Written by Faith Anderson on August 25, 2011
Irene’s Cone of Uncertainty
The cone of uncertainty, which is the area that could be impacted by Hurricane Irene depending on which path it follows over the next few days, includes much of the U.S. northeast. Unfortunately, even if the hurricane doesn’t make landfall, heavy rains could cause flooding in some areas. Although Florida isn’t expected to get the worst of the storm, experts have warned residents to prepare for rough surf, rip currents and erosion on Atlantic beaches, along with wind advisories with gusts of 40 mph.
The islands of the Bahamas have most recently been affected by Irene, suffering power outages, impassable roads and some flooding. Several churches on the island of Mayaguana have reported damage, including roofs being torn off, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. Several dozen homes on the island have also suffered damage. On Crooked Island, a high school’s roof was blown off and part of St. John’s Baptist church collapsed. On Acklins Island, 90% of the settlement Lovely Bay was destroyed, with several homes actually being blown away by the hurricane. After Irene leaves the Bahamas, the storm is expected to curve northward and then to the northeast as it nears the United States, potentially skimming the North Carolina coast by Saturday morning.
The Adverse Effects of Hurricanes in the U.S.
Experts report that the storm could weaken as it works its way up towards the eastern coast of the U.S., predicting that its collision with the cooler Labrador Current and some more wind shear could cause Irene to lose more strength. Unfortunately, the National Hurricane Center also warns that the hurricane could strengthen to Category 4 status before long. The last major hurricane to strike the United States was Wilma in 2005, which was reported as a Category 3 at landfall. Hurricane Katrina occurred earlier that same year and was also a Category 3 at landfall. The most recent hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Ike in 2008, which hit near Galveston, Texas as a Category 2. Due to the potentially dangerous nature of Hurricane Irene for some parts of the U.S., emergency officials have stressed the importance of remaining prepared and avoiding risky situations. Americans are advised to avoid traveling to potentially dangerous areas and are also encouraged to follow evacuation orders for the areas that may be struck by Irene in the next few days.