Now a hurricane, Hanna's track uncertain

Posted September 1, 2008

— While one hurricane raged across southern Louisiana on Monday, emergency officials along the southeast Atlantic coast turned their attention to newly formed Hurricane Hanna, which could strike the U.S. before the week is out.

While most attention was on Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf of Mexico, Hanna has slowly organized over the last few days, becoming a hurricane in the afternoon.

The National Hurricane Center has Hanna coming ashore as a minimal hurricane Friday near Savannah, Ga., but forecasters warned the track could swing as far south as Miami or as far north as North Carolina's Outer Banks.

The hurricane was over the southeastern Bahamas on Monday and could still be in the island chain Thursday, said Chris Landsea, science operations officer at the hurricane center. Landsea said the storm is going to move very slowly.

“We will likely see some effect by Hanna down the road on Friday," WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said.

Hanna comes just after Hurricane Gustav killed 94 in the Caribbean on the way to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Most of the deaths were in Haiti, followed by Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. The Cayman Islands and Cuba were hit hard but apparently escaped without any loss of life. Gustav plowed into Louisiana on Monday.

Amid the possibility that Hanna could affect North Carolina, Red Cross officials opted to keep workers and supplies in the state instead of sending them to the Gulf Coast to aid with Gustav relief.

Hanna’s track could remain uncertain for days, said Mark Bacon, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, N.C.

"When these storms are not moving - and this one is barely moving - until they make that turn to the northwest up toward land, the track forecast is really tough to nail down," Bacon said.

Emergency officials across coastal South Carolina worked Labor Day, joining a conference call with state officials to get geared up in case Hanna strikes, said Joe Farmer, spokesman for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

"We don't have any intention on letting this sneak up on anybody," Farmer said.

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley said state officials have been preparing for Hanna and urged residents to do the same.

"We can't get caught waiting for the storm to make up its mind where it will go," Easley said in a statement.

Savannah and nearby Hilton Head Island haven't been hit directly by a hurricane since 1893, when the Sea Islands Hurricane killed anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 people.

Farmer said even though the region has been spared for more than 100 years, he thinks officials will be ready.

"Their preparedness level is very high," Farmer said. "Although they haven't been hit directly on, they are fully aware there is a hurricane out there and they are ready to do what is needed."

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency planned to begin staffing its operations center around the clock Tuesday morning, spokeswoman Kandice Eldon said.

The center brings together officials from state and federal government and organizations like the Red Cross to plan for disaster response, she said.

A spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said the governor was in Minnesota for the Republican convention but prepared to return home if the threat to the state increased.

At Ace Hardware of Hilton Head, owner David Leick said Monday he was enjoying what might be the last quiet day for a while if the forecasts for Hanna come true.

"It's a holiday. We're a beach area, so people are more concerned with being outdoors," Leick said. "If the forecast stays the same, I bet it will pick up soon."

At 11 p.m. EDT, Hanna's was nearly stationary just northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands with maximum sustained winds near 80 mph (129 kms) and higher gusts.

Tropical Storm Ike was hot on Hanna's tail Monday - still about 1,400 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, and was expected to become a hurricane in the next 36 hours as it too approaches the Bahamas. Ike became the ninth tropical storm of the season on Monday.


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  • Skywatch_NC Sep 2, 2008

    My flashlights and NOAA radio are in good working order. Even have a flashlight that one can wind up and doesn't need batteries.

    Went out this morning and bought 2 gals each of distilled and drinking water, 3 cans each of Beanie Weenie and Vienna Sausage, and a loaf of bread.

  • Skywatch_NC Sep 2, 2008

    Hi dogeatdog and Hot on my Heels,

    I've been a Skywarn spotter since March 1996! :) I enjoy surfing wx forums sites and talking with Wxbuddies from all over! :)

  • foreverblue Sep 2, 2008

    I must admit that I am also extremely fascinated by the weather and get really excited at the probability of one hitting us in the heart of Carolina. People say I'm nuts, and I don't like not having power either, but I have this morbid fascination with hurricanes. But they've cried wolf so many times that I don't even hardly bother getting "ready" because I pretty much still am from the ten times prior to this! It looks like Ike may follow the same path as Hanna. Watch out, ya'll!!!!

  • Space Mountain Sep 2, 2008

    Hanna, Ike and Josephine! Look out! I'm actually worried more about Ike and Josephine than Hanna. The models show it as just a Cat 1. dog, what makes you think it will be a cat 3?

    Skywatch, I was also wondering if you were invilved in Skywarn. I am also a weather geek and love listening to Central Carolina Skywarn on my scanner when there is bad weather. I wish there was a way to listen to them online.

  • dogeatdog Sep 1, 2008

    Skywatch..just wondering from the screen name if you are a fellow Skywarn Spotter. I live in Goldsboro..not many of us around here. I remember Fran and Floyd..other than the slower speed, this Hanna seem eerily similar, especially to Fran (ie probably won't dump as much rain due to quick forward speed). My guess, from all I've seen today, is a landfall sometime Friday around Myrtle Beach as a weak Cat 3 (115 to 120). That is from watching WRAL, couple of other channels, Accuweather, looking at computer models, and the fact that I am addicted to severe

  • Todd4Christ Sep 1, 2008

    Hey all...Joe (his last name is filtered) of Accuweather just said Hannah will make landfall around Wilmington as at least a Cat 2. On that track, the Triangle will get at least some winds and most certainly rain.

    Watching the Atlantic...

  • nandud Sep 1, 2008

    I got my beer and bottled water. I'm ready for her!

  • Rolling Along Sep 1, 2008

    Train, come the hurricanes! Busy season so far!

  • shirleyr1 Sep 1, 2008

    For those of us that survived Fran, in not the most comfortable living conditions for several weeks at least, we do keep our eyes on the forecast. That one did come at us, when we thought it never keep an eye to the forecast

  • Skywatch_NC Sep 1, 2008

    What a Labor Day indeed! Gustav makes landfall, Hannah becomes a hurricane and Ike a tropical storm!