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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Hurricane Irene Now Weakening, Heading for New York City
Aired August 28, 2011 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New York City, probably folks there not getting a whole lot of sleep right now as they wait and see what happens as this storm moves in. Our special live coverage of Hurricane Irene continues with our affiliate WJLA out of Washington, D.C.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us again here at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time right here on CNN for continuing coverage of hurricane Irene.
SUZANNE KENNEDY, WJLA REPORTER: The wind is better, though. When we first came that's what brought down that tree, a huge gust of wind. But now it seems to be more of a rain event at least for this moment in time. Things change quickly. The bands of the storm move through in very different ways. So you know, then I say that and Mother Nature proves me wrong, we got a big gusty wind.
So, it's unpredictable. You don't want to come out in there. There you go, there's the big gust. You don't want to come out in this. I think we were ? as we were driving over here, we saw people walking around and driving around. It's just not a good idea.
I mean, just stay home. Stay inside. Don't come outside. When you do, when the sun does come up, be careful driving around because there are so many trees down in this area. You never know when there will be a live power line involved with a tree being toppled.
DAVID MARTIN, ANCHOR: Indeed. Driving around may be severely compromised. There have got to be places where there are trees down. Suzanne Kennedy, thank you so much for that.
KENNEDY: You're welcome.
MARTIN: Indeed, one other place we know about where there's a tree down, this one had much more violent intent, did the two that Suzanne was telling us about, is the 3700 block of Ingamore street in North West, D.C. A tree went into a house and knocked out power.
It's 4:00 actually, 4:01. We want to do resetting for you. Maybe the most potentially serious situation, frankly it's not all that serious, but it is worthy of our consideration right now, situation going on in Luzby (ph) there at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear plant constellation energy says one of its two nuclear reactors at the Calvert Cliffs plant, went offline automatically because of winds from the hurricane and call the facility both safe and stable.
A spokesman for constellation said, early this morning, early Sunday morning, unit one reactor went offline automatically when a large piece of aluminum siding dislodged from a building and came into contact with the facilities main transformer. All the employees are safe and that the Calvert Cliffs facility is both safe and stable. They said this unusual event or an unusual event I should say has been declared. And that turns out to be the lowest of the four emergency classifications by the nuclear regulatory commission. So, they have declared an emergency, not a big one but nevertheless, they have declared an emergency at the Calvert Cliffs plant, unit number two, the reactor there, safe and operating at 100 percent power.
And speaking of power, it is worthy of our consideration to take a closer look now at these numbers that are just out now. These are the 4:00 numbers, the very latest.
And what we are seeing is that clearly al of them is on the increase, power outages across the area climbing. Dominion Virginia, 116,000 of its customers, without power. Pepco, the district has 31,000 powerless. In Montgomery County, the number is closer to 55,000 and in Prince Georges, 106,000 of its customers without electricity right now.
This is BG&E; break it down by the county. Anne Arundel County, along with Prince Georges, those closest to the bay definitely hit the hardest, 101,000 in Anne Arundel, 22,000 in Prince Georges and just 683 BG&E customers there. Pepco reporting in total 189,000 of its customers without power. BG&E has 379,000. Dominion, Virginia has 116,184.
Lots and lots of electricity outages. And it's likely that as the winds now start to shift a little bit in their direction, in my experience anyway Adam, that we'll get more of those because more trees will be toppled there. Used to lean in one direction, they start leaning in one direction, and that's when the trees go down.
ADAM CASKEY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I think when you're working on op projects around the at home, and you got your fliers and you start to push in, you nudge it the other way and then yank it out, right?
MARTIN: Then you call the expert, right?
CASKEY: Yes, and then you say, oops.
CASKEY: Well, that's we are dealing and also the persistent too. You know, the persistent winds have been out there for four hours now, just constantly pushing against these trees. Then you're right, then it shifts in the other direction or even just a slightly different direction and it can cause the tree to topple plus more rainfall. Our ground is so saturated. Whenever you have saturated ground it's a lot easier for the trees to fall. There's a look at our storm scan. And you can see some areas of rain letting up in southeastern Virginia. Locally we have one heavy band moving on through. And actually, we go to graphics system live Doppler seven. And I will show you that and put it into motion here. And in the yellow area stretching north south, that's a heavy band moving on through Alexandria, on the Prince Georges County, moving towards a national Harvard, the leading guts crossing 270 and approaching the Potomac River at this time as well. So, that will move into northern Virginia and parts of Fair FOX County, Prince William and Loudon county, you will see that momentarily. But that's really it for the last of the heavy rain band. It's overall, the rain will continually wrap up here over the next couple of hours.
I want to give you an idea of some of the rainfall totals so far. This we got from the national weather service, east port Maryland in Anne Arundel county over five inches, 5.05.
How about Prince Frederick in Calvert County, 3.64, Mitchellville, 2.57 and here you go, going to give you the drum roll on this one, California, Maryland, from a trained spotter, 9.76 inches of rain. Kids you're probably thinking what I'm thinking. Why can't it be cold enough outside? That would be 90 inches of snow. That's extreme, I agree, even from a fellow snow lover here. That's a little too much snow.
So anyway, just giving you an analogue, let's take a look at some of the other graphics I have for you, especially here our in-house computer model. And notice how that pushes the back edge of the rain out of here by Sunday, 7:00 a.m., just a few hours from now. That heavy band gets pushed back up to the north an east and starts to dissipate as well. Then, some sunshine even by lunch time, Dave. So, we're looking at those improvements coming on down the line here in the next few hours. Even in the thick of some of the wind, it's slowly going to let up as it shifts.
MARTIN: Good news indeed.
CASKEY: 9.6 inches of rain in California, Maryland.
UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: That's a lot of rain.
MARTIN: Adam, thank you so much. Haley Harrison has been watching the situation on King Street in Old Town, Alexandria and she joins us once again live this morning. Haley, what's going on?
