Tropical Storm Hanna Aims at Atlantic Coast, Hurricane Ike Next - NBC New York

Tropical Storm Hanna Aims at Atlantic Coast, Hurricane Ike Next



    Tropical Storm Hanna Aims at Atlantic Coast, Hurricane Ike Next

    MIAMI, Florida, September 5, 2008 (ENS) - Tropical Storm Hanna is heading toward the coast of South and North Carolina "in a hurry" says the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

    Packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour with higher gusts, forecasters say Hanna could reach the coast in less than 12 hours as a hurricane since it only needs five knots for its winds to reach hurricane speed of 74 miles per hour. But the storm is expected to weaken after it makes landfall.

    Hanna now is moving north at a rate of 20 miles per hour and is expected to turn to the northeast and increase in speed on Saturday. The center of Hanna should be moving across eastern North Carolina early Saturday and across the mid-Atlantic coast later Saturday and Saturday night.

    A Tropical Storm Warning has been extended northward to Watch Hill, Rhode Island, including all of Chesapeake Bay, Washington, DC, New York Harbor and Long Island sound. This means that Hanna is expected to sweep through the warning area within the next 24 hours.

    The District of Columbia activated its emergency operations center at noon today in preparation for Hanna. The Department of Public Works is distributing sandbags to residents who experience flooding during heavy rains.

    DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Darrell Darnell is urging citizens to clear gutters, drains and downspouts and remove or secure any loose objects such as lawn furniture or barbecue grills from their yards, as they may become projectiles during high winds.

    As Tropical Storm Hanna nears, Coast Guard units throughout New England are pre-staging their crews and equipment and warning mariners in anticipation of severe weather conditions expected to arrive late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

    Falcon jet crews from Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, began flying storm tracks Thursday to broadcast the warnings to mariners offshore.

    "We will be flying the storm tracks to alert the mariners as long as the weather allows us to do so safely," said Lt. j.g. Morgan Roy, an operations duty officer for Air Station Cape Cod.

    On land, a flood watch is in effect for portions of southern Connecticut, northeast New Jersey and southeast New York from Saturday afternoon through late Saturday evening.

    "The time to prepare for the storm is now. We encourage New Yorkers to review their emergency plans. This storm could produce significant rainfall and high winds that could cause power outages," said John Gibb, director of the New York State Emergency Management Office.

    Gibb said that nearly half of all flash flooding fatalities are flood-related. "When driving your automobile during flooding conditions, look out for pooling water at highway dips, bridges and low areas. Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way."

    In flood conditions, motorists should not underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water, Gibb said. "Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float a car. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge."

    A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from east of Watch Hill to Merrimack River, Massachusetts, including Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

    A Hurricane Watch is in effect from north of South Santee River, South Carolina to Currituck Beach, North Carolina, including Pamlico Sound. Forecasters predict they will issue a Hurricane Warning for this area by early Saturday.

    Coastal storm surge flooding of three to five feet above normal tide levels with large and dangerous battering waves are expected along Hanna's path. Rainfall of three to seven inches is likely, forecasters say, with the potential for flash flooding in the mid-Atlantic region and southern New England.

    The center of Hanna will remain well east of the Florida Peninsula, however, outer rain bands from Hanna will affect the eastern peninsula and could produce periods of heavy rainfall, according to state emergency managers.

    Right behind Hanna, a major hurricane is tracing an erratic path through the Caribbean. Hurricane Ike was located about 425 miles north of the Leeward Islands, or about 1100 miles east of Miami this afternoon.

    Ike is moving west at around 16 mph, but it is expected to turn more toward the west-southwest Friday and Saturday, with a turn back toward the west on Sunday.

    Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph, making Ike a Category 3 hurricane. Ike is likely to maintain a Category 3 or 4 intensity as it moves toward the southeastern Bahamas this weekend. Hurricane watches were issued for the southeastern Bahamas earlier this afternoon.

    Forecasters say Ike may be a threat to portions of Florida by early next week.

    {Photo: U.S. Coast Guard airmen fly over the Atlantic coast broadcasting storm warnings to mariners, urging them to seek shelter from Tropical Storm Hanna. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard}

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