A hurricane watch is in effect for North Carolina as Hurricane Irene moves closer to the U.S. mainland.
At 11 a.m. EDT Thursday, the center of Irene was located 645 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The storm is moving north-northwest at 13 mph, and Irene is expected to make landfall in North Carolina on Saturday morning.
A Category 3 storm, Hurricane Irene is exhibiting peak winds of 115 mph. Hurricane force winds extend 70 miles from Irene’s core. The large weather system is centered over the Bahamas, yet Irene’s outer-rain bands span as far as Miami, Florida.
Although Hurricane Irene is forecasted to not make landfall within Georgia, the state will still experience impacts from the storm. Gusty winds, coastal flooding, and high surf are expected from St. Mary’s through Savannah on Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. The National Weather Services urges boaters and beach-front owners to secure all objects vulnerable to high winds and surf waters.
Further inland, flash flooding and isolated tornadoes are a concern for the eastern half of the state as Irene’s rain bands extend into the mainland. Depending on Hurricane Irene’s actual path, cumulative rain totals of 1 to 2 inches are possible from Clinch to Effingham counties through Saturday morning.
For a complete list of watches and warnings, visit the National Hurricane Center’s website at www.nhc.noaa.gov.