HALEY HARRISON, WJLA REPORTER: Well, we're still experiencing those really strong wind gusts that we've been seeing for maybe the last 45 minutes down here, the really, really strong winds. And now, we're starting to get the occasional reports of maybe to trees that have fallen down. We're going to investigate those after we're done talking to you here. But again, still lots of people in the west end of town are without power.
And I heard you talking about it with Suzanne a little bit earlier about the number of people who are out driving around. We've seen quite a bit of that here in Alexandria. Lots of people, I don't know why, at 4:00 in the morning, out driving around, checking out the situation. Not something you want to do. Because again, the winds are really coming down, really blowing very strong and the rain are still coming down.
So, just wait for this storm to pass through before you leave, unless it is absolutely necessary. And give emergency crews the space that they need to get out and respond to what they need to do tonight. So, we will go investigate those reports of trees down here in Alexandria and we'll be back with you hopefully very shortly.
MARTIN: All right, Haley, go see what you can find there, very interesting stuff. On a similar note right now, the Virginia National Guard reports that it freed ten, ten motorists trapped between downed trees for more than seven hours. The guards said the vehicles were trapped by fell trees on both directions on route five near the Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Soldiers from the bowling green based 189th engineer company and the west point based 237th engineer company worked for hours with chain saw to cut a section from one of he trees, large enough of the vehicle to drive through and cars were freed early this morning. They were on duty helping the Virginia state police clear fallen trees along i-85 near Petersburg, about 325 members of the National Guard.
Citizen soldiers activated by Governor McDonald when he declared the state of emergency. Ten motorists trapped between downed trees and freed by members of the Virginia National Guard. Its 4:09 a.m. on this wind swept Sunday morning. We want to check in down in the newsroom right now with Jummy Olabanji has been assembling more pictures for us what folks are showing to us about how they are passing the time. Jummy?
JUMMY OLABANJI, WJLA REPORTER: Yes, yes Dave. We have been getting a lot of pictures even just in the past couple of minutes so we want to thank all of our viewers who are still up this early morning hour, sending all their picture into iwitness at wjla.com.
Just got this one in from Georgetown. We know that Suzanne is out in northwest Washington where several trees have fallen. This one has fallen within the past few minutes or so we received from a viewer. This is dent place in northwest Washington and Georgetown. That viewer said that's one of several trees that have come down in that area.
So, folks out there want to stay safe. Going on to our next picture now, you can see this is a tree branch down on Kirby Street in northwest Washington. So, as we've been telling our viewers all along and that we've been talking about trees down, are going to be the big story here in this early morning hour. We have a little bit of story from the viewer who sent this in and they said I was sitting at my computer desk and all of a sudden at 1:44 a.m. this morning , heard a loud crack and boom ran outside and a branch ship my car and set up the alarm. I looked up at the street and saw another truck ? tree looking like it was ready to fall, so he called his neighbor. The neighbor was able to move his car and it out of the way before that tree came down. So, just neighbors helping neighbors. Thank you for that picture. And thank you for being such a good neighbor.
Going on to the next picture, now you can see transformers lighting up the sky. This is in Springfield Virginia. One of our loyal watchers Sean Grace sent this in. Little story he sent in and said he was taking picture from his windows when all of the sudden, the transformers started going out. Luckily he still has power but he just wanted to point out just how bright these flashes were you can see - it looks like it could be lightning, Dave, but these are transformers going off in Springfield, Virginia.
Lit up the sky, it looks like it could be daytime but in fact, this was happening a short time ago this evening. And hopefully, we have this last picture here that just came in to us from a viewer who happens to be in New York City here in the Bronx. I don't know if you can make it out because there are a lot of rain drops on the camera lens there but a tree fell on top of several cars out there in the Bronx. And so, that's probably going to be the big story out there as well as the storm moves closer to New York City and the folks out there are dealing with that.
Once again, want to thank all of our viewers for pictures and videos. If you're up with us, please continue to send them in. Send them right to us here at the station firstname.lastname@example.org, that the e- mail address. Of course, the "i" in iwitness is the letter "i," send that to email@example.com.
And of course, if you're out there taking pictures, please be careful. Don't put yourself in any sort of harms way to get us those pictures. But if you are to get those for us, we do appreciate it -- Dave.
MARTIN: Jummy, I guess I'm surprised that at you know 4:12 there are that many people first of all who are still up but secondly who are up and busy and apparently out documenting what's going on.
OLABANJI: Yes, absolutely. Just even as you were getting ready to toss down to our live shot here in the newsroom, our producer Cara was behind me saying we're getting more pictures. So, people are still up at this hour, sending in pictures. So, we really do appreciate it because as we know, with these storms, pictures and video help we tell the story. UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Absolutely.
OLABANJI: So, we really appreciate everybody who is sending them in.
MARTIN: I guess if the wind is making so much of a racket out there, the folks can't sleep.
OLABANJI: Probably can't sleep absolutely.
MARTIN: Get up, get iphone or digital camera and take pictures and send it on to Jummy and she'll put it on the air. And there's the address, send them to iwitness, that's i-w-i-t-n-e-s-s, firstname.lastname@example.org. Jummy thank you so much for that.
We want to sort of take you back up I-95 a bit and that is Times Square. And the first thing that jumps out at you, even though it is a ridiculously early time of the morning, there would be a great deal more traffic. There, there it is right now. And that's because Irene has effectively closed down as much as it is possible to do that, to close down that area.
And part of the reason for that has to do with the fact there is now a tornado warning just issued for parts of Brooklyn and Queens, two boroughs of New York City. That's a tornado warning which usually means that Doppler radar sees what it reads as rotation and what could very well be a tornado. National weather service out now with a tornado warning for the New York City's Brooklyn and Queens Boroughs and we'll keep an eye on that for you.
