While we Oklahomans enjoy quiet weather this weekend, our friends on the East Coast are under the gun for the kind of storm some places haven't seen in over a century. Irene is a massive storm, so there's no doubt the effects will be widespread. Damage could range from bothersome to devastating from the Carolinas to New England. There's still the possibility that New York City takes a direct hit from (a hopefully weakened) storm.
Irene will likely make landfall Saturday in coastal North Carolina as a Category 2 Hurricane. That means some locations may see a period of 100 mph winds. On top of the winds and 10"+ of rainfall, storm surge could wreak havoc on beachside communities from Virginia Beach, Annapolis, Ocean City, MD on up through the NJ coastline and NYC. When you hear reports that this kind of storm could rearrange the geography of the barrier islands, that is not an exaggeration. Those locations are very susceptible to wind and water erosion – something Irene will inevitably bring.
Inland flooding is, unfortunately, almost a guarantee. Unlike parched Oklahoma, the northeast is already dealing with saturated ground from above-normal rainfall. That means trees will more easily topple and power outages will be very common. From my experience living in Maryland, the amount of trees and above-ground power lines make outages prevalent in even smaller storms. There's no doubt thousands, possibly millions, will be left in the dark.
If you have friends and family in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast, make sure they are prepared for any and all of these threats. As rare and menacing as Irene's path may be, it's important to remember that most places will not experience the worst of Irene. For those who've never been through a hurricane, it will definitely be an experience they'll never forget.
Now we wait and see exactly what kind of blow Irene will deal to the East Coast. I know I'll be glued to the coverage over the weekend. By Monday morning, Irene will be a thing of the past as we assess what kind of damage occurred.
For more updates on the hurricane and our own weather, follow me on Twitter: @GroganontheGO!