Hurricane Irene will parallel the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts Friday as it approaches a Saturday landfall in North Carolina.
Officials in counties and cities along much of the East Coast ordered evacuations.
Follow the latest developments here, or read the full CNN Wire story:
[Updated 11:00 p.m.] New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said cats and dogs would be welcome at the emergency shelters set up for people fleeing the storm.
“If you have your pet bring them with you. … No one should be staying in their homes in an endangered area because they feel like they can't bring their pets with them," Christie said.
Mark Lavorgna, a mayoral spokesman, confirmed that pets are allowed in the 91 emergency evacuation shelters set up in preparation for Hurricane Irene. But “we strongly, strongly argue against it,” he said. “We urge people to bring their pets to friends or familiy’s houses or shelters outside Zone A, but if people need to bring them they can,” said Lavorgna. “They should come leashed and muzzled.”
[Updated 10:36 p.m.] North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the state was prepared but cautious. "We urge people to just be really aware. It doesn't sound like a huge storm right now - 50 mile-an-hour winds - but we think it's going to stay over our state 10 or 12 hours and that's where the problem becomes," she said.
Perdue then referenced reports of a bowl-shaped part of the low-lying coastline that is especially vulnerable to high waters.
"That bowl that you were talking about earlier full of water, it's going to dump somewhere, and when it dumps there's going to be a surge of water and who knows what'll happen," Perdue said.
[Updated 10:23 p.m.] The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will be closed Saturday through Monday because of Hurricane Irene, according to Jane Ahern, public affairs chief of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.
All units of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Governor’s Island and all National Park sites in Manhattan will be closed to visitors Saturday and Sunday, with a chance of opening Monday depending on storm damage and a safety assessment.
“The safety of our visitors and employees is our top priority at this time,” said National Parks of New York Harbor Commissioner Maria Burkes. “Our park employees are currently working diligently to protect park resources per our Emergency Response Plans.”
[Updated 10:05 p.m.] Russell Honoré, the general famous for his management of the federal government's military response to Hurricane Katrina, told CNN's Piers Morgan Friday night that local authorities were right in calling for mass evacuations in low-lying areas along the Eastern Seaboard.
“I think we have had a cultural shift in government because, working with hurricanes for about the last 10 to 12 years while I was in uniform, local governments and governors were reluctant to make that decision to evacuate because of the impact [of what would happen] if they evacuated people and the storm didn’t come," he said. "But the options of not evacuating people, with the warnings that we have now and the accuracy of prediction, (it) needs to be done,” Honoré said.
[Updated 9:53 p.m.] Maryland's Martin O'Malley was one of several East Coast governors to declare a state of emergency in advance of the storm. Residents of low-lying areas in the state were told to evacuate ahead of what the governor called "a very dangerous and potentially deadly hurricane."
The governor said Friday that "anybody that thinks that this is a normal hurricane and that they can just stick it out is being both selfish, stupid and also diverting essential public safety assets away from the task at hand, which is safeguarding lives and getting people out of the way."
[Updated 9:40 p.m.] The Port Authority has announced the closing of five airports - JFK International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Teterboro and Stewart International - to all arriving passenger flights, international and domestic, starting at noon Saturday.
[Updated 9:15 p.m.] Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper Friday night, stressing the strength and size of the storm heading toward the Northeast.
“For some folks this will be the most significant event perhaps in 20 years from a tropical system,” Rappaport said.
He said unlike typical storms that follow a similar trajectory and curve move toward the sea, Irene"s forecast track comes very close to the shore.
"That means all the weather that's usually, in this case, worst to the east will be much closer to the metropolitan areas this time around," Rappaport said, "and in fact will definitely hit the southern New England area and since there are strong winds, high surge right near the center of the storm, we'll see some of that along the East Coast as well."
[Updated 8:53 p.m.] “The core of the hurricane” was barreling toward the North Carolina coast Friday night, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin. “The hurricane is forecast to move near or over the Mid-Atlantic Coast Saturday night and move over southern New England on Sunday.”
The weather service said maximum sustained winds would remain near 100 mph - a category two hurricane - and wouldn’t weaken until some time Sunday.
“Interests in southeastern Canada should monitor the progress of Irene,” the weather service said.
[Updated 8:38 p.m.] The Giants-Jets game, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed until Monday, the NFL said in a press release.
