(Photo: REUTERS/NOAA Satellite and Information Service/Handout)
The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that originated in Virginia on Tuesday caused only minor damages and moderate inconveniences in our nation's capital compared to other earthquakes that the world has witnessed recently. But now those in Washington, D.C., are bracing themselves and wondering what impact hurricane Irene will have on the city.
The earthquake caused damage to a number of buildings in the nation's capital. The Washington Monument was closed indefinitely on Wednesday while engineers look for ways to repair the iconic structure.
"The Washington Monument is one of America's most important landmarks and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that it is restored completely and correctly,” said Robert A. Vogel, Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, in a statement on Tuesday.
The quake also forced those who organized the events leading up to Sunday's dedication of the new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial to make some last-minute venue changes.
Organizers have already had to change the location of yesterday's “Honoring Global Leaders for Peace” event and Saturday's National Prayer Service to different venues due to earthquake damage at the original locations, the National Building Museum and the Washington National Cathedral.
The inter-denominational prayer service is now scheduled to take place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Now, hurricane Irene is threatening to disrupt Sunday's dedication ceremony, which is scheduled to take place at the National Mall. Heavy rainfall from Irene is expected this weekend from North Carolina all the way up to New England, with several inches expected to douse Washington, D.C., on Saturday night.
Harry Johnson Sr., president and CEO of the Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, released a statement on the memorial's website about the rare, natural events that have occurred on the East Coast recently, likening them to the distractions that could have deterred Dr. King from his goals.
“Dr. King showed unshakeable strength against daily distractions on the way to reaching the dream,” Johnson wrote. “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.”
This morning the National Weather Service released a statement, saying that Irene is currently “pounding the northwestern Bahamas” as it makes its way closer to the United States. Its exact path isn't known as it is still a few days away from striking the U.S., but hurricane watches have already been issued for the North Carolina coast.
This morning, at 8 a.m., the hurricane was approximately 760 miles south of the North Carolina and Virginia borders, with winds blowing at speeds of up to 115 mph. They say it could hit North Carolina late Friday night before making its way up the east coast.