Update #4: 10/28/12 @0815: Romancing The Storm

Storm Track Shifts NORTH of Bay Region; Surge Threat Weakens

According to the latest storm track posted by the National Hurricane Center at 5 a.m., the storm is shifting to the north with a New Jersey landfall expected. This is good news for the Bay region. Although it is still too early to predict exactly where the storm is going to make landfall (this will be better determined when Sandy makes that sharp left turn toward the coast), it is less likely now that the storm will come up through Chesapeake Bay.

This does NOT change the rain and wind threat levels to our region. We can still expect sustained winds of 40-50 mph from Monday afternoon through Tuesday.

The Dangers of Trusting Social Media News

Last night, word was spreading quickly that Baltimore County Public Schools had canceled classes for Monday. Now, if you have ever attended BCPS schools or have worked there in any capacity, you know that they are usually the LAST county to report about school delays and closings. So, when this news started breaking through several social media venues, it seemed odd that they would be the first major school system to close on Monday.

I saw the alert from ABC2News, and then I saw it tweeted by several reputable journalists. Other websites started breaking the news (including Fox 45 News), and I made the assumption that it was true. I checked on the BCPS website to verify, and they did NOT have the closing posted. That’s when I should have refrained from sharing the breaking news. I went ahead anyway and posted it on Twitter and Facebook, only to have to retract my post a few minutes later when ABC2News sent out a retraction.

The damage had already been done. The news spread widely from these erroneous reports, and it made me feel bad that I had contributed to spreading the false information. My apologies to everyone who shared this false information.

I will not be posting any closings or delays without confirmation from the primary sources (school websites), and I will give proper attribution to that source. Jayne Miller from WBAL TV once said that the job of reporting breaking news is to get it FIRST, but only after you are sure that you get it RIGHT. That’s good advice for all of us to follow, especially in an event like this. From this point forward, I will provide proper attribution with any information I share with all of you.

Current Conditions/What To Expect

(From The Weather Channel) It is eerily calm this morning, with rain now beginning to fall in some parts of the DELMARVA area. Rain will continue to increase over the next 24 hours. Temperatures will stay in the 50s, with winds picking up to 15-25 mph throughout the day.

This evening, those wind speeds will increase to 30 mph as the rain becomes steady overnight.

Tomorrow (Monday) is when we will really begin to feel the effects of Sandy, with driving heavy rains with sustained winds between 30 and 50 mph.

Warnings In Effect

The following watches and warnings are currently in effect (National Weather Service):

  • Coastal Flood Warning (Inland Worchester, Maryland Beaches): Exp. 10/28 @6 p.m.
  • Flood Watch (Statewide): Exp. 10/30 @8p.m.
  • Coastal Flood Advisory and Watch (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Prince Georges, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Southern Baltimore, St. Marys, Talbot, Wicomico): Exp. 10/30 @12a.m.
  • High Wind Warning (Statewide): Exp. 10/30 @8p.m.
  • Winter Storm Watch (Garrett): Exp. 10/31 @8a.m.

You can get the latest warnings and alerts from the National Weather Service here.

Update on School Closings

As of 8:13 a.m., the following schools and universities have announced closings:

  • Salisbury University (Monday) (WBAL TV)
  • Tri-State Christian Academy (WBAL TV)
  • University of Delaware (Monday and Tuesday) (http://www.udel.edu/)
  • Washington College (Monday and Tuesday) (WBAL TV)
  • William & Mary (Monday) (http://www.wm.edu/)
  • UPDATED 10:28 a.m.: KENT County closed Monday (http://www.kent.k12.md.us/); CECIL County closed Monday and Tuesday (http://www.ccps.org/); WBAL TV is reporting that DORCHESTER County is closed on Monday, but there is no confirmation on their website.

You can get school closing updates from WBALTV.com, if you aren’t connected to any text-alert system for your your school or university. I will post an updated list in my next report tomorrow morning.

Power Outages

The threat of power outages will continue to increase as the storm moves into our area, primarily for three reasons:

  1. the winds will be unrelenting for at least 24 hours;
  2. the ground is already saturated; and
  3. trees will carry more weight with leaves still attached; in addition, the leaves act as wind-catchers and will cause more trees to become uprooted.

This is just one of the many reasons why the MVA is urging drivers to stay off Maryland roads during this storm. There is great unpredictability in where or when trees might come down, and whether they will be bringing power lines down with them. Downed wires do NOT need to be sparking to be live and deadly. Take no chances if you see downed wires in the road or in your yard.

As of 10:36 a.m., BGE is reporting the following outages (1,253 total):

  • Anne Arundel: 8
  • Baltimore: 16
  • Baltimore City: 1
  • Calvert: 0
  • Carroll: 1,224
  • Harford: 0
  • Howard: 3
  • Montgomery: 0
  • Prince George’s: 1

You can check for power outage updates here; BGE does a great job of keeping these numbers updated every 15 minutes or so.

Important Numbers, Websites, And Social Media Sites To Know:

WBAL 1090 AM and wbal.com

National Hurricane Center
BGE: Report Power Outages by calling 877-778-2222
Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)METEOROLOGISTS/WEATHER FORECASTERS:
Justin Berk (@JustinWeather)
Foot’s Forecast

SCHOOL CLOSINGS:
WBALTV
WBFF FOX45 (still showing that Baltimore County Schools are closed, but this is not correct)
ABC2NEWS
WJZ CBS BALTIMORE

EMERGENCY CONTACTS
— State road conditions: 511
— Bay Bridge: 877-BAYSPAN
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY
— Emergency Operations Center to fully activate at noon Sunday
— Shelter: Annapolis High School (2700 Riva Road, Annapolis), opens 3 p.m. SundayANNAPOLIS
— Annapolis Call Center: 410-260-2211 non-emergencies (to fully activate at noon Sunday)
— All four city garages will open at 3 p.m. free of charge to city residents during the storm: Hillman, Gotts, Knighton and Park Place.
BALTIMORE CITY: DIAL 311
— Emergency Operations Center to open at 7 a.m. Sunday

HARFORD COUNTY
— Harford County “Hot-Line:” 410-838-5800 (Opens Sunday at 7 a.m.) non-emergencies
— Emergency Shelter: Patterson Mill High School (85 Patterson Mill Road, Bel Air) to open at 7 p.m. Sunday as a last resort for residents who have nowhere else to go

EASTERN SHORE
— Queen Anne’s County — Residents encouraged to voluntarily evacuate.
— Ocean City — Emergency Management: 410-723-6646

 

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