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chesapeake bay

Chesapeake Bay wind speed maps for Irene

The net is a great source of information in storms like this.  In fact, sometimes you get too much data, but you can eventually sort through it to come up with a pretty good picture of the current situation.

This weather map from WeatherUnderground shows the potential wind speeds from Hurricane Irene.

Starting from the hurricane icon off the coast of Ocean City, those in the closest rings will have hurricane force winds. As you’ll note they are stronger on the right side than they are on the left. What I’m talking about below is for the circle WHEN the hurricane is in the position in Ocean City area, not when it is moving up to that area.

The next ring is tropical storm winds > 50 knots per hour but less than 73 knots. This includes parts of the Eastern shore just about to Cambridge.

The next ring, the largest ring, is tropical storm winds > 34 knots and < 50 knots. This includes basically everyone East of Bethesda, East of Woodbridge, East of the Mixing Bowl.

Please note the storm will be moving, which is why toward the bottom you see the remnants of other circles drawn. There you will see a large swath of hurricane strength wind to the right of the storm when it the hurricane icon (not seen) is south of Newport News. In this ‘circle’ you’ll see hurricane strength winds extending over nearly the ENTIRE Eastern Shore.

What does this mean in English?  Check out the Washington Post’s story on Wind Speed and what it means for your home and trees.

Direct link to map:

You can monitor the wind speeds on the various bouys in the Chesapeake Bay if you so desire, all from your mobile phone.






Hurricane Irene on the Chesapeake Bay–time to get nervous.

I’ve been quite busy over the last 24 hours tracking Irene. Well that’s not entirely accurate–I’ve been tracking Irene for days, but I’ve gotten quite worried about Irene in the last 24 hours.

The “Oh Crap” moment came yesterday when I took a look at the computer models that showed a distinct Western track of the storm, taking it not up the outer islands of the East Coast of the USA but rather straight up the Chesapeake Bay’s Western Shore, which is where I have my house.


The computer models that were put out by the European meteorological agencies showed a storm track through Southern Maryland’s St. Marys, Calvert and Anne Arundel County. This would have had the eye of the hurricane going over my house, which, while a pretty cool thing to see and witness, would have also brought with it some massive destruction. Trees would be falling like toothpicks and storm surge flooding would wallop low lying areas of Annapolis and Baltimore, much like we saw with Isabel in 2003 (but probably not as bad).

But the GFS computer model, which mirrors much of the NOAA National Hurricane Center’s forecast is now showing a definite Eastern approach of Irene. The storm will actually stay out to sea and not pass directly over the barrier islands with Ocean City, Rehobeth and some of the Jersey Shore. If this comes to pass then that would be good news for the Chesapeake Bay area. Fingers crossed that the track starts to mirror this model.

During Isabel, we lost a few dozen roofing shingles along with having quite a bit of water flood into our house through the ceilings. All told I think it was about $10,000 in damage after FEMA and the insurance companies finished arguing. I also lost quite a bit of soil on my seawall, which spent hours underwater.  The nearby towns of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach were heavily flooded, with 4 feet of water heading inland a few hundred yards and National Guard troops called out to control security.  We were also without power for 7 days.

The posts are normally 6 feet above sea level



So how will Irene stack up to this storm?  It’s slower moving, stronger, but also further away than Isabel.  The most similar track was that of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which caused considerable rain and flooding along with some tropical storm level winds.

As you can see from the pictures, I’m not really worried about a storm surge taking my house.  That would be basically a biblical level Tsunami to get up the 40 odd foot cliff to my actual house.  I do anticipate my seawall getting another battering from this storm, which means I might need to rearrange the rocks (again) before the coming winter squalls.

The rain is going to be a big pain in that the soil is already pretty wet in the area.  The super saturation along with the winds will likely result in a number of trees falling over in the forests just North of my property.  I just have to hope they don’t come to rest on my roof.  They are a shallow root trees and even a good thunderstorm takes out more than a few, dropping power lines in the process.

For much of the other areas around me, I anticipate some pretty heavy flooding in Southern Maryland mixed with near hurricane force winds.  Tropical Storm winds that will hit the middle Bay will be annoying but many homes there are built with hurricanes in mind (we have hurricane struts in our roofing).

Still, I’m plenty nervous.  This will be a very long weekend staring at computer screens and the weather.