Does the date August 15th spark anything special for you? Maybe it's your birthday? Well guess who else's birthday is August 15th? The birth of what would become hurricane Irene happened on August 15th, 2011. The first development of the storm began as a tropical wave which rolled off the west coast of Africa (this is how many tropical systems of the Atlantic begin). We all know what happened in our area on August 28th-29th, 2011, but did you watch the progression of the storm before it hit our area? Here's a timeline leading up to Irene's arrival on Vermont, New Hampshire and northern NY... be sure to see the bottom of this blog for a couple youtube videos of Irene from NOAA.
-August 15th: A tropical wave forms off the coast of Africa. This marks the first indication of what would be hurricane Irene.
-August 17th: The tropical wave develops into a cluster of slightly more organized thunderstorms in the Atlantic basin.
-August 20th: Tropical storm "Irene" becomes the 9th named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. Reconnaissance aircraft investigates the system and finds tropical storm strength winds of 40-45 knots, and a closed circulation.
-August 22nd: Irene makes landfall in Puerto Rico as a tropical storm. Irene produces copious rainfall in eastern areas of the island. Over 22" of rain fell in one region of the island. Irene strengthens to a category 1 hurricane as it leaves the island. The storm develops into a category 2 hurricane later in the day.
-August 23rd: Irene loses a little bit of punch and weakens to a category 1 hurricane once again, but remains a threat to the US east coast and further strengthening is forecast.
-August 24th: Irene strengthens to a major category 3 hurricane near the Bahamas with winds peaking at 105 knots. The National Hurricane Center releases their forecast path and predicts storm to track into New England in 4 days time. Evacuations are ordered for coastal North Carolina.
-August 25th: Hurricane Irene pounds the Bahamas causing widespread damage on at least 2 of the islands. The storm has winds of at least 115 mph.
-August 26th: Flash flood watches and high wind watches are issued for central and eastern Vermont, as well as parts of northern New York at 3:45pm by the Burlington National Weather Service office. Tropical storm watches are issued in southern Vermont and southern New Hampshire. Meanwhile, tropical storm force winds (39mph or greater) batter coastal North Carolina. Mayor Michael Bloomberg orders a mandatory evacuation for residents in low lying coastal areas of New York City.
-August 27th: Irene makes landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a category 1 hurricane. This marked the first contiguous U.S. landfall of a hurricane since 2008. Tropical storm watches upgraded to warnings for southern Vermont and southern New Hampshire. Governor Shumlin declares a state of emergency in Vermont before the rain begins to fall. In New York City, the first shut down of mass transit brought on by a natural disaster. Outer rain bands begin to reach southern Vermont and southern New Hampshire during the night. Read NHC 5pm advisory here
-August 28th :
5:35 am: Irene makes a 2nd US landfall, skimming the coast of New Jersey.
9:00 am: Irene weakens to a tropical storm with winds near 65 mph and makes a 3rd US landfall on Coney Island, New York. Read 8am NHC advisory
11:00 am: Bands of heavy rain have reached across northern NY, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Read NHC 11am advisory
3:00 pm: The center of the storm enters southern Vermont near the Bennington/Windham county border.
Tropical storm Irene's center travels northeastward up the Vermont/New Hampshire border. Area rivers begin to swell, with 5 Vermont rivers, 2 New Hampshire rivers, and 1 northern New York river eventually reaching historic levels. Wind gusts were 50-60 mph in the Champlain Valley. Hundreds of miles of roads, highways, bridges, and railroad tracks become overwhelmed by flood waters and erode away. Several communities become cut off from surrounding towns as roads become impassible. Over 50,000 customers lose power during the storm. 3 deaths result in Vermont and 2 in northern New York. Read the NHC 5pm advisory
10:35 pm: Irene continues to weaken , and is no longer considered a "tropical system" as it passes near Barnet, Vermont. Heavy rain and flooding continues, despite the weakening system.
Check out a few very near videos from NOAA found here on You Tube...
Be sure to tune in to ABC 22 News at 7pm on Monday, August 27th as we air a 1/2 hour special on Irene's impact. Hear from the people who endured the storm, in their own words.