31 December 2011

    [RE-WIND 2011][#31] Hurricane Irene

    Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast at the end of August, leaving a path of destruction from North Carolina to New Jersey and causing 21 deaths. Though the storm fell short of doomsday predictions, it left millions without power, caused flooding, and triggered unprecedented evacuations and transit shutdowns in New York. Irene was downgraded to tropical storm, but it packed a punch across Massachusetts and New England, leaving more than 500,000 customers without power. The storm caused billions in damage across the East Coast. 

    Hurricane Irene was a large and powerful Atlantic hurricane that left extensive flood and wind damage along its path through the Caribbean, the United States East Coast and as far north as Atlantic Canada in 2011. The ninth named storm, first hurricane and first major hurricane of the annual hurricane season, Irene originated from a well-defined Atlantic tropical wave that began showing signs of organization east of the Lesser Antilles. It developed atmospheric convection and a closed cyclonic circulation center, prompting the National Hurricane Center to initiate public advisories late on August 20, 2011. Irene improved in organization as it passed the Leeward Islands, and by August 21, it had moved closer to Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. The next day, Irene made landfall at Category 1 hurricane strength in Puerto Rico, where severe flooding resulted in significant property damage and the death of one person.

    Irene tracked just north of Hispaniola as an intensifying cyclone, pelting the coast with heavy precipitation and strong winds and killing seven people. After crossing the Turks and Caicos Islands, the hurricane quickly strengthened into a Category 3 major hurricane while passing through The Bahamas, leaving behind a trail of extensive structural damage in its wake. Curving toward the north, Irene skirted past Florida with its outer bands producing tropical-storm-force winds. It made landfall over Eastern North Carolina's Outer Banks on the morning of August 27 as a Category 1 hurricane, the first landfalling hurricane in the U.S mainland since Hurricane Ike, then moved along southeastern Virginia, affecting the Hampton Roads region.

    After briefly reemerging over water and weakening to a tropical storm, Irene made a second U.S. landfall near Brigantine Island in New Jersey early in the morning of August 28. Irene then made its third U.S. landfall in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn, New York, at approximately 9:00 a.m on August 28. Considerable damage occurred in eastern upstate New York and Vermont, which suffered from the worst flooding in centuries.

    Throughout its path, Irene caused widespread destruction and at least 56 deaths; monetary losses in the Caribbean were estimated to be as high as US$3.1 billion. Damage estimates throughout the United States are estimated near $7 billion, which remains an uncertain estimate.



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