Tropical Storm Watch issued for Maryland
Parts of Maryland is now under a Tropical Storm Watch as TS Hanna continues its advance on the U.S. mainland. A new track forecast brings the storm up the coast, with the center line of the "cone of uncertainty" passing directly over Ocean City. Here's how it reads:
"A TROPICAL STORM WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM THE NORTH
CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER NORTHWARD TO GREAT EGG INLET NEW
JERSEY...INCLUDING THE CHESAPEAKE BAY...THE TIDAL POTOMAC...
WASHINGTON D.C...AND THE DELAWARE BAY. A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS
THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH
AREA...GENERALLY WITHIN 36 HOURS."
Central Maryland is also under a Flash Flood Watch for Saturday, with 3 to 6 inches of rain possible along the storm's path.
The good news? Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center this afternoon are saying that it is increasingly unlikely that Tropical Storm Hanna will strengthen to hurricane status before making landfall tomorrow. On the other hand, the old girl is not likely to weaken either, and "PEOPLE ARE REMINDED THAT THERE IS VERY LITTLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STRONG TROPICAL STORM AND A MINIMAL HURRICANE," they said.
More precisely, Hanna was blowing with top sustained winds of 65 mph at last check. Hurricane force winds begin at 74 mph. Either one will knock you down, take out trees and utility lines and make a general mess of the place.
Tropical Storm Warnings are posted now all the way to the North Carolina/Virginia border. A Hurricane Watch extends to Currituck Beach Light in the Outer Banks, including Pamlico Sound.
The other news out of the Hurricane Center this afternoon was a slight twitch to the west in Hanna's forecast track. She could twitch again, of course. But if this latest track change holds up, the storm's center will run right up the coast - NOT offshore - passing directly over Ocean City. That would mean stiffer winds for the resort, for the Eastern Shore, and quite possibly for Baltimore. A bigger twitch to the left could send the center of the storm west of the Chesapeakem setting us up for some significant bay flooding.
The other concern, of course, is that Hurricane Ike is right behind Hanna, a few days east in the Atlantic. No assurances yet where he will go, but with top winds at 135 mph (down a tad from earlier today, but still extremely dangerous) we have to keep a close watch on that storm, too.
And here is the wind forecast map. It shows a 60 percent chance of tropical storm winds on the Eastern Shore. You can see Ike right on Hanna's heels. Josephine is about to enter at the right of the picture. But she seems to be falling apart.