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LARGE HURRICANE ISABEL CLOSING IN ON THE COAST;
Preparations to Protect Life and Property Should Be Rushed to Completion

(See the NOAA National Hurricane Center for the latest information on this storm. Complete advisories are posted at 11 a.m., 5 p.m., 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. All times are Eastern. Advisories are posted more frequently as the storm nears the USA mainland.)

NOAA over head satellite image of Hurricane Isabel beginning to lash the U.S. mainland with its powerful winds taken on Sept. 17, 2003, at 5:15 p.m. EDT.Sept. 17, 2003 ó The NOAA National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., reports that at 5 p.m. EDT the center of Hurricane Isabel was located near latitude 31.1 north, longitude 73.3 west or about 315 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. Isabel is moving toward the north-northwest near 14 mph. A turn to the northwest with an increase in forward speed is expected prior to landfall. On the forecast track, the center of Isabel is expected to make landfall in eastern North Carolina during the day Thursday. However, the precise timing and location of landfall is uncertain, and conditions will deteriorate over a large area well before the center reaches the coast. Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the coastline Wednesday night. (Click NOAA over head satellite image for larger view of Hurricane Isabel beginning to lash the U.S. mainland with its powerful winds taken on Sept. 17, 2003, at 5:15 p.m. EDT. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)

NOAA close-up satellite image of powerful Hurricane Isabel touching the U.S. mainland taken on Sept. 17, 2003, at 5:15 p.m. EDT.
(Click NOAA close-up satellite image for larger view of powerful Hurricane Isabel touching the U.S. mainland taken on Sept. 17, 2003, at 5:15 p.m. EDT. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Maximum sustained winds are near 105 mph with higher gusts. Isabel is a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. A slight increase in strength is possible prior to landfall.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 315 miles.

The most recent minimum central pressure measured by an Air Force Reserve unit reconnaissance aircraft was 955 mb, 28.20 inches.

Storm surge flooding of 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels, along with extremely large and dangerous battering waves, is expected near and to the north of where the center crosses the coast. Storm surge flooding of 4 to 8 feet above normal tide levels is expected in the Chesapeake Bay and the tidal portions of adjacent rivers.

NOAA WARNS OF INLAND FLOODING THREAT

"In the last 30 years, inland flooding has been responsible for more than half the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States."
Ed Rappaport
Deputy Director, NOAA National Hurricane Center

Consider the following: When it comes to hurricanes, wind speeds do not tell the whole story. Hurricanes produce storm surges, tornadoes, and often the most deadly of all—inland flooding. Read more...

Storm total rainfalls of 6 to 10 inches, with locally higher amounts, are likely in association with Isabel.

There is the threat of isolated tornadoes over eastern North Carolina Wednesday night and Thursday.

A hurricane warning remains in effect from Cape Fear, N.C., to Chincoteague, Va., including Pamlico and Albemarle sounds, and the Chesapeake Bay south of Smith Point. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area, generally within 24 hours.

All preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area.

NOAA tracking map of Hurricane Isabel. A tropical storm warning remains in effect south of Cape Fear to South Santee River, S.C., and north of Chincoteague to Sandy Hook, N.J., including Delaware Bay. A tropical storm warning also remains in effect for the Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point northward and for the Tidal Potomac. (Click NOAA tracking map of Hurricane Isabel for larger view.)

SPECIAL LOCAL STATEMENTS FROM NOAA NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICES IN THE AFFECTED AREAS

For storm information specific to your area, please monitor products issued by NOAA National Weather Service local forecast offices.

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Relevant Web Sites
NOAA National Hurricane Center — Get the latest advisories here

NOAA Atlantic Hurricanes Database — 150 Years of Atlantic Hurricanes

NOAA Forecasters Say Six to Nine Hurricanes Could Threaten in 2003

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

NOAA River Forecast Centers


NOAA Flood Products

NOAA Rainfall Graphics
24-hour Observed Precipitation as of 8 a.m. today

Latest rainfall data as of 8 a.m. EDT today

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NOAA Hurricanes Page

NOAA Storm Watch — Get the latest severe weather information across the USA

Media Contact:
Frank Lepore, NOAA Hurricane Center, (305) 229-4404