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Irene - 1999
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HURRICANE IRENE

irene1999.jpg
Tropical Storm Irene Moving Inland over Cuba

A broad area of low pressure formed in the southwestern Caribbean on October 8. The system did not organize until a tropical wave reached the Caribbean on October 11, and the two systems interacted. They formed Tropical Depression Thirteen in the northwestern Caribbean on October 13. The depression moved north an organized quickly, becoming Tropical Storm Irene just a few hours later. Irene strengthened at a brisk pace, reaching winds of 70 mph early on the 14th, but the strengthening came to a halt at this point, as Irene made landfall on the western tip of Cuba. The storm was able to maintain the 70 mph winds over land, and it strengthened into a hurricane just after re-emerging in the Florida Straits. Irene now tracked to the north-northeast and made landfall near Cape Sable, Florida and moved across the southeastern portion of the state on October 15. Being a very tenacious storm, Irene was able to maintain minimal hurricane force winds throughout its whole trek on land. After the hurricane re-emerged in the Atlantic, it returned to a northward direction, but no significant strengthening took place, and it remained a minimal hurricane. It now appeared headed for South Carolina, but a strong trough swept the storm out into a fast track the northeast, and it swerved away from land.

Irene finally strengthened at this point as it entered the warm Gulf Stream waters and reached winds of 110 mph. The pressure fell over 20 mbar in just 12 hours during this time. Fortunately, the trough pushed Irene far enough so that it only brushed the Outer Banks of North Carolina as it sped off the northeast. Irene moved even faster at this point, and accelerated into the North Atlantic where it was absorbed by a larger system, and later became a strong ocean-going extratropcial system. Irene killed a total of twelve people and caused damages of 700 million dollars. In Cuba, four people were killed and the island's tobacco crop was badly damaged. In Florida, 8 people were killed and much of Miami was left without power. Irene also caused substantial flooding in south Florida, which was responsible for the majority of the 700 million in damages. In North Carolina, six inches of rain were dumped in some areas as Irene brushed the Outer Banks.

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