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    Hurricane Irene's Impacts on East Coast Cities

    By By Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist
    August 28, 2011, 1:33:44 AM EDT

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    AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center meteorologists continue to forecast Hurricane Irene will strike the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Saturday before taking aim at the mid-Atlantic, New York City and New England.

    Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for thousands of coastal residents from North Carolina north to the New York City area, with many more sure to follow.

    After the North Carolina landfall, Irene will pass close to or over the Delmarva Peninsula and New Jersey, then move on to the New York City area and interior New England.

    The northern portion of this track is farther west and a bit slower than forecast earlier this week, and will result in more serious problems with heavy rain and damaging wind gusts farther west in New England and the northern mid-Atlantic.

    Areas near and west of the center of Irene will have dangerous conditions related to flash and urban flooding. The flooding may be intensified in areas that have received torrential rainfall recently this month, such as coastal areas of the Northeast.

    Areas near and east of the center of Irene will experience the strongest winds and related damage.


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    There is potential for a foot of rain along Irene's path, which can lead to life-threatening flooding.

    Here is what we expect in various cities along the Atlantic Seaboard:

    Charleston, S.C.

    The eyewall of Irene will stay well to the east later today into tonight. Minimal tropical storm-force winds and a couple of periods of heavy rain could graze the city today into early tonight. Gusty offshore winds are in store on Saturday despite the return of sunshine. Coastal flooding is possible due to a small storm surge and high astronomical tides. There will be dangerous surf at the coast during much of the weekend.

    Wilmington, N.C.

    The eyewall and strongest winds of Irene will pass just east early Saturday morning, but not the storm's heavy rain and hurricane-force wind gusts. These winds could down trees and power lines and cause some structural damage. Conditions will deteriorate tonight, with the worst conditions Saturday morning. Sunshine will return with calmer winds on Sunday; however, the surf will remain rough and dangerous.


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    High astronomical tides from the new moon will add to water levels and raise the risk of coastal flooding with this situation. Building seas and strengthening rip currents will spread northward 48 hours in advance of Irene.

    Outer Banks, N.C.

    A direct hit from the eyewall of Irene will occur Saturday morning with storm surge flooding, hurricane-force winds (gusts to 125 mph) and torrential rain (7 to 10 inches). Expect structural damage and power outages with life-threatening conditions possible. Conditions will deteriorate Friday night. While clearing is in store on Sunday, flooding from the sounds is possible due to west to northwest winds.

    Norfolk, Virginia Beach and the Tidewater, Va.

    The eyewall and the strongest winds of Irene will pass nearby or just to the east Saturday evening. With this track, heavy rain will inundate the city, and onshore hurricane-force wind gusts (90 mph) from the north and northeast will lead to serious coastal flooding, damage and power outages. Conditions will deteriorate Saturday with the worst conditions Saturday evening. Expect torrential rain (7 to 10 inches), dangerous surf conditions with significant beach erosion.


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    Water rise over the upper parts of the Chesapeake Bay will generally be a foot or less.

    Baltimore, Md. / Washington, D.C.

    The eyewall of Irene will pass near the Atlantic coast of the Eastern Shore Saturday night. However, periods of heavy rain (possibly more than 6 inches) will lead to flash and urban flooding, and tropical storm-force wind gusts (55 mph) will cause downed trees and power outages from Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning. Conditions will be much worse on the Eastern Shore, where full hurricane effects can occur. A water level rise of a foot or so above published tide levels can occur at the Inner Harbor, but a repeat of Isabel is not expected with Irene tracking to the east of the northern Chesapeake Bay.

    Ocean City, Md.

    The eyewall of Irene will pass very close by or just offshore Saturday night. Weather conditions will deteriorate Saturday with wind and rain increasing. Periods of heavy rain (8 to 12 inches), damaging sustained tropical storm-force winds with hurricane-force wind gusts (95 mph), and serious coastal flooding will occur Saturday night into Sunday morning. Expect significant beach erosion with a storm surge averaging 2 to 4 feet, but locally it can be higher. There will be waves topping seawalls Saturday night.

    Philadelphia, Pa. / Wilmington, Del.

    The eyewall of Irene will pass to the east along the New Jersey and Delaware coasts Sunday morning. However, heavy rain (4 to 8 inches) can lead to flash and urban flooding, and strong tropical storm-force wind gusts (70 mph) will cause downed trees and power outages during Saturday night and Sunday. Conditions will be much worse in New Jersey and central/southern Delaware.


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    Sandy Hook to Cape May, N.J.

    The eyewall of Irene will pass close by Sunday morning, with full hurricane effects expected. Weather conditions will deteriorate late Saturday into Saturday night with wind and rain increasing. Periods of heavy rain (8 to 12 inches), damaging hurricane-force winds (80-100 mph) and serious coastal and back bay flooding will occur Saturday night and Sunday. Expect significant beach erosion with a storm surge averaging 2 to 4 feet, but locally it can be higher. Waves will top seawalls Saturday night into Sunday morning.


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    New York City

    The eyewall of Irene will pass close to the city on Sunday. There is an elevated risk of flooding rain (8 to 12 inches) and damaging winds throughout the metro area including the northern and western suburbs. Expect significant coastal flooding. Hurricane-force wind gusts (90 mph) are in store, which will lead to downed trees, as well as widespread power outages in outlying areas. Sustained hurricane-force winds are likely on Long Island and in coastal Connecticut. Coastal areas along southern Long Island can expect an average storm surge of 3 to 6 feet with a storm surge of 2 to 4 feet elsewhere. Waves will top seawalls late Saturday night into Sunday.

    Hartford, Conn.

    The eyewall of Irene will pass nearby Sunday afternoon. There is an elevated risk of flooding rain (5 to 10 inches) and damaging winds. Hurricane-force (80 mph) wind gusts are in store that can lead to widespread downed trees and power outages. Sustained hurricane-force winds and serious storm surge flooding averaging 2 to 4 feet, and locally higher, are expected along the Connecticut coast.

    Providence, R.I.

    The eyewall of Irene is forecast to track to the west of the city and bring potential for serious coastal flooding, damaging winds and flooding rainfall (4 to 8 inches) on Sunday. Hurricane-force (80 mph) wind gusts are forecast. Expect widespread power outages and downed trees. Conditions will be worse along the South Coast.

    Boston to Cape Cod, Mass.

    The eyewall of Irene will pass to the west late Sunday afternoon or evening. Periods of heavy rain (4 to 8 inches), hurricane-force (80 mph) wind gusts and well-above-normal tides (2 to 4 feet on average) are forecast. Expect widespread power outages, downed trees and flooding.

    Portsmouth, N.H., and Portland through Down East Maine

    The eyewall of Irene is forecast to pass to the west Sunday night. However, periods of heavy rain (3 to 6 inches), strong tropical storm-force gusts (60 to 70 mph) and well-above-normal tides (2 to 3 feet on average) can occur. Expect widespread power outages, downed trees and flooding.

    Irene's final, quick-hitting visit to North America will be in Atlantic Canada. The provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec will be affected Sunday night into Monday morning.

    The worst conditions with heavy rain, damaging winds (40 to 60 mph) and pounding surf are likely in coastal areas of New Brunswick, southeastern Quebec and Nova Scotia, where downed trees and power lines are possible.

    The heaviest rain across Canada from Irene will soak the St. Lawrence Valley, including Montreal, with 3 to 6 inches of rain.

    Remember, if your city of interest does not appear on this list, you can get your latest local forecast on AccuWeather.com.

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