David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Earl Re-Strengthens Back to CAT 4, Warnings Issued Up and Down the Coast

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, September 1, 2010

PHOTO: Gerry Broome / AP

Hurricane Earl re-strengthened Wednesday back to a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Tropical storm-force winds are expected to reach the North Carolina coast within the warning area by Thursday afternoon with hurricane-force winds occurring by late Thursday,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. ET advisory. “Tropical storm-force winds will likely reach the coast from Virginia northward to New Jersey by early Friday.”

North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency Wednesday as the forecast track of hurricane Earl pushes the storm very close to the east-coast of the United States.

Residents and visitors are on high alert on North Carolina’s Ocracoke and Hatteras islands after the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for most of the state’s eastern coastline Wednesday morning.

[NOTE:  A hurricane WARNING means hurricane conditions are expected within the next 36-hours.]

Both islands are now under an evacuation order as more than 5-thousand tourists, and some year-round residents, pack-up and get out of the massive storm’s path.  While residents there are being urged to leave, only visitors are being required to evacuate.

The bridge leading from Hatteras to the mainland has been packed with west-bound cars, some pulling campers and trailers, as a mass exodus continues as Earl continues to pack a powerful punch, churning toward the United States with maximum sustained winds of 125 MPH.

On Ocracoke Island, the only passage to the mainland is by ferry.  Evacuees began lining up early Wednesday morning, trying to get on the first ferry off the island.

Dare County, N.C., issued a statement saying the evacuation of visitors to Hatteras was ordered “before high seas produce over-wash on N.C. Highway 12 which will impede safe travel.”

By early Wednesday afternoon, cars were backed up on N.C. Highway 12.  It’s the only way to get from the Outer Bank’s barrier islands to the mainland.

“Our two biggest concerns,” National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read told NBC’s “TODAY” show, are “the coast of North Carolina and extreme southeast Virginia on early Friday morning, late Thursday night, and then on Friday into Saturday for southeastern New England. Just a small change in the direction of the storm could raise an impact, and the large waves, beach erosion and rip currents will be a problem along the East Coast.”

 While the North Carolina coastline is often subject to hurricane conditions, some officials say there has not been an evacuation, on this scale, for a very long time.

“I don’t remember the last time there was a mandatory evacuation order for the island,” Hyde County Commissioner Kenneth Collier told NBC News Wednesday.

Current Track

Photo: Gerry Broome / AP

 The current track has Earl nearing the eastern United States sometime late Thursday – early Friday morning.  As we’ve seen with other hurricanes, the track can change at any minute.  Right now, it appears Earl with just hug the coast as it heads north past the Carolinas, up toward the Delmarva, eventually possibly making landfall on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

Even a slight westward shift in the track of this powerful category 3 hurricane could dramatically change the potential damage the storm could cause.  Residents up and down the east-coast are being urged by local officials to continually monitor the situation for any late-breaking developments.  Officials warn more evacuations could be ordered if the storm changes its current track.

The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday Earl’s hurricane-force winds extend 90 miles from the center of circulation, and tropical storm force winds extend out more than 200 miles.  Even if Earl doesn’t make landfall, the storm’s center is expected to hug the coastline as it moves north, circulating those hurricane force winds inland.

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September 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BREAKING: Gunman is Dead, According to Police

 

NEWEST INFORMATION: 

 Just before 5:30 PM, a police source told NBC News that the Discovery Channel gunman, James Lee, 42, is dead.  Just before 5:00 PM,

Photo: NBC News

 Montogmery County, MD police say they shot Lee.  Police say a “device went off” and there was fire and smoke.  Other witnesses say they heard a loud pop.

Police also said it’s possible there are other explosives through-out the building. 

WJLA is reporting the man was shot when he came outside for an unknown reason. 

It all started just after 1:00 Wednesday afternoon when James Lee allegedly entered the Discovery Channel building in downtown Silver Spring, fired at least one shot, and took 3 hostages.

Now, more than 4 hours later, the incident appears to be over.  But because police believe more explosives are inside the building, they are going to be sweeping the building and rendering those devices safe.

