This will be my last update until after the storm. I'm leaving the forecast the same, so you can scroll down to see the details.
Looking at the satellite image of Irene, you can still see an area of strong convection (thunderstorms) near the center. You can also notice how Irene is starting to develop heavy precipitation along its' northern half. This is a sign that the storm is becoming an extra tropical system...in other words, it's weakening.
Nonetheless, Irene should remain a strong Category 1 hurricane as the eye passes just east of Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore tomorrow afternoon and evening.
Here is a map of the forecast winds tomorrow evening around 7 PM. Notice how the winds are stronger along the right side of the storm. This is typical of every tropical system as forward momentum enhances wind speed (less friction over water helps also). This is why I downplayed this storm. Yes, Irene will cause a lot of damage. However, the violent right side of this system never really made landfall during peak intensity. Most historical hurricanes have the right front quadrant make landfall.
The next map shows the forecast rainfall at around 7 PM Saturday. Notice how the heaviest rain remains near the core of the storm. For this reason, the eastern third of Virginia will receive most of the rainfall.
The greatest danger from Irene will be flooding rains and the potential for isolated weak tornadoes Saturday afternoon and evening. Most of the rain will subside Sunday morning with winds gradually decreasing by midday.
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