Flooding Expected from Slow-Moving Ophelia
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Two and a half weeks after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Ophelia is sweeping along the coastline of North Carolina. This storm has been slowly moving along the coast with heavy rain and sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. We're going to go now to Colin McAdie. He's a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Florida, and he's on the line.
Mr. COLIN McADIE (National Hurricane Center): Good morning.
INSKEEP: So I'm looking at a map here of North Carolina, the part of the state that kind of juts out into the Atlantic. Can you put the hurricane on the map for us? Where is it? Where is it headed?
Mr. McADIE: Well, actually the center of Hurricane Ophelia is just offshore this morning, about 30 miles east-northeast of Cape Lookout, and that's the--sort of the part of the Outer Banks that sort of--the first jut south of Cape Hatteras.
INSKEEP: Which is traditionally a place that's very vulnerable in hurricanes.
Mr. McADIE: Yeah, that's right. The larger-scale steering currents actually often do steer hurricanes off the Outer Banks or so. It's quite a common occurrence.
INSKEEP: Now this hurricane is moving very slowly along the coast. There's been a lot of commentary about that. Why is the speed of this hurricane a concern?
Mr. McADIE: Well, the speed is a concern because one of the really bad things that happen because of a hurricanes are made worse by slower motion. One of those, of course, is the amount of rainfall that accumulates. The rule of thumb, of course, is that the slower the motion, the more the accumulation. And because of that, we're actually expecting some rainfall amounts up to 15 inches. That certainly is enough to cause some flooding.
INSKEEP: Fifteen inches. How serious is that?
Mr. McADIE: Well, it can be quite serious. Of course, if you're in a low-lying area, this could cause some local, you know, flooding of roads, hazardous driving and things of that nature.
INSKEEP: Now you're following this from the National Hurricane Center, of course. I don't know what kind of damage reports you get there. Do you have any early sense of how much damage this storm is doing?
Mr. McADIE: Not too much. We haven't had very many specific reports. Of course, one of the other hazards in a hurricane like this is a storm surge, and we're expecting somewhere in the range of four to six feet. We have had some reports of seven feet of storm surge, and again, that is certainly going to cause some damage. We are expecting that.
INSKEEP: As you folks monitor the storm there and as you watch the way that other people respond, do you notice any differences, since this is the first storm after Hurricane Katrina struck?
Mr. McADIE: Well, I certainly think it's fair to say there's a sense of heightened awareness, and I guess that's probably a good thing, actually.
INSKEEP: Heightened awareness, how does that affect you?
Mr. McADIE: Well, I think it doesn't affect us really directly. Of course, there's a certain amount of media attention, but that's actually fairly normal for us, so...
INSKEEP: OK. So where is this storm going?
Mr. McADIE: Actually it's heading towards the northeast, again fairly slow-motion, about six miles per hour. And we expect that motion to continue throughout the day and probably sometime very late today, early tomorrow morning, we'll have the hurricane clearing Cape Hatteras and moving off into the Atlantic.
INSKEEP: And you're pretty confident that it will not threaten places further up the East Coast?
Mr. McADIE: It doesn't look like that now. I'll have to keep an eye on it. Some of the models I know are indicating that maybe fairly close Cape Cod and then possibly Nova Scotia. So we'll be able to tell in the next day or two. We'll have to see how that plays out.
INSKEEP: Mr. McAdie, thanks very much.
Mr. McADIE: You're quite welcome.
INSKEEP: Colin McAdie, calm voice in a storm. He's a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Florida.
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