"Along with the NFL office and the Jets, we have closely monitored the hurricane and the forecast and its potential impact on our area for the past several days," said Giants President and CEO John Mara. "After conferring with (New Jersey) Governor (Chris) Christie, (Jets owner) Woody Johnson and (NFL) Commissioner (Roger) Goodell, we have determined the best course of action for the safety and well being of all is to move the game to Monday night."
[Updated 6:33 p.m.] With public transportation halted due to the incoming storm, all Broadway performances on Saturday and Sunday have been canceled, according to Paul Libin, chairman of the Broadway League.
“The safety and security of theatregoers and employees is everyone's primary concern,” Libin said. “As a result of the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation of Hurricane Irene, all performances will be cancelled on Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th.”
CNN on the ground: 'Good Night, Irene' and 'Go Away, Irene'
[Updated 6:08 p.m.] The mayor of Annapolis, Maryland, declared an emergency and announced that more police officers will be on patrol in the city.
Police Chief Michael Pristoop warned residents to take police orders seriously. “Everyone needs to be prepared for the worst," he said. "I encourage everyone to evacuate the low-lying areas of Annapolis before Saturday afternoon. Make sure you secure your homes and belongings. Once we begin to feel the affects of the hurricane, everyone should stay off the streets as wires and trees may come down. Don't put yourself in harm's way and don't put our emergency personnel in a position that could have been avoided."
[Updated 5:47 p.m.] President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in New York as the state and surrounding region brace for Hurricane Irene’s impact.
Obama’s order mobilizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and means federal aid will be used to buoy state and local relief efforts in preparation for the storm.
[Updated at 5:00 p.m.] A hurricane warning has been issued from north of Sandy Hook to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, including New York, Long Island, Long Island Sound, coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
[Updated at 4:34 p.m.] Greyhound said it has delayed or canceled several East Coast routes in preparation for the storm.
Some routes originating in New York; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina, have been either pushed back or canceled, the company said on its website.
[Updated at 4:15 p.m.] The Red Cross plans to open shelters and dispatch more than 200 mobile feeding vehicles to the East Coast to aid people in the storm's path, the organization said on its website.
"The Red Cross is moving volunteers, vehicles and supplies, getting ready for a response effort that spans nearly the entire East Coast," Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, said in a statement on the site. "We want everyone in the storm's path to get ready as well by getting a disaster kit, making a family emergency plan, and listening to local officials regarding evacuations."
[Updated at 2:31 p.m.] Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said his city, which is under hurricane warning, will not order evacuations but urged residents, especially those in flood-prone areas, to use common sense and evacuate if necessary.
Significant localized flooding is expected, he said, as are power outages that could last for several hours or even days. He said the city will open three shelters Saturday evening with a maximum capacity to accommodate 6,000 people.
[Updated at 2:26 p.m.] The first family will accompany President Barack Obama when he departs Martha's Vineyard to return to Washington on Friday evening, a White House spokesman said.
[Updated at 2:21 p.m.] American Airlines has tentatively canceled all flights in the Washington area from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, said spokesman Ed Martelle. The airline has also canceled all flights at Raleigh-Durham International Airport scheduled for Saturday.
JetBlue has canceled almost 900 flights in the Northeast ahead of the storm. Most of those are Sunday and Monday flights out of the New York metro area and Boston, said spokesman Mateo Lleras.
[Updated at 2:10 p.m.] Hurricane Irene's winds have dropped to 100 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
As of 2 p.m., the service reported, the hurricane was about 300 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, moving north at 14 mph.
[Updated at 2:01 p.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said low-lying sections of the city, mostly along the city's waterfront, are under mandatory evacuation orders. The mandatory evacuations, which affect all five boroughs, are the first in New York's history, he said.
[Updated at 1:50 p.m.] Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said 30 agencies are coordinating ahead of Hurricane Irene’s weekend arrival. The state is taking several precautions, he said, including drawing down state reservoirs to provide additional capacity in the event of torrential rains.
Residents should make certain they have supplies and enough food, water, batteries and necessary medications to last for a couple of days.
The worst of the storm is expected Saturday night into Sunday, Patrick said, and downed trees and power lines are expected. He urged residents to stay off the roads. If travel is a must, try to complete it Friday before the storm arrives, he said.
