From the ABC 7 Weather team

Hurricane Irene makes her move toward Washington

August 27, 2011 - 11:12 AM
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Although slightly weakened with top winds of 85 mph, Irene is still a significant Category 1 hurricane.  Look for local winds up to 50 mph and anywhere from 1 to 8 inches of rain.

This Afternoon: Cloudy, Rain, Strong Winds

Highs: 78-82 | Wind: NE 25-30/G 45

Tonight: Tropical Storm, Heavy Rain, High Winds

Lows: 65-70 | Rain: 2" to 5"

Sunday: Early Rain, Then Pt. Sunny, Breezy

Highs: 80-84 | Wind: NW 20-25/G 30

After contending with an earthquake earlier this week and now looking at the arrival of Irene, we have gone from geologic to meteorological mayhem in the space of just a few days.  Irene made landfall on the North Carolina coast this morning as a Category 1 storm, with winds of 85 mph.  Although local shear and the encounter with dry land are weakening her some, it is still expected that she will make her way toward the midatlantic coast with her hurricane status intact.  Tropical Storm Warnings and Flash Flood Watchs are out for most areas east of I-95 with Hurricane Warnings in effect for St. Mary's County and the Eastern Shore.  Starting later today and extending into the overnight hours, wind gusts to 50 mph and higher along with rainfall amounts of 1" to 8" will make for perilous driving conditions, local flooding, and the potential for widespread power outages.  High surf, storm surges of 5 to 10 feet, and the risk of tornado formation are also consequences of the storm's arrival; there is in fact a tornado watch in effect through 8 PM for much of southern Maryland.  Relatively rapid improvement is expected on Sunday as Irene rushes off toward New England; partly sunny skies, and strong wraparound winds from the northwest  will make for a dramatic change late in the day. 

Although Tropical Storm Hanna brought heavy rain and wind in 2008, it was not a major storm.  Irene has the potential to be the worst storm we've encountered  since Isabel in 2003.  Continue to make your preparations today and don't dismiss the storm's seriousness because it is "only" a Category 1.  Any level tropical storm is more than capable of knocking out power and threatenIng lives.  Be safe.

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