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Extreme Weather 2011

Hurricane Irene

August 20-29, 2011

Irene first struck the U.S. as a Category 1 hurricane in eastern North Carolina, then moved northward along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. Wind damage in coastal North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland was moderate, with considerable damage resulting from falling trees and power lines. Irene made its final landfall as a tropical storm in the New York City area and dropped torrential rainfall in the Northeast that caused widespread flooding. More than 7 million homes and businesses lost power during the storm, and Irene caused at least 45 deaths and more than $7.3 billion in damages.

Irene was the first hurricane to hit the U.S. since Ike in September 2008 and was the most significant tropical system to make a direct landfall in the Northeast since Hurricane Bob in 1991.

Hurricane Irene is an example of increasing accuracy in forecasting storm track. Its landfall in eastern North Carolina and path northward were accurately predicted more than four days in advance by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, which used information from weather satellites, hurricane models, aircraft observations, and other data. NOAA’s delivery of critical environmental forecasts provided essential advance information that allowed emergency officials to plan necessary evacuations and sparked individuals to take safety precautions.