In the meantime, landfall there expected in some place likely on Long Island about midday. National hurricane center says water levels are rising in advance of the storm. New York is waiting for the storm without its usual hustle and bustle. The city all but shut down. And it's not just in New York where things are a good deal quieter than they usually are. And all five of the airports in and around metropolitan New York are closed. But it's estimated that 9,000 flights have been canceled as a result of Irene as the airlines reposition their planes out of harm's way. That has trapped an awful lot of people. Adam Caskey is watching this al going on.
Adam, I'm sort of surprised. Tornado warnings for two places that you don't ordinarily think of them. Brooklyn and Queens.
CASKEY: Yes, Dave really. We're getting some information on that right now. And I'll have more on that for you in just one second. First I want to take you to our live super Doppler seven radar system. And I want to show you what's going on right now.
This is our storm scan and it shows what kind on the back edge of the storm. We're starting to get the backward twist on the backside, northwesterly flow and also a bit of pivot in our rain, if you will. The area of yellow around Washington, that's a moderate shower, moving due south. But the whole system is off to the north and east. So it's beginning to move on out of here.
So, I want to go to live Doppler and closer look at home. The yellow you there on the screen of course, that's the heavier rain or moderate shower that's falling. And I want to give you details on what we're seeing right now. It's not as bad as what we had earlier today. So, let me pop up a few things for you.
First of all, the rainfall rate, how hard is it falling out there at this time? That green area indicates areas of heavier rain, really, only 0.4 inches an hour. We saw rainfall rates higher than that earlier in the storm. The blue area over Fairfax County, the Springfield area, only 600 or seven inch of rain per hour.
Now, in terms of total so far, you can see five inches. This is radar estimated by the way. This isn't just not directly measured, this is radar estimated. So, it's give or takes a little bit here and there. But, you can see the two points we have on the screen there, five inch estimates in Prince Georges county. And our weather bug sites are pretty much are consistent with that as well. And also, look at the purple. Montrose, Newland, Virginia on the northern neck of Virginia. Let me plot that, estimated six inches. My buddy and weather watcher, Bill in Newland, Virginia, said he measured nine inches of rain. He's not far from Montrose there in the northern neck of Virginia.
Give you back the radar screen here. And you'll be able to see where the actual showers are in the areas of moderate to heavy rain. There you go. They are going to continue to move on out of our area. We are beginning to see the rain a kind weaken there on that back side and wrap up as well.
So, let me move on for you and show you our computer simulation. This is always important. This is our in-house Micro cast we call it to in-house computer model that we go to, and to help us kind to visualize for you, what to expect, what you are going to see here over the next couple of hours.
I have the time stamp at 4:00 a.m. on top of your screen, that's the start of it. And it actually did a pretty good job initializing that yellow rain band we talked about. Of course, it's not going to be as detailed as our live radar. Computer just can't do that for us these days. They're good but not that good.
So, I'll put this into motion quickly, boom. That kicks out in here and even weekends. Noticed head that line kind a stay a little bit. So, it's out of here by 7:00 a.m. That's the going forecast, really most if not all of the rain oust the ABC 7 viewing area by 7:00 a.m., and even moving out of Baltimore by 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. and just some clouds cover becoming sunny by later on this afternoon.
So, here's our storm scan again. There's that back edge of the storm. I'll show you how far wide ? how wide reaching this whole system is, you can see how big it is. It's stretching all the way from Virginia northward up into Maine and now parts of southeastern Canada, I should say. And there's the center of the storm right there, now northeast of ocean city. And it's moving to the northeast at about 17 miles per hour. And it looks like the center of the circulation is just going to clip the jersey shore here within about 45 minutes to an hour. Central jersey shore more like an hour, maybe more than that and still New York City it's coming right up the coastline.
Now, it is weakening. It's a gradually weakening system. The pressure is rising within the storm. That indicates that the system is filling in. Also it's interacting with land and cooler water temperatures as well. Also getting dry air mixed into it. All these factors coming into play. But, don't take it for granted. Don't think it's over yet, especially farther to he north of Washington. You're starting to see the conditions ramp up.
As for us, it's starting to fizzle off. There's the infrared satellite view. Not one of the better infrared satellite views we have. But its one indicating cloud tops. And this is another rainfall estimate. Noticed how - we have this kind an alley right here from tide water area, north folk, Hampton roads all the way up into the eastern shore with the purples indicating the highest rainfall accumulations. And this is another estimate by the way, by Doppler radar. That estimates about six inches or more of rain but we did get a reading, California, Maryland, from a trained spotter of almost 10 inches of rain from this system. They're still seeing a few little showers out there but really not much more than that.
So, there's the center of circulation, again, just east and northeast of ocean city. I had the lightning strike counter on the screen. OK. And this is lightning within this entire view, all the way up the mid-Atlantic and into the northeast, total amount of strikes on the final frame, only 11, OK. It's not the dynamic type of system where you'll have lightning and thunder the whole time. It's going to be a lot of rain and a lot of wind northeast of us. As for us for now, most of that rain is coming to an end. We already experienced the lack of lightning and thunder which is one of the big questions I got on Facebook. Is there going to be lightning and thunder keeping us up? No, just wind hitting your window, really. Dave, did you have a question?
MARTIN: I did, Adam. And on the one hand, it's a question but the other thing is, first of all is, when you guys told us very early on exactly what was going to happen and events have borne you out almost to the letter. A couple of things, one is how much of this is you've got much better tools, much better experience and ability to make these forecasts with what are storms that are almost impossible to predict in a lot of ways? How much of it is that? How much of it is this from very early on looked like it would be a real problem for the biggest possible population centers on this coast? Did we bring everything there was to bear on this storm?
CASKEY: All right, Dave, that's a long question.
MARTIN: Yes. I'm bad about that.
