Irene hits North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 16:37 GMT le 27 août 2011

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Hurricane Irene roared ashore over Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 7:30 am this morning. The Cedar Island Ferry Terminal measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 110 mph at 7:19am, and a trained spotter on Atlantic Beach measured sustained winds of 85 mph, gusting to 101 mph at 10:35 am. The Hurricane Hunters measured 80 mph winds over water at the time of landfall. Winds at the Cape Lookout, North Carolina buoy, which the eye passed directly over, peaked at 67 mph as Irene made landfall. At 10am EDT, top winds observed at Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina were 53 mph, gusting to 73 mph. Winds are rising now along the coast of Virginia, with sustained winds of 56 mph, gusting to 62 mph observed at 10 am EDT at Chesapeake Bay Light. Satellite loops show a large but deteriorating storm with dry air intruding to the southwest. The radar presentation of Irene visible on the Norfolk, VA radar is very impressive--Irene is dropping torrential rains over a huge area.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation from Irene as of 12:18 pm EDT August 27, 2011. An expanding region of rains in excess of ten inches (pick colors) was observed north of where the center made landfall.

Storm surge damage from Irene
The storm surge and wave action from Irene is likely to cause the greatest damage, and this will be a historic coastal flooding event for many regions of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. A storm surge of 8.5 feet was reported this morning in North Harlow, NC, and three feet in New Bern, NC. Significant wave heights (the average height of the largest 1/3 of the waves) reached 27 feet at Onslow Bay, NC this morning, and wave heights along the New Jersey shore Sunday morning during the time of high tide are expected to be 15 - 20 feet, according to the NOAA Wavewatch III model (Figure 2.) A storm surge of 3 - 6 feet is expected near Atlantic City, NJ Sunday morning, during the time of high tide. With 15 - 20 foot waves expected on top of this storm surge, there will be tremendous damage to the coast and low-lying structures. Storm surge is also a major concern for New York City. The latest NWS forecast is calling for a 5 - 8 foot storm surge in New York Harbor, which would easily top the flood walls protecting the south end of Manhattan if the storm surge occurs at high tide. High tide is near 8 am Sunday morning. A research storm surge model run by SUNY Stonybrook predicts that water levels at The Battery at the south end of Manhattan will peak at 2.2 meters above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) at high tide Sunday morning, which would be about six inches below the top of the flood wall (which is 5 feet above mean sea level.) Waves on top of the surge would likely spill over the top of the floodwall in this scenario, and cause some flooding in southern Manhattan. Andy Revkin's Dot Earth blog has links to a storm surge animation for New York City done by the SUNY Stonybrook group. Climate Central has a nice satellite image showing which parts of New York Harbor are below five feet in elevation. Storm surge heights of up to eight feet are predicted in Western Long Island Sound, and 3 - 6 feet along much of the New England coast from New York to Massachusetts. This is going to be a damaging coastal flooding event for this stretch of coast, though perhaps not as damaging as the one New Jersey will experience.


Figure 2. Predicted wave heights along the U.S. coast from NOAA's Wavewatch III model for 8am EDT Sunday, August 28, 2011. This is the time of high tide, and this model is suggesting that the coast of New Jersey will be subject to battering waves 15 - 20 feet high at the time of high tide.

Inland flooding damage from Irene
Inland flash flooding and river flooding from torrential rains are a major concern. Latest radar-estimated rainfall amounts in North Carolina already exceed ten inches in some locations. Cedar Island, NC has reported 7.21" as of 11am EDT, and a 100 mile-wide swath of 8+ inches of rain will likely fall from Eastern North Carolina northwards along the coast, through New York City, and into Vermont and New Hampshire during the next two days. Destructive river flooding will be a significant danger from New Jersey northwards to Southeast New York, where soils are saturated and run-off will be the greatest.


