Arlene threatens Atmore

Published 10:13 am Friday, June 10, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
The National Weather Service Hurricane Center is predicting that Tropical Storm Arlene will follow the same path as Hurricane Ivan and should make landfall before noon on Saturday.
"Right now Arlene is south of Cuba and undergoing a little bit of stress in the upper atmosphere," Randy McKee, Meteorologist in charge of the Mobile Office, said Thursday afternoon. "All the thunderstorm activity is on one side of the storm rather than following in a circular motion."
McKee said that after the storm moves away from the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico it will move in a northeasterly direction and should make landfall in the same place that Ivan did last year.
"After it passes to the northeast Arlene will gain strength," McKee said. "Right now it is not at a point to gain strength. In the next 24 hours it should get stronger and maintain a path to the Alabama, northwest Florida area. The track is similar to Ivan though this storm is nowhere as strong as Ivan. It should make landfall somewhere in the Gulf Shores Pensacola area."
McKee predicts Arlene will be a much weaker storm than Ivan.
"It's not even expected to reach hurricane strength," McKee said. "What we are looking for out of Arlene is a mild to moderate storm surge, which can cause some minor erosion at the beaches. Wind speeds would be 50 to 60 miles per hour with a few higher gusts and the wind speeds should drop off to 20 to 35 (mph) once it reaches the Atmore area, again with a few higher gusts."
Arlene should not be taken lightly, however. The storm could cause damage.
"There will be possible heavy rains and a little bit of flooding possible inland as well as the coast," McKee said. "We're not looking for the widespread tree and structure damage seen by Ivan, but we could get 5 to 10 inches of rain even as far up as Atmore."
And this rain and flooding will take place primarily in the areas already damaged by Ivan.
"The track that it is forecast to hit right now resembles Ivan," McKee said. "The Hurricane Center will be the first to admit that when you get two or three days out landfall could be a hundred miles off from the position we're predicting."
That means that the storm could take a sharp turn at a crucial moment and make landfall a considerable distance from the predicted point. Hurricane Ivan made a sharp right turn last year that caused it to strike further east than storm watchers believed it would.
If the storm follows its current line the worst part of the storm will hit our area.
"Typically the right hand side or the eastern side has the strongest winds and the widest surges," McKee said. "There will be gradually improving conditions by late Sunday over coastal and southern parts of Alabama. Occasionally we can get some tornadoes accompanying the tropical storm. Those typically form a hundred miles from the storm

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