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US East Coast Warned to Brace for Hurricane Isabel, Storm Forecast to Weaken Slightly - 2003-09-15


Forecasters say Hurricane Isabel will weaken slightly over the next several days, but residents of the U.S. East Coast should prepare for a major storm when Isabel strikes the region later this week. With winds of about 200 kilometers an hour, Hurricane Isabel is the strongest Atlantic Hurricane to develop this year.

Isabel is now in the Atlantic Ocean moving west-northwest at about 15 kilometers an hour. The storm is expected to weaken as it moves over cooler water, but it is expected to strike land later this week it, and could be the strongest Hurricane to strike the United States in more than a decade.

Forecasters say Isabel could make landfall anywhere between the states of North Carolina and New Jersey, and they are warning residents to prepare for a major storm.

Lieutenant Dave Roberts is a Navy meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. He said people in the path of any hurricane should pay close attention to warnings from local authorities. "Specifically around the coastal areas, you could see a storm surge of up to [28 meters] with a Category Four hurricane. In terms of structure damage, you will see complete roof structure failures on small residences," he said. "The usual complete destruction of trees, shrubs and mobile homes in low-lying areas. There will be flying debris, which will add to total destruction. It could cut your escape routes within three-to five hours before the arrival of the storm. So, that is why it important to stay in contact with local officials."

The U.S. State Department has advised tourists to avoid the Bahamas. Authorities are urging residents of coastal areas of North and South Carolina and Virginia to buy provisions and prepare their homes for the arrival of Isabel.

September is usually the most active month in the six-month Atlantic and Caribbean Hurricane season that ends on November 30.