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Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:03am

Hurricane Irene Gains Strength

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Hurricane Irene to a major hurricane Wednesday morning.

U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunter planes observed maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, making Irene a Category 3 storm. The weather system is currently expected to make landfall somewhere along the North Carolina coast Saturday morning. Damage associated with Category 3 hurricanes includes uprooted trees, blown-out windows, and collapsed buildings.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the center of Hurricane Irene was located about 285 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas. The storm is heading northwest at 12 mph, and Irene is expected to strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane within the next 24 hours as it passes over warmer ocean waters.

For a complete list of hurricane watches and warnings visit the National Hurricane Center's website.

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