Hurricane Irene continues to pound the Bahamas today while slowly intensifying and is still a major threat to the US east coast from North Carolina to Maine. An “eye” is now visible on the latest satellite images and sustained winds are at 115 mph with gusts up to 140 mph. Irene remains classified as a category 3 (major) hurricane and may reach category 4 levels within 24 hours or so as it continues to move slowly northwestward. Irene should move to a position quite close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina by around Saturday morning – probably still as a major hurricane despite slightly cooler waters. From there Irene should continue to move parallel to the coastline reaching a position just off the New Jersey coast by Sunday morning. After that, Irene will likely move over Long Island into eastern New England, and then reach Maine by around Monday morning. Irene is likely to maintain hurricane status on its trek along the east coast - probably reaching Maine as a category 1 hurricane by early Monday. The potential impact from Irene will be greatest right along the coast; however, inland sections will also likely receive heavy rains and strong winds. Flooding and power outages are very likely to occur from this storm all the way from North Carolina to Maine. A very preliminary look follows at the potential impact by Irene on specific cities in terms of rainfall amounts and wind gusts: DC 1-2 inches, gusts up to 40-50 mph
Atlantic City 5-10 inches, gusts up to 65-80 mph
Philly 2-4 inches, gusts up to 40-50 mph
New York 5-10 inches, gusts up to 50-70 mph
Boston 5-10 inches, gusts up to 65-80 mph
Portland 5-10 inches, gusts up to 65-80 mph
Stay tuned as a small shift in either direction can make a big difference.