Category 3 Hurricane Irene Moves Toward East Coast

BY News Desk  August 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM EST


Evacuations were in progress Wednesday on North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island as Hurricane Irene, which strengthened to a Category 3, bore down on the Bahamas before on its way north toward the East Coast, where it will likely hit this weekend. According to projections, it is expected to weaken to a Category 2 as it moves up the East Coast.

According to the Associated Press,

Federal officials have warned Irene could cause flooding, power outages or worse all along the East Coast as far north as Maine, even if it stays offshore. The projected path has gradually shifted to the east and Irene could make landfall anywhere from South Carolina to Massachusetts over the weekend.

Nations in the Caribbean have already felt Irene’s force, with much of Puerto Rico without power and flooding in the Dominican Republic. Shops and houses were boarded up in the Bahamas, and some residents had evacuated.

The National Hurricane Center said Irene has had “maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph, with higher gusts.” It projected a Sunday morning arrival over the North Carolina and Virginia and a Monday morning impact in the Northeast.

Though it is still several days away, Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate said “[p]eople think hurricanes are a Southern thing but people in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast need to take Irene seriously.”

Photo by Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images.