The U.S. National Hurricane Center In Miami, which is one of the WMO’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs), is issuing constant updates on the progress of Hurricane Irene, which is the first hurricane of the 2011 North Atlantic season.
At 8:00 EDT (1300 GMT) 26 August, the centre of Hurricane Irene was located near latitude 30.0 north, longitude 77.3 west. Irene is moving toward the north and this motion is expected to continue during the next 24 hours, followed by a gradual turn toward the north-northeast. The core of the hurricane is forecast to pass well off the coast of northeastern Florida today, approach the coast of North Carolina tonight and pass near or over the North Carolina coast Saturday. The hurricane is forecast to move near or over the Mid-Atlantic coast Saturday night. Maximum sustained winds are near 110 mph (177 kph), with higher gusts. Irene is a Category Two hurricane. Some re-intensification is possible today and Irene is expected to be near the threshold between category two and three as it reaches the North Carolina coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Reports of damage are still coming in from the Bahamas, which was battered by Hurricane Irene Thursday.
In Haiti at least two people are reported dead in the northwest of the country after they were swept away by raging waters in the ravine. A further 1,000 are reported displaced by flooding. The Haitian Meteorological Service (Centre National de Météorologie – CNM), which was restored after the 2010 earthquake thanks to cooperation from WMO’s Members, issued regular alerts to the Haitian people and the international humanitarian community to assist in disaster management.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned that there will be an active hurricane season across the entire Atlantic Basin for the whole season (June 1 to November 30). NOAA’s updated seasonal outlook projects, with a 70 percent probability, a total of:
• 14 to 19 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
• 7 to 10 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
• 3 to 5 could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
These ranges are indicative of an active season, and extend well above the long-term seasonal averages of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Full details about Hurricane names
Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists maintained and updated by one of WMO’s international hurricane committees. Originally the lists featured only women's names. In 1979, men's names were introduced and they alternate with the women's names. Six lists are used in rotation. According to this season’s lists, the next two tropical storms which form in the Atlantic will be called Jose and Katia.
The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. For the Atlantic Ocean, WMO Hurricane Committee is responsible for this.
Storm names which have been retired include Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974). At its meeting in March 2011, WMO’s Regional Association for North America, Central America and the Caribbean’s Hurricane Committee retired two tropical cyclone names in the Atlantic – Igor and Thomas - from the official name rotation because of the deaths and damage they caused in 2010. They will be replaced by Ian and Tobias in 2016.