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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 09/ 6/2008

Hanna to Blast Region with Rain and Wind

By Jason Samenow

*Tropical Storm Warning near and east of I-95.*
*Wind Advisory for north and west suburbs until 11 p.m.*
*Flash Flood Watch for metro area through this evening*

7:00 a.m. update: Hanna made landfall near the South Carolina and North Carolina border early this morning as a strong tropical storm. The heaviest rain is west and north of the center of the storm which is now just south of Goldsboro, North Carolina. The heavy rain bands now extend into central Virginia to near Charlottesville. These bands will surge to the north-northeast this morning, with rain starting to pick up in the metro area by around 8 a.m. Rainfall totals of several inches remain likely.

Winds may be less than forecast earlier. Observations in eastern North Carolina indicate sustained winds are generally in the 30-40 mph range. The strongest gust I could find in the last hour was 58 mph (in Beaufort, N.C.). With the storm weakening and passing to our east as it moves north, our winds probably will be less than that...likely in 15-30 mph range, perhaps gusting in the 40s. Near the Bay and eastward (closer to the center of the storm), winds should be about 10 mph stronger. Our peak winds will likely occur in early afternoon rain bands.

From 5 a.m.: The weather will slowly but surely deteriorate this morning as the core of Tropical Storm Hanna powers through the metro area. Between about 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., the rain may be extraordinarily heavy at times, and winds may reach or exceed tropical storm force (39 mph). Rainfall totals will likely average 2-4", but locally higher amounts are very likely.

Keep checking back for updates all day long. Continue reading for a timeline, rainfall potential map, wind assessment and frequently asked questions.


7 AM SAT to 2 PM SAT
Increasing rain and wind. Heavy rain bands move through with thunderstorms mixed in. Winds increasing to 15-30 mph. Gusts to 50 mph in the early PM.
2 PM SAT to 8 PM SAT Steady rain tapers quickly from southwest to northeast. Occasional showers and thunderstorms. Winds sustained at 20-30 mph. Gusts to 40 mph.
After 8 PM
Clearing skies and decreasing winds.


How to Prepare for Flooding, Blackouts and High Winds | Track Hanna | Satellite image | Southeast radar | Northeast radar


Estimated sustained winds and gusts Saturday.

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 tree limbs and power lines especially east of I-95. Isolated to scattered power outages are possible in the metro area. Scattered outages possible 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. 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.

How confident are you in your forecast?

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 today. The high tides to watch occur this morning and evening, but only minor coastal flooding is anticipated.

Could there be tornadoes?

It's not unusual for tropical storm to spawn at least a few tornadoes especially east of their center. As the metro area will be west of the center, an outbreak of tornadoes does not seem likely and if they occur, they would likely be east of the Bay. 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, late morning 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 and/or see the FAA Flight Delay Web site.

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 30-40 mph and gusts to 50-60 mph could mean some flying debris, scattered 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? least in terms of wind. 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.

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 this 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.View image

By Jason Samenow  | September 6, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Tropical Weather  
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Next: Hanna Pouring Very Heavy Rain over Region


I'm heading south on 95 to the Outer Banks.It doesn't seem like driving will be too much of an issue as long as I drive carefully. Would it be better to leave Chantilly earlier to miss our worst weather (9am)or leave later (12pm)to miss the worst around Richmond and further east? Seems it will be fine further south after noon.

Posted by: JD | September 6, 2008 6:49 AM | Report abuse

If you want a real thrill, drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge just as the tropical depression scoots by. I did that once and quite frankly its a rush. The wind blows sideways at the top of the bridge and it feels like you are going to get blown right off.

Posted by: katman | September 6, 2008 7:07 AM | Report abuse

JD: I think you're right. If you leave later, you'll hit some nasty wind and rain here, but conditions will gradually improve as you head south. If you leave around 9 a.m., you'll have more hours of unpleasant driving.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Jason. And many kudos to this website, I read it everyday and this is the most comprehensive and honest weather forecasting I've found.

Posted by: JD | September 6, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Point of clarification -- storm is south of GOLDSboro, NC and not GREENSboro. If it was as far west as Greensboro then we'd likely be hit dead-on here in DC area.

Posted by: Rich in FFX | September 6, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Rich--Good catch. Thanks. Fixed.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I've lived in the Caribbean and gone through hurricanes before, so I tend to take these warnings pretty seriously. For example, we moved all our patio furniture and potted plants inside last night. But at the same time, I've seen a trend that weather events in this area seems to be exaggerated and never is as bad as predicted - snow in the winter, now this.

Posted by: Beth | September 6, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Wow, you're quick! Good work as always. Question -- how bad will it be at gametime in the Hook today? I doubt I want to take my kids to sit in that mess, nor drive in this stuff today. Am I right to stay here and watch it on ESPN-U?

Posted by: Rich in FFX | September 6, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Hi Jason,
Just a tip o' the cap to you and the gang. This has just been fabulous coverage.

Posted by: Nancy | September 6, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

great coverage guys. looks like the 8 am track shifted a bit to the west

Posted by: sam | September 6, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Moderate to heavy rains entering the area. Now is a good time to take one last look at your storm drains to ensure that they are clear of debris and to secure any loose outdoor items.

Posted by: Ann, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

It has been pouring here for over an hour and raining for several hours in general. I'd say we've received an inch or more already.

Posted by: David A. in Stafford | September 6, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I woke about six this morning and looked out the window over the Bay. It was RED. I mean really red. I thought 'red skies in morning, sailors take warning' but I never really knew that expression was true. Anyway, 0900 and just rain. Not heavy winds or seas on the Bay yet, but we're waiting for things to get worse.

Posted by: PenguinSix | September 6, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

that's weird, Accuweather predicts only .85 inches of rain in bethesda.

