Ernesto pummels NC
A few of you all emailed me about whether we’re OK here in the Triangle, given Ernesto is blasting through. The wind picked up overnight (max 60 mph now), and as I type this (5:45 AM) there’s not been any damage or power outage here in our neighborhood. I don’t know about downtown, where I work — the power goes out there fairly easily. 25 counties are now under advisories, watches, or severe weather warnings, including Durham.
I’m pretty sure Raleigh has some flooding. Crabtree Mall seems to go under water at the drop of a hat.
Ernesto’s sustained winds reached 70 mph, just 4 mph below hurricane strength, as it made landfall at Long Beach, just west of Cape Fear, at 11:30 p.m. Thursday. It dumped more than 8 inches of rain on the Wilmington area – a record for Aug. 31, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm weakened as it moved inland. At 5 a.m. Friday, Ernesto was moving north at about 15 mph with maximum sustained winds of nearly 60 mph, the weather service said. It was about 20 miles south-southwest of Kinston and about 150 miles southwest of Norfolk, Va.
The NC coast, particularly the fragile Outer Banks area and the rest of the lower-lying Eastern parts the state are experiencing a good deal of flooding, as a storm — unrelated to Ernesto — had already water-logged the area with several inches of rain beforehand. Ernesto is moving slowly, which is bad, since that means more time to dump rain. From NOAA’s 5AM report:
TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 115 MILES...185 KM...MAINLY TO THE EAST FROM THE CENTER.
SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THE MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS ABOUT 990 MB...29.23 INCHES.
RAINFALL TOTALS OF 4 TO 8 INCHES ARE EXPECTED OVER THE MID ATLANTIC STATES...INCLUDING THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS...THROUGH SUNDAY...WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM STORM TOTALS OF UP TO 12 INCHES POSSIBLE. ADDITIONAL RAINFALL OF 3 TO 5 INCHES IS POSSIBLE OVER EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON. THESE RAINFALL AMOUNTS COULD CAUSE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES.
COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS IS POSSIBLE ALONG THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA IN AREAS OF ONSHORE FLOW WITHIN THE WARNING AREA.
ISOLATED TORNADOES ARE POSSIBLE OVER EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA AND SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA THROUGH THIS MORNING.