Summary of Hurricane Irene in Southeast Florida

 

PATH
After lingering as a broad area of low pressure in the western Caribbean Sea for four days, a tropical depression formed just after midnight EDT on October 13 and became tropical storm Irene in the northwest Caribbean later that morning. Irene moved north across western Cuba on October 14 and strengthened to hurricane intensity early on October 15 in the Straits of Florida. It then made its first landfall in south Florida in the lower Florida Keys around 9 am EDT October 15. After crossing Florida Bay, the center made landfall on the peninsula near Cape Sable around 4 pm EDT October 15 as a Category One intensity hurricane. It moved northeast across central Miami-Dade and Broward counties before exiting into the Atlantic just after midnight on October 16 near Jupiter in northeast Palm Beach County.
METEOROLOGICAL EFFECTS
Heavy rains and sustained winds of tropical storm force caused widespread flooding and power outages in the metropolitan areas of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. The effects were similar, although somewhat more widespread, than those experienced in Tropical Storm Gordon in November 1994 and were reminiscent of the wet hurricanes in the 1930s and 1940s.

Rainfall totals in southeast Florida ranged from 6 to 17 inches with many areas getting 10 to 15 inches. The greatest reliable amount reported was 17.45 inches at Boynton Beach. The highest sustained wind over land was 60 mph at Miami Beach with many readings from 40 to 55 mph. Fowey Rocks Light reported sustained winds of 66 mph while the Miami NWS doppler radar estimated areas of sustained hurricane force winds in the Atlantic Ocean just off the southeast Florida coast. Among the highest recorded gusts were readings of 93 mph near Belle Glade, 85 mph at Homestead Air Reserve Base, 84 mph at Fowey Rocks Light, 74 mph at Turkey Point, and 70 mph at Miami International Airport. The lowest barometric pressure on the south Florida peninsula was 989.9 mb at Opa Locka Airport. Storm surge and beach erosion were minimal.

Four tornadoes (3 of F0 intensity and 1 of F1 intensity) touched down in Broward and Palm Beach counties, injuring 3 persons. Several other areas of localized wind damage were reported, especially near the southeast shore of Lake Okeechobee, and were likely attributable to convective downbursts.
CASUALTIES AND DAMAGE
There were no direct deaths from Irene, but eight persons died in the aftermath. Five were electrocuted by downed power lines, including three persons from one family. Three persons drowned in vehicle-related accidents. Damage in southeast Florida, mainly from flooding is estimated at $600 million which includes $335 million in agricultural losses. An estimated 700,000 customers lost electricity. Flooding in a few residential lasted for a week displacing several hundred persons and isolating thousands more.

Other long-term ecological repercussions may be experienced from the flooding rains such as the effects of high water on Everglades' hammocks, and the effects of excessive fresh-water runoff on brackish estuaries.

 




Storm total rainfall from Irene

Above is a graphic of the Storm Total Precipitation from Hurricane Irene, as measured by various rain gages and observers. Below is the Storm Total Precipitation as depicted by the Miami WSR-88D doppler weather radar. The rainfall maxima, and overall shape of the precipitation pattern, corresponds well between the two graphics.


Radar depiction of storm total precipitation


 

Below is a table of selected Storm Total rainfall amounts from around south Florida during Hurricane Irene. The observations are from "official" National Weather Service gages, from co-op observer sites, and from South Florida Water Management District gages.

 

LOCATION COUNTY PRECIPITATION
Boynton Beach Palm Beach 17.45 inches
Cooper City Broward 15.43 inches
West Pembroke Pines Broward 14.85 inches
Homestead ARB Miami-Dade 14.57 inches
Saga Bay Miami-Dade 13.89 inches
South Miami Miami-Dade 13.50 inches
Fort Lauderdale Dixie Water Plant Broward 13.38 inches
Hollywood Waste Water Plant Broward 13.13 inches
Homestead General Airport Miami-Dade 12.03 inches
Plantation Broward 11.70 inches
Tamiami Trail/Krome Avenue Miami-Dade 11.60 inches
Miami International Airport Miami-Dade 10.99 inches
Palm Beach International Airport Palm Beach 10.88 inches
Everglades/U.S. 27 Broward 10.38 inches
Lauderdale Lakes Broward 9.73 inches
El Portal Miami-Dade 9.53 inches
Miami Beach-Beach Patrol HQ Miami-Dade 9.49 inches
Pompano Beach Broward 9.34 inches
Lake Worth Palm Beach 9.17 inches
Biscayne Bay and 320th Street Miami-Dade 8.95 inches
Weston Broward 8.79 inches
N. Dade Norwood Water Plant Miami-Dade 8.35 inches
North Miami Beach Miami-Dade 8.25 inches
West Boca Raton Palm Beach 7.80 inches
Opa Locka Airport Miami-Dade 7.60 inches
North Palm Beach Palm Beach 7.55 inches
Sawgrass Mills Broward 7.41 inches
Leisure City Miami-Dade 7.08 inches
Jupiter Palm Beach 6.44 inches

 

The following are wind speeds recorded by NWS and South Florida Water Management District recorders. They are standard highest 1-minute average wind speeds (sustained winds), followed by peak wind gusts.
LOCATION MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WIND PEAK WIND GUST
Belle Glade 68 mph 93 mph
20-25 mi SSW of Clewiston 67 mph 91 mph
Fowey Rocks Light C-MAN
near Key Biscayne
66 mph 84 mph
Middle of Lake Okeechobee 65 mph 81 mph
North end of Lake Okeechobee 64 mph 79 mph
Miami Beach 60 mph Unknown
South end of Lake Okeechobee 58 mph 75 mph
Turkey Point Nuclear Plant 58 mph 74 mph
National Weather Service Miami 57 mph 68 mph
25 mi W of West Palm Beach 56 mph 68 mph
West end of Lake Okeechobee 53 mph 65 mph
Kendall-Tamiami Airport 52 mph 69 mph
Homestead Air Reserve Base 48 mph 85 mph
Lake Worth C-MAN 48 mph 61 mph
Miami International Airport 47 mph 70 mph
Pompano Beach Airport 46 mph 58 mph
Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport 46 mph 58 mph
Opa Locka Airport 45 mph 56 mph
Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
25 mi W Boca Raton
43 mph 71 mph
35 mi W Boca Raton 43 mph 57 mph
Palm Beach International Airport 43 mph 61 mph
North Perry Airport 43 mph 58 mph
Off Krome Avenue N of Homestead 36 mph 57 mph
20-25 mi S of Clewiston 35 mph 78 mph
La Belle 30 mph 49 mph

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