Maximum sustained winds associated with Hurricane Irene, which on Thursday morning was near the Florida Keys, were 115 miles per hour as of 8 a.m., putting the storm's status at a Category 3 hurricane.
Based on the National Hurricane Center’s estimated track, Irene is expected to be just off the North Carolina coast by 2 a.m. Sunday with estimated winds at that time around 105 miles per hour.
Recent models are suggesting that Irene will take a slightly more westward track, and graze the North Carolina coast. What this means for us is a slightly weaker hurricane by the time it comes up toward Connecticut (the more land Irene goes over, the weaker she will be).
However, at this time, estimated maximum wind speeds for the state this weekend are still forecast to be between 70 and 90 miles per hour.
As for the timing of this event, rain and winds will begin to be felt Saturday night. Sunday looks to be the main brunt of this storm system.
Even as Irene weakens upon her approach here, this is a very dangerous storm. Emergency response agencies are encouraging residents to do what they can now to stock up and prepare for this hurricane.
Information on how to prepare a disaster supply kit can be found here.
Patch will continue to provide up-to-the-minute updates on Irene throughout the next few days.