Figure 3. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 9:30 am EDT Saturday August 27, 2011, as observed by the Hurricane Hunters, land stations, and buoys. The right front quadrant of the hurricane had all of the storm's hurricane-force winds (yellow and warmer colors, bounded by the heavy black line between the "50" and "60" knot thin black lines.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 260 miles from the center of Irene. Irene's storm surge damage potential has dropped to 4.3 on a scale of 0 to 6, down from a high of 5.1 yesterday. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Wind damage
Irene is slowly deteriorating, but the storm is too large to weaken quickly. The latest wind distribution map from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 3) shows that all of Irene's hurricane-force winds are on the storm's east side, so only North Carolina's Outer Banks will get winds of 75 - 80 mph. The coast from Virginia northwards through New Jersey will see tropical storm-force winds of 50 - 70 mph from Irene. These strong winds, when combined with the torrential rains that are falling, will cause widespread tree damage and power failures that will affect millions of people. When Irene makes its 2nd landfall on Long Island, NY on Sunday, coastal locations to the right of the eye will likely experience top sustained winds of 60 -70 mph.

Lady Liberty not in danger from Irene
The Statue of Liberty is not vulnerable to a storm surge, since the good lady stands atop a 65-foot high foundation and 89-foot high granite pedestal. However, the 305' height of the lady's torch above the foundation means the statue will experience winds a full Saffir-Simpson category higher than winds at the surface. The statue is rated to survive a wind load of 58 psf, which is roughly equivalent to 120 mph winds (Category 3 hurricane). However, a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds will be able to generate 120 mph winds at a height of 300 feet, and would theoretically be capable of toppling the Statue of Liberty. Winds from Irene should stay below 80 mph at 300 feet, and not pose a threat to the Statue of Liberty.

Tornadoes
Two tornadoes were reported in coastal North Carolina last night. One tornado destroyed 2 homes and damaged 6 others in Columbia, with several minor injuries, and the other hit Belhaven, damaging multiple trailers. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is calling for a slight risk of severe weather along coast Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware today. We might see five or ten tornadoes from Irene over the next two days, but the atmosphere is not unstable enough for Irene to generate as many tornadoes as we're used to seeing from a landfalling hurricane. A tornado watch is posted for coastal areas from Eastern North Carolina northwards to Southern New Jersey.

Insurance company AIR-Worldwide is estimating that insured damages from Irene in the U.S. will be $1.5 - $6 billion. They estimate losses in the Caribbean at $0.5 - $1.1 billion from Irene, 60% in the Bahamas.

Typhoon Nanmadol
Over in the Western Pacific, Typhoon Nanmadol has weakened to a Category 3 storm after battering the Philippines as a Category 4 super typhoon with 155 mph winds. At least two people have been killed in the heavy flooding there. Nanmadol is a threat to Taiwan, and Wunderground meteorologist Elaine Yang (who hails from Taiwan), has the details in her blog.

Links
Our Weather Historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an excellent post on Historic Hurricanes from New Jersey to New England.

Joe Romm at climateprogress.org has a thoughtful piece called, How Does Global Warming Make Hurricanes Like Irene More Destructive?

For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Jeff Masters

Aftremath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas (ktbahamas)
Downed street light broken by strong gusts of Irene.
Aftremath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas
Battery Park, the night before Irene... (line)
Battery Park, the night before Irene...

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734. 900MB
Quoting largeeyes:
5:00 PM EDT Sat Aug 27
Location: 36.2°N 76.0°W
Max sustained: 80 mph
Moving: NNE at 13 mph
Min pressure: 950 mb


What's the lowest pressure ever for a tropical storm? My guess is that it will be Irene in 3-6 hours.
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FYI On #718 you can see the strong squall out of nowhere that came through ECFL about an hour or so ago; was wondering what that was.
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Thought earlier this afternoon we were about through with this thing. Boy were we wrong! It has really wound up tight and kicked some nasty lines back through our area. We are still having gusts to 50-55 just like we were this morning. Lots of trees down and flooding.
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5:00 PM EDT Sat Aug 27
Location: 36.2°N 76.0°W
Max sustained: 80 mph
Moving: NNE at 13 mph
Min pressure: 950 mb
Member Since: 22 août 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1462
Quoting IceCoast:
An amazing system. Blog seems pretty slow for the First landfalling Hurricane since 08.


