Hurricane Irene Heads Toward Bahamas And US

August 23rd, 2011 by James

Hurricane Irene Heads Toward Bahamas And USA rapidly strengthening Hurricane Irene roared off the resort-dotted Dominican Republic and whipped up high waves and torrential downpours on a track that could see it reach the U.S. Southeast as a major storm by the end of the week.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said it could reach Category 3 as early as Tuesday and possibly become a monster Category 4 storm within 72 hours.

From news.yahoo.com:

Forecasters said it could still be that strong when it slams into the United States, possibly landing in Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina. Irene is expected to rake the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Earlier, the storm slashed directly across Puerto Rico, tearing up trees and knocking out power to more than a million people, then headed out to sea north of the Dominican Republic, where the powerful storm’s outer bands were buffeting the north coast with dangerous sea surge and downpours.

Late Monday, the storm’s downpours forced more than 1,000 Dominicans to evacuate their homes, with some families in low-lying areas fleeing to churches and public buildings. Others hunkered down inside their homes as the winds howled outside and heavy waves pounded the piers and washed onto coastal boulevards.

“We didn’t anticipate it gaining this much strength this early,” said center meteorologist Chris Landsea, adding that the ocean’s warm temperatures and the current atmosphere is “very conducive” to energizing storms.

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