CASKEY: We love chatting and talking. We have conversations, not just questions. Well, let's put it this way. Early on when this system first formed and it was way out in the Caribbean, remember everybody was saying this could make landfall in the Gulf of Mexico somewhere. And then after a few days, maybe somewhere in Florida, then somewhere ups the east coast. Then they predicted you know in cone of uncertainty and predicted landfall was continually unchanging. Even with the neck cone of uncertainty that you on, so as you seen on all of our graphics.
But then, we really honed it in and the national hurricane center did a great job. We did see discrepancies in the computer models, they flip-flopped back and forth. But the forecast really stayed for the most part on track. And really within the cone of uncertainty and for the most part to the center, luckily for us we did not see a storm come up the bay. That's one of the worst case scenarios for us. And luckily, it wasn't like Isabel for the D.C. area where that came up the final appellations we got the really strong southerly flow from it pushing all the water up the bay, up the Potomac causing that NASA storm search with this. Irene is not going to be known for its storm surge around here. It's going to completely be known for downing trees and a lot of rain. The saturated ground dos not take much of the wind gusts to knock down the trees we have across our area.
MARTIN: Those of us of a certain age remember when it was almost impossible to tell with any real certainty at al with where the storms will go. They were very impressed.
CASKEY: Even at my age.
MARTIN: With how well you did it now, and believe us when I say we are grateful for it. Adam, thank you so much for that.
Ben Eisler is standing by for us right now on the news line. Ben has been reporting for us for quite a while down in Annapolis. Ben, good to see you got in out of the rain a little bit.
BEN EISLER, WJLA REPORTER (via telephone): Yes, Dave. We hope to bring you back some live pictures in a little bit but unfortunately some condensation got inside the lens of our camera, which is a problem that you really can't avoid when you've been in the rain as long as we have.
But Annapolis like a lot of city around our region has declared a state of emergency. The mayor recommended that folks in some of the low-lying areas evacuate. And the rainfall at this time is around seven inches which we've experienced here, which is some of the highest that we've experienced in our entire region. The concern, the real concern, though, is what will happen in less than an hour now, around 5:04 a.m. when high tide is experienced here at the water front in Annapolis.
The concern, of course, that water will begin to over flow and flood the streets not just from rain water but the bay water as well. Sandbags currently line store fronts throughout this downtown area. We've heard reports of homes shaking in the wind as well and trees and power lines coming down. We've seen a number of transformers blow, lighting up the sky almost like fireworks. Folks, we understand are also hunkered down at Annapolis high school, which is being used as a local shelter here. As for us, we are wet. We are, of course, wind blown. But Dave, don't think for a second that we're out of the fight. Back to you.
MARTIN: Spoken like a great reporter out in the field. Ben thanks so much. Dry off a little bit, get that camera straightened out. We'll see you back here in just a bit.
At 4:24 a.m., Ed McDownough of the Maryland emergency management agency is with us on the news line as well.
Ed, good to talk to you again. Have you got an update for us? What's the situation out there?
ED MCDOWNOUGH, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, MARYLAND: Well, our power outage numbers are up to about there quarters of a million throughout the state. And that number has obviously been increasing for the last five or six hours in some cases increasing greatly in a short period of time. We're still below the highest level we reached during hurricane Isabel back in 2003. But certainly we're headed in that direction right now.
MARTIN: If you are somewhat below where you were with Isabel, where does that sort of fit in with your projections? Is this better than you anticipated? Or is it bad? Tell me what you think.
MCDOWNOUGH: Well, it's still bad and certainly if you're one of those 750,000 customers, it's bad for you.
MARTIN: It's very bad.
MCDOWNOUGH: I think that the good news is, that if the numbers don't go up dramatically higher, people will come online quicker because there will be less people to bring back. The other thing is that while Isabel was really centered along the western shore of the bay, southern Maryland and the Baltimore and Washington metro areas, the real wrath of this storm was on the eastern shore, not to downplay what we're getting on this side of the bay but it's more sparsely populated over there. There's less raw numbers of customers to knock out over there. So, while we're certainly getting our share of damage over here, I think the fact that the highest winds and the highest floodwaters were over on the eastern shore means that perhaps we'll escape with a few less customer outages this time than we had back in 2003.
MARTIN: We've been sort of talking about the power, the outward visible signs of things. What else do we know, Ed? Are you hearing from places particularly on Delmarva about physical damage? Buildings being knocked down, that sort of thing?
MCDOWNOUGH: We're hearing some reports mostly most of the damage we're hearing is trees down into houses. There was a woman who was killed unfortunately in Queen Ann's county late last night when a tree crashed down into her home and apparently toppled the chimney on to her home. I shouldn't say her home in a building. I don't know the specific circumstances. And so, that's the one confirmed fatality we have in Maryland right now.
So you know, clearly those kinds of things you know will really urge people to be as safe as they can and try just be aware of the condition of the trees in their yards, things like that. And so, that's kind of a hidden thing to worry about. You may have heard and there were erroneous reports of imminent dam failure in Saint Mary's county. The issue actually with that dam in the great mills area is that the dam may over flow the spill way and if the water level gets too high coming down the spillway, that could create minor flooding issues downstream.
I'm told there are about 70 to 75 buildings, mostly residences but a handful of businesses in the flood plain there. But the people in that area are aware of that ongoing issue, just because of the nature of the dam there. And they know to be ready to evacuate on short notice and heavy rain. They have not been asked to evacuate yet. But the folks in Saint Mary's county are closely monitoring that situation and if need be they will ask.
But right now, the water is not at that height. But we want to make clear it's not a dam failure issue, it's just the volume of water behind the dam, and it might come over the spillways and start causing flooding downstream.
MARTIN: That's valuable information, too, Ed. Indeed we talked about that earlier last night as a matter of fact, I believe it was. Thank you. I appreciate.
