Guzman - A resident walks along Los Yayales beach as strong waves crash due to the approach of Hurricane Irene to Nagua, in the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, Monday, Aug, 22, 2011. Hurricane …more
AP 1:09 | 6266 views
MIAMI (AP) — Emergency officials from Florida to the Carolinas were closely watching Irene Tuesday as the first hurricane to seriously threaten the U.S. in three years churned over energizing tropical waters. The storm has already cut a destructive path through the Caribbean.
Forecasters say the hurricane could grow to a monstrous Category 4 storm with winds of more than 131 mph before it's predicted to come ashore this weekend on the U.S. mainland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami expected Irene to reach Category 3 strength on Tuesday, said spokesman Dennis Feltgen.
Officials could begin issuing watches for parts of the U.S. mainland later in the day. Because the storm is so large, Florida could begin feeling some effects from the storm late Wednesday.
Current government models have the storm's outer bands sweeping Florida late this week before it takes aim at the Carolinas this weekend, though forecasters caution that predictions made days in advance can be off by hundreds of miles. Georgia is also likely to be affected.
An updated forecast released Tuesday morning also showed that Irene could move into the Chesapeake Bay by Sunday at hurricane strength. That latest model showed Irene making landfall along the North Carolina coast. However, because the storm is still days away from the U.S., some models also show Irene remaining offshore along the East Coast.
Still, authorities on North Carolina's Ocracoke Island were taking no chances. On Tuesday, officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for visitors to leave starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
Officials said Tuesday that a mandatory evacuation order for all non-emergency personnel will go into effect Thursday morning for the barrier island, which is only accessible by boat. The island is 16 miles long and mostly undeveloped, with a town at the southern tip.
Tommy Hutcherson, a resident who serves on the local board that makes decisions about when to evacuate, said officials want to have enough time to get everybody off.
Ocracoke has about 800 full-time residents and a population that swells to thousands of visitors in the summer.
The last hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Ike, which pounded Texas in 2008.
For now, the first Atlantic hurricane of the season had maximum sustained winds early Tuesday around 100 mph (160 kph) currently was centered about 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Grand Turk Island. The hurricane was moving west-northwest near 12 mph (19 kph).
"For residents in states that may be affected later this week, it's critical that you take this storm seriously," said Craig Fugate, administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Emergency officials in North Carolina were checking "pre-landfall operations" to make sure equipment such as trucks, forklifts, generators and computers were working, said Ernie Seneca, spokesman for the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. They also were taking inventory of food and water supplies.
To the south in Miami, Julio Gonzalez was heeding the warnings and headed to a hardware store to pick up what he needed to protect his home.
"I'm gonna board up," he said Monday. "It's best to play it safe."
Others were stocking up on bottled water and plywood. And Hurricane Irene was trending on Twitter, with many users sharing updates on the storm's progress while others hoped it wouldn't come their way.
"We want to make sure Floridians are paying attention," said Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, who met Monday with the governor. "We are at the height of the hurricane season right now. If it's not Hurricane Irene, it could be the follow-up storm that impacts us."
After several extremely active years, Florida has not been struck by a hurricane since Wilma raked across the state's south in October 2005. That storm was responsible for at least five deaths in the state and came two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
Irene slashed directly across Puerto Rico, tearing up trees and knocking out power to more than a million people. It 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. President Barack Obama declared an emergency for Puerto Rico, making it eligible for federal help.
At least hundreds were displaced by flooding in the Dominican Republic, forced to take refuge in churches, schools or relatives' homes. Electricity also was cut in some areas.
"Everything filled with water, there was just water everywhere," said Maria Altagracia Fernandez, who spent Monday night sleeping on the floor with her five children and about 100 other people at a shelter in the fishing town of Boba, 135 miles (225 kilometers) northeