8 AM UPDATE

Hurricane Irene is just coming ashore just east of Moorehead City, NC, as thought on this sight for over 2 days now.

What wasn’t anticipated is the amount of dry air that became entrained in the circulation, which weakened Irene considerably over the last 24-48 hours.  All of the models had this as a category 3, some strong category 4 at landfall just 1 day ago. Although this is a silver lining given the wind damage and storm surge will be less, this makes for a less than great forecast only 24 hours out.

Regardless, it’s still a very dangerous storm, the worst we’ve seen in over 50 years. The peak of the storm will occur overnight from about midnight through 8 am. Flooding will likely be worse than with Hurricane Floyd in 1999, so if you flooded then, expect to have similar or worse flooding this time around, with 6 to as much as 1o inches of rain. Some areas could see as much as 15 inches. Winds will increase to 40-50 miles per hour inland back to the Delaware and Lehigh Valley’s, with gusts over 60. This combined with the record setting rains we’ve had for August, and the rain coming with this storm, will bring many trees down, and cause power outages. Coastal conditions along the Mid-Atlantic will also be deteriorating rapidly, with sustained winds along the coast of 60-70 miles per hour and gusts to 80. Storm surge will be in the range of 4 to 8 feet, and that combined with the high astronomical tides this weekend, expect extensive beach erosion and serious flooding along the barrier islands, as well as damage of beachfront property.

It could have been a lot worse, but it’s still going to be very bad. Expect conditions to gradually deteriorate from southeast to northwest this afternoon and evening. Stay safe.

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