MCDOWNOUGH: Not a problem.
MARTIN: You're updating us on that. Ed McDownough, the state of Maryland, the emergency management agency.
Let's talk once again in Suzanne Kennedy who is in northwest D.C., watching the trees goes down. What's the latest, Suzanne?
KENNEDY: Well Dave, we've been able to light up the situation where we are in the 3900 block of Edmond street northwest. So, you can see this a little bit better than we've been showing you all morning. This is the second tree that fell on this block within a half hour's time. This is the one that I've been telling you throughout the morning fell literally right in front of our eyes. We felt the ground shake. We saw the tree branches rustle and then it came down.
We'll show you ? take a look a little bit at the length of this tree and how far it stretched and the effect that it had on this two- story home here. It fell ? did roof damaged obviously, blocking the front door. They had to take people out the back door of this building as they evacuated them an hour and a half ago. But the fortunate thing about this situation is that, it fell for the most part in an area where one of these apartments or homes had been taken down and they were renovating or putting up another building here. There are two trees on this block. They fell within the 2:00 hour. People said they heard rumbling, they felt the ground shake and then the trees came down.
Fortunately they were able to get out safely. There was a baby that came out, a small child, elementary school aged child, a dog. They all got out safely. Firefighters were here quickly, secured the area. They got people out. They had all evacuated. They hung around for a little bit, just seemingly in shock of what happened right in front of them. Many of them had come into the center portions of their apartments here. Because they feared this would happen.
And so, whey they heard it come down, they were grateful they had the forethought to do to be safe and to think ahead. I'm quite surprised on the number of cars that are parked on this street. I live in Washington D.C. and an area that have tons of trees I saw that many of my neighbors had moved their vehicles away from the trees.
I want to show you what the other problem is here. We got a lot of big branches that are still coming down. This is a huge one branch that's blocking the street. So, while your street may not be blocked by a very large tree, you're going to be encountering some of these and they are literally littering the area where we are right now. Now, what we can tell you is that the firefighters came through this area and one thing they did, is that they got their chain saws out quickly to remove the trees from some of the dangerous areas. What we are going to see as we get daylight hours here, is people want to come outside to assess what's going on. And it may not be the smartest thing to do this morning.
Certainly we have seen live power lines down this morning. Pepco has got its hands full in dealing with this. The best advice is to stay inside. And certainly we are seeing more rain come through the area, more wind. So clearly we are not finished with this storm. People I think are going to feel like they want to come outside but it's just best to stay inside. Two very large trees, a maple and oak, down in one block here in a short amount of time and there's no predicting what could come down next. Dave?
MARTIN: Suzanne Kennedy, documenting for us what is going on, it seems, just about every place we look. Again, this is going to be the signature of this storm, all the trees that have come down and they've taken some lives, three in fact, in the state of Virginia.
Back into the district where Suzanne just was now, a couple of video scenes that we want to show to you and give you an idea what's going on.
This it is Tenleytown, Wisconsin Avenue. Three blocks where the traffic lights were knocked out. And you can see the MPD there having to direct traffic in the blustery winds and heavy rain. And as actually Suzanne was telling us before, there are a number of people outside. This is on Ordway Street where there's a tree down. Ordway Street and Connecticut Avenue in northwest. And, again, it is no exaggeration to say this is a scene that's being repeated just about every place you look, indeed in the 370 block of Ingomar Street in northwest. A tree crashed a car and hit a house, and knocked out power as well. Suzanne's admonition about the down power line is one that we all should take this seriously.
Mark Brady, the Prince Georges county fire and EMS department is with us on the news line right now.
Mark, good to hear from you tonight. Your county has been particularly hard hit. We knew it and Anne Arundel County were in the bull's eye around here. Give us the big picture look. How are you doing right now?
MARK BRADY, FIRE & EMS DEPARTMENT, PRINCE GEORGE?S: Well, we're doing fine in Prince Georges county. We fared pretty well while we handled a couple thousand incidents since the storms began we're fortunate that no injuries have occurred. And that's our number one priority, make sure everybody is safe. And so far at this point that's been accomplished.
MARTIN: You said you had a number of incidents. What - characterize them for me if you can? Are these emergency calls, trees being knocked down? What exactly were the problems? BRADY: It's been a combination of calls involving, obviously, the heavy rains bringing flooding conditions and the high winds bringing trees down which also bring down power lines at the same time. So, we have a combination of things occurring and those have been the majority of our responses.
We've had several trees down across roadways but our Department Of Public Works And Transportation has taken care of those pretty quickly. We have about eight roads closed due to flooded conditions. But those conditions are improving, even though we are undergoing what looks like another band of high winds and heavy rains. We have just eight roads closed.
MARTIN: That really is, I think, fairly remarkable for a big county. That Prince Georges is. Things appear to be getting better out there. Mark, talk a little bit about sort of the assessment process that goes on right now. Because it's important to find out exactly where the problems are, you know - you think you know where most of them are. Really, until the sun comes up and you can actually eye ball the things, it's difficult to get the big picture, isn't it? I think we may have lost him there.
BRADY: I'm having a hard time hearing you. I had activity in the room that drowned you out. The question was?
MARTIN: My question was Mark, really until the sun comes up and you get eye balls on the situation, you can have a good idea of what's going on but you don't see the true total picture until you can get out and visualize it, is that right?
BRADY: That's exactly right. And right now, we're kind in the lull period as far as activity, incoming 911 calls. But, we do fully anticipate when everybody wakes up and the sun rises and people walk on and see the damage, they're going to call 911 or call the hurricane hot line and report those damages. We'll probably be as busy, if not busier, during the recovery period than we were today in dealing with the actual storm. So, we are geared up. We have personnel on duty and ready to go. So, we are looking forward to the recovery period and helping out as many citizens as we can.
