Active 2011 season breaks ‘hurricane amnesia’

Irene was the first hurricane to hit the U.S. in three years

A NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Irene making landfall in South Carolina.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends November 30 after producing a total of 19 tropical storms. Seven became hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The activity matched NOAA’s predictions and continues the trend of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

Hurricane Irene was the lone hurricane to hit the United States in 2011, and the first since Ike struck southeast Texas in 2008. Irene was also the most significant tropical cyclone to strike the Northeast since Hurricane Bob in 1991. Its effects in the Caribbean and the United States lead to 55 deaths and accounted for the bulk of this season’s damage, more than $10 billion. Irene was the first landfalling hurricane in New Jersey in 108 years.

“Irene broke the ‘hurricane amnesia’ that can develop when so much time lapses between landfalling storms,” said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “This season is a reminder that storms can hit any part of our coast and that all regions need to be prepared each and every season.”

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Hurricane Irene a major threat to East Coast

Massive storm triggering widespread evacuations and disaster declarations

Video clip courtesy NOAA showing Irene morphing from tropical wave off the coast of Africa to a Category 3 hurricane churning toward the Carolina coast.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Growing larger and stronger, Hurricane Irene is how aiming for North Carolina, and in a worst-case scenario, could cause widespread destruction up the Atlantic Seaboard through the Delmarva region, Chesapeake Bay, into New York City and even New England. Hurricane experts say Irene poses a threat that’s nearly unprecedented in recent memory, with flooding far inland, away from the storm’s center.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for parts of the North Carolina shoreline, while hurricane watches are in effect from the North Carolina-Virginia border up to New Jersey.

Irene is now about 430 miles wide and rated as a Category 3 storm, with sustained winds of 115 mph. The latest forecast tracks show the hurricane making landfall in eastern North Carolina, possibly near Cape Hatteras and then tracking along the East Coast, potentially toward a direct hit on New York City. Continue reading

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