PINE BELT, MS (WDAM)- As of 7 PM Sunday, Tropical Storm Irene was located at 17.8 N 64.9 W, or near St. Croix. Maximum sustained winds were 60 mph with higher gusts, and movement was to the WNW at 15 mph.
The current forecast track from the National Hurricane Center has Irene moving northwest through the Bahamas as a category 1 Hurricane, with winds of 85 mph. It is then forecasted to make landfall on the southeast Florida coast around 2 PM Thursday, before continuing up the Florida peninsula as a strong Tropical Storm.
Computer models have been consistently shifting Irene's forecast track to the east over the past day. A strong cold front is expected to reach the eastern seaboard late this week and this should act to "pull" Irene on a more northerly track. Several reliable models actually have Irene missing the Florida coast entirely, and eventually making landfall along the South or North Carolina coast. While these models have a large margin of error, the shift to the east in the general consensus helps lower the probability of Irene affecting the Gulf Coast. None the less, a few models continue to forecast a weaker cold front, allowing Irene to move into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. We must continue to keep a close eye of Tropical Storm Irene's progress through the week.
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