Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Hermine kills two, closes beaches

Published:Monday | September 5, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Two trailers sit overturned in the creek behind the Hatteras Sands Campground in Hatteras, North Carolina, on Saturday after Tropical Storm Hermine passed the Outer Banks. The storm dumped several inches of rain in parts of coastal Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York over the Labor Day weekend.

Storm system Hermine spun away from the US East Coast on Sunday, removing the threat of heavy rain but maintaining enough power to keep beaches at risk for dangerous waves and currents.

The National Weather Service said a tropical storm warning remains in effect for Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, which could experience wind gusts of up to 50 mph and life-threatening storm surges during high tide late Sunday and into Monday. Virginia Beach also remained under a tropical storm warning on Sunday, with the weather service describing conditions as "breezy to windy". No significant rainfall was expected for the area, although scattered rain may occur in parts of southern New England and in the mid-Atlantic states.

In New Jersey, tropical storm-force winds could whip up today, and record flooding remained a threat south of the Atlantic City area. The National Hurricane Center maintained its tropical storm watch for Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and said dangerous storm surges would continue along the coast from Virginia to New Jersey.

"The combination of a storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline," the Hurricane Center said in a morning advisory.

 

DEATH AND DAMAGE

 

Hermine already caused two deaths, damaged properties and left hundreds of thousands without electricity from Florida to Virginia. It spawned a tornado in North Carolina and closed beaches as far north as New York.

Hermine rose up over the Gulf of Mexico and hit Florida on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm across Georgia.

At 11 a.m. yesterday, Hermine's top sustained winds strengthened to 70mph (110 kph) as it moved east-northeast at 10mph (17kph). Forecasters say Hermine could regain hurricane force as it travels up the coast before weakening again to a tropical storm by Tuesday.

Governors all along the coast announced emergency preparations. And since sea levels have risen up to a foot due to global warming, the storm surges pushed by Hermine could be even more damaging, climate scientists say.

Michael Mann at Pennsylvania State University noted that this century's one-foot sea-level rise in New York City meant 25 more square miles flooded during Superstorm Sandy, causing billions more in damage.

"We are already experiencing more and more flooding due to climate change in every storm," said Michael Oppenheimer, a geosciences professor at Princeton University. "And it's only the beginning."