Hurricane Irene was the ninth named storm, and the fourth hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, forming as a Cape Verde hurricane, and lasting 14 days; the longest of any cyclone in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Irene proved to be a difficult storm for forecasters to predict. It was feared that Irene could make landfall in the United States, due to uncertainty in predicting the storm's track. Thankfully, landfall never occured, with Irene staying well away from the East Coast of the United States. Irene caused no damage, and no fatalities were reported with the storm.
|Formation||August 4, 2005|
|Dissipation||August 18, 2005|
|Highest winds||105 mph|
|Lowest pressure||970 mbar|
|Areas affected||East Coast of the United States|
On August, 1 a vigorous tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa, weakening at first due to cooler waters. The wave moved west and passed near the Cape Verde Islands, where convection started to increase around the wave. On August 4, the wave became more organized, with Tropical Depression Nine developing on the afternoon of August 4, while located 690 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. Early on August 5, the depression turned to the northwest. This northwest turn caused the depression to enter into an environment of high wind shear, which would greatly affect storm in the coming days. Some computer models predicted that the system would dissipate, while others predicted it would steadily intensify. Despite the unfavorable conditions in the area, as well as the depression's disorganized structure, it strengthened into Tropical Storm Irene on August 7. After becoming a tropical storm, Irene headed northwest still, then west, weakening to a tropical depression on August 8 as it did so, due to its environment being laden with dry air and wind shear. On the morning of August 10, when Irene passed to the north of the Lesser Antilles, it nearly dissipated into a remnant area of low pressure. At this point, forecasters did not give Irene a likely chance to survive.
Late on August 10, due to the warm waters, the depression became more organized south of Bermuda, and restrengthened into a tropical storm. At this point, uncertainty remained about how the subtropical ridge would interact with Irene, the models continued to give unclear signs to the future of the storm, with some models predicting that Irene would make landfall in North Carolina, with other models predicting that Irene would dissipate. This uncertainty finally ended when a weakness in the subtropical ridge took place, allowing Irene to turn sharly to the north, causing Irene to pass midway between the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Bermuda on August 15. Soon after that, upper-level wind shear significantly weakened, allowing Irene to reach hurricane strength. Irene strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, reaching its peak at that intensity, on August 16, while located 350 miles northeast of Bermuda. After reaching its peak, Irene continued moving east, into an area of high wind shear, and Irene began to weaken as a result of the shear. On August 17, Irene was downgraded to a tropical depression while located 520 miles south of Cape Race, Newfoundland.
On August 18, Irene finally became extratropical, due to moving over much cooler waters. Irene was absorbed by a larger extratropical system later that day. Since Irene survived for 14 days, this is the longest for any tropical cyclone in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.
Since Irene remained well away from land throughout its lifetime, no watches or warnings were ever issued for any land areas. Also, even through Irene lasted for a very long time over the open Atlantic Ocean, there were no reports of tropical storm-force winds affecting ships. Also, no damage or fatalities were reported as a result of Irene. The only land impact Irene had was along the East Coast of the United States (and possibly Bermuda), where Irene increased the risk of rip currents along the East Coast of the United States. In New Jersey, many beaches restricted swimming activities, and lifeguards had to preform more than 100 rescues over a 3-day period at one beach in New Jersey.
Records and Naming
When Irene formed on August 7, it was the earliest that the ninth tropical cyclone had ever formed in the history of the Atlantic basin, beating the previous record held by Storm Nine of the 1936 Atlantic hurricane season. This was also the fifth time the name Irene had been used to name a tropical storm in the Atlantic basin, and the seventh time worldwide. Due to the lack of any major effects from Irene, the name was not retired in the Spring of 2006 by the World Meteorological Organization, thus it is on the list of names to be used for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.