Hanna, Hurricane Ike Take Aim at Eastern U.S., Bahamas

September 5, 2008

As the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season approaches, U.S. coastal residents from New England to the Florida Keys (map) are warily watching two incoming storms: tropical storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike.

North Carolina and South Carolina are bracing for a deluge from tropical storm Hanna tomorrow, while Hurricane Ike—now classified as a major hurricane—is expected to be menacing South Florida (map) by early next week.

(Related: "Worst Hurricane in North Carolina: 50 Years Later" [October 14, 2004].)

As of 5 a.m. ET today, the center of tropical storm Hanna was off the coast of Florida, about 160 miles (258 kilometers) east of Melbourne. The center of the storm is expected to come ashore in the vicinity of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina (regional map).

Hanna is not expected to strengthen to hurricane force before making landfall.

Hanna is predicted to move northeastward up the East Coast after making landfall, according to meteorologist Dennis Feltgen at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm is likely to go back out to sea around Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Sunday morning and cross Canada's Maritime Provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island— as a windy rainstorm.

Before turning north and heading for the U.S. Southeast, Hanna had already caused at least 60 deaths in Haiti, which barely a week ago lost at least 70 people to Hurricane Gustav.

Ike a Major Hurricane

Swirling toward the Bahamas and South Florida, Hurricane Ike is perhaps a more worrisome threat.

As of 5 a.m. ET today, Ike's center was about 500 miles (800 kilometers) northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moving west toward the Bahamas. The hurricane's strongest winds were blowing at 125 miles (201 kilometers) an hour, making it a Category 3, and thus a major hurricane.

Feltgen said Ike is expected to lose some of its power because of wind shear—changes in upper-level wind speed or direction—which will disrupt a hurricane's organization.

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