National Guard Readies for Hurricane Irene
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2011 National Guard adjutants general along the East and Gulf coasts are awaiting the potential landfall of Hurricane Irene, and preparing to act if called upon by their governors, National Guard officials said today.
As of 3:30 p.m. EST today, the Florida National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing had upgraded to Hurricane Condition 3 and began to evacuate aircraft.
The Puerto Rico National Guard’s 156th Airlift Wing will remain at Hurricane Condition 1, and four of the eight evacuated aircraft have returned back to the base, with other aircraft scheduled to return over the next two days, officials there said.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was in meetings and on the phone today regarding hurricane preparedness and decided to raise the state’s readiness level to Hurricane Condition 4, according to reports. Volunteers are in place, food is available, shelters are stocked, and the National Guard is ready, she told the Associated Press.
Hurricane Irene still was a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale as of late this afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of noon, the storm's center was about 70 miles south of Grand Turk Island, and about 50 miles north northwest of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It was moving northwest at about 12 mph and was expected to continue through tonight, followed by a sharper turn to the northwest tomorrow.
Maximum sustained winds are anticipated to reach near 100 mph, with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds -- winds of at least 74 mph -- extend outward up to 50 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds -- 39 to 54 mph -- extend outward up to 205 miles from the center.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Irene potentially could reach landfall in Florida in the next two days if it follows its current course.