[Updated, 11:18 p.m. ET Saturday] Irene made landfall about 7:30 this morning on the Outer Banks as a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained 85 mph winds.
The center of Irene is moving north through the Pamlico Sound and will exit the North Carolina/Virginia coast near or over Virginia Beach back into the Atlantic Ocean late this afternoon.
The storm will then rake the Northeast from Virginia to Maine as it hugs the coastline.Â Storm surge will be worst to the east of where the storm makes landfall.
Here's what to expect in selected cities:
- Norfolk, Virginia: City is in the worst weather now with winds diminishing after midnight.
- Washington: Expect tropical storm force winds in next few hours. Expect worst winds from 4 a.m. toÂ 7 a.m. No hurricane force winds expected.
- Atlantic City, New Jersey: Already experiencing tropical storm force winds. Worst winds should be 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. with hurricane force winds likely. Landfall possible around 8 a.m.
- Philadelphia:Â Watch for tropical storm force winds after midnight. Worst weather should be 5 a.m. to 9 a.m.Â Hurricane force gusts are possible.
- New York City/Long Island: Tropical storm force winds 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Worst winds should be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with hurricane force winds possible. The center of Irene should pass just east or over the city around 11 a.m.Â The strongest hurricane force winds will be over eastern Long Island.
- Providence, Rhode Island: Tropical storm force winds should arrive around 7 a.m . Expect the worst winds noon to 5 p.m. with hurricane winds likely.
- Boston: Tropical storm force winds should arrive around 2 p.m. The worst of the storm should be 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with hurricane force winds possible.
- Canada: The center of the weather system should enter Canada by 8 a.m. Monday.
Here is what to expect in the coming hours:
- Irene will begin to accelerate north/northeastward and hug the Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey coastlines, bringing hurricane force winds, storm surge and flooding rains to the region.
- Irene continues to be a very large hurricane.Â From north to south, the cloud field extends over 1,600 miles or around the distance from Denver to New York City.Â Outer bands from the storm have already reached New York and Boston.Â Tropical storm force winds extend out over 260 miles, and hurricane force winds extend out over 90 miles from Ireneâ€™s center.
- With the path of Irene, hurricane force winds are possible in the major metro areas of Philadelphia, New York and Boston.Â Tropical storm force winds are possible in Washington.
- Widespread power outages are already reported in eastern North Carolina and those will be moving northward today and tomorrow.
- The dangers from Irene will spread well inland.Â Not only will high winds knock down trees and power lines, but extremely heavy rains of more than 1 foot will fall on already saturated ground from the Mid-Atlantic though the Canadian Maritimes.Â The flood threat could be the greatest threat from Irene in the end.
- The front right quadrant is the most dangerous part of the storm.Â It is where the highest wind and highest storm surge are expected.Â The worst conditions are expected from the center of the storm to around a 100 miles east of the track.
- Based on the current track, Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts appear to be at greatest risk of damage.
- New York City will be close to the eventual path of Irene.Â Storm surge flooding and hurricane force winds are still possible Sunday.
[Updated, 10:30 p.m. ET Friday] Irene is a very large hurricane Friday evening bearing down on the Carolina coast.Â Maximum sustained winds have remained 100 mph, and there will likely be little change in intensity before the storm makes landfall on Saturday morning between Morehead City andÂ Hatteras, North Carolina.
The storm will then head toward the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.Â Irene is forecast to be a hurricane as it approaches or moves over the major metropolitan area of the Northeast.Â A HAZUS computer model that computes how many people will be affected by the storm forecasts that more than 40 million people will experience winds that could do damage (50 mph or greater) .
Widespread power outages, storm surge damage east of where the center makes landfall, along with catastrophic flooding are all possible Friday night through the weekend.
- Irene is steadily marching to the Carolina Coast.Â The outer bands of Irene are already pounding the coast of both South and North Carolina.
- Early Saturday morning the core or center of dangerous Irene will approach the North Carolina coast.Â Landfall is expected between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on the southern Outer Banks with maximum sustained winds at 100 mph or higher.
