Irene weakening, but still a threat
The core winds of Hurricane Irene were coming on shore on the eastern portions of North Carolina at daybreak Saturday. Top sustained winds have fallen to 90 mph, but Irene remains a dangerous storm, and is forecast to remain a hurricane when it reaches the Delmarva coast later today, and for
its second landfall on Long Island and New England on Sunday.
Ocean City and the Delmarva resorts should be prepared for sustained winds of 55 to 65 mph to night, with gusts to 85 mph. Rains on the Shore will total 6 to 12 inches, with some locations seeing as much as 15 inches. That's two or three months' worth in 24 hours. Expect disruptive and destructive flooding.
On the Western Shore, including the Baltimore area, forecasters have kept a Tropical Storm Warning in effect. They predict tropical-storm-force winds to begin by early Saturday evening. Plan for sustained winds of 35 to 45 mph, with gusts to 65.
And there will be plenty of rain. A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect from noon Saturday through Sunday morning. While the streets may be dry this morning, forecasters warn that we'll see rainfall totals of 2 to 5 inches during the storm, with some higher totals - 6 to 8 inches - along the Western Shore of the Chesapeake.
The best news is that the storm surge in the Upper Chesapeake Bay is not expected to exceed 1 to 3 feet. By comparison, the destructive surge during Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003 was 8 to 9 feet.
At 5 a.m., Hurricane Irene was 35 miles south of Cape Lookout, N.C., moving to the north northeast at 14 mph. Top sustained winds were blowing at 90 mph. It is a Cat. 1 storm.