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August 26, 2011

Irene weakens a bit, still on course

The National Hurricane Center at 11 a.m. reported that Hurricane Irene has weakened a bit, with top sustained winds slipping from 110 to 105 mph. But thew storm is expected to move across or just offshore from North carolina's barrier islands on Saturday.

From there Irene is forecast to move north northeast toward Delmarva, passing over the beaches or just offshore. The resort is under a Hurricane Warning, and is expecting sustained winds of 70 to 90 mph, with gusts to 105 mph by Saturday night.

Baltimore remains under a Tropical Storm Warning, with winds forecast to reach 31 to 36 mph Saturday night, increasing to 36 to 46 mph, with gusts to 60 mph.

Irene Fortunately, it looks as though the city and other Western Shore communities will see a modest storm surge of just 1 to 3 feet overnight into Sunday, compared with the 8 to 9 feet during Tropical Storm Isabel.

Irene was located 330 miles south southwest of Cale Hatteras, moving north at 14 mph. That motion was forecast to begin a shift to the north northeast on Saturday. Hurricane winds extended 90 miles from the center, with tropical storm-force winds still 290 miles from the center

North Carolina beaches were expecting a storm surge of as much as 6 to 11 feet. In the Lower Chesapeake, the surge is predicted at 4 to 8 feet.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today said Baltimore's emergency services are ready for the storm, and she urged Baltimore residents to be sure they're ready, too.

"Even if Baltimore is not in the direct path of Hurricane Irene, high winds, rain and a storm surge can cause flooding and downed power lines throughout the city," she said. "We have been monitoring the storm all week long, and we are taking the necessary steps to keep the city safe. It is absolutely vital that every resident is prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way."

In Annapolis, Mayor Joshua J. Cohen declared a State of Emergency and urged all residents in low-lying areas to evacuate their communities by Saturday afternoon. Annapolis High School is being opened as a shelter at 4 p.m. Saturday for those who cannot find shelter with friends or relatives.

Both mayors said they will open city garages for residents who need to move their cars to high ground. Parking will be free for those residents.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:44 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Comments

Frank - it is good to hear that the storm surge will be lower than expected. I did happen to read Weather Underground and they are saying that the storm surge will rival Isabel and they mention the Chesapeake Bay. Can you reconcile? Most appreciated.

FR REPLIES: I saw that, too. Not sure where WeatherUnderground got it. Just off the line with the National Weather Service, and they continue to say Irene is tracking toward the wrong side of the bay to produce major storm surge flooding here. Isabel passed west of the bay, so the south winds on the right side of the storm's center blew water UP the bay. Irene is expected to pass east of the bay, so, after a period of east winds that could cause a minor storm surge (they expect 1-2 feet), winds will shift to the north, blowing water out of the Chesapeake. Time will tell who's right.

Thank you

How can you downplay the possible impact of Hurricane Irene in Maryland. People have already forgotten the surprise they had from Hurricane Isabel. Most people are skeptical as it is and should be taking precautions based on the worst possible scenerio. Look at New Orleans during Katrina.

I’ve been monitoring the strength and “projected path” of the hurricane.

Over the last 15 hours, the maximum wind speed has dropped from 115 -> 110 -> 105 -> 100.
The “pressure” keeps rising, meaning that the storm is weakening.

The path keeps edging away from land, out towards the ocean.

Here in Baltimore, I'm planning to cut the lawn this Sunday. It will be sunny and quite breezy.

Hi Frank, I have a fantasy football draft on Saturday night in Carney, starts at 8PM, and should end around 11PM. What will driving conditions be like.

Can you explain the wind's effect on the storm surge? It would seem to me that northern winds would blow the water north i.e. causing the larger storm surge as the water floods into Baltimore from the Bay?

FR REPLIES: The storm surge is caused, in part ,by the wind (also by the low pressure). South winds (out of the south) on the east side of a hurricane passing west of the bay will blow the water north into the bay and hold it there, creating storm surge flooding. That's what Isabel did. Once Irene is abreast of us (to our east) winds on the west wide of the storm, blowing out of the north (north winds) will do the opposite, blowing water out of the bay. That creates what is called a very low "blowout tide."

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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