As expected, Hurricane Irene is beginning to weaken slightly as she heads toward land.
Current enhanced infrared images of the storm now show a decrease in the intense convection within the eyewall. In fact, the eye itself is beginning to close up as it moves further north.
The weakening of the storm system was expected. It is not a sign that Irene will be weaker by the time it reaches our area.
In fact, there still is a brief period where we may see some intensification as it heads farther north and encounters the Gulf Stream.
As of 2 p.m., maximum sustained winds are still an impressive 100 miles per hour, which categorizes Irene as a Category 2 hurricane.
Alright, I broke down the timeframe based on location and several different thresholds. Since this storm system is generally heading south to north, areas in extreme South west CT and NYC area will feel the effects first and gradually taper as you head points north and west towards Hartford.
As for the initial showers, New York City will begin to feel the extreme outer bands as early as tomorrow morning, around 10 a.m.; Hartford by noon. The steady rain will begin to arrive around midnight tomorrow, and by 2 to 3 a.m. in Hartford. Depending on where you are in between these locations, just interpolate. For example, steady rain in Danbury will probably be around 1 a.m.
As for tropical storm force winds, at the moment I am forecasting that we can see winds in excess of 39 miles per hour starting between 7 and 10 a.m. Sunday in New York City. Again, it will take a bit longer to make it to Hartford, but around 9 to 12 a.m. Sunday would be a good estimate.
The peak of the winds/rain is forecast to reach New York City around 3 to 6 p.m. and reach Hartford by 5 to 8 p.m. Rain will taper off first in New York City, around midnight, and by 2 a.m. Monday in Hartford.
Patch will have another update this evening on the weather forecast.