Tuesday Earthquake, Sunday Hurricane?

Today was probably one of the strangest days I’ve had on the job. After tracking Irene all morning I went to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection in Hartford to interview the Deputy Commissioner about statewide hurricane preps.

On the way back I heard (but didn’t feel) about the earthquake and rushed back to start anchoring our earthquake special report. The 5.8 magnitude quake was hundreds of miles away but still was felt up and down the east coast. East coast quakes are typically felt far from the epicenter due to the homogenous nature of the rock underneath us that allows seismic waves to travel much farther before they damp out.

The earthquake was followed by a sizable aftershock tonight but it’s unlikely any of those aftershocks will be felt here in Connecticut. All eyes now turn to the eye of Irene which is showing signs of strengthening tonight with a pressure that’s beginning to fall rapidly.

The NHC cone is probably the most ominous forecast Connecticut has seen since Bob in 1991.

My gut feeling is that the center of Irene will pass east of Connecticut but that does not mean we won’t see damaging winds or storm surge and at this point a lot can change. In fact a direct hit with severe and exceptional consequences is still possible, though unlikely.

The unusually slow movement of the storm may lessen the wind impact but could heighten the inland flood threat and shoreline storm surge threat. No storm in the last 20 years no storm has posed a bigger threat (possible exception being Edouard in 1996). It is vital that people pay attention to Hurricane Irene even without a direct hit this could have substantial and very serious impacts. At this point my biggest concern is an unusually significant flood threat.

I’ll post much more late tonight or early tomorrow after the 00z computer models come in.

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