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Hurricane Isabel Hits US East Coast - 2003-09-18


With winds of 168 kilometers an hour, Hurricane Isabel is moving ashore along the North Carolina coastline.

Forecasters say Hurricane Isabel is not losing strength as it moves ashore and the states of North Carolina and Virginia will experience high winds and heavy rains on through Friday. Michael Formosa a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center in Miami says people in the path of Isabel will face three dangers.

"The number-one concern would be the storm surge, the coastal flooding," he said. "Then, with it the hurricane force winds. Then as the storm goes inland, flooding. Each one of those problems could be deadly."

A storm surge from Isabel is forecast to strike the North Carolina coast at high tide. Forecasters say tides could rise three meters above normal levels.

Isabel's hurricane force winds extend outward 185 kilometers and the storm is expected to bring high winds and flooding to much of the East Coast of the United States during the next two days.

More than 200,000 people were told to evacuate coastal areas of North Carolina and Virginia as Isabel approached.

Forecasters say they expect heavy flooding in inland areas from Isabel. Authorities in Washington D.C. have closed federal offices and Congress suspended work to allow lawmakers to return to their home districts.

Isabel is the strongest hurricane to strike the East Coast of the United States since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. That storm was similar to Isabel in size and strength. It killed 56 people and caused more than $4 billion in damage.

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