’s first hurricane Monday when it reaches the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. The mountains of Hispaniola and eastern Cuba should reduce it back to tropical storm strength Tuesday and Wednesday, but it will regain hurricane strength Thursday over the warm Gulf stream waters near the Florida Keys.

It is important to remember that the point forecast for the hurricane is only the center of rotation. The effect of the storm extends outward from that point, and that the forecast 5 days out can be off by 100 miles or more. For that reason and for the purpose of describing what it means to the northeast Florida and southeast Georgia area, I’ve designated scenarios 1, 2, and 3 on the forecast chart.

1. If IRENE goes over the Keys and into the Gulf of Mexico, extreme south Florida and the Gulf coast from Ft. Myers and Tampa to the Big Bend area would experience hurricane force winds. Bands of rain sweeping northward into northeast Florida and southeast Georgia may produce occasional tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

2. If IRENE strikes the southern peninsula, it would be at least a Category 2 hurricane, maybe borderline Category 3. For northeast Florida and southeast Georgia, IRENE may be reduced to strong tropical storm strength due to passing over land; however, hurricane force winds may continue to rake the coast northward to Fernandina, or even St. Simons Island. Flooding from heavy rains can become widespread over much of our area.

3. A sharp turn northward off the coast of Cuba may cause only a glancing blow to the lower east coast of Florida, but this may be “too close for comfort” for Florida’s Gold Coast with the center of the hurricane over the Bahamas. For northeast Florida and southeast Georgia the indention of our coast from the Atlantic would again be our safety valve, and we would have minimal winds and scattered showers.

Our entire Channel 4 news and weather team will be there for you as we appear to be facing the first threat of the 2011 hurricane season.



  1. 1 Joyce August 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks George I can understand your prediction maybe from all the years of watching you. The new guy Mark Collins appears to be speaking Greek all those technical terms don’t mean much to regular people.I’m so glad we have your blog to keep us updated.

    • 2 geotv4 August 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      I appreciate your comments. Over my 50+ years of talking with many thousands of people on the phone, in public meetings, and in schools (even as a teacher), I was always surprised to see the majority of people need to have weather described in “people terms”.

  2. 3 Vince August 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Since this AMs report from the NHC, it seems the XTRAP for Irene shows a more north tend. To me that indicates a path north of Hispanola, perhaps along the north coast but in any event a tad to far north to be greatly affected by the Island. Also, such a path would preclude an interaction with Cuba. As of 3PM, it appears models are showing a more north than west direction out to 7 days which would indicate something closer to your 3rd solution…the good news, east of hear, the bad news, far stronger than a minimal hurricane. Such a path could end up anywhere from Savannah to Hilton Head and then along the coast exiting around Wilmington. Not a good solution for anyone in these places.

    • 4 geotv4 August 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      You are very observant! As I have been forecasting the weather for more than 50 years, I have learned one thing – the forces that control the weather are not “set in stone”. There is always something either forming, or hiding behind the data, that can change the direction, or nature, of a storm. This is the reason for the “cone of uncertainty” with long range hurricane forecasts. I am glad, however, that it is easier to forecast the weather than to understand the behavior of the stock market!

      • 5 Jocelyn Hyers (@jghyers) August 22, 2011 at 8:38 pm

        If it does head towards Savannah or South Carolina – how far inland will the effects be felt? I live in Statesboro, GA (~55 miles west of Savannah). Thanks!

      • 6 geotv4 August 23, 2011 at 1:27 am

        It too early to tell. It depends if the storm turns farther east again, it might even miss South Carolina and just brush North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I just hope it doesn’t shift back to the west.

  3. 7 Harold I Todd August 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Hey George hang in there. Hope you are enjoying you retirement. My wife and I have been watching you grow up sense you first came to Jax.
    I think you are the best of the best on hurricanes. we will be relying on your information as we have for the past forty to fifty years. You got them all beat. Hang in there. Harold & Joann Todd
    Fernandina Beach Fl 32034

  4. 9 Travis August 22, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Thanks for your blog George always looked forward to tuning in when you were on the tv and respected your forecast more than any other. Being a surfer i suppose i see storms like this different than your average person have cleared my schedule Thurs thru sun to follow the storm were ever it winds up. Thanks for keeping me posted!!

  5. 11 Tessa Gedlinske August 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I’m scared!! I live in Jacksonville and I don’t want to deal with this! If it were to pass east of us and go to Savannah or the carolinas, what should we here in jacksonville expect?

    • 12 geotv4 August 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm


      If Irene passes east of us, we may get a few showers with gusty winds. How bad it may get will depend on how far off our beaches the storm will be on Friday. Forecasts often change a few times every 24 hours, so we’ll have to wait and watch to see what is happening.

  6. 13 Tim Kinnear August 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Thank you for continuing to keep us posted, George. While I have no background in weather at all, something tells me we need to be prepared with this one. Just because it has shifted to the East, does not mean it cannot take another turn. Because I live less than 10 minutes from the Beach and a block from the inter coastal, my thinking is , myself and my neighbors will feel the effects of this storm, even if it is well off shore.

    Thank you again for your years of devoted work


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