The best guess for the storm as of 2 p.m. Monday.
Update August 22 3:45 p.m.: And from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. the situation for Charleston got much worse.
The forecast now calls for Irene to become a 'major' hurricane and the center of the best guess path plants the storm smack dab on Charleston — now, it's important to note that this path will almost certainly change, but clearly Irene is one to watch.
The best thing that could happen is for the storm's project path to curve more into the Atlantic, but should the path turn further south Charleston will need to be concerned that much longer.
And that all comes down to the timing of Irene's speed and the development of fronts, as the National Weather Service says: "Irene is currently located south of a narrow subtropical ridge which is forcing the cyclone on a west-northwest track. However most of the global models show the gradual development a large upper trough along the East Coast. This pattern will induce a more northwestward and then northward track through the forecast period with a decrease in forward speed. based on the latest guidance the official track forecast has been shifted to the east but still remains slightly west of the model consensus. Although it is too early to be certain the current guidance lessens the threat to south Florida."
As always, we'll keep you posted.
There's oodles more info over at the National Weather Service.
Update August 22: 24 hours on Irene has reached hurricane strength and has become a bit more alarming for us.
If the forecasters' best guess should hold true then Saturday morning would be very very bad for us in Charleston. Luckily things tend to change a lot and the storm's path over the north end of Hispanola should help quell things and give the storm more time to curve safely east of the U.S. coast.
However for now the storm seems poised to swing up our way.
First reporting August 21: Despite warnings of a fearful hurricane season in 2011, it has been quite calm on the East Coast of the United States.
There was one moment of angst when Emily began to churn, but that storm fell apart before reaching the foul line of the bowling lane.
But with the christening of Tropical Storm Irene we're back again to watch status. To be sure, as with Emily this would-be East Coast terrorizing hurricane could well fall apart as it traverses Haiti and Cuba, but even with that path the best guess is that the storm will still be churning and could well strike Florida as a hurricane.
But as with all things weather forecast, no one knows for sure, but here's the best thinking as of now from the National Hurricane Center: "The upper-level environment is expected to be quite favorable for strengthening throughout the forecast period as a result of low shear and a mid-oceanic trough to the east acting as a mass sink for the outflow in the eastern semicircle.
"However the intensity forecast is heavily dependent on how much interaction irene has with the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola and what the inner core of the cyclone becomes after it emerges off the northeast coast of Cuba in about 4 days. Once over the Florida straits however Irene will have at least 24 hours over some of the warmest water in the atlantic to tap into.
"The official forecast remains on the conservative side due to land effects and is close to a blend of ships and lgem statistical intensity models."
As always we'll keep an eye on it and pass along key updates.