Showers Streaming In Ahead of Hanna
*Tropical Storm Warning issued for immediate metro area and Eastern shore.*
*Wind Advisory for north and west suburbs between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturday*
*Flash Flood Watch for metro area Saturday morning through afternoon*
Hanna continues its relentless northward push towards our region. Rain showers have developed well ahead of the storm, and the first drops have already reached the metro area.
As of 8 p.m., Hanna was located about 200 miles south-southwest of Wilmington, N.C. with maximum winds of 70 mph. Thunderstorms have exploded around the center of Hanna. The cloud top heights in some of Hanna's thunderstorms now reach an astonishing 59,000 feet -- an indicator of intense convection. The bright red colors at the center of Hanna in the image to the right illustrate this convection. Hanna may briefly peak at minimal hurricane intensity before making landfall near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina late tonight.
Intermittent rain showers should continue overnight, with the rain increasing in coverage and intensity towards morning. A general 2-4" rainfall is likely over the immediate metro area, with the heaviest amounts along the I-95 corridor and just to the east. Winds will also pick up towards morning, with the strongest winds occurring from mid-morning to early afternoon.
STORM FAQ [UPDATED 9 P.M.]
How strong will the winds be? Could there be wind damage and power outages?
Occasional strong gusts of over 50 mph could be capable of bringing down some trees and power lines especially east of I-95. Some power outages are possible in the metro area. The most outages are likely to be near the Bay and to the east.
What precautions should I take?
No need to board up windows. But do ensure outdoor furniture and plants are secured and/or brought inside before you go to bed tonight. Does your sump pump work if your basement leaks? Have a flashlight handy in case the power goes out, and food and supplies that could last you and your family through a day or two without power, which is probably the worst-case scenario we would see with this storm. Here are a couple additional useful tips:
*Turning your fridge and freezer temperatures lower ahead of time and placing a 2-liter bottle of water in the freezer can help keep food colder longer if the power goes out.
*Remember to charge your cell phones and laptops tonight.
Keep reading for answers to more FAQs about the storm, including the forecast into early next week.
Confidence is toward the high side because most computer models are in agreement on Hanna's track. It's doubtful the storm will miss us. There's a small chance it could veer further east than expected and thus leave us with less rain and slightly weaker winds. There is also the chance that Hanna tracks somewhat further west than forecast, shifting the areas of heaviest rain and strongest winds west.
What is the flooding threat?
Widespread, major flooding is not anticipated. But basements, roadways and other low-lying areas that are typically prone to flooding will be at risk, as Hanna could dump several inches of rain in a very short period of time. Stay up-to-date with river levels and flood alerts for area rivers here.
Could there be a tidal surge along the Potomac?
The Weather Service is projecting two to four feet of storm surge along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and the tidal Potomac River on Saturday. The high tides to watch occur on Saturday morning and evening, but only minor coastal flooding is anticipated.
Could there be tornadoes?
An outbreak of tornadoes does not seem likely. However, it's not unusual for tropical systems to spawn at least a few tornadoes. Stay tuned to Capital Weather Gang during the storm. We'll let you know if any tornado warnings are issued by the National Weather Service.
When and where will the conditions be the worst?
Along and east of I-95, from sunrise through mid-afternoon Saturday.
Will flights be affected?
Most likely yes. Expect delays and even some cancellations due to the impact of the storm up and down the East Coast. Check your flight before heading to the airport.
Is it safe to drive?
Driving tomorrow will be comparable to driving in a gusty summer thunderstorm at times with driving rain and gusty winds. It can be done, but visibility will be reduced and it will take you longer to reach your destination. Reduced visibility, wet pavement and the possibility of debris on the roadway all increase the risk of accidents. These risks can be lowered by skillful and cautious driving.
How bad will this be at the Maryland/Delaware beaches?
Sustained winds of 40-60 mph and gusts to 70 mph could mean some flying debris, power outages and moderate beach erosion. Rainfall, on the other hand, should be less than here in the metro area. Probably no more than 1-2".
Will this be as bad as Isabel?
Not likely. Isabel produced sustained winds up to near 50 mph in parts of the area and gusts to near 80 mph. Hanna's winds will be weaker. Storm surges will also be lower with Hanna than they were with Isabel. There's a small chance Hanna intensifies a little before landfall which would bring winds closer to the levels of Isabel, but it's doubtful Hanna will close the gap.
When will the storm clear and what's the forecast for Sunday and beyond?
The rain should be over, or quickly coming to an end, and winds dissipating by Saturday evening, with clearing skies Saturday night and lows in the 60s. Sunday looks spectacular -- mostly sunny and breezy with highs in the upper 80s and decreasing humidity. Monday should also be nice, again mostly sunny with highs in the mid 80s and not too humid. Tuesday brings the next chance of showers and thunderstorms (about a 30-40% chance as of now) with a mix of sun and clouds and highs in the 80s.
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