Earlier Reports:

At 3:15 PM, Montgomery County police chief  Tom Manger, told the media this is an “on-going hostage situation” with multiple hostages. 

Manger said he is under the impression that there are explosives inside but could not confirm how many people were taken hostage.

Earlier, news media speculated there was only one hostage.  But now, it appears, there are a number of hostages.

The Discovery Channel building in Montgomery County, Maryland is home to a number of TV stations and employees close to 2-thousand people.  Earlier this afternoon, sources say a man, they believe to be James Jay Lee, entered the building, fired an undisclosed number of shots, and took a small number of hostages.

Sources say Lee has history of protesting outside building and runs an on-line website that rants against the Discovery Channel.

Previous Post as the details unfolded this afternoon:

PHOTO: TBD.com

At 2:37 PM, NBC News Alert:  Alleged Discovery Channel HQ gunman ID’d as James Jay Lee; has history of protesting outside building

At 2:24 PM , a reporter with WJLA reported he just witnessed medics entering the Discovery Channel building with a stretcher.  Police appear to be moving toward the building.

UPDATE: 2:02 p.m.: The Discovery Channel day care has been evacuated to the nearby McDonald’s. The day care had about 100 kids. They are reported to be safe.

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.: According to Cpl. Dan Friz, a Montgomery County police spokesman, a tactical team is trying to get in touch with the gunman, who is being monitored on closed circuit TV. The “tactical team has put together a plan for dealing with this individual,” Friz told ABC 7 News.

 Friz was unable to confirm reports that multiple shots have been fired, but he said no shots had been fired by police as of 1:40 p.m.

 Police were initially dispatched to the building for the report of shots fired at about 1 p.m. Police are reporting the suspect is an Asian male.

 “Some sort of device on him that may be explosive in nature…” Friz said.

 ORIGINAL

Montgomery County police have confirmed the Discovery Communications headquarters on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring

PHOTO: WJLA - TV Washington DC

 has been evacuated after the report of a man possibly with explosives inside the building.

 A man entered the lobby and may have fired a weapon and declared, “Nobody is going anywhere,” Montgomery County police said.

In a phone interview on ABC 7 News and TBD TV, Discovery Communication employee Lisa Lucas said the building is in lockdown, with an unknown number of employees sheltering in offices. Police have established a cordon around the building.

 She said that about 1:20 p.m., “we heard, Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.” 

Police have not confirmed that multiple shots were fired.

WJLA reports an Asian male is holding at least one hostage in the lobby of the Discovery Channel headquarters in Montgomery County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. 

It’s also reported the man has explosives.Story from CNN and confirmed by several other news agencies.  More details to follow

> > >From CNN.com – A police emergency response team was responding to reports of a man with a gun and possible explosives at the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland, a police spokeswoman said.

Photo: WTTG Fox 5 Washington, D.C.

Montgomery County police received the call at about 1 p.m., said Angela Cruz. The call came from One Discovery Place, the channel’s headquarters.

The area has been evacuated, Cruz said. No further information was immediately available.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | Leave a comment

Hurricane Warnings Issued Along NC Coast as Earl Approaches

By:  David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, September 01, 2010

PHOTO: Gerry Broome / AP

Residents and visitors are on high alert on North Carolina’s Ocracoke and Hatteras islands after the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for most of the state’s eastern coastline Wednesday morning.

[NOTE:  A hurricane WARNING means hurricane conditions are expected within the next 36-hours.]

Both islands are now under an evacuation order as more than 5-thousand tourists, and some year-round residents, pack-up and get out of the massive storm’s path.  While residents there are being urged to leave, only visitors are being required to evacuate.

The bridge leading from Hatteras to the mainland has been packed with west-bound cars, some pulling campers and trailers, as a mass exodus continues as Earl continues to pack a powerful punch, churning toward the United States with maximum sustained winds of 125 MPH.

On Ocracoke Island, the only passage to the mainland is by ferry.  Evacuees began lining up early Wednesday morning, trying to get on the first ferry off the island.

