7:30 AM update
We continue to monitor Hurricane Irene as it makes its way toward the North Carolina coast and the Outer Banks. As of 5:00 AM, Irene was a strong Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds at 110 miles per hour. Movement was to the north at 14 miles per hour, and it was located about 420 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It should be noted that while Irene has been "downgraded" from a Category 3, wind speeds have only decreased 5 miels per hour, and Irene is expected to strengthen before making landfall early Saturday morning.
The forecast for central Virginia remains unchanged from last night. Rain showers and thunderstorms will develop Saturday afternoon and be sporadic through early Sunday morning as we will be on the western fringe of the storm. Rainfall totals are estimated to be between half an inch and one and a half inches of rain. Winds will increase and be gusty, possibly reaching 40 miles per hour or more. This may be strong enough to bring down tree limbs and power lines. By mid-morning Sunday, we expect sunshine to return to the area as Irene accelerates to the northeast. Gusty winds will continue into Sunday evening.
By far, the worst of the damage from Irene will occur basically along Interstate 95 and points east toward the Atlantic Ocean. Rainfall amounts will be much higher in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland; wind gusts will also be higher and potentially more damaging. Overall, this storm will have a widespread impact as it will move north along the Atlantic Coast through Long Island and New York City, into New England.
While there is still a possibility of a track change, it's tougher for a hurricane to do closer to land. Should the storm nudge further to the west, rainfall amounts here will be higher, and winds gustier. We'll continue to keep watch through the weekend; you can get continuous updates all weekend long on both our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.
3, 2, 1, fade out...
Chief Meteorologist Travis Koshko
(This blog typed while listening to "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by the Scorpions.)