September 8, 2008

Hanna’s Effects to Be Strongest This Afternoon


If you have not stocked up on basic needs for potential emergencies: water, batteries, and other items, you had better move now.

Tropical Storm Hanna will drench the area today, dropping about 5 inches of rain, with 30 to 40 mph winds and stronger gusts this afternoon - when the storm is expected to be strongest in the area - before she passes later this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

As usual those winds will likely cause power outages throughout the area which can take days to repair. Being ready is key.

The weather service, in Sterling, Va. called a Tropical Storm Warning at about 11 a.m. yesterday, to be in force through this evening.

And a flash flood watch for parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia went into effect yesterday morning. It is in effect until tonight. Flash flooding is likely to occur when it rains from 3 to 4 inches in three hours or less, overflowing the banks of creeks and small streams, according to the weather service.

Gov. Martin O'Malley called a statewide emergency yesterday afternoon.

"While we can never be certain as to the path or the devastation of any storm, it is nonetheless our responsibility out of an abundance of caution to prepare the people of Maryland and the appropriate resources," he said. "Marylanders should take the necessary steps to prepare themselves and their families, and be assured that their government is sparing no expense or effort to do the same."

Rain started falling early yesterday on the Carolina coast, with streets in some spots flooding by late afternoon and wind gusts hitting 45 mph, according to The Associated Press.

Yesterday afternoon, watermen and the boating public were out tying down boats. Residents scoured grocery store shelves while county and state officials pondered emergency tactics to deal with the storm.

The city had placed large, rubber barriers around the eastern side of the Market House yesterday evening. They are essentially black, 20 foot long by 3 foot high rubber balloons filled with water. They are lashed together, replacing the more commonly used sandbags.

Reminiscent of giant slugs, each section - several were lashed together with yellow nylon rope - takes about 30 minutes to fill with water, said Phil Scrivener, a supervisor with the city Department of Public works.

The county was to partially activate its Emergency Operations Center at 7 a.m. this morning.

County Executive John R. Leopold said "Our priorities are to have our personnel ready for the aftermath and to keep the public informed."

Capt. Thomas Wilson, director of the county Department of Emergency Management, urged residents to get ready.

"Depending on the severity of the storm, we have plans in place to set up shelters, clear debris and perform search and rescue operations," he said. "The most important item to have in your house is plenty of potable water in case there is damage to septic wells or the public water system."

National Weather Service Technician Calvin Meadows that, this morning in Anne Arundel County, winds will range from 20 to 30 mph and will increase this afternoon to 30 to 40 mph with gusts around 45 mph.

"As far as rain, it really depends on the exact track that Hanna takes, of course. However, along the storm track, a total of 4 to 7 inches with local amounts of 10 inches is possible," Mr. Meadows said.

By 11 p.m. yesterday, about 5 inches, was forecast, according to the weather service, with the most rain, 3-4 inches, expected during the afternoon.

Winds will slow down tonight and after midnight, when only the gusts will reach 25 mph. Tomorrow till be mostly sunny with highs in the upper 80s.

The Eastern Shore will take the brunt of the storm. The State Highway Administration has been gearing up to react statewide, but is mustering hundreds of crews to concentrate on the Eastern Shore.

The MdTA is also monitoring the storm and determining what, if anything needs to be done to control traffic on the Bay Bridge, said Cheryl Sparks, an MdTA spokesman.

According to the policy, if winds reach 40 mph as predicted, house trailers, empty box trailers, and "other vehicles vulnerable to high winds" won't be allowed to cross. The bridge closes entirely when winds exceed 55 mph. For up-to-the-minute details, call BaySpan at 877-229-7726.

Refer to the county emergency Web site for a list of things to do and have on hand at {Corrections:} {Status:}


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