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article imageHurricane Irene strengthens to Category 3 storm, pounds Bahamas

By Kim I. Hartman     Aug 25, 2011 in World
The Bahamas continues to be pounded by winds of 115 mph from Hurricane Irene as the Category 3 storm makes her way across the islands this morning, while in the U.S. FEMA prepares for a major threat to the eastern seaboard.
Multiple threats to the United States from Hurricane Irene include wind, storm surges and waves, heavy rains, tornadoes, power outages and flooding, says hurricane experts.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said his agency is getting ready along the east coast for Hurricane Irene in anticipation of the storm impacting the coast from Florida to Nova Scotia. Maximum sustained winds are reaching near 115 mph
Fugate said FEMA is still working in Puerto Rico to counter damage left in Irene's wake after she hit the Caribbean Islands days ago as a Category 1 hurricane.
"People in the northeast, particularly the New England states and the mid-Atlantic states really need to pay attention to this storm, especially if evacuation orders are required," Fugate told Weather Channel meteorologists. He expects that FEMA may have to play 'leapfrog,' moving around the multiple states that will be dealing with the impact from the storm.
The National Weather service reports: "A Hurricane Watch is in effect for north of Surf City, N.C., to the N.C.-Va. border, including the Pamlico, Albemarle and Currituck Sounds. A tropical storm watch is in effect from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina."
Northeast threat from Hurricane Irene based on computer models on Aug. 25
Northeast threat from Hurricane Irene based on computer models on Aug. 25
National Weather Service
Outer bands from the massive storm have already moved into Florida, bringing with them heavy rain as Irene begins to parallel the state.
The mid-Atlantic and Virginia Tidewater regions have begun preparations for the storm, which is expected to make landfall by Friday night or Saturday morning. Meteorologist's say the storm could increase in strength to a Category 4 hurricane by the time she hits the US.
Irene, which is over 400 miles wide, is currently located less then 700 miles from Cape Hatteras, according to the Weather Channel's Dale Eck.
Residents of the North Carolina's Outer Banks are under mandatory evacuation orders as Irene approaches. Authorities are asking residents to leave now ahead of the storm to avoid traffic delays as the weekend nears. The Weather Channel reports there is already a backup of over 10 miles on the highway leading out of North Carolina's coastal islands.
Updated computer models predict the hurricane will significantly impact New York and New Jersey by Sunday evening and Monday morning.
In New Jersey notices of the impending storm have been issued to coastal residents. Officials caution people living in low-lying areas to keep their eye on weather and to follow news reports for updates on evacuation orders.
While in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city is preparing itself for Hurricane Irene which could be still be rated a Category 1 storm by the time it reaches the city.
State of emergency declared, Navy moves Fleet ahead of Irene
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