Hanna heads for Carolinas; Ike a Cat. 4

Another sunny day in the 90s today. You'd never know we had two tropical storms to worry about. Tropical Storm Hanna has circled around and is now making a beeline for the Carolina coast with winds that are forecast to reach hurricane strength before landfall early Saturday morning. Out on the Atlantic, meanwhile, Hurricane Ike is now a fierce Cat. 4 storm with top sustained winds of 140 mph.

Here's a satellite loop showing both storms - Hanna in the Bahamas, and Ike - with a clearly defined eye - entering at the right side of the screen. 

Hanna is first. A hurricane watch has been posted for most of the South Carolina coast, and a portion of the North Carolina shore. The watch means that folks there should prepare for hurricane conditions within 36 hours. Here's the latest advisory.

The storm's center early this morning was 770 miles south-southeast of Wilmington, N.C. It was tracking toward the northwest at 12 mph. Top sustained winds were blowing at 70 mph with "slight" strengthening expected prior to landfall. At 73 mph Hanna would become a minimal Cat. 1 hurricane.

The most notable thing about Hanna is her size. Forecasters describe Hanna as "large and robust." Tropical storm-force winds extend nearly 300 miles outward from the storm's center. The storm surge ahead of this storm will run 1 to 3 feet above normal tides.

The forecast track would carry Hanna up the coast, passing just offshore from Ocean City around mid-day Saturday. Our forecast calls for 3 inches of rain or more in Baltimore before the storm races off to the notheast.

With the storm's center to our east, that will mean our winds would be from the north at 13 to 23 mph. That would blow water out of the Chesapeake and spare bayshore residents any serious flooding from the bay. Street flooding and high water in the streams and creeks may be another matter to watch for. Here's today's local weather story by Scott Calvert.

Then there's Ike, the most powerful storm of the seaon to date. Ike this morning was 550 miles northeast of the Leeward islands, headed west-northwest at 17 mph. The storm was expected to turn a bit toward the west and west-southwest in the next few days, but no one was predicting where it would strike land.

From space, Ike was a thing of beauty. Top sustained winds were howling at 145 mph with higher gusts. Forecasters said:

"THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CATEGORY
FOUR HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE SCALE.  IT IS
EXPECTED THAT IKE WILL MAINTAIN CATEGORY FOUR OR CATEGORY THREE
INTENSITY OVER THE NEXT 48 HOURS."

The forecast storm track carries it into the Bahamas, with a subsequent curve to the northwest and the southeastern coast of the U.S. Here's Ike:

 

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