Delaware not on Hermine side, spared brunt of storm

REHOBOTH BEACH — It turned out to be a sunny day at the beach.

The wind was blowing steadily at 19 mph or so most of the day, and rip currents kept people out of the ocean.

Post-tropical storm Hermine had turned eastward overnight and spared Delaware from its winds and heavy rain. Its approach from North Carolina on Saturday created greater waves and winds.

As it churned hundreds of miles off shore in the Atlantic Ocean, the system picked up strength, and forecasters said it could regain hurricane force later as it travels up the coast. It was expected to stall over the water before weakening again to a tropical storm by Tuesday.

At 5 p.m. Sunday, Hermine’s top sustained winds were steady at 70 mph as it moved east-northeast at 5 mph. The storm was centered about 335 miles east of Ocean City, Maryland.

“It’s just going to meander for a few days,” said Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center, explaining that Hermine was unlikely to make landfall again but was positioned to batter the coast with wind and waves.

The Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel was positioned in Rehoboth Beach Sunday morning without too much to discuss as the sun was peeking out on a 71-degree morning.

Mr. Seidel joked about hamburgers from Gus and Gus on the boardwalk and reflected on some of his early years on WMDT and WBOC television stations when he was working in his hometown of Salisbury, Maryland.

But, his most serious discussion was with Kent Buckson, captain of the Rehoboth Beach Patrol.

“They can go down and touch their toes, but there’s no swimming,” Capt. Buckson told Mr. Seidel. “I told my staff this morning that this can kill people and it’s not to be played with.”

As of Sunday evening, Delaware remained under a tropical storm warning with concerns of minor flooding Sunday night and moderate flooding this morning during high tides.

The storm was more than 300 miles offshore Sunday evening.

“With Hermine sitting slightly farther east, the tropical storm force sustained winds look more likely to remain offshore,” said the National Weather Service in a Sunday evening briefing.

The National Weather Service said winds would be from the north at about 24-26 mph and winds could gust as high as 37 mph today in Rehoboth Beach. There is a 30 percent chance of precipitation with showers mainly after 2 p.m. Less than a tenth of an inch of rain is expected.

In Kent County, today’s weather will be mostly sunny, with a high near 82. North winds will be around 18 mph.

“This is certainly a better outcome given the forecasts leading up to today. But just because the sun is shining doesn’t mean our guard should go down,” Sussex County Emergency Operations Center Director Joseph L. Thomas said Sunday afternoon in a prepared statement. “Forecasts can change quickly, so the public should keep an eye on Hermine until it pulls away for good or dissipates.”

On Saturday, Gov. Jack Markell had issued a limited state of emergency so the National Guard could be activated and positioned to work with local agencies.

Areas that historically flood, including Long Neck, Broadkill Beach and Primehook, could see minor to moderate flooding – one to three feet above normal – through at least this morning, possibly longer if the storm lingers off the coast through mid-week as forecasters expect, the Sussex emergency center said Sunday. Forecasters said a shift in the wind from northeast to north or northwest as Hermine moved on would help draw water out of the bays.

On Saturday, there was less than two-tenths of an inch of rain recorded along the coast, according to the Delaware Observing System. The top wind gusts were about 37 mph at the Indian River Inlet around mid-day Saturday.

On the Virginia Beach boardwalk, the Atlantic Ocean roared with uncharacteristically large waves, drawing only a couple of surfers into the choppy white water. But hundreds, if not thousands of people, had descended onto the beach for the traditional last weekend of summer. Umbrellas and canopies dotted the sand under partly sunny skies.

Hermine failed to stop Barb and Don Willis of Buffalo, New York, from enjoying the trip they booked months ago. They even braved the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on Saturday as the wind whipped their car and the bay rose close to the bridge’s bottom.

“That was so scary,” Barb Willis said. “Oh my God. My hands were white knuckles, and the water was so high. It was horrible,” she said.

The couple, both in their 60s, said they knew the storm would blow over, even as friends texted their concerns.

Tropical storm-force winds were possible today in New Jersey. Gov. Chris Christie warned that minor to moderate flooding was still likely in coastal areas and said the storm will cause major problems, even as it tracks away from land.

“Don’t be lulled by the nice weather,” Gov. Christie said, referring to the bright sunny skies along the Jersey Shore on Sunday. “Don’t think that nothing is going to happen, because something is going to happen.”

New York City planned to close its beaches today because of rip currents, and the ban could extend into Tuesday, depending on weather conditions, officials said.

Long Island authorities urged people to evacuate the summer getaway known as Fire Island to avoid any storm surge and coastal flooding. Emergency officials warned that anyone who stays will not be able to leave after ferries shut down Sunday evening.

Hermine rose up over the Gulf of Mexico and hit Florida on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm across Georgia.

It has caused two deaths, inflicted widespread property damage and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people from Florida to Virginia.

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