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Hurricane Irene Hits the US East Coast

By Sue Richards last modified Aug 27, 2011 08:56 PM

Published: 2011-08-27 20:56:35
Topics: Weather
Countries: USA

From a report by www.bbc.co.uk

Hurricane Irene is pummelling the US east coast after making landfall today in North Carolina, where it has caused flooding and damage. The 500-mile wide storm, bringing winds of around 85 mph (140km/h) is moving slowly northwards, with New York and other large cities in its path.

More than two million people have been ordered to leave their homes.

Irene remains a "large and dangerous" storm, US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned on Saturday. In New York City, 300,000 people living in low-lying areas have been told to leave in an unprecedented mandatory evacuation.

The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Irene from a category two to a category one hurricane, but says winds gusting up to 90mph extend outwards some 90 miles from the eye of the storm. Tropical-force winds extend as far as 290m.

The NHC expects Irene to weaken after hitting North Carolina, but it is forecast to remain a hurricane as it moves north along the Atlantic coast on Sunday.

The eye of the storm crossed the North Carolina coast near Cape Lookout at about 0730 local (1130 GMT) today - at the start of what is predicted to be a 36-hour assault on the US east coast. "Extremely dangerous" storm surges have been forecast in parts of the state that could raise water levels by as much as 11ft (3.35m).

If Irene hits New York and New England at category two, it will be the region's strongest storm since Hurricane Bob glanced off Massachusetts in 1991, and Hurricane Gloria, which caused extensive damage to New York City in 1985.

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