Tropical storm winds felt in N.C.
The National Weather Service says tropical-storm-force winds are now being felt on the beaches of North Carolina as Hurricane Irene approaches Saturday's landfall. Observers at Folly Island, N.C. have clocked a wind gust to 55 mph.
Top sustained winds have fallen again, to 100 mph, but Irene is still a Category 2 storm. The storm is still moving due north, at 14 mph, and is now centered 300 miles south of Hatteras.
Irene's core winds are expected to approach the coast tonight, and over the beaches on Saturday before heading north toward Delmarva. The storm's center will pass over or near the Delmarva coast on Saturday night. Here's more from the National Hurricane Center:
"STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS MUCH
AS 4 TO 8 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL OVER SOUTHERN PORTIONS OF THE
CHESAPEAKE BAY...INCLUDING TRIBUTARIES...AND THE EASTERN SHORE OF
THE DELMARVA PENINSULA. THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE...
DESTRUCTIVE...AND LIFE-THREATENING WAVES.
"IRENE IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF
6 TO 10 INCHES...WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 15 INCHES...FROM
EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA NORTHWARD THROUGH THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES
INTO NEW ENGLAND THROUGH MONDAY MORNING. THESE RAINS COULD
CAUSE WIDESPREAD FLOODING AND LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS.
"SURF...LARGE SWELLS GENERATED BY IRENE ARE AFFECTING PORTIONS OF THE
COAST OF THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES. THESE SWELLS WILL CAUSE
LIFE-THREATENING SURF AND RIP CURRENT CONDITIONS."