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East Coast Flood Danger After Irene Makes Landfall

By By Kristina Pydynowski, Senior Meteorologist
August 23, 2011, 8:05:18 AM EDT

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Irene is destined to strike the Southeast later this week, but should also spread its flooding rain into the Northeast in the following days.

The latest information is pointing toward North Carolina as being the point of landfall.

Destructive winds, torrential rain, a flooding storm surge and isolated tornadoes will accompany Irene as the storm strikes the Southeast later this week.

The current statistics of Irene, including its strength and position, can be found at the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center.

After landfall, it is possible that Irene will continue its track northward along the Atlantic Seaboard.

Flooding rainfall would remain a serious threat and danger to residents on such a path.

Rainfall could range from 10 to 20 inches in a slow-moving tropical system. Even if Irene moves rather quickly through the East Coast, the potential still exists for 4 to 8 inches.

Widespread flash flooding would result in both cases, threatening to cause a repeat of the recent deadly flooding incident in Pittsburgh.

According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, "Interaction with a new front coming into the Northeast could cause heavy rain to break out well ahead of Irene."

"Four inches of quick-hitting rain on top of the saturated ground in parts of the Northeast can lead to disaster," adds Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

There is one long-term benefit to Irene's upcoming soaking--drought relief.

"The Low Country of South Carolina badly needs rain!" commented Sarah S. through Facebook.

The same can be said for far northern Florida, Georgia and southeastern North Carolina where the United States Drought Monitor reported last Thursday that a severe to extreme drought was occurring.

Exactly where the heavy rain will set up across the East Coast will become clearer in the upcoming days as the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center pinpoints Irene's landfall destination.

Until that time, the entire East Coast, from the Interstate 95 corridor to the Appalachian Mountains, should closely monitor the progress of the storm.

Irene's track through the East Coast will also determine the severity of the damaging wind threat. A path farther inland could cause Irene's winds to lessen faster than if the storm were to hug the coastline.

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