The national hurricane center announced in its 7am update that Irene is moving away from Puerto Rico. Over night tropical storm Irene increased in strength and was upgraded from storm to Hurricane. Maximum sustained winds were clocked at near 80 mph making it a category 1 hurricane as per Hurricane Irene Intermediate advisory # 7B at 9 am this morning.
Hurricane Irene is moving away from the North coast of Puerto Rico and is expected to reach the Northern Coast of the Dominican Republic later this afternoon to the evening. Hurrican fource winds are expected to extend out from the eye of the hurricane for 15 miles and tropical storm force winds extending about 150 miles from the eye mostly to the northwest and northeast of the center. As of 9 am Hurricane Irene is 75 miles ENE of Punta Cana moving at 14 miles per hour.
Haiti now has a hurricane watch for the north coast from Le Mole St. Nicholas east to the DR boarder.
The predicted path of Hurricane Irene has shifted from the middle of Hispaniola to the northern coast. At this point the predicted path takes Hurricane Irene directly over the coastal cities of Las Terrenas, Nagua, Cabrera, Ro San Juan, Sosua, and Puerto Plata.
This change of path takes La Romana and Santo Domingo out of the line of the hurricane part of the storm but still within range of being part of the tropical storm where winds can reach up to 50 mph. Flooding and wind damage is still a possibility for the entire country and in particular the coastal portions.
Travelers staying in those areas need to be aware that the storm may raise the water levers to as much as 2-4 feet above the normal tide levers along the entire Northern Coast of the DR. In addition to the overall raise of water lever storms also bring in large powerful waves.
Rainfall is expected to reach 5-10 inches with isolated areas reaching as high as 20 inches. This amount of rain makes mud slides and heavily flooded rivers very likely. This extra rain also make make roads in the DR impassible for periods of time. Extra care should be given if you plan on traveling Monday and Tuesday.
If you have a flight coming into or out of the DR during the time of the storm, likely the flights will be canceled. Jet Blue has already announced it will drop fees if you need to change your travels plans for the affected dates, likely other airlines like American Airlines will do the same.