If others are having the same trouble refreshing pages that I'm having, I'm not surprised people are staying away. It's taking a full minute for pages to refresh. I'm on IE, but it's the same on Chrome.
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Quoting Patrap:


Looks like Irene is about to ingest some yummy dry air.
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NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HOUSTON/GALVESTON TX
330 PM CDT SAT AUG 27 2011

.DISCUSSION...
ALL TIME RECORD HIGH OF 109 HAS BEEN TIED AT IAH (PREVIOUSLY SET
ON 9/4/2000) @ 244 PM. TEMP SPIKED THEN WENT BACK DOWN. STILL HAVE
A FEW HOURS TO BREAK THAT. SADLY...DON`T SEE MUCH OF A CHANGE
TOMORROW WITH A REALLY DRY AIRMASS REMAINING IN PLACE. WRF/NAM12
SHOW ABOUT THE SAME READINGS AS TODAY. (GLS MIGHT SEE A SLIGHTLY
EARLIER START W/ SOUTH WINDS THEREFORE LOWER TEMPS). A LIGHT S/SE
FLOW RESUMES AREAWIDE MONDAY ALLOWING TEMPS TO PLUMMET BACK DOWN
TO 100-106.

THERE IS HOPE.

LOW & MID LEVEL RIDGES PUSH EAST OF THE AREA BY MIDWEEK. BOTH
GFS/ECMWF SHOW A SLUG OF DEEP TROPICAL MOISTURE MOVING UP FROM
THE CARIBBEAN AND BAY OF CAMPECHE INTO SE TX - ARRIVING WED NIGHT
AND QUITE POSSIBLY PERSISTING WELL INTO THE WEEKEND. BOTH MODELS
SHOW AN INVERTED TROF OR WEAKNESS IN THE MID LEVELS SITUATED JUST
TO OUR WEST WHICH IS HISTORICALLY A GOOD SIGN FOR SUMMERTIME RAIN.
EXPECT SCT SHRA/TSRA EACH DAY - POSSIBLY EVEN WIDESPREAD AT TIMES
IF THE ECMWF IS ON TARGET WHICH SHOWS SOME SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATIONS
ACROSS THE CWA (SEVERAL INCHES). WILL NUDGE POPS UPWARDS DURING
THE 2ND HALF OF THE WEEK AND SUSPECT THEY MIGHT NEED TO CONTINUE
TO BE BUMPED UP AS FCST CONFIDENCE INCREASES. 47
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Altamont, NY had a 2.9 eq this morning.
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Anyone have any good web cams of beaches in Virginia?
Member Since: 1 juin 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 888
I agree with Krycek1984. I mean really, you come in as a new blogger and tell a whole bunch of people you don't know about the disaster happening to your family? And it has happened MANY times here. You all can poof me if you want, but I'm calling out the BS troll. And this one isn't even done very well like the other one is.

p.s. and what Keep said right before me
Member Since: 22 août 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting LoveObama:


No, not at all just someone scared to death for my family.
how is grandma talking to you from the roof on her i phone which is soaking wet held in her hand texting all the while 75 mp-h wind gusts blowing into her face yet all this is done while not holding onto her roof but typing on a i phone unless she got the laptop or desktop on the roof with her wow either way kinda hard to believe

tell grandma to hold on doing great all most over
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722. IMA
Quoting katadman:


Bet that was a tough move to make. I'm in Leon Springs but leaving tonight for Newport News and Norfolk. Looks like they are taking it on the chin right now. But the forecast for next week there is certainly more inviting than ours here in S.A.

Ah, Leon Springs. I was thinking Helotes, but I'm easily confused. lol I'm near Bandera/1604 area. It was a tough move to make, but I still head out to Bandera Gun Club lots. lol

Yeah, this weather is lousy. I may be going to PA to house-and-dog-sit while ex is deployed (for flooding), and that cooler forecast definitely is appealing!
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Quoting LoveObama:


When I made the name I made it with the expectation that I would never be posting. I am just scared and came here to see if anyone had any news from the area. Aurora has been known to flood but not like this.


I certainly hope that the accusations of you being a troll are not true. If your Gma is on her roof, i am saying a prayer...
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720. JLPR2
91L is doing decently, considering the hostile environment.

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719. Vero1
Quoting LoveObama:


No, not at all just someone scared to death for my family.
You have to realize that Hurricanes will "Fundamentally Change" lives and usally not for the better.
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Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Okay, off to dinner.
Caribbean looking active.
CARIBBEAN SEA...
AN UPPER TROUGH OVER THE CENTRAL ATLC EXTENDS ITS AXIS S OVER THE E AND CENTRAL CARIBBEAN. DEEP LAYER MOISTURE REMAINS ACROSS MOST OF THE CARIBBEAN BASIN E OF 77W. THESE CONDITIONS COMBINED WITH THE UPPER TROUGH FLOW ALOFT ARE GENERATING CLUSTERS OF SCATTERED SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE CENTRAL AND ERN CARIBBEAN BETWEEN 63W-77W.

