IRENE IS TURNING NORTHWARD!

Good news for us, but bad news for our neighbors from the Carolinas northward.

For us here in Florida and southeast Georgia, we are welcoming IRENE’s shift in course from northwest to north northwest. The forecast track will cause the eye of the storm to pass about 220 miles east of Jacksonville Beach around 2 PM Friday. The hurricane’s peak winds should be around 125 mph east of the center. The peak winds on the western side of the eye wall would be less, actually closer to 100 mph. The main effect on our weather will be a few rain squalls with wind gusts to 40 mph Thursday night and Friday. Rain chances will decrease rapidly Friday evening as IRENE bears down on the Carolina coast. A mostly sunny, rain-free, weekend can be enjoyed here!

Why are IRENE’s winds less on the western side of the hurricane’s center. It’s because the hurricane will be moving northward around 15 mph. In relation to a fixed point on the earth’s surface, the air will be moving 15 mph less than the rotation speed of the storm. Consequently, the winds relative to the earth on the eastern side of the storm will be moving 15 mph faster than the storm’s rotation speed. Wow! That’s a 30 mph difference in winds at our location just because of the storm’s motion. Another example: If the storm is moving northward at 40 mph, it would cause a difference of 80 mph in wind speed between the eastern and western half of the hurricane. That’s what happened at Long Island, NY with hurricane Gloria moving northeastward in 1985. That storm was spinning at 85 mph, but winds on the Manhattan end of the island it was only 40 mph, while the eastern end of island was slammed with winds up to 125 mph!

Fortunately for northeast Florida and extreme southeast Georgia, northward moving hurricanes in the Atlantic have weaker winds on our side of the storm’s center. But if the center of the storm crosses the coast just south of us, we would be impacted with the hurricane’s worst side. We can now rest assured that the worst part of “Our Girl Friday”, IRENE, will miss us. And after Friday’s pounding surf, rough seas, and high tides subside here this weekend, we can all pray for those unfortunate folks farther north who may experience the “bad side” of IRENE.

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