Hurricane Irene threatens the east coast, could impact 80 million

Posted Aug 23, 2011 by Kim I. Hartman
Residents on the Atlantic coast are stocking up on supplies in anticipation of Hurricane Irene's arrival, while in the Bahamas authorities are preparing for the massive storm to strike.
Satellite imagery of Hurricane Irene on Aug. 23  2011.
Satellite imagery of Hurricane Irene on Aug. 23, 2011.
National Weather Service
Hurricane Irene is positioned over the Turks and Caicos Islands this evening bringing with her waves of up to 24 feet, heavy rains, and 90 mph winds.
Airlines in the Bahamas are waiving airline cancellation and change fees as vacationers flock to the airport to flee the oncoming storm. The hurricane is expected to rip through the Bahama's Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Irene is rated as a Category 1 hurricane today after her sustained wind speed dropped from 100 mph last night to ninty. The pressure reading has held at 976 showing she hasn't weakened and continues to be a major threat for the east coast of the United States.
Jim Cantore, Weather Channel meteorologist said, "What we lost in intensity today we gained in the track that could possibly bring the storm into North Carolina and up the I-95 corridor, which could create even more problems." Cantore said Irene could affect 80 million people with heavy rains and high winds if she tracks through the Mid-Atlantic states and makes her way to New England.
The National Hurricane Center has not issued any warnings or watches for the US at this time, they could be expected 48 hours before the storm makes landfall along the east coast.
National Weather Service
Hurricane Irene is becoming a massive storm system and is predicted by weather experts to become a Cat 3 or possibly a Category 4 by the time she hits somewhere along the North Carolina coast, according to the Weather Channel.
Irene is moving at 200 miles per day and has rain and wind bands extending hundreds of miles ahead of the center of the storm. Seas of 18 to 24 feet will be seen in the Outer Banks by Wednesday night.
Emergency management services in South Carolina and North Carolina are monitoring the system and will issue warnings and evacuation orders over the next few days after they determine how Hurricane Irene will impact each region. Officials advise people to go the emergency management websites for their state and check to see if you are in an evacuation area and to make your plans now in case you're ordered to leave your homes.
The South Carolina governor said they are positioning assets to prepare for a major hurricane. They will have everything in place by the end of the week in case they have to issue evacuation orders, which could include closing some highways that lead to areas that may face evacuation and opening up all lanes for exit only traffic.
Hyde County North Carolina, which includes Ocracoke Island, has announced they will issue a state of emergency beginning Tuesday night and advise residents to make preparations to close up their homes and leave the coast.
Hurricane Irene east coast threat level prediction.
Hurricane Irene east coast threat level prediction.
National Weather Service
While current computer models of Hurricane Irene project a landfall along the North Carolina coast, somewhere between Wilmington and Cape Hatteras, Florida isn't in the clear yet. Although it's unlikely Hurricane Irene will make a direct hit on Florida, residents will still be affected by the rains, wind and some storm surge, if the storm brushes the state on her way to the Carolina's.
Meteorologist Jim Cantore said, "there is no place on the east coast that is safe yet from this hurricane. The computer models can change. The question now is whether Hurricane Irene stays a major storm or become a devastating or catastrophic storm."
UPDATE: Hurricane Irene has strenthened to a Category 3 storm as of Wed. Aug. 24