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Irene Not A Hurricane When It Hit New Jersey, Report Says

The Jersey Shore received a lashing, but North Jersey took the brunt

Hurricane Irene would have been the first hurricane to make landfall in New Jersey in more than a century, had it actually been packing hurricane-strength winds at the time.

But by the time Irene rolled ashore at Little Egg Inlet in , its wind speed had already decreased to 69 m.p.h. – a full 5 m.p.h. short of hurricane strength – meaning it was actually just a tropical storm.

The new findings were released Dec. 14 by the National Hurricane Center, the latest of equivalent post-mortems the agency has posted on every other storm of the 2011 hurricane season. Every year, the hurricane center releases "tropical cyclone reports" on each named storm after hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

The report said a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet along the state's shoreline caused moderate to severe tidal flooding with extensive beach erosion, but not surprisingly, the bulk of the damage caused by Irene was in the northern counties due to river flooding.

"The most severe impact of Irene in the northeastern United States was catastrophic inland flooding in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont," the report stated.

The report said it was "surprising" that Irene weakened significantly between the Bahamas and North Carolina, never to regenerate on its eventual trek northward toward New Jersey. Hurricane center meteorologists believe that after the storm's inner eyewall eroded near North Carolina, Irene did not act as most storms typically do, and contract at the outer eyewall, allowing for restrengthening.

"Instead, Irene’s structure was characterized by a series of rainbands, resulting in a broad and diffused wind field that slowly decayed," the report said.

According to the hurricane center, reports indicate that Irene was directly responsible for 49 deaths: five in the Dominican Republic, three in Haiti, and 41 in the United States. In the United States, six deaths were attributed to storm surge, waves or rip currents; 15 to wind, including falling trees; and 21 to rainfall-induced floods.

The storm caused $7 billion in property damage, the report said.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the National Hurricane Center's website.

tuna stick December 21, 2011 at 05:27 PM
The national Weather Service was completely aware that the storm would weaken, and yet the governor shut down the state 2 days before it hit. While the loss of life is something we all would like to prevent, the loss in dollars from the businesses shutting down, or not be able to get goods delivered is unacceptable. It's one thing to say that government should not interfere with the lives of people of the state, and then go ahead tell everyone to stay home because it's raining outside. Of course, all o the replies will be that the "governor was just trying to make sure everyone was safe". As a busines owner I'm quite able to take care of myself, so thatnk you all the same Mr. Governor.
Project Bluebeam December 21, 2011 at 07:15 PM
There is an entire state outside of Ocean County. Did you forget about all of the people who were flooded and without power...even as close as Lincroft? Those "goods" you were waiting on probably were coming from NY or Northern NJ. A truck driver should risk being away from his family with flash floods on the way? And with the torrential rain and washed out roadways, just how much business were you expecting?
bayway mike December 22, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Since it wasn't a hurricane, does that mean that FEMA will want off the cash it loaned out RETURNED??

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