As for air travel, the governor said, as of now, Logan International Airport will remain open, but there will “undoubtedly” be service interruptions.
Patrick said he was aware that this is one of the last summer weekends and said boaters and swimmers should be cautious about riptides and strong currents.
Hurricane Irene has put all sorts of end-of-summer festivities on hold. Here's a rundown of some plans that have had to be reworked ahead of this weekend's hurricane:
– The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington has been postponed until September or October.
– Amtrak canceled service in parts of the Northeast for the weekend.
– Several colleges have had to make scheduling changes. New York University pushed back the beginning of move-in week for incoming freshmen to Monday, and Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, moved its day to Tuesday. Rutgers University has changed its move-in date for residence halls on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus to Saturday.
– The New York Jets will start a pre-season game against the Giants earlier Saturday due to the approaching storm. Kickoff has been changed from 7 p.m. ET to 2 p.m. Saturday.
– The Hampton Classic announced on its website that the event, which was supposed to start Sunday, will be postponed since horses cannot be transported and stabled this weekend. The show will begin on Wednesday instead.
– B.B. King was supposed to play at Jones Beach on Saturday. The event has been canceled.
– The U.S. Open, which is scheduled to begin Monday, is thus far going ahead with those plans. The hurricane is forecast to have passed Flushing Meadows, New York at that point.
– Airlines are waiving cancellation and change fees because of the hurricane.
A judge ruled Monday that there was enough evidence to continue holding a U.S. man in connection with the case of a missing American woman, Aruba's solicitor general said.
Gary Giordano, 50, was arrested by Aruban police on August 5, three days after Robyn Gardner, 35, was last seen.
The decision to hold Giordano for 16 more days was issued after a jailhouse hearing Monday afternoon, Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said.FULL STORY
The lawyer for a U.S. man being held in Aruba in connection with the case of a missing American woman urged authorities on Sunday to release his client.
Gary Giordano, 50, was arrested by Aruban police on August 5, three days after Robyn Gardner, 35, was last seen.
This weekend, authorities said that crews searching for the missing woman have looked in Aruban phosphate mines.FULL STORY
FBI agents on Friday night searched the Maryland home of the suspect in the recent disappearance of an American woman in Aruba, an agent said.
The search is occurring in the Gaithersburg residence of Gary Giordano, who is currently being held in an Aruban jail, FBI Special Agent Rich Wolf told CNN.
Agents, wearing vests that said FBI and carrying empty cardboard and plastic boxes, arrived about 8:40 p.m. Friday. About 15 unmarked cars could be seen on the street, as well as a Montgomery County police vehicle.
Supervisory Special Agent Philip Celestini, who was at the residence, declined to comment further on the search, citing the active investigation.FULL STORY
Maryland State Police have closed Interstate 295 in Anne Arundel County in both directions after receiving multiple reports of a man armed with a rifle or shotgun along the highway.
Police say the suspect is a white male between 50 and 60 years old and wearing a black-and-red flannel shirt and blue jeans.
The suspect may have been using a hammer to break into a parked vehicle near the intersection of I-295 and Route 195, police said.
New York's, Washington's and Atlanta's federally designated drug-trafficking zones just got a little bigger.
They're called High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, to be exact, and they're designed to regionally coordinate law enforcement efforts to tackle issues such as drug production, distribution, chronic use and money laundering. Local, state and federal agencies operating in HIDTAs receive extra equipment, technology and other resources to combat drug trafficking.
Approximately 16% of the nation's counties - encompassing a whopping 60% of the population - fall within one of the 28 HIDTAs, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
You can now add the following to the list: Orange County, New York; Mendocino County, California; Porter County, Indiana; Harford County, Maryland; Lexington and Richland counties, South Carolina; and Putnam and Mercer counties, West Virginia.
The brood is back, and it's gonna be noisy.
Trees, posts, walls and other vertical surfaces throughout the American South are being covered this spring with billions of periodical cicadas: red-eyed insects that emerge, like Chicago Cubs fans' pennant hopes, for a few weeks just once every 13 years.
The bugs are perfectly harmless to humans, unless you count annoyance caused by the remarkable amount of noise the love-starved little critters make. The male cicada's mating call has been compared to a circular saw, only more shrill - and that's just the way the lady cicadas like it. FULL POST
Shackleford won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, edging Animal Kingdom to take the crown.