MARTIN: Mark Brady, thank you so much. It's always good to talk to you.
BRADY: Thank you.
MARTIN: I know you are going to be busier very shortly there when the sun comes up. Ben Eisler and his intrepid crew have managed to get the condensation dried out on the inside of the lens on that camera. So he can join us now from Annapolis with some pictures. There he is. Hi, Ben.
EISLER: Dave, I hope you can see us all right. And please excuse us also if there's a delay because we're actually streaming this live through the internet. Now, throughout the evening, we've shown you some flooding. We've shown you some winds. We've talked about power outages. But the one thing that has really been the biggest concern here in Annapolis has been the level of water actually from the bay.
Let's give you an idea here of exactly how high the water has risen. As you can see, there's still got to be at least five feet before this water will start overflowing into the water front area here. And it's just about getting to high tide. We've also experienced about seven inches of rain here in Annapolis, which is some of the highest that we've seen anywhere else in the region. So given the fact that we've had seven inches of rain, some of the highest, and we are reaching high tide here and there's still about five or six feet until the water starts overflowing we're in pretty good shape.
Also from what I understand, I spoke to Adam Caskey not long ago and he told me the worst part of the storm is behind us. We're starting to have fun out here. The air smells nice and fresh. It's not terribly cold. It's pretty warm. We saw a bunch of cop cars around here earlier but they've mostly gone. The wind isn't too bad anymore. The streets also are not particularly flooded beyond the street that we showed you over on the side, King George Street. Things aren't in terrible shape over here. And the store fronts which all have sandbags piled up in front of them don't have water in front of them.
So hopefully things here in Annapolis will not be disrupted too badly, even in here very vulnerable low-lying areas. This is one of the areas that were called for evacuations. The mayor strongly recommended. The wind is beginning to pick up here a little bit now. I jinxed myself. I deserve a little bit of this. Thank you.
This is one of the areas that were called for an evacuation, and it's really in pretty good shape. The storm drains are working very well. The water is trickling out of the gutters, down into the street and down those drains. And not much seems to have been disrupted. It doesn't look like there's going to be a whole lot of damage. I don't want to, again, jinx that part of it but things are fairly clear.
We are still seeing some of those transformers pop, some of the transformers blow, lighting up the sky as my photographer here described it, almost like fireworks. And then we see a bunch of the lights from homes and other buildings around here drop out. But beyond that, things are fairly calm and I mean this doesn't feel terribly different from some of the other rainfall that we've experienced elsewhere. It's fairly peaceful, quiet, actually going to enjoy ourselves, Dave. Is that appropriate?
MARTIN: Ben, give is us his best chamber of commerce views of the situation in Annapolis there.
EISLER: Thank you, guys.
MARTIN: Go out, have a little fun. I believe you've earned it, certainly not minimizing the situation there. But he's absolutely right. There are places that when the planning for these things is done, you have to think, where is the greatest risk? And you identify those places and you try to get them evacuated and cleared out and sometimes it works out, sometimes you get lucky as they clearly did in Annapolis.
A couple of other places though, maybe not quite so lucky, we want to show you some of those scenes. This is Dent Street in northwest D.C. where a tree fell right on an old house. We don't know if that was an inhabited place or not. But we do know that's a big old tree lying on top of that wooden structure right there. That's one of many, and we can say the word many, trees that have been toppled in just in the District of Columbia, one of the most circumscribed areas. We've been able to give you the closest look there. And you have to think what's going on there is going on a lot of other places.
This then, a driving shot of the rain and the streets in Georgetown where it is a more benign scene but the same sort of scene we have noticed in a lot of other places. The breeze blowing the rain around and a lot of it, the streets is still very wet. It is still difficult to get around in a lot of places. Frankly, if you don't have to be out right now, just wait a little while. There will be plenty of time to get out and survey the scene tomorrow.
And Adam, when they, If they wait a long enough period of time, it won't be that long, maybe 10:00, 11:00, the sun will be out, it will be a pleasant day. You can walk around and ooh and aah at all the trees that have fallen into the street.
CASKEY: Yes. And do be careful as you ooh and aah. Because it would still be a gusty day tomorrow, just the winds aren't going to be as bad as what we are seeing outside right now. They are just gradually increasing. But I mean, gradually getting, the conditions are getting better from the southwest to the northeast. OK.
So, from the southwest to the northeast, up closer to Baltimore, that's when the conditions will take the longest to get better in terms of the wind. In terms of rain it's not al that bad out there right now compared to what we had. I just got off the phones with the great folks at the national weather service. I was talking to Jared and asked him a question that I know a lot of you especially on Alexandria Virginia and those whoa re living right long the coast lines are wondering about coastal flooding over the next couple of days?
It's common when we get a lot of rain around here along the Potomac bay and it's tributaries for all the run off to cause coastal flooding, depending especially on the wind direction. We're in a kind of negative anomaly right now. So, basically what that mean, yes, we've had a lot of rain up to nine inches on California Maryland, almost 10 inches down there, but the northerly wind is cancelling that out, pushing the water out of the Potomac and out of the bay.
Again, another reason why we're grateful that we have this storm track centered off to our east so we get that northerly flow during this entire system. It's when you get the storm track out of the south such as with Isabel it causes such a bad storm surge. For this storm, a three to four-foot storm surge for the most part. Now, let's not say that everybody was out in the woods north-facing beaches. The few of them that we have at north-facing shorelines, well yes, that's where we have some of the problems, and so, there's our radar. And remember, last time we checked in we had few more yellows on the screen, especially through the district and parts of Prince George's county on the southeast corner of the beltway? Well, look at it now, hardly any yellow left. That means the rain is continuing to die off. So, this little band right here is light rain, probably on the order of about 0.2 inch an hour in terms of the rainfall rate. That's just an estimate.
And you're seeing a brake near Quantico Stafford in parts of Prince William County. But it is continuing to slide to the south very slowly as you see the whole system translates off to the north and east. So, I did mention we're seeing that rain die out a little bit. Here's one reason why, I want to show you here. This is our storm scan. What we're looking at is our water vapor satellite imagery.
So, what this is, its satellite that basically measures how much water is in the mid and upper levels of the atmosphere. It tells us how saturated it is or unsaturated it is. And right now, in parts of the district where we're seeing the rain let up a bit, we're getting some dry air working its way into our area and into the center circulation of the storm. So, the green that you see there as you saw on the screen the green that you see, the green was the saturated ground or the saturated air, I should say. Excuse me, the saturated air we have. And that orange that you have on the screen, the orange, that's the drier air. The drier air is starting to get pulled into the center of circulation. You can see the center of circulation now of northeast of ocean city, continuing to push off to the north at 20 miles an hour.
And by the way, we got an update. Maximum sustained winds are 75 miles an hour. So, it is just barely hanging on as a category one hurricane. And it's gained forward speed, now moving to the northeast at 20 miles per hour with a pressure of 958 mill bar, that means it's written eight mill bars since it was in eastern North Carolina when it was it's lowest, another sign that the system is gradually weakening. Still it's going to pack a punch for folks in the New England and the north east but at lest it's gradually weakening. There's the drier air, you can see it getting wrapped into the circulation, even on the backside of it in the Washington area where our rain is letting up a bit and moving on out. That's partially because of the dry air moving in.
So, some good news for us here in the Washington area but the grounded is still very saturated and we're still getting gusty winds, enough so where we could have more down the trees across the area. Center of circulation, right there, I'm going to put this into motion. There you go, riding up to the north, moving into almost the Cape bay area as it pushes on to the Jersey shoreline. That will continue to move off to the north. The lightning strikes at two from Virginia all the way up in to Canada.
And Dave, really quickly, some hometown sites here, gust up to 49 in fort Betwar, 32 miles per hour in Bunker Hill West Virginia, 50 miles per hour recently in Waldorf, Alexandria, 43 mile per hour gusts and 55 mile per hour gusts measured in the district, different location in the district, 44. So, here's the highest rainfall total updated for you, Annapolis on the weather bug at least, 7.29 inches of rain at the naval academy. Impressive.
MARTIN: It really is. That's a great deal of rain.
CASKEY: Imagine if it was cold enough, 70 inches of snow.
MARTIN: Do I have to?
CASKEY: No, no. Cut me off.
MARTIN: OK. A true snow lover giving us that comparison right now. Jummy Olabanji has been spending the overnight hours aggregating I wanted to say aggravating but not at all, aggregating the great video and pictures that you've been second to us and sharing them. And they're wonderful along with some great views that we're seeing from other places, a lot of folks around here continue to send us their pictures, Jummy.
OLABANJI: Yes absolutely, Dave. I feel like people are starting to wake up, speaking with our producer, Cara. And we are getting more pictures as the morning goes on. But I think people are just now starting to wake up and kind of assessing what's going on around them. We're getting pictures from all over. Take a look at this first one.
This is coming from Norfolk, Virginia. Somebody just sent this in after the after effects of the flooding out there that Irene left. You can see just how high that water is. It looks like some sort of shopping center in the background there. The water is obviously very high. So it's hey wake up this morning down in southeastern Virginia which really took a hit from the storm, they're really going to be dealing with a lot of flooding as an aftermath of this storm.
We go next upstate to New York where somebody sent in this picture of a cracked power line pole. You know, we've been speaking about everything going on in the storms, moving closer to New York, and they are going to be feeling the brunt of the storm in just a couple of hours. So obviously, they'll be dealing with a lot more of this in the coming hours.
Next we go to West Hempstead, New York, where somebody has sent in a picture of as you can see there downed trees, downed branches. Obviously that's been the story in our area, on our region for the past couple of hours. And now that Irene is making her way north and up 95, we're seeing the same story in New York.
And then, these next pictures coming in to us from somebody viewing in New Jersey, Caesar Salazar sent these in from old bridge, New Jersey. He's guessing there's some sort of backup or overflow because in less than 30 minutes the parking lot became a small lake. And Caesar also sent in a second picture that we are going to put up for you here in just a second. You can see another angle of that parking lot where looking like the water is starting to rise to the tire level of those cars. Hopefully it doesn't get any worse than it is. But we all know what can happen when the water starts to rise. That's not a good situation to wake up to out there.
Then one more picture, Dave, we'll switch over to twitter. These actually coming to us from Dan Stessel back here in our area being the spokesman for metro. This was taken about half an hour ago in the metro situation room. So, you can see even at this hour, officials here in our area are still analyzing what's going on. We got metro officials out there, last time we spoke with them they said at this moment they still plan on start service again at 7:00 in the morning, as usual. So, good job to metro out there, keeping us all safe and making sure we can get to our destinations tomorrow. Dave?
MARTIN: And Jummy, we were getting pictures from New Jersey, I suspect, because we've been on CNN for a while now and also up on satellite all across the country. So, there are a lot of folks being able to watch what's going on right now. And we appreciate their spending some time with us. And we certainly appreciate the job you're doing for us, Jummy.
And we really like to see your pictures. So please, send them to email@example.com. That's i-w-i-t-n-e-s-s, iwitness videos.
On the news line with us right now, at about 10 minutes before 5:00 is First Sergeant J.E. Mitchell, Virginia state police. Sergeant, good morning.
J.E. MITCHELL, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE (via telephone): Good morning.
MARTIN: Give me sort of the big picture right now. What's the situation around the state? We do know the storm is heading north and that's lessening the problems that we've been dealing with for over 24 hours now. Give us your assessment if you would, please.