Dare County, N.C., issued a statement saying the evacuation of visitors to Hatteras was ordered “before high seas produce over-wash on N.C. Highway 12 which will impede safe travel.”

“The evacuation is only for visitors on Hatteras Island and does not apply for areas north of Oregon Inlet. The order does not include the towns of Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Southern Shores, Roanoke Island or the mainland of Dare County,” it added.

While the North Carolina coastline is often subject to hurricane conditions, some officials say there has not been an evacuation, on this scale, for a very long time.

“I don’t remember the last time there was a mandatory evacuation order for the island,” Hyde County Commissioner Kenneth Collier told NBC News Wednesday.

Current Track

 The current track has Earl nearing the eastern United States sometime late Thursday – early Friday morning.  As we’ve seen with other hurricanes, the track can change at any minute.  Right now, it appears Earl with just hug the coast as it heads north past the Carolinas, up towar the Delmarva, eventually possibly making landfall on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

Even a slight westward shift in the track of this powerful catagory 3 hurricane could dramatically change the potential damage the storm could cause.  Residents up and down the east-coast are being urged by local officials to continually monitor the situation for any late-breaking developments.  Officials warn more evacuations could be ordered if the storm chages its current track.

The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday, Earl’s hurricane-force winds extend 90 miles from the center of circulation, and tropical storm force winds extend out more than 200 miles.  Even if Earl doesn’t make landfall, the storm’s center is expected to hug the coastline as it moves north, circulating those hurricane force winds inland.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | Leave a comment

Powerful Hurricane Earl Has U.S. In His Sight

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Officials in North Carolina announced an evacuation for the Ocracoke Island beginning at 5 a.m.  NBC News is reporting tourists are being ordered to leave the barrier island which is only accessible by ferry.  At this time, year-round residents on the Ocracoke Island are being urged to evacuate but have the option to stay.  That could change if the powerful storm shifts from its current path.

Hurricane Earl, a powerful Category 4 hurricane is forcing officials up and down the east coast to get a plan ready in case the monster storm makes landfall.

On Tuesday, NBC News reported gusty winds from Earl’s outer fringes are creating waves that are pounding the Grand Turk shore. 

“We can hear the waves crashing against the reef really seriously,” Kirk Graff, owner of the Captain Kirks Flamingo Cove Marina told NBC News, Tuesday.  “Anybody who hasn’t secured their boats by now is going to regret it.”

The hurricane’s wrath is two-fold this go around.  First, the usual damage and risk of injury or death that comes with any powerful hurricane.  But Earl is whipping up a second problem.  His expected arrival comes on the heels of the busy Labor Day Weekend; beach-front businesses usually do a great deal of business on a hot, sunny Labor Day Weekend.  But with a powerful force of nature eyeing North Carolina’s coast, tourists appear to be checking out.

Forecasters say it’s too soon to know exactly what path Earl with take over the next few days.  The likely track would take the storm’s center just along the east coast, possibly making partial landfall somewhere along North Carolina’s coastline.  This storm doesn’t appear to be taking direct aim at the east coast.  But, as it rides north, just barley hugging the coastline by Thursday night, coastal areas can expect hurricane conditions.

But at the same time don’t forget, these storms can, and often do, change paths.  Hurricanes are very unpredictable and can change at any time.  Everyone along the east-coast, including places like North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware should keep a close eye on this storm as it may affect those areas with powerful hurricane-force winds, storm surge and flooding.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BREAKING NEWS: Hurricane Earl Forces Evacuations As He Eyes the U.S.

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Officials in North Carolina announced an evacuation for the Ocracoke Island beginning at 5 a.m.  NBC News is reporting tourists are being ordered to leave the barrier island which is only accessible by ferry.  At this time, year-round residents on the Ocracoke Island are being urged to evacuate but have the option to stay.  That could change if the powerful storm shifts from its current path.

Hurricane Earl, a powerful Category 4 hurricane is forcing officials up and down the east coast to get a plan ready in case the monster storm makes landfall.

I’m getting more information together on this story and will update with developments.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment