Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene, which swept up the East Coast of the United States from August 27-30, 2011, is expected to rank among the 10 most costly natural disasters in US history. After making landfall as a diminished category 1 hurricane near Cape Lookout, Irene passed over Swan Quarter, about 15 miles East of's St. Claire Creek observation station, around mid-day on August 27. The  storm surge on the Pamlico River was the greatest in living memory. The surge caused extensive damage on the Neuse and Pamlico rivers, with significant damage to >50% of piers near St. Clair, tornados in Belhaven and epic flooding in Aurora. The 9.5 foot storm surge in Oriental is documented by the Town Dock. Irene destroyed more than 1100 homes in North Carolina. Trees and signs were down everywhere, streets blocked, homes flooded and power out to millions of customers on the East Coast. Flood damage was particularly extensive in Vermont.

As illlustrated below, the surge at St. Clair Creek began to build on the evening of the 26th of August. The full width-half max of the surge goes from 6 am through 3 pm on the 27th, indicating 9 hours of flood conditions during daylight. The surge was over 5 feet above the highest water level observed over the past 18 months and 7.6 feet above the average level for 2011. The surge was followed by an equal duration collapse in water level, ultimately below the sensor level. Post storm the water level in the Pamlico was about 15 inches above the pre-storm level, where it remains a week later.

irene storm surge

Here is Irene's wind history at St. Clair:

Irene Wind History

The wind direction goes from North at 0, East at Pi/2, South at Pi and West at 3 Pi/2. The wind shifted from NE as the storm approached to SW after the eye passed over.

Here is the air temperature and the total rain in each 30 minutes:

Irene rain