Irene is onshore in NC; top winds now 85
The core winds of Hurriane Irene have come ashore near Cape Lookout, N.C. Top sustained winds are reported at 85 mph, about 10 mph above the tropical storm threshhold. The storm continues to move to the north northeast, across Pamlico Sound, on track to put move the center along the Delmarva coast by 8 p.m. Saturday night, according to AccuWeather.com
Irene is still a large, dangerous storm, capable of unloading tremendous rain and wind on the region. But it is continuing to weaken. The National Hurricane Center says satellite imagery show the storm cloud tops are warming on the western side, and rain bands on the southwest have dried up some. That means dry air from the southwest is being dragged in toward the storm's core, disrupting its energy system.
But Irene isn't through with us yet. Cape Hatteras instruments have clocked sustained winds of 59 mph, with gusts to 84. A storm surge of 4 to 8 feet is still forecast for the mid-Atlantic coast and the Lower Chesapeake Bay. Later today the beaches will see large and destructive waves.
The real story of this storm may well turn out to be heavy rain and flooding. Forecasters are still predicting 6 to 10 inches of rain, with isolated totals up to 15 inches. On the Western Shore, Baltimore and Central Maryland are still forecast to get 2 to 5 inches of rain, with 6 to 8 closer to the Bay.
Carroll County has been added to the Flash Flood Watch. Here's part of the NWS/Sterling foreacst discussion:
"HIGHEST EXPECTED RAINFALL FROM IRENE OVER SRN MD...THOUGH EAST-WEST ORIENTED RAIN
BANDS MAY CREATE STRIPES OF HIGHER AMOUNTS UP AND DOWN THE WESTERN
SHORE OF MD. LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS BETWEEN 4-6 INCHES...THOUGH
MOST AREAS IN THE FLOOD WATCH WILL RECEIVE BETWEEN 1-3 INCHES.
EXTREME EASTERN PORTIONS OF THE COUNTIES BORDERING THE CHESAPEAKE WILL
SEE AMOUNTS IN THE 6-8 RANGE AND TAPERING OFF SUBSTANTIALLY WEST OF