Baltimore now under Tropical Storm Warning
Hurricane Irene, packing 110 mph winds, heavy rain and a 4 to 8-foot storm surge, continues to bear down on eastern North Carolina, southeastern Virginia and Maryland this morning. Hurricane Warnings now stretch from North Carolina to New Jersey, including the Maryland and Delaware resorts.
Baltimore and the entire Western Shore of Maryland - and the Eastern Shore inland from the beaches, are under a Tropical Storm Warning. Tropical storm conditions are now expected by Saturday from Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties, south and east.
The National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va. says winds at BWI-Marshall Airport will pick up Saturday afternoon, with sustained winds increasing to 24 to 29 mph Saturday, gusting to 34. Saturday night, winds will increase to between 37 and 47 mph, gusting to 54 mph.
The Western Shore region should also be prepared for 6 to 8 inches of rain through Sunday, with more to the east. Up to a foot of rain is possible on the Lower Eastern Shore. A Flash Flood Watch was posted for the entire Western Shore.
A storm surge of 4 to 8 feet was predicted for southern portions of the Chesapeake, its tributaries, the Eastern Shore and Delmarva. The beaches will see large and destructive waves.
"Now is the time to rush to completion preparations for the protection of life and property," forecasters warned. "Evacuate if directed to do so by local officials, or if your home is vulnerable to high wind or flooding." Here's more:
"MINOR TO MODERATE DAMAGE IS LIKELY TO MANY MOBILE HOMES...
ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT HAVE CANOPIES...AWNINGS...OR CARPORTS.
POORLY CONSTRUCTED HOMES MAY SUSTAIN MINOR WALL DAMAGE AND PARTIAL
ROOF REMOVAL. OTHER HOMES MAY HAVE MINOR ROOF AND SIDING DAMAGE.
SOME LOOSE OUTDOOR ITEMS WILL BE TOSSED AROUND AND MAY CAUSE
ADDITIONAL DAMAGE. A FEW POWER LINES WILL BE KNOCKED DOWN
RESULTING IN SCATTERED POWER OUTAGES. SOME LARGE BRANCHES OF
HEALTHY TREES WILL BE SNAPPED. MOST NEWLY PLANTED TREES AND SHRUBS
WILL BE DAMAGED OR UPROOTED."
At the 5 a.m. report, Hurricane Irene was located about 400 miles south of Cape Hatteras, moving north at 14 mph. Top sustained winds had eased a bit to 110 mph. Some restrengthening was possible, and the storm was expected to pass near or over the Outer Banks Saturday, at Cat. 2 or 3.