Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall in North Carolina

Caption: The GOES-13 satellite saw Hurricane Irene on August 27, 2011 at 10:10 a.m. EDT after it made landfall at 8 a.m. in Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Irene's outer bands had already extended into New England. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project


From 22,300 miles in space, Hurricane Irene looks serene and impressive. That's how NOAA's GOES satellite sees Irene today as it batters the eastern U.S. coastline, but it's quite a different story on the ground.


Irene made landfall in Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 8 a.m. EDT as a Category one hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 85 mph. The storm surge and rough waves it brought have been severely battering the coast. The GOES-13 satellite saw Hurricane Irene after landfall at 8 a.m. in Cape Lookout, North Carolina on August 25, 2011 at 10:10 a.m. EDT. At that time Irene's outer bands had already extended into New England.


In an animation created at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. by the NASA/NOAA GOES Project, GOES-13 satellite imagery taken in 15 minute intervals from August 25 to August 27 at 9:40 a.m. EDT shows Hurricane Irene's massive reach. The animation shows Hurricane Irene moving through the Bahamas and making landfall at Cape Lookout, North Carolina at around 8 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27.


Winds, waves and water are the three threatening factors in a hurricane, and Irene has all three.


At 11 a.m. EDT, August 27, reporters from the Weather Channel were reporting sustained winds on the beach of Nags Head, N.C. near 60-65 mph as Irene continued battering eastern North Carolina and tropical storm conditions were spreading into the Delmarva (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia) coast. At that time, the first rainfall from Irene's outer bands reached the Washington, D.C. area bringing brief moderate to heavy rainfall.


Two tornadoes had been reported in Virginia Beach, Va. by the Weather Channel during the morning hours today (Aug. 27) and another tornado warning was in effect. Wind gusts were reported as high as 50 mph in Virginia Beach, while Irene's strongest winds still lay to the south-southwest of there.


So, if Irene's rains were already affecting Washington, D.C., where was Irene's center at 11 a.m. EDT? It was about 50 miles (80 km) west of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Cape Hatteras is 328 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. That's quite a reach!


Irene is expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 6 to 10 inches, and isolated amounts over a foot (to 15 inches) from eastern North Carolina northward through the Mid-Atlantic states into eastern New York and interior New England. The Pamlico River in eastern North Carolina was reported to be at the top of its levee, and flooding is becoming widespread.


Irene's maximum sustained winds were near 85 mph and she was moving to the north-northeast near 15 mph. At Cape Hatteras, N.C. a wind gust to 87 mph was reported, while further north at Norfolk Naval Air Station reported a wind gust to 63 mph.


NASA satellites have noticed Hurricane Irene grow over the week, from 200 miles to over 600 miles in diameter. By 11 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27, Irene's tropical-storm-force winds extend outward 260 miles making the extent 520 miles in diameter. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles or 180 miles in diameter.


The National Hurricane Center expects tropical-storm-force winds to spread northward along the Mid-Atlantic coast today with hurricane conditions expected in afternoon. Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach southern New England late this evening with hurricane conditions expected by Sunday morning.


Dangerous, large and destructive waves are expected in coastal areas. Storm surges near the North Carolina/Virginia border are expected to raise water levels by 4 to 8 feet above ground level in the hurricane warning area, northward to Cape Cod and southern portions of the Chesapeake Bay.


Irene is now forecast by the National Hurricane Center to take a more inland track and maintain hurricane force near coastal New York, western Connecticut and western and central Massachusetts.


For forecasts, visit NOAA's National Hurricane Center website at: For more updates from NASA, visit NASA's Hurricane page:, also on Facebook and Twitter as NASAHurricane.


Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project


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Taken on August 27, 2011