Since yesterday at this time, the storm has remained basically the same, perhaps organizing a bit more. She's still a CAT2 hurricane, and a significant change in intensity is unlikely before landfall. As of 15Z today, Isabel was located at 30.0N 72.6W and tracking NNW at 8kts. Maximum sustained winds are 95kts with gusts to 115kts, and the MSLP is 957mb. The combined effects of wind-driven water plus the dome of water under the Low pressure is expected to result in a storm surge of 7-11' in northern NC and much of VA, and 4-7' in the Chesapeake Bay. And along with the 130mph wind gusts, rainfall could be nearly 12" during the course of her passage. Inland flooding could be a serious threat for NC, VA, MD, DE, WV, NJ, and PA through Friday evening. The wind field associated with Isabel is very large, and hurricane-force winds extend as far out as 115 miles from the eye, and tropical-storm-force winds extend as much as 315 miles from the eye. So, the exact location of where the eye crosses the coastline is not important. Conditions will become rough well before the eye reaches the coast, and rather far from that location as well. A Hurricane Warning is in effect from Cape Fear, NC to Chincoteague, VA. A Hurricane Warning is also in effect for the southern Chesapeake Bay. Tropical Storm Warnings extend from Cape Fear, NC to South Santee Rover, SC and then from Chincoteauge, VA to Sandy Hook, NJ. TS Warnings also for the northern Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River. You can find the latest warning graphic at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ftp/graphics/AT13/refresh/AL1303W+GIF/170948W.gif Parts of NC and VA have already been declared states of emergency to expedite disaster relief teams and Red Cross assistance (however, CNN reports that the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is empty). There are some mandatory evacuation orders in place along the NC coast, and numerous optional evacuations. The extent of mandatory evacuations could grow today just to make sure threatened residents stay safe. Landfall is expected midday Thursday near Cape Lookout, NC. Winds and storm surge will be worse to the north of the eyewall. She is then expected to pass over VA early Friday morning and over central PA midday Friday. Winds could still be brisk, but rainfall will most likely be the key player by this time.
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