As Hurricane Veers Toward Virginia MLK Dedication Marches On

With Hurricane Irene threatening to wash-out weekend activities across the Northern Virginia area, organizers of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial dedication planned for the Washington Mall on Sunday have told the nearly 250,000 expected attendees that the event will take place rain or shine.

Hurricane Irene, located just off the northwest coast of the Bahamas as of Thursday morning, has now been labeled a “major” storm by the National Weather Service. Currently a category 3 storm with peak sustained winds of 120 mph, Irene’s hurricane force winds have now expanded to 60 miles from her center, up from 40 miles yesterday.

The National Weather Service says that Hurricane Irene could brush Virginia sometime on Sunday (click to enlarge)

Because even minor changes in the storm’s track can result in wide variations in wind and rain, the precise impact that the storm could have on Clarke County and the Washington DC area is difficult to predict. The NWS is currently predicting thunderstorms for Clarke County on Saturday with a 60% forecast for heavy rain on Saturday evening. Irene is currently expected to slam into Long Island and New York City sometime Sunday evening. High pressure in Irene’s wake will leave Clarke County with cool temperatures and clear skies by Sunday night.

The  National Hurricane Center says that Irene’s core pressure has continued to drop over the last 24 hours and intensification to a category four level storm is still possible in the next day or two.

Hurricane tracks are notoriously unpredictable and can change very quickly. However, NWS’s tracking models are now predicting Irene’s path to veer slightly westward this afternoon. The westward shift increases the risk of severe impacts to the mid-Atlantic coast and New England. The National Hurricane Center now has Irene’s  track nearing North Carolina’s Outer Banks early Sunday morning before continuing northeastward on a parallel track along the the DelMarVa coast.

Weather predictors say that Hurricane Irene poses an extreme threat to the U.S. east coast and are urging citizens in coastal areas to monitor the storm’s track closely. Possible impacts in these areas including flooding rain, a dangerous storm surge, severe coastal flooding and damaging winds.

Despite the threat of Hurricane Irene, planners of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial dedication issued a statement  yesterday telling its expected 250,000 guests that “distractions” – including the effects of Tuesday’s earthquake – won’t interfere with the event any more than they did the civil rights leader’s work.

“Dr. King showed unshakable strength against daily distractions on the way to reaching the dream. We look forward to honoring him and so many others starting this evening. We invite everyone to join us throughout the week and on the Mall on Sunday – come rain or shine” said a post on the event’s official website.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, a 4-acre commemorative site on the National Mall, will be officially dedicated on Sunday, August 28th on a weekend that meteorologists say the Nation’s capital may feel the effects of Hurricane Irene.

“From the natural elements used to reflect the memorial -water, stone, land and light- we now see divine elements such as the 5.9 earthquake and weather forecasts. We are reminded of the natural and human distractions Dr. King so often faced as he pursued justice, democracy, hope and love” according to the website.

Although events for the MLK memorial dedication have been taking place all week, the public dedication finale is planned for Sunday.

Plans for the Martin Luther King Jr, memorial dedication will go forward rain or shine according to the event's organizers.

Dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial – Sunday Schedule

Pre-dedication Musical Tribute

Preceding the official Dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, this concert will pay tribute to the Life, the Dream and the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Location: West Potomac Park

Time: Sunday, August 28,  8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Attire: Cool, loose fitting clothing, soft-soled comfortable shoes, sunscreen

Cost: Free and open to the public

Official Dedication Ceremony

The official Dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Location: West Potomac Park

Time: Sunday, August 28, 11 a.m.

Attire: Cool, loose fitting clothing, soft-soled comfortable shoes, sunscreen

Cost: Free and open to the public

Concert on the Mall

Post-Dedication concert featuring noted artists.

Location: West Potomac Park

Time: Sunday, August 28, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Attire: Cool, loose fitting clothing, soft-soled comfortable shoes, sunscreen

Cost: Free and open to the public

 

For more information on the week’s events of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial please visit http://www.dedicatethedream.org

For hourly updates on Hurricane Irene please visit http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

 

Comments

  1. According to the news this morning, it’s being postponed until October or so.