augusta free press news

Hanna: Some rain, but not a direct hit

Story by Chris Graham

It’s looking like Tropical Storm Hanna is going to take a track that will have its eye pass over the Hampton Roads area sometime Saturday, bringing some much-needed rain to the Shenandoah Valley, but sparing a more direct and potentially disastrous hit to the mountain west.

“We’re not looking for any significant impact at all, other than an inch, maybe an inch and a half of rain. No significant winds. It looks like it’s going to be a good-for-us event,” said Gary Critzer, the director of emergency operations in Waynesboro, which had been preparing to batten down the hatches in the event that Hanna was moving more our way.

The storm track from the National Hurricane Center on Tuesday had been projecting Hanna to make landfall in southern South Carolina and then make a move inland toward the Blue Ridge Mountains before tracking to the northeast right up the spine of the Shenandoah Valley on its way through the Mid-Atlantic. The forecast models now have the storm making landfall between Wilmington and Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and then hugging the coastline on its way to the Northeast. meteorologist Carrie McCabe told me this afternoon that the Valley could see anywhere from 1 to 3 inches of rain from Hanna, with the higher amount possible pending the interaction of the storm with the remnants of Hurricane Gustav as it makes its way east.

“If that pushes a little bit further east, the heaviest rain will also be further east, and you’d have less rain between those two systems. If the cold front slows down, that might Hanna to come in a little bit further west, and then you’re possible to see more rain and some wind,” McCabe said.

The rain could begin in the Valley sometime Friday evening, McCabe said, and should wrap up sometime Saturday. “Hanna is a fast-moving storm,” McCabe said.

Critzer has his attention on the storm sitting behind Hanna in the Atlantic, Ike, a powerful Category 4 storm that could track up the Eastern Seaboard next week. “Ike has got some concern. It’s supposed to strengthen and is headed toward the west-northwest. So we’ll be watching that one over the next week,” Critzer said.

McCabe said Ike’s track “really depends on what model you want to believe right now.” “He is going west and will definitely move into the Bahamas. Where he goes from there really depends on a lot of different factors,” McCabe said.