Hurricane Earl packs a punch but will swing wide of Staten Island

Andrew J Lanza

September 03, 2010

From the Staten Island Advance:


The Star-Ledger

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Hurricane Earl, with its 110-mph winds, is a beast, but Staten Island is almost certain to avoid its wrath.

But from North Carolina to Maine an estimated 26 million people could face hurricane or tropical storm conditions, based on the projected north-northeast track of the storm.

Along the Jersey Shore, Earl's projected path left homeowners, vacationers, businesses and emergency workers watching, waiting and hoping for the best as the hurricane pounded North Carolina last night and churned its way up the East Coast.

The forecast for the Island is light rain and breezy conditions, with wind gusts up to 24 mph and a high of 84 degrees. Cooler, drier weather with abundant sunshine will prevail for the rest of the Labor Day weekend.The outer bands of Earl were expected to brush the southern Jersey Shore at about noon today and rapidly move north toward the eastern end of Long Island by late in the evening.

The entire Jersey Shore should brace for the possibility of tropical storm conditions, including up to an inch of rain and winds stronger than 50 mph during the early afternoon and late afternoon.

In advance of the storm, the Cape May County Office of Emergency Management last night issued an emergency disaster declaration that essentially puts the entire county on alert and activates emergency crews in each municipality. The declaration allows local authorities to close roads and open emergency shelters, if those steps become necessary.

"There's a six-hour period where you could get moderate rain," said State Climatologist David Robinson, adding that after the hottest summer on record and one of the driest summers in more than 100 years, the metropolitan area could use the rain.

The good news: Earl is going to hit and run. "It's going to be out of here by [tomorrow]," Robinson said. "It's going to be a delightful weekend."

Which is good news for Staten Islanders, many of whom are expected to attend the Richmond County Fair.

Islanders making travel plans should take note: Transportation officials expect many drivers to stay put today and wait 24 hours before hitting the roads for Labor Day outings.

"I think Saturday is going to be heavier because you got people who would have left [today] along with people who were planning to go [tomorrow]," said Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Despite the improved weekend forecast, the surf will probably remain high and rip currents could remain dangerous tomorrow, keeping people out of the water at most beaches along the Jersey Shore.

"It looks like there could be a washed-out day," said Doug Parise, supervisor of lifeguards in Seaside Park.

Robinson, however, said Earl has been "a pretty well-behaved storm. It's been pretty much going as expected. It would take a radical change to give us hurricane conditions."

Meanwhile, a search and rescue team comprised of NYPD and FDNY members is heading to Marlborough, Mass. in advance of Hurricane Earl to help out if needed. The governors of Massachusetts and Rhode Island have both declared a state of emergency.

City officials say the 81-member New York Task Force One, which was also deployed to Haiti following their devastating earthquake in January, was to depart early today with four search dogs. The FEMA-managed team is trained to respond to catastrophic events involving the collapse of heavy steel and concrete and uses specialized listening devices that can detect a heart beat.