WEATHER ALERT: Hurricane warning, flood watch in place as Irene looms


The National Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Warning and Flood Watch for the area, as Hurricane Irene comes ashore and heads toward Delmarva. The storm has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, but it remains near Category 2 strength, with winds near 100 mph.

Heavy rain has begun throughout the area, with winds picking up. Many local businesses are closed today, with some grocery and other basic-needs stores remaining open, for the moment, though most have already been boarded up. Supplies of batteries and other emergency supplies are low or exhausted in some stores.

Mandatory evacuation of areas within .75 miles of a major body of water (ocean, bays and Pepper Creek) was to have been completed by 9 a.m., but there are reports of some residents remaining behind.

Heavy flooding and winds expected pose an extreme risk to people who are in these areas. You are urged to evacuate from these areas as soon as possible. Shelters at Indian River High School in Dagsboro, Beacon Middle School on Route 24 and Milford High School are now open. The Dagsboro and Milford locations do accept pets.

The NWS forecast for the Bethany Beach area through Sunday is as follows:

Today: Tropical storm conditions expected, with hurricane conditions possible. Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. High near 81. East wind 29 to 39 mph, with gusts as high as 49 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Tonight: Tropical storm conditions expected, with hurricane conditions possible. Periods of rain and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Low around 74. North wind 45 to 65 mph, with gusts as high as 80 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New rainfall amounts in excess of 4 inches possible.

Sunday: Tropical storm conditions expected, with hurricane conditions possible. Periods of showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 11 a.m., then scattered showers and thunderstorms between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., then isolated showers after 2 p.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. High near 83. West wind 34 to 44 mph decreasing to between 32 and 37 mph. Winds could gust as high as 55 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Please note: The Coastal Point Web site and our Bethany Beach boardwalk Webcam are both under heavy use and will continue to be during this storm. This may result in error messages or outdated pages to be displayed for periods of time. If you receive an error message or other anomalous result from our sites, please try again later.

While Internet service and power remain, we plan to continue to make updates available on the Web site, on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coastalpoint and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/coastalpoint. Please check Facebook or Twitter for the most up-to-date information, as we will continue to make regular updates as long as that is possible.

Anyone with photographs or news related to the storm is asked to share them with us through Facebook and Twitter. However, do not risk your safety to get photos or information on the storm.