Isabel tracks towards ‘Carolina

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 15, 2003

AHOSKIE – As of press time last night, Isabel continues to be a major storm with all indications of making landfall along the coastline of North Carolina.

Where and when are still questions with little answers, but forecasters are putting pieces of the puzzle together that may provide better information as the day progresses today.

With some weakening late Monday, Isabel is continuing to take a west-northwest track with more rapid movement to the northwest expected by Wednesday.

Isabel has been a category five hurricane, with maximum sustained winds as high as 160 miles per hour.

Even as the eyewall continued to break down Monday and maximum sustained winds decreased to 140 miles per hours, forecasters are skeptical of calling Isabel anything less than a major hurricane.

As forecasters from the National Hurricane Center in Miami addressed the storm Monday, they made mention the storm still has the warm waters in the Gulf Stream that could easily help re-define the core.

A mid-level system building off the coast of the Carolinas is what helped weaken the storm Monday and was expected to slow the storm somewhat Monday night, but an approaching trough of cooler weather should accelerate the storm, with landfall expected as early as Thursday morning.

&uot;There will be plenty of warm water under the hurricane until cooler shelf waters are encountered right along the coastline,&uot; according to a news release from the NHC Monday.

&uot;One key to the ultimate landfall intensity will be the evolution of an upper-level trough that could enhance the outflow and reduce the shear prior to landfall if it digs as sharply as forecast.

&uot;With this in mind, Isabel could still be a major hurricane at landfall,&uot; the release continued.

Forecasters say the worst side of the storm is the north and east, so depending on where the eye makes landfall, this is where the brunt of the storm will be.

Right now, if the tracking stays correct as some weather computer models have shown over the past five days, the center of the storm could pass over Cape Hatteras, putting the worst side of the storm along the Outer Banks.

A five-day forecast tracks the eye of Isabel just west of the Albemarle Sound and into Southside Virginia by Thursday afternoon.

However, it has been noted the track could be up to 100 miles in error.

For more information about Isabel, visit the National Hurricane Center website at