A full field of 14 horses competed in the 136th Preakness at the track at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland.
Animal Kingdom was favored to win after finishing first in the Kentucky Derby a couple weeks ago. It was the horse’s fourth start of the year.
The Preakness is one-third of thoroughbred horseracing’s Triple Crown, (Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes).
The body of a 17-year-old honor student from North Carolina - missing since December - has been found in a Maryland river, her father said Thursday.
Russel Barnes said that a female body found Wednesday in the Susquehanna River in Maryland is that of his daughter, Phylicia Barnes (pictured). The father said he'd learned as much after talking with authorities.
The teenage girl said she was going out to get something to eat and maybe a haircut when she left a residence in Baltimore where she'd been staying with her half-sister, according to that city's police.
Later, authorities said they feared that Barnes - who is from Charlotte - had been abducted or otherwise harmed. She'd left her debit card where she was staying, and hadn't answered her cell phone since her disappearance, her mother, Janice Sallis, told HLN's "Nancy Grace."FULL STORY
Seventeen Baltimore police officers are accused of receiving $300 for each vehicle they steered to a repair shop not authorized to tow vehicles from accident scenes, authorities said Wednesday.
The shop's two owners, also charged, allegedly paid officers to arrange for their company, rather than a city-authorized firm, to tow damaged vehicles to their shop, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore.
"The criminal complaint alleges that the officers were secretly working for a private auto repair business when they were supposed to be working for the police department and the citizens of Baltimore," said U.S. Attorney Rod J.
Rosenstein in a statement. "Police officers cross a bright line when they take payments from private citizens in connection with their official duties."
The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.FULL STORY
Folks in Baltimore, Maryland, could be forgiven for doing a few double-takes at the tall stranger who rode into town Wednesday morning.
A man who looked an awful lot like the guy on the $5 bill arrived by carriage at Camden Station in a re-enactment of a secret transit by President-elect Abraham Lincoln exactly 150 years earlier.
Following his election in November 1860, Lincoln was making his way to Washington for his March 1861 inauguration when he learned of a possible assassination plot.
Editor's note: Nancy Grace's new show on HLN, "Nancy Grace: America's Missing," is dedicated to finding 50 people in 50 days. As part of the effort, which relies heavily on audience participation, CNN.com's news blog This Just In will feature the stories of the missing.
This was the 10th case, and it aired Friday night on HLN.
Phylicia Barnes, a 17-year-old honors student from Charlotte, North Carolina, disappeared in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 28 while visiting her sister. She told an acquaintance that she was hungry and might have left her sister's apartment to get something to eat. Barnes' coat and purse were gone, but her credit card was left behind.
Police are focusing on a dozen people who saw the teenager shortly before she vanished. No one has been identified as a suspect or person of interest in the case.
Forecasts show a strong snowstorm may hit major metropolitan areas in the eastern United States on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, and snow and mixed precipitation also could complicate travel in parts of the South.
Winter storm watches are in effect for southern New England (including the Boston area), all of the New York city area, and the Philadelphia and Washington areas.
Winter storm watches for Wednesday/Thursday weather also were in effect for parts of western Virginia, eastern West Virginia and Kentucky. Further south, a winter storm watch was in effect for western North Carolina, and winter storm warnings have been issued for much of Tennessee and parts of northern Mississippi and northern Alabama.
In the New York City area, 4 to 8 inches of snow will be possible Wednesday night into Thursday morning, with isolated amounts of 10 inches or more in some locations, CNN Meteorologist Sean Morris said.
Almost 50 years to the day that President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address asked Americans to get involved by doing good, family and friends bade farewell Saturday to R. Sargent Shriver, who helped lead the way.
Former President Bill Clinton referred to Kennedy's famous line, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
Shriver, Clinton said at a funeral Mass in Potomac, Maryland, gave the perfect example of public service, both at the bright-eyed beginning of the 1960s and the cynical end of the decade and in the early 1970s.
"He showed up every day and found joy in life," Clinton said of Shriver, first director of the Peace Corps, and a force – with his late wife – behind the Special Olympics. Shriver was Kennedy's brother-in-law.FULL STORY
How appropriate for the creator of the mystery novel.