Posted by: sam | September 6, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Storm does seem further inland than I expect this morning.... the track seems to be hugging the coast, so I think this may drive rain totals up in the immediate DC area.

Posted by: alexandria | September 6, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Well, after the all the comments from yesterday predicting doom-and-gloom for morning flights, my wife's flight just took off, a few minutes early, and all flights at DCA are running on time. I don't see any wind at tree top, and it's barely sprinkling here in Gtown. I guess the heavy stuff is coming up later today?

Great job on the site, by the way. Great analysis, and I especially appreciate your responsiveness to everyone's queries. Again, great job and thank you.

Posted by: Georgetowner | September 6, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I have yet to see any thunderstorms... Does anyone have a better sense of when they might be coming through?

Posted by: Jed in Bethesda | September 6, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

And oh dear-AlertDC e-mail says: "A 5 vehicle accident going north bound on 295 just before the Benning Road exit, blocking 2 lanes of traffic. Expect traffic delays." Be careful out there!

Posted by: Jed in Bethesda | September 6, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Accuweather had some guy named Jim Bastardi (?) on The News Hour saying that Katrina was not the storm that would flood New Orleans as New Orleans was flooding. I still remember his arrogant winking and pointing at the camera after his explanation of how New Orleans had escaped. It's raining hard and blocking the Direct TV signal in Cabin John now.

Posted by: flynnie | September 6, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

At 0913 along the western shore of the Chesaspeake in mid-Calvert County, we just had our first rumble of thunder and flash of lightning associated with this event. Looking up, we appear to be in a cloud that doesn't quite reach the ground with steady heavy rain, (although not quite a downpour).

Note to Beth: Stick with the crew at for everything you need to know about Metro DC weather. They provide the facts without the "show-biz spin" of TV meteorologists. There is no temptation for them to exaggerate for the sake of ratings.

Posted by: Pleasant Living | September 6, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

And, since the gnu ate this post:

Thanks for the hard work, Gang of Weather! How about the Cabin John Crab Feast from 2pm to 4pm? Will howling winds and a tidal bore be heading up the Potomac? Right now, [at 5:20 am] all I hear is crickets and felt a light sprinkle when I went to the driveway to pick up my Post.

I hate hurricanes. Grew up on the Gulf Coast. The yucky, low pressure feeling as they approach, freight train winds that sent the Irish wife and mother-in-law with the kids to the interior hall and their rosaries. I vacationed in Prince Edward Island in 1990 with the whole family and was having great time taking the kids to see Anne of Green Gables, both the house and a beautiful musical that debuted in London to rave reviews, eating lobster, swimming in Carolina temperature water where the Gulf Stream comes into the south side of the island. Then I come out of our cabin one morning an G%#@*dammit, I say to myself, a hurricane is coming. In Canada! Sure enough, the island was evacuated as Hurricane Juan (I think) bore down. I remember driving home through Maine and whole trees were blowing across the interstate. One of the reasons I moved north was to get away from hurricanes.

Posted by: flynnie | September 6, 2008 5:20 AM

Posted by: flynnie | September 6, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I guess Hanna will make up for the rain deficit in August.

Posted by: Yellow Boy | September 6, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

*68 degrees, dense fog and just reached .25 rain with heavier bands moving in on radar.
*Dulles ARC-Just read your comment from yesterday, stay safe dude and hope you don't get deployed to Fla!

Posted by: Mike from the Blue Ridge | September 6, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

George, we are just now getting into the heaviwr rainbands and winds should begin to pick up from now until the center passes, wich is expected to be early this afternoon.
Jed, I would't count on too much thunder today. That's a grievance I have with TWC, they always mention "the heavy thunderstorms" associated with tropical cyclones. In fact, there is very little lightning associated with them and the majority of it is confined to isolated cells in the outer rainbands. So we'll most likely just see periods of heavy rain.

Posted by: Brian, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

A follow-up to the thunderstorm remarks.
A link to a lightning flash map of the U.S. You'll notice the relative sparsity of the lightning flashes associated with Hanna. Especially when compared to the smaller cluster of storms in the plains.

Posted by: Brian, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

A new post is up where comments/questions can resume. Go to our main blog page.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Very heavy wind gusts and torrents of rain have arrived along the western shore of the Chesapeake in mid-Calvert County as of 0945. At the same time... the skies have actually BRIGHTENED through the cloud cover.

I have a 1950s-60s film clip of the weatherman on Baltimore's TV11 who would telephone his buddy at the Weather Bureau each night while on-camera to get up-to-the-second information. With the phone up to his ear, he would look into the camera and repeat what he "heard from his buddy". TV weather forecasting has come a long way in 50 years!

Posted by: Pleasant Living | September 6, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Well, this ought to silence the calls for "much-needed" rain until the temperature gets low enough to snow!!! Hanna would make for a MAGNIFICENT snowstorm!!! Why can't we get something like this just in time for a white Christmas??? Seems as though the atmosphere cannot/will not hold this kind of moisture whenever we need a Federal Government shutdown.

As it is, my Buddhist meeting and the Rosslyn Jazz Festival have been cancelled. It remains to be seen whether the flooding will mess things up in the Arlington parks by taking out a bunch of bike trail bridges. The last time a flood took out a bunch of the trail bridges it took almost a year to repair them.

It's 76 degrees here and raining heavily. The barometer (29.70) is falling rapidly. There's not much wind, though and the power is still on. No thunderstorms have been recorded thus far. Hanna seems most like David, but David passed west of us back in 1979.

Hanna is rather unusual in that the rain seems to be mainly in the normally weaker NW and SW quadrants of the storm so far. Down on the Outer Banks there doesn't seem to be much rain per the Weather Channel.

Posted by: El Bombo | September 6, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

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