Hurricane Watch issued for Sussex County, Delaware

    Hurricane Earl could brush past Delaware later this week, bringing strong winds and heavy surf.

    Though still days away in the Atlantic Ocean,  Hurricane Earl is currently projected to come within 200 miles of the Delaware coastline just before the Labor Day weekend.

    As of midday Wednesday, the Category 3 storm had sustained winds of 125 mph.  While a direct hit in Delaware is not expected, Hurricane Earl is expected to bring  35- 40 mph winds and 5 to 10 foot waves to Delaware’s beaches within the next 48 hours.  Director of the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center Joseph Thomas says even though the storm’s affect on Delaware is expected to be minimal, that could change very quickly.  “Forecasts can change very rapidly, so everyone should make the necessary preparations while they still can,” Thomas says.  Visitors planning to head to the beach ahead of the Labor Day weekend should closely monitor conditions and make their plans now in case the storm turns more toward the coast.

    In addition to high winds and big surf, rip currents and beach erosion are the biggest threats posed by Hurricane Earl.  The storm could cause some flooding in low-lying areas along the ocean front, and near the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

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    Emergency planners have been working on the state’s response to natural disasters like hurricanes all year.  You can find out more about the state’s plans for getting visitors and residents out of harms way in the event of a direct hit from a hurricane, by going to the website for First, WHYY’s weekly news magazine dedicated to Delaware (click chapter 1).

    The Delaware Department of Agriculture is warning pet owners who may be affected by Hurricane Earl or a future storm to make plans to take care of their animals during an emergency.  While previous evacuations forced pet owners to choose between heading to a shelter where their pets were not welcome and leaving their animals at home, or staying at home with their pets.  Delawareans no longer have to make that decision.  The state now has plans for pets to be sheltered either alongside their owners at human shelters or in a nearby location.  Delaware Animal Response Coordinator Elainea Goldthwaite says residents should store supplies for their pets along with their own disaster kit.  “With possible evacuations or long term power outages, extra steps need to be taken to ensure our pets and other animals are taken care of.

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