THE MONSOON TROUGH EXTENDS FROM SOUTHERN NICARAGUA TO CENTRAL COLOMBIA GENERATING SIMILAR CONVECTION NEAR THE COASTAL WATERS OF COSTA RICA...PANAMA AND
COLOMBIA. THE REMAINDER OF THE DISCUSSION AREA IS UNDER MOSTLY CLEAR SKIES THIS AFTERNOON EXCEPT A FEW ISOLATED SHOWERS NEAR THE COAST OF BELIZE.

A WEAK PRESSURE PATTERN WILL PREVAIL THROUGH SUNDAY...AS WEAK SURFACE TROUGH CURRENTLY OVER THE W TROPICAL ATLC MOVES INTO THE E CARIBBEAN.

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Grand Central Terminal is deserted.
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Quoting treehuggingsister:

You know, especially since the hurricanes of the '04-'05 stretch, the power companies have learned and implemented a multitude of new strategies as far as line theory goes. We had power for the entirety of Dennis, thanks to the way they'd started to string the lines taut for support between poles, vice the old idea of leaving even slack for room to sway.

You may be benefitting from lessons learned.
They cleared the tree growth around the lines awhile back.that helps!
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Quoting KeyWestwx:

UGH! This is not a normal cat 1 hurricane. You cant' compare it. People have to understand this. The storm surge, tied in with the new moon higher tides, will be great and destructive to the coastlines and bays. The already saturated land will over flow creeks and rivers with continous heavy rains. I have been through cat 2 hurricane (Georges) in Key West and that was a weaker storm with its overall impact compared to whT Irene COULD DO. If Irene was over Key West right now I know the flooding would be terrible. Some of our streets are flooded now with the new moon tide (normal). Now, imagine, if you added Irene into the mix...????.
When the storm passes and all the storm damage footage airs on the news and personal storm stories are told, then the real truth will emerge.


Dont think you understand what he is trying to say no one really cared when the storm was affecting the Bahamas there was almost no mention of it when it was over them now its the bid story since its affecting the US but its always typicall the same thing happens when a storm affects the caribbean islands cause there ppl who will call it a fish storm once it doest affect the US
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An amazing system. Blog seems pretty slow for the First landfalling Hurricane since 08.
Member Since: 17 octobre 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
711. unc70
Irene has only moved 0.1 longitude eastward during the day, but it looks more than that on the radar loops. Part of the reason is that the Outer Banks of NC are not N-S; more like NNW-SSE. It gives a visual illusion that the movement has a larger eastward component.

A big problem for everyone north of NC are the large bands of rain west of the CoC that are slowly moving SSW now and will be wrapping around south and then east over the next few hours. These bands will be positioned to slam into NJ, NY from the east later tonight.

I am in Chapel Hill on the far western edge of this rain and wind. Even this far away, probably had a gust of 55-60 during the past hour that dropped several large limbs into my yard. Lots of power outages around CH, Raleigh, and Durham. Certainly not complaining because family and friends down east are being hit hard.

This storm is very dangerous anywhere that is poorly prepared and hasn't dealt with storms like this in recent memory. NC learned its lessons from Hugo, Fran, and Floyd. The destruction will still be enormous.
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Check out the cam at trafficland. Delaware
Member Since: 22 août 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting NoVaForecaster:
Poll time:

Irene will be a ____________at the 5pm advisory:

A. TS 70 mph
B. Cat 1 75 mph
C. Cat 1 80 mph
D. Cat 1 85 mph
E. Stronger/ Weaker

F. none of the above
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Quoting Krycek1984:


are you a troll starting rumors? Seems like it. Especially with that screen name.


Look at the picture from Aurora on comment 654. That's serious water. Let's keep politics out of it yeah? Assume this person's telling the truth and then think how hurtful your comments would be.
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Quoting IMA:

Not anymore :( Back in S.A. for 2.5 years now. Good to see ya!


Bet that was a tough move to make. I'm in Leon Springs but leaving tonight for Newport News and Norfolk. Looks like they are taking it on the chin right now. But the forecast for next week there is certainly more inviting than ours here in S.A.
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Quoting treehuggingsister:

You know, especially since the hurricanes of the '04-'05 stretch, the power companies have learned and implemented a multitude of new strategies as far as line theory goes. We had power for the entirety of Dennis, thanks to the way they'd started to string the lines taut for support between poles, vice the old idea of leaving even slack for room to sway.

