One of two people rescued from a sailboat, right, uses a line to make their way onto the beach on Willoughby Spit in Norfolk Saturday morning, Aug. 27, 2011 after they and another person were rescued from the boat that foundered in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. A rescuer, left, waits for s second person to exit the boat. (AP Photo/TheVirginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Updated: 9:35 p.m. on Saturday, August 27, 2011
Hurricane Irene lashed East Coast cities and towns with high winds and heavy rains on Saturday, leaving massive power outages as it crept toward the mid-Atlantic and New England, where 2 million people have been evacuated out of its path.
The storm, expected to strike the D.C. region most severely until about 3 a.m. and then clear the area by Sunday afternoon, was blamed for at least six deaths.
In Virginia, an 11-year-old boy was killed when a tree fell on an apartment building in Newport News and in southern Virginia a tree fell across a car killing a passenger in Brunswick County, officials said. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell confirmed a third death in Chesterfield County at an evening news conference but provided no additional details. Police said the victim was a man who was in a house with six other adults when it was hit by a tree.
A North Carolina child died in a crash at an intersection where traffic lights were out, a North Carolina man was killed by a flying tree limb, and a surfer in Florida was killed in heavy waves.
The hurricane had an enormous wingspan — 500 miles, its outer reaches stretching from the Carolinas to Cape Cod — and packed wind gusts of 115 mph. It stirred up 7-foot waves, and forecasters warned of storm-surge danger on the coasts of Virginia and Delaware, along the Jersey Shore and in New York Harbor and Long Island Sound.
By evening, the storm had weakened to sustained winds of 80 mph, down from 100 mph on Friday. It was picking up speed, moving at 16 mph — up from 13 mph — as it re-emerged over the Atlantic.
Conditions were not expected to be as severe in the western portion of the state — including the Baltimore and D.C. areas — but officials warned that residents could see power outages, flooding and downed trees brought on by expected 30- to 40-miles-per-hour and as much as 5 inches of rain. Officials said downed trees were very likely, as recent rain had saturated the ground throughout much of the region.
President Obama visited FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center on Saturday and held a conference call with state emergency management officials in which he cautiously praised efforts thus far.
“Each conversation I’ve had with state and local officials, they’ve confirmed to me that the relationship with FEMA has been outstanding,” he said, adding that the agency had to ensure that during the “response and recovery phase that we are just as effective and on top of it.”
“It’s going to be a long 72 hours, and obviously a lot of families are going to be affected,” Mr. Obama said.
The storm made landfall at Cape Lookout, N.C., at about 7:30 a.m., with winds around 85 miles per hour, slightly weakened from a force that had exceeded 100 miles per hour and downgrading the storm to a Category 1, the least threatening hurricane category.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate warned Saturday morning that, despite being a Category 1 storm, Irene would bring potentially dangerous amounts of rain and likely spawn tornadoes.
“Irene remains a large and dangerous storm. People need to take it seriously and be prepared,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a morning briefing in Washington.
The National Weather Service on Saturday morning issued a tropical storm warning and a flash-flood watch for most of the D.C. area and a tornado watch for portions of the Washington-Baltimore region and southern Maryland. The storm was expected to deliver 2-5 inches of rain on the area with 30- to 40-mile-per-hour winds and gusts of up to 60 miles per hour at its peak overnight.
In all, evacuation orders covered about 2.3 million people, including 1 million in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia and 100,000 in Delaware. Authorities and experts said it was probably the most people ever threatened by a single storm in the United States.View Entire Story
In my lifetime, Hurricane Carol was the worst one I experienced.
CAT 3 - August 31, 1954On the morning of August 31, Hurricane Carol, the most destructive hurricane to strike Southern New England since the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, came crashing ashore near Old Saybrook, Connecticut, leaving 65 people dead in her wake. Carol had developed in the Bahamas several days earlier, making only slow progress northward. Carol began her rapid acceleration during the evening of August 30, while passing just east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Carol made landfall on eastern Long Island and southeastern Connecticut about 12 hours later, moving at over 35 mph.
Hurricane Carol destroyed nearly 4,000 homes, along with 3,500 automobiles and over 3,000 boats. All of Rhode Island, much of eastern Connecticut and much of eastern Massachusetts lost electrical power. In addition, as much as 95 percent of all phone power was interrupted in these locations.
During that storm, my mother kept talking about the Hurricane of 1938". However, since I was only 11 years old at the time, it was difficult for me to comprehend anything as bad as the one we were watching from our windows, (until I was told to move away from the windows!) with that huge tree bending towards our house with every gust of wind and the heavy rains pouring down (or should I say sideways). My dad was out in that storm, so my only concern was wondering if my dad was safe and when was he coming home?! I do remember school canceled for almost two weeks and no electricity for the same amount of time. We ate dinner by candlelight; kept food cold with coolers and ice; and it was a great adventure for an 11 year old!
Now, after two very humid days, with sun shining, clouds began covering the sky around 4 pm today; soft rain began falling at approximately 7 pm and this is what they normally call "the lull before the storm". What am I doing? I'm explaining to my granddaughter that the worse storm was Hurricane Carol. (HA HA HA!)
According to the latest local weather reports, the winds have died down to about 80 mph; it is the rain and flooding most folks are truly concerned about with Irene. I happen to live on high ground from the Merrimack River - the river is about 5 blocks down the road from my home. I'm certain the river will reach the banks to overflowing; may cause problems downtown, and with homes built closer to the river. Electricity may go out, depending on how strong the winds are and if trees knock out power lines.
Which brings me to the thought that if I'm not posting tomorrow, you should know power is out in my area!
and for everyone who would like to see a video of the hurricane my mother most remembered, (the worse storm in recorded history) here it is: