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article imageHurricane Irene on collision course with North Carolina

By Kim I. Hartman     Aug 26, 2011 in World
Nags Head - The window of opportunity to leave coastal areas ahead of Hurricane Irene is closing as the massive storm edges closer to the eastern seaboard on a collision course with North Carolina. Irene is expected to continue her destructive path north to Canada.
Fifty million people on the northeast coast are currently under a hurricane watch. The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning from Little River Inlet, South Carolina to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
Hurricane Irene is currently rated as a Category 2 storm with winds of 115 mph. The storm system is over 400 miles wide and is closing in on North Carolina and the east coast.
"If you are in the projected path of the storm you have to make preparations now," said President Barack Obama, who warns residents not to hesitate if they live in a hurricane evacuation zone.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect from Edisto Beach, South Carolina north to the state line that separates the Carolina's. Flash flood warning have been issued in Myrtle Beach, where flooding is taking place now. The center of Hurricane Irene was almost parallel to the Palmetto State at noon on Friday.
Cruise ships in the Atlantic were ordered to port days ago when the storm battered the Bahamas.
National Weather Service
The first affects of the storm system are being seen now in North Carolina. Wind speeds are steadily increasing and the surf has kicked up delivering waves up to 10 to 15 feet. Swimmers, surfers, and boaters have been ordered out of the water ahead of the hurricane.
Dozens of buses were used this morning to transport evacuees out of the barrier islands to as far inland as Raleigh. Residents have been warned if they refuse to leave ahead of Hurricane Irene police officers may be forced to remove them from their homes.
Widespread power and communication outages are expected in Irene's wake, along with flash-flooding. Residents are warned not to attempt to cross standing or moving water that will block the roadways, eventually making them impassable.
Emergency management officials warn resident's that if you are going to ride out the storm make sure you have enough water to last 3 to 7 days and to purchase foods that will not spoil, including items like powdered milk.
When gathering hurricane supplies, residents are reminded to fill all their prescriptions ahead of the storm and to have at least a one week supply of medications on-hand before the hurricane hits.
Animal shelters are cautioning residents against leaving their pets at home alone if they have to evacuate. Check with shelters in your area for ones that accept animals and don't forget to buy supplies for the family pets. Shelters will not have the proper pets foods available for evacuees's animals.
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
The state of Virginia, which sits directly in the path of Hurricane Irene, continues with storm preparations. The Second Fleet was ordered to sea yesterday to ride out the storm.
Washington D.C. emergency management officials have announced homeless shelters, which usually close during the day, will be open 24-hours per day until the hurricane threat has passed the city.
In New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is telling residents "not to be fooled by the sunshine" they are experiencing today. The best possible weather scenario reports say that Hurricane Irene will impact New York City with heavy rains, strong winds and flooding. Bloomberg asks everyone to have a plan and to stick to it. Public transportation will be shutting down late Saturday evening, said Bloomberg. Transportation could become an issue throughout the city where more then half the residents do not own a car.
The last major hurricane to strike the United States was in 2008 when Ike hit near Galveston, Texas as a Category 2 hurricane. In 2005 the United States was hit by Katrina and Wilma which were both Category 3 hurricanes. Ophelia, the last hurricane to hit North Carolina, made landfall in 2005 as a Category 3 storm.
The Homeland Security Office has announced FEMA has gone mobile again with an app that will let people check the status of the hurricane, find open shelters, review hurricane tips and locate disaster relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Information on the digital tool can be found here.
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