You may be benefitting from lessons learned.


You would think it would take them [electric companies] a little less than a century to learn some lessons from these storms, eh?
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Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting Krycek1984:


are you a troll starting rumors? Seems like it. Especially with that screen name.


Exactly what I was thinking. Aurora is flood prone normally, anyways.
Member Since: 22 août 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1462
Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:
Poll time:

Irene will be a ____________at the 5pm advisory:

A. TS 70 mph
B. Cat 1 75 mph
C. Cat 1 80 mph
D. Cat 1 85 mph
E. Stronger/ Weaker




i pick D
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Quoting overwash12:
We are in the northern eyewall(what is left of the eye) winds gusting to 75mph in my best est. Still have power which is unbelievable!

You know, especially since the hurricanes of the '04-'05 stretch, the power companies have learned and implemented a multitude of new strategies as far as line theory goes. We had power for the entirety of Dennis, thanks to the way they'd started to string the lines taut for support between poles, vice the old idea of leaving even slack for room to sway.

You may be benefitting from lessons learned.
Member Since: 18 août 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 188
Just because the boat is "big" doesn't mean anything. I've sailed all my life on big and small boats. Just not a good example nor is it smart.

A guy in my marina rode out IKE on his boat. It was 51', big and heavy. His boat was hit by another boat and a piling and sunk. Thankfully for him, shortly after his boat sunk the eye passed over and he swam to the 2nd story of a building and took some shelter.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Doesn't it?

Next she'll be shooting at helos.


ROFL. Sorry but that was hilarious.
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Quoting LoveObama:


Yes, I am in touch with my grandmother. I'm not sure how high the water is but she is on her roof. She has seen a couple of bodies in the water. My uncle hasn't been heard from and another uncle reports that people are swimming to the fire station.


That sounds awful. I just saw a picture from there on the blog, looks really bad. Can the rescue services get out there yet? I hope everything's going to be OK for your family and everyone there.
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Quoting Krycek1984:


are you a troll starting rumors? Seems like it. Especially with that screen name.
Doesn't it?

Next she'll be shooting at helos.
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Quoting Dutchlady:

Maybe you would be better off sleeping in a room that has no oak tree overhanging it. I slept in the closet (no windows) during Hurricane Charley, and I use the term 'slept' loosely...


Sleeping in the closet doesn't sound so bad right now.
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Quoting BrockBerlin:


That speaks volumes about how great the Cayman Islands handle hurricanes, I mean Ivan was a high end Cat.4 and only caused 2 deaths.

If you ever get a chance to look at the book titled Paradise Interupted you would be even more amazed that only these 2 were killed! If anyone is ever in any doubt about following gov. instructions look at this book before you make your call.
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A few pictures on the Beeb to add to those that have been mentioned: Link
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690. IMA
Quoting katadman:


You're out in Pipe Creek, aren't you? I think that's what you told me in '08.

Not anymore :( Back in S.A. for 2.5 years now. Good to see ya!
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Quoting Chicklit:
The risk of not doing it is way worse than the risk of doing it.
It's always refreshing when public officials listen to their public safety advisors.
Maybe NOLA will do the same next time...
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its getting ready to cross teh barrier islands to teh open(er) atlantic.
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Quoting LoveObama:


Yes, I am in touch with my grandmother. I'm not sure how high the water is but she is on her roof. She has seen a couple of bodies in the water. My uncle hasn't been heard from and another uncle reports that people are swimming to the fire station.


are you a troll starting rumors? Seems like it. Especially with that screen name.
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CBS2 in Boston is reporting their parking lot just outside of the city is already flooded.

If you look at the USGS info for the rivers around here, they've already got a lot of water in them. With the rain we've been getting so far today, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the "usual suspects" in terms of roads and such start flooding tonight.
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


My house is surrounded by old growth forest. I'm definitely headed down to the basement when I go to sleep. Those trees are huge and they have been damaged by the snowstorm this winter, so I'm not taking any chances!


That reminds me of when I used to live in Fairfax Station as a little kid, my house was surrounded by big old trees, my neighborhood even looked depressing.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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