TERENCE SMITH: Joining me first is Joe Bastardi. He's a meteorologist and chief hurricane forecaster for AccuWeather. Joe, thank you very much for joining us. What can you tell us at this point about this storm, the way it's developing, and the way it is likely to develop?
JOE BASTARDI: Well, at AccuWeather we've been talking about this since yesterday, the possibility of explosive development. In fact, our pre-season hurricane forecast talked about this year, Terry, being the kind of year, unlike several years ago where we had big storms that would weaken upon landfall, that we would have to watch out for the opposite effect this year. We saw that with Alex at Cape Hatteras, intensifying, and now, of course, with Charley has increased to a category-four hurricane, which is a hurricane with winds over 130 miles an hour at landfall.
And it is moving off to the North-Northeast. And we expect this storm to bisect the state of Florida, get back out over the water near St. Augustine and then continue north-northeastward, probably making another landfall again in the Carolinas, and then hugging the coast much like Floyd in 1999. So this is going to be a big- ticket item even further up the coast, not as bad as a category- four. We're probably talking a category-one, perhaps two on the Carolina coast, and a minimal hurricane or strong tropical storm in the mid-Atlantic states, where the big emphasis will be along the beaches for wind and rain and tidal surge, and inland the threat of severe flooding.
As you know, Terry, it has been an extraordinarily wet summer in the eastern part of the United States. People are almost growing immune to the flood watches and warnings that are issued, but this is the kind of situation where you have to take very... pay very close attention to what's going on. Rivers and streams are very high. People... it's a weekend. People are going to go camping. And there's a possibility of six to ten inches of rain being dumped on places where water levels are high. And in a worst-case scenario, that can lead to a disaster.
So we are very concerned about that from the Carolinas, especially up in Eastern Pennsylvania, which has had one to two feet of rain over the past two months. Now, those beaches, we have a big holiday... not a holiday weekend, but a summer weekend coming up, and folks in the Carolina beaches and up the mid-Atlantic states were probably listening to other sources say, "well, it's just a tropical storm coming." This could indeed be a hurricane. And we're talking wind gusts perhaps to 80, 90 mile-an-hour on the Carolina beaches, and as high as 70 or 75 further north even into the mid-Atlantic states with this over the weekend.
TERENCE SMITH: What's the timing of this? It's already in Florida. What's the projection in terms of time as it goes on up?
JOE BASTARDI: Well, I think a second landfall will be made with hurricane conditions probably between noon and 3:00 tomorrow between Charleston and Cape Lookout. And then it's going to move rapidly north-northeastward. We'll probably find over Long Island, the center of the storm, or near New York City by Sunday at noontime. So it's a fast-moving storm. If you folks can remember Floyd a couple of years ago; the effects for the mid- and north- Atlantic states may be similar to Floyd. Not Isabel, though. We want to stress that. This is not the kind of storm that's coming in from Southeast and the mid-Atlantic states and taking off to the northwest.
You remember the unique situation we had on the Chesapeake Bay: Water getting driven northwestward up the bay while heavy rainfall was draining into the Potomac and coming down. It led to the tremendous flooding. This is more the classic coastal runner that is moving north- northeastward up along the coast, maybe just offshore or just inland. And it's the kind of thing, it's a six- to hour-hour burst, but it comes hard and then it leaves.
TERENCE SMITH: Okay, Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather, thank you very much.
JOE BASTARDI: My pleasure, Terry.
TERENCE SMITH: Now, efforts on the ground in Florida. We're joined by lieutenant Governor Tony Jennings. Governor, thank you very much for joining us. Tell us what the situation is as we speak and as the hurricane, I guess, has made landfall in Florida.
LT. GOV. TONI JENNINGS: Yes, it has. And, Terry, we're here at the emergency operation center that's located in Tallahassee Florida, which is not in any way in the path of the storm. But yes, it has hit; it has made landfall around the Sanibel, Captiva, Boca Grande area, for those who are familiar with southwest Florida. It is moving at about 140 miles per hour. It is a category-four, which has certainly increased over our expectation, and it is headed up through the state, through the central part of the state near Orlando, potentially coming out around the Volusia County, north of the Cape Canaveral for those of your viewers that would be familiar with the shots from Cape Canaveral, the missile shots.
TERENCE SMITH: Now, I know you have already carried out a very extensive mandatory evacuation. Any early reports of people being caught in the path of the storm?
LT. GOV. TONI JENNINGS: Not at this time. And interestingly enough, of course, we were very focused on making sure that southwest Florida was evacuated. Probably upwards of over a million people did leave. We started early yesterday, even earlier than that with the special needs community and the elderly that perhaps were in nursing homes. We moved them out of the Tampa Bay area.
Interestingly enough, as storms will do, the focus that we thought we were going to have in the Tampa Bay area changed, and it came in a little bit south of that and taking a different course. So obviously we've moved a lot of people that we may not have had to have moved, and yet without knowing, it was a precautionary measure. They've moved to central Florida, where the storm is now coming. But we've heard no information about any problems on the roads, and that was our major concern earlier today. We said "get off the roads. If you haven't moved by now, find shelter, find inland upwards of... from the coast."
TERENCE SMITH: And property damage? What are you looking at in terms of that?
LT. GOV. TONI JENNINGS: You know, there has been some modeling earlier in the day. We haven't heard any factual other than anecdotal; well, a roof here or something there. We will be doing that tomorrow after the storm moves off. The first thing that will happen is we'll survey the area, the insurance companies will come in and do a run over the area and do a model there.
Hopefully it will be minimal, but we do know it is coming into areas that are heavily populated, and so there is going to be damage. There is going to be a lot of power outages. We have areas in central Florida with lots of trees, so when those trees come down, roofs and cars and unprotected areas. We have a lot of mobile home communities, and obviously, they will be affected as well.
TERENCE SMITH: What are you telling people in the path of the storm, the path that still lies ahead across Florida, what are you telling them to do?
LT. GOV. TONI JENNINGS: Well, of course, personal safety. Safety for our citizens and those who travel to Florida is of the utmost importance. We can fix buildings, we can fix roads, we can fix everything, but we can't do too well at replacing people. So personal safety is what is important to all of us.
What we're telling them is to find a safe, secure location. If you are staying in your home, go to those interior locations away from windows in protected areas. If you've moved outside of your home, find a shelter. Get out of this weather. The storm will move quickly. And when it is over, we will be able to assess the damage and know how we're going to put people back in their homes quickly.
TERENCE SMITH: I expect that's advice that's going to apply to people further up the east coast as this storm goes on. Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings, thank you very much for joining us.
LT. GOV. TONI JENNINGS: Thank you so much.