Hurricane Irene Tracking Eastward

While the East Coast braces for Irene, the storm's track has started moving eastward.

That means the storm may not make landfall in North Carolina, but strike farther up the coast.

The winds of Hurricane Irene, still south of Florida in the Caribbean, have been recorded blowing at 115 miles per hour, making it a major hurricane classified as Category 3.

Along its current trajectory, the effects from Hurricane Irene will be less severe in our region than anticipated yesterday.  News4's Chuck Bell says while we will still see precipitation, the more extreme predictions of one foot or more are now unlikely.  The region's biggest concern will likely be flooding.

The D.C. region will feel the effects of the hurricane some time between noon Saturday and noon Sunday.

It is too early to predict whether or not the hurricane could force the postponement of the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Sunday, National Park Service spokesman Bill Line said. NPS is proceeding as if it will be held.

It's been more than seven years since a major hurricane, considered a Category 3 with winds of at least 111 mph, hit the East Coast. Hurricane Jeanne came ashore on Florida's east coast in 2004.

The last hurricane to hit the U.S. was Ike in 2008. The last Category 3 or higher to hit the Carolinas was Bonnie in 1998, but caused less damage than other memorable hurricanes: Hugo in 1989, Floyd in 1999 and Isabel in 2003.

Though a Category 2, Isabel cut a new inlet through Hatteras Island and killed 33 people.

Ocracoke Island, in North Carolina's barrier islands has been ordered evacuated in anticipation for the storm.  Also, boaters across the region have been advised to stay out of the water and secure their craft over the weekend.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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