Tropical Storm Warnings and Flood Watches have been issued by the National Weather Service for the Capital Region for the period from Saturday evening through late Sunday night.
Hurricane Irene made landfall this afternoon over the outer banks of North Carolina. The huge tropical cyclone is moving east-northeast per current satellite images, and latest information from the National Hurricane Center, at around 13 MPH. This should allow Irene’s center to emerge back over the open waters of the Atlantic. Her brief period of landfall has caused her to weaken somewhat, to a category one storm on the Safir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained winds in the vicinity of 85 MPH.
The forecast track of the storm remains unchanged from previous thinking. The storm should slowly begin to accelerate north of northeast in direction through the next 24 to 48 hours. The storm is forecast to be centered in the vicinity of the Delmarva Peninsula during the evening hours Saturday night, off the New York City / Long Island coast by Sunday morning, and over interior New England Sunday afternoon. The storm is then forecast to move into eastern Canada by Sunday night, where it will begin to lose its tropical characteristics and become an extratropical low pressure area.
The Capital Region should see its greatest impacts from the storm beginning later Saturday evening through Sunday evening. Of greatest concern are the threats for very heavy rain, falling for a prolonged period of time, and strong gusty winds. The system is expected to be a low grade Hurricane or strong tropical storm when it impacts our region, thus, winds could be sustained as high as 70 MPH, particularly along the Hudson Valley, where funnelling effects could produce higher gusts.
Needless to say, final precautions should be taken to preserve life and property in advance of the storm’s arrival. Loose items outdoors should be brought inside a sturdy building, or should be tighly anchored to the ground, so as not to become dangerous flying debris if picked up by strong winds. Travel is of course discouraged through the duration of the storm unless in diar emergency. Heed the advice of local law enforcement, and emergency officials. If evacuations are called for, they should be obeyed.
Flooding is also possible, as 4 to 6 inches of rain in under a 24 hour period are forecast. Low lying areas, small streams and creeks, and flood prone areas will be highly susceptible to flooding. In the event flooding is occuring or is imminent, seek higher ground. Motorists should not drive into low water crossings or areas where water submerges the road.
Stay tuned for later statements and updates on Irene.