Here is the latest from WeatherBug Meteorologist Dustin Devine

Hanna bearing down on Carolina Coast – Landfall expected as strong Tropical Storm and near hurricane strength around 2-3am.

Infared Satellite imagery shows strong, deep convection becoming more uniform around the center of circulation this evening. However, it may be too little-too late to achieve hurricane status as the center is now within 100 miles of the coast and still rocketing northward. The edge of the main rain shield continues to lash the coast of South Carolina and southern North Carolina with rainfall totals already pushing 3 inches in these areas. The initial outer rain bands associated with Hanna’s huge circulation have made it as far north as Cumberland ,Md. and Philadelphia, Pa.

As of 11 p.m., Hanna was centered at 32.4N, 79.1W and was racing north at 20 mph. Sustained winds were 70 mph. Hanna is moving at such great speed that it is unlikely to attain hurricane status prior to landfall. Central pressure had risen back to dipped down to 984 mb earlier today (5 p.m.), but is now backing down to 978 mb, or 28.88 inches.

Hanna is expected to make landfall near the North Carolina-South Carolina border between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. tomorrow. Torrential rains and strong winds will spread inland throughout the Carolinas through early Saturday. By 8 p.m. Saturday, the center of Hanna will be near Atlantic City, N.J., and continue racing up the eastern seaboard , near Long Island by 2 a.m. Sunday, and northeast of Cape Cod by 8 a.m. Sunday morning. Hanna will deal a glancing blow to New England on Sunday as it heads off for Nova Scotia by Sunday afternoon, then Newfoundland early Monday.

Recall that Hanna is a massive storm, in that Tropical Storm force winds (39 mph and higher) extend up to 290 miles from the center. The Hurricane Watch continues for the North and South Carolina beaches (Edisto Beach to North Carolina-Virginia border). Tropical Storm Watches include Boston Harbor. Tropical Storm Warnings extend from the South Carolina-Georgia border up to Watch Hill, R.I. New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Va., are among the major Mid-Atlantic cities covered by this warning. Inland, Tropical Storm Wind Warnings stretch into far eastern Pennsylvania and the Blue Ridge Mountains towards Charlottesville, Va.

Due to Hanna’s speed, the rainfall totals will likely be limited to 3 to 6 inches. This will probably trigger Flash Flooding, with such copious amounts of rain falling in a fairly short period of time, and watches are posted from Downeast Maine to Charlotte, N.C. Climatology and past storms lean toward an even faster pace for storms taking this track and being pulled northward by the continental flow. If the storm moves faster, this will be good news for rainfall threat as the amounts will be lower. Later discussions will have more information on the overall speed and implications.

In addition to the tropical threats (flooding rains and high winds), isolated tornadoes are possible with the bands moving inland from the east. There is a Tornado Watch for eastern North and South Carolina. The threat for tornadoes will shift northward along the Mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday. Tornado threats are normally limited to areas east of the track, so threats will primarily be limited to eastern NC, SE Virginia and the eastern shore of Maryland and southern Delaware.

The next complete technical discussion will be issued around 5 a.m. EDT. An earlier discussion may be necessary if the track is deviating from current forecasts.

For complete WeatherBug coverage of Hanna, please refer to: http://weather.weatherbug.com/hurricanes/hurricane-Hanna-2008.html

Dustin Devine
WeatherBug Meteorologist