Hurricane Irene changed its track again Wednesday, but News4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer said that is not unexpected.
Irene was a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds near the Bahamas and moving northwest at 11 mph at 5 p.m. Wednesday. It could become a Category 4 hurricane with 135 mph winds by Thursday afternoon, Kammerer said.
It looks like it will stay east of Miami and then head to the Carolina coastline. Its latest track has it closer to the coast.
Irene could be a Category 3 again off our coast over the weekend and possibly could reach New England as a Category 2. It looks like there could be a major impact for Ocean City, Md., and Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Va., with heavy rains and 75 mph winds.
In D.C. and its suburbs to the east, there could be a moderate impact with rain, 45 mph winds and tough travel conditions.
Officials in North Carolina's coastal Dare County said tourists must leave as Hurricane Irene approaches, the Associated Press reported. The county issued the order Wednesday night, saying evacuations would begin Thursday at 8 a.m. Dare officials will meet again Thursday to determine if residents need to evacuate.
County spokeswoman Sharon Sullivan said as many as 150,000 tourists may be leaving the county that is home to some of the exposed Outer Banks.
Currituck County officials have asked visitors to think about leaving.
Forecasts have Irene moving over the Outer Banks with winds over 100 mph Saturday.
Evacuations began Wednesday from Ocracoke Island in Hyde County.
The U.S. Navy has ordered the Second Fleet to prepare to move ships out of the way of Hurricane Irene beginning early Thursday, the AP reported. The Navy said Wednesday night that the order applies to ships in southeastern Virginia. It is home to the largest naval base in the world.
The Navy said ships that are under way can better weather such storms. It also will help protect piers from being damage.
The Navy said if the track changes, the sortie may not get under way.