By Kathy Orr
Hurricane Irene is a Category 2 storm with winds averaging 110 mph. This is a very large storm, with tropical storm force winds extending almost 300 miles from the storm’s center. The outer bands of Irene will begin to impact the Delaware Valley Saturday.
The track of Irene has not changed a lot, with the center of the storm passing very close to the Jersey shore as a Category One storm. It may move over Long Beach Island before hitting Long Island. This track predicts the worst of the storm will be felt from I-95 eastward with the brunt of the storm down the shore.
We still expect the following:
• 4-8” of rain possible for Philadelphia and its adjacent suburbs.
• 8-10” of rain in extreme South Jersey, the Shore and Central and Souther Delaware.
• a 3-6 foot storm surge at the beaches, and a storm surge as high as 3-6 feet throughout the Delaware Bays
• Hurricane Force winds (75 mph+) will batter the Jersey Shore and Delaware beaches for a period of 4-6 hours Early Sunday morning
• Tropical Storm Force winds (39 mph+) will be felt in the city and along I-95 for a period of 8-9 hours, with 90 mph Hurricane Gusts possible.
• There will be a sharp cutoff in the rain west of the city. As of now it looks as though Lancaster, Berks, even western Chester County up through the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos will see around 2-4” of rain.
The weather will begin to deteriorate Saturday afternoon as bands of showers rotate through the region. Overnight Saturday night into Sunday morning is when the wind could be damaging and the rain will be pounding. The worst of the storm will be felt between 3am and 1pm on Sunday. The storm pulls away after 2pm and the sun will likely come out before sunset!
By far the biggest threat is flooding. Low-lying areas near the mouth of the Delaware should plan for flooded homes and roadways, and the barrier islands of New Jersey could also be hit hard with the combination of heavy rainfall and powerful storm surge. Even areas that are not usually prone to flooding could see flood problems as we’ve already had 13.10” of rain this month and the soils are saturated.
Heed the evacuation warnings down the shore. Our Emergency Managers have planned for this for years and will keep us safe.
Inland, do not panic, just be prepared. Plan to be without power for at least a couple of days. Gas up the cars, charge the phones, and take cash from an ATM in case you need it.