Hurricane Irene hurtles toward North Carolina, may skirt Florida (VIDEO)
Hurricane Irene is expected to make landfall along the North Carolina coast Saturday. Top emergency management officials urge residents all along the East Coast to make preparations now.
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Emergency managers in North Carolina told the Associated Press that they have been taking stock of generators, fork lifts, and other supplies in anticipation of Irene's arrival. In addition, FEMA teams in the state are stepping up their contacts with North Carolina emergency managers to help with evacuation plans and other preparedness measures.Skip to next paragraph
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Irene's projected track up the Southeast coast has slowly migrated east over the past two days, taking the storm farther away from Florida than previous forecasts had indicated.
Still, emergency management officials are asking Florida residents to stock up on supplies to be ready.
Before Irene makes landfall, current projections indicate it could strengthen to Category 3 status, with sustained maximum winds of 125 miles per hour before reaching the coast.
But concerns about Irene's impact extend to the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, as well. At this stage, forecasters say, it's too early to know if Irene will remain a hurricane if it makes landfall at the currently projected location. If the track continues to veer to the east and the storm remains over water, the likelihood increases that Irene would retain hurricane strength as it moves quickly up the coast.
Dr. Read notes that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast have experienced repeated storms bringing heavy rains this summer. The ground in many places already is saturated. Even if Irene weakens and hits the Northeast as a tropical storm or something weaker, high winds and heavy rain could bring flash floods and widespread power outages as winds down trees whose roots already have lost some of the grip in saturated soils.