- By late Saturday the storm will be accelerating to the north.Â The center is expected to hug the coast and will bring hurricane force winds over a large swath from Virginia all the way up into Maine.
- Irene is a large hurricane, so hurricane force winds are expected to spread along the coast all the way from Virginia into Maine from late Saturday through the day on Sunday.
- Since the storm is so large, the tropical storm force winds extend out nearly 250 miles from the center, so tropical storm winds will extend well inland.
- Irene could very possibly pass right over or near enough that hurricane force winds could move over the major metro areas of Philadelphia, New York and Boston.Â Damage could be widespread in and around these cities. Sustained winds of 80 mph, with higher gusts, are possible.
- Widespread power outages, downed trees and power lines are expected over a large section of the Northeast.
- Historically, inland flooding is one of the greatest if not the greatest threat.Â More than a foot of rain is expected over parts of the Northeast on top of what has been the wettest August on record for many locations.Â Catastrophic flooding is possible over a large area.
- Travel is already being disrupted in the Northeast and that will only get worse as we head through time.Â Many major metro areas are already proactively planning complete shutdowns of their transit systems on Sunday.Â AllÂ five major New York area airports are closing to arriving flights at noon on Saturday
Expected closest pass to some major cities:Â Â (Note this is when the worst is expected. Conditions will be deteriorating well in advance of these times and will last for hours after.)
- Morehead City, North CarolinaÂ – 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday (Irene will make landfall around 7 a.m. over the southern Outer Banks)
- Virginia Beach/Norfolk,Â Virginia â€“ 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday
- Washington â€“ 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday
- Atlantic City, New Jerseyâ€“ 4 a.m. â€“ 10 a.m. Sunday
- Philadelphia â€“ 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday
- New York – Â 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
- Bostonâ€“ 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
- Storm center is completely out of the United States into Canada by 8 a.m. Monday
[3:59 p.m.] Irene will spin off the coast of South Carolina today. Outer bands from the storm are reaching the Carolina coasts now and will bring gusty winds, heavy rain and dangerous surf.
On Saturday the core or center of Irene will approach the North Carolina coast. Conditions will be deteriorating from late tonight into the morning. Landfall is now expected by mid-Â to late- morning near Morehead City or the Outer Banks.
By late Saturday the storm will be accelerating to the north. The center is expected to hug the coast and will bring hurricane force winds over a large swath from Virginia all the way up into Maine.
The worst of the storm surge and winds will be just east of the center. With the storm moving so close to the coast, a secondary landfall location is hard to forecast, and could occur anywhere from Virginia to Massachusetts.
Irene could very possibly pass right over or near enough that hurricane force winds could move over the major metro areas of Philadelphia, NYC, and Boston. Damage could be widespread around these cities with possible sustained winds of 80 mph, and higher gusts possible.
Widespread power outages, downed trees and power lines are expected over a large section of the Northeast.
Historically inland flooding is one of the greatest if not the greatest threat. Over a foot of rain is expected over parts of the Northeast on top of what has been the wettest August on record for many locations. Catastrophic flooding is possible over a large area.
Travel will be severely disrupted starting tonight. The New York City metro transit system may shut down entirely, along with many other major metro systems bringing travel to a standstill in some locations. Amtrak trains will be severely impacted or canceled. Major airports in Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston will likely close for a time on Sunday. If storm surge flooding occurs in NYC, LaGuardia and JFK airports are in the evacuation zones and could flood.
The hurricane is expected to closely pass these major cities at the following times: (Note: These are the times when the worst is expected. Conditions will be deteriorating well in advance of these times and will last four hours afterward.)
Morehead City, North Carolina: 6 a.m. â€“ 2 p.m. Saturday (Irene will likely make landfall here or just north around 8 a.m.)
Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Virginia:â€“ 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday evening
Washington: 4 a.m. â€“ 10 a.m. Sunday morning
Atlantic City, New Jersey: 5 a.m. â€“ 11 a.m. Sunday morning
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 6am – Noon Sunday
New York, New York: 8 a.m. to mid afternoon Sunday
Boston, Massachusetts: 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday