What does 12-16 inches of rain look like? It’s been raining hard for the past 10 hours where I live, and according to the weather guys we’ve only gotten somewhere between 2-4 inches. So if southern Virginia has gotten 12-16 inches, then I’m impressed and, frankly, have a hard time imagining what that must have looked like as it came down. Must have been awesome.
Winds are picking up, though. I’m not that far from downtown and National Airport (see below for numbers).
From the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang:
9:40 p.m.: Winds really picking up now downtown and in the southern and eastern suburbs. Sustained at 32 mph at National Airport and 36 mph at Andrews Air Force Base. But as you get into the northern and western suburbs Irene has a lot less bite: sustained winds only 18 mph at Dulles, for example, and 23 mph at BWI.
9:10 p.m.: Irene has held its own since making landfall this morning, still holding on as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 80 mph. The radius of tropical-storm force winds has held mostly steady as well, still out to 290 miles from the center – that’s quite large as hurricanes go. National radar shows Irene’s rainfall currently covering a wide swath from northeast North Carolina to southern Maine.
Areas along and east of the Chesapeake Bay have been feeling those winds as well as relentless rain for many hours now, including 4-7” in Southern Maryland and a radar-estimated 6-12” across much of the Eastern Shore. The Bay Bridge has been closed thanks to sustained winds of more than 62 mph with gusts of 72 to 80 mph, while to the east, the Rehoboth Beach area has had multiple tornado warnings today. Further south, a whopping 12-16 inches of rain is reported in southeast Virginia. Incredibly, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell says the storm surge (possibly 5 to 8 feet) in Virginia Beach may be worse than Isabel in 2003 and the damaging 1933 storm. The power is off for more than 800,000 Dominion customers across Virginia, more than the company expected but less than in 2003 when Isabel cut power to approximately 1.8 million.