The shadowy visitor who left roses and a half-full bottle of cognac at Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore grave on the writer's birthday, every year for 60 years, has failed to appear for the second year in a row. And no one knows why.
The tradition began on January 19, 1949, according to the Edgar Allan Poe Society. The last visitation came two years ago, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Poe, the author of such dark classics as "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Telltale Heart," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and the poem "The Raven."
Editor's note: CNN anchor Don Lemon talks about how the mother of missing 17-year-old Phylicia Barnes made an emotional plea for her daughter's safe return.
I first heard about Phylicia Barnes on Twitter and Facebook over the holidays. The North Carolina high school honor student had gone to visit her half sister in Baltimore and disappeared three days after Christmas.
Viewers were asking why they hadn't seen her story on CNN. I didn't have an answer for them. Unfortunately, I was on vacation and spending time with my family. But I immediately began to research her story. I found a few articles in the Baltimore papers but not much else.
In those reports, police speculated that the lack of national media response was because the 17-year-old is African-American. They were calling it Baltimore's version of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teenager who disappeared in Aruba. But still not much national attention was given.
So, when I returned to work, I asked my producers to reach out to Barnes' family and police in Baltimore. Both agreed to appear on CNN to answer questions.
I met Barnes' mother, Janice Sallis, shortly before we went on air. She gave me a long hug and thanked me for covering her daughter's disappearance on CNN. Her grief was palpable. I couldn't imagine how she was even able to get out of bed and travel to CNN and appear on national television. She said it was only through the grace of God that she was able to make it through the past few weeks, not knowing where her child was and whether she was even alive.
Sallis told me and anyone listening that she believes her daughter is still "with us." Sallis said she believes her daughter is alive but fears she is being tortured somewhere.
And in a surprising moment, Sallis turned to the camera and made a direct and emotional plea to anyone with information on her daughter's disappearance. It was stunning and sad to watch. But I'm glad she did it.
Although police suspect the teenager would have received more coverage if she were white, her mother didn't want to dwell on that aspect. She said at this point race and social issues weren't important to her. She just "wants her baby back."
Let's hope that happens.
Maryland is poised to become the sixth state to recognize same-sex marriage as proponents say they believe they have enough support to pass such a measure in the upcoming legislative session.
The expansion of gay rights appears to have gained significant traction as Maryland's General Assembly begins its 90-day session Wednesday. Not only are Democrats optimistic about their chances of approving same-sex marriage, but a leading Republican, sensing momentum on the issue, has instead countered with a proposal to grant civil unions to gay couples.
Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has publicly stated that he would sign a marriage bill into law. Maryland then would join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C., in sanctioning same-sex marriages.
Maryland has been inching toward granting greater rights and protections for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Last year Democratic state Attorney General Doug Gansler offered a legal opinion recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. "We've been marching in this direction for a while now," said Democratic state Delegate Heather Mizeur.FULL STORY
[Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET] Two Maryland state employees suffered slightly burned fingers when they opened packages containing incendiary devices that set off a flash of fire, smoke and a sulfur smell, authorities said.
The packages were sent through the mail to two state office buildings. One was addressed to Gov. Martin O'Malley, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley. The other was addressed to the Maryland Department of Transportation, officials said.
One of the packages had holiday stamps and both resembled the shape of a book, police said.
[Posted at 2:15 p.m. ET] Two Maryland state government office buildings were evacuated Thursday after small explosions left one person with minor injuries, a Maryland state government official with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
Authorities responded to devices found in the mailroom of a state House office building in Annapolis, Maryland, and at the Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters in Hanover, Maryland, said Philip McGowan, a spokesman for Annapolis Mayor Joshua Cohen.
CNN affiliate WTOP reported that two packages "gave off a small explosion or flare-up when they were opened" at two Maryland state government buildings. One package was at the Jeffrey Building on Francis Street in Annapolis and another was at the Department of Transportation building in Hanover, the station said. Hanover is southwest of Baltimore.
The Jeffrey Building in Annapolis houses the state Homeland Security office, the Secretary of State and Veterans Affairs offices and some divisions of the governor's office, according to state property managers.
The Annapolis police bomb squad and firefighters are responding, McGowan told CNN. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the state bomb squad are also rushing to the buildings, he said.FULL STORY