MITCHELL: Right now, we still have a little rain and a little wind. And you know, power outages across the state. Afterwards, tunnels are closed at this time, James River bridge, we actually didn't close it but it's high water and impassable and also the Chesapeake Bay bridge tunnel is also closed. So still going to get more rainfall and don't know exactly how much but mainly we recommend citizens stay in until we get a lots of trees cleared up. A lot of trees down and power outages.
MARTIN: First sergeant, let me ask you questions about what we heard earlier. Not sure if you have information about it but I'd love to hear about this. Down in Richmond, some Virginia National Guards soldiers who were also working with the Virginia state police along I- 85 managed to free ten motorists who been trapped between downed trees there for more than seven hours. That's really remarkable. Do you know the details of that incident? MITCHELL: No, I don't have any information on that.
MARTIN: OK. I was fishing on that. But I thought if you did because it's an amazing thing. We do know that a lot of the troopers are carrying change saws, just in that eventuality, if they can get roads cleared and that sort of thing. How much of a problem has that been so far?
MITCHELL: It's been a problem as far as getting around on the road from the tree fallings. But we've been out working at a local fire department. They've been doing a pretty good job doing what they can do. But you know, there's a lot to remain, you know clean up, remains to be cleaned up and the main thing is power outages and trees down. So, we just recommend people stay in and get the agencies and what not time to clean everything up.
MARTIN: That's another thing, too, First sergeant, because we're not going to know until they get out and do really get a chance to get eye balls on this thing. And frankly to do that you need the sun to come up and we need to be able to make that big picture assessment of what's going on out there. And folks are naturally curious and want to see what happened. But, if they do that, they're probably only going to get in the way of the first responders of those wonderful folks who are visiting from other states who are here to try and get the power turned back on. The sort of infrastructure things that need to get done so we can try and get back to regular life around here.
MITCHELL: That is exactly right. That's why we recommend people stay in, give your emergency agencies a chance to get things cleaned up, to where people can get out and move about.
MARTIN: First Sergeant J.E. Mitchell of the Virginia State Police, good to have some time to spend with us and let us know what's going on out there. First Sergeant, thank you so much. You and the troopers and stay safe the rest of this event.
At about six minutes now before 5:00. We want to reset things if we can and let you know where we are.
A lot of the middle Atlantic was spared, those sorts of doomsday forecast of record-breaking storm surges. Nevertheless, a day-long pounding by the storm has left eight people dead in total, millions without power and thousands wondering what to expect when they return home. And frankly, we're not going to know the full extent of the damage for several days as some roads will likely remain impassable with swollen rivers and a great many trees that have been knocked down.
And we've seen these scenes over and over, all around the area. And while Irene is just barely a hurricane now, top sustained winds of 75 miles an hour, she has already done her worst to this part of the country. And mercifully is pulling away. It's bad news for New York and New Jersey right now as they are sort of next in the sights.
Power outages around the area, in the hundreds of thousands, here are the very latest numbers. Dominion, Virginia, 116,000, Pepco in the district, 31,000, I beg your pardon. In Montgomery County, 55,000, in Prince Georges, 106,000. BG&E in Anne Arundel has 101,000. In Prince Georges, 22,000 and 683 in Montgomery Counties.
When you look at the totals and they are breath taking. Pepco has 189 thousand of its customers without power. BGE has 379 and Dominion, Virginia has 116,000.
Looking at New York, as well, that's sort of the next place right now. We've been looking at this picture of Times Square now since midnight. And it has stayed effectively the same. And that's pretty remarkable if you've ever been in Times Square at midnight on a regular Saturday night in the summertime, you would expect to see a great deal more traffic than we have seen and that's sort of the situation.
There is some storm surge such as it is, about 3 1/2 feet reported in New York harbor right now. That could be the lasting or I shouldn't say the lasting - it's sort of the first scene from this storm that could cause real problems in and around what they sometimes jokingly refer to as the tri-state area there in New York.
Taya Jarman (ph) is with the Virginia Department of Emergency services and joins us on the news line right now.
Good morning. Virginia has had a particularly difficult time of it. And it seems this storm we've been dealing with it, it's been, what, maybe 26, 27 hours, something like that. It almost seems like three days I think, Taya.
TAYA JARMAN (ph), DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY SERVICES, VIRGINIA: Right, this storm has been very challenging for us, especially because it came in earlier than expected. But our crews have been working before the storm and we would continue to work for days and weeks afterwards to make sure as best as possible we can restore our life back to normal.
MARTIN: Taya, one of the things we know right now and we'll know better when we get a better assessment of things is that the tidewater area has been particularly hard hit. Tell me what you know about down there and just what is the situation right now?
JARMAN (ph): Right. The tidewater area, as you said, has taken a pretty, a pretty tough blow from this particular storm. We know there are a number of roads close, just the Chesapeake Bay bridge tunnel is closed. There were mandatory evacuations. So, until the daylight can comes up and we can get out and really start to assess our damage and assess what happened, we have no idea exactly how bad it is and when people can expect to return. So that's, I'm sure that's nothing that people want to hear right now but it's just the truth. And emergency management we have and we'll continue to try to work to restore that but we need people to bear with us.
MARTIN: And one of the things we've been asking people in our position around the region is sort of how that assessment process works. Again, we're probably going have to wait until sunrise to really start this thing. Does it start sort at the local level? You report then maybe the counties and then the county report to Richmond?
JARMAN (ph): Right. Well, in Richmond being a statewide area, the statewide have headquarters, but not so much Richmond is a locality. So, that's correct. The localities will begin to go around and assess the damage as far as roads close, buildings that are damaged. Then they'd get that information reported to the statewide level. Then we would move out to provide support or resources or whatever items they need in order to help them restore.
UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Taya Jarman (ph) with the Virginia Department of Emergency management. Taya thank you so much. We appreciate it.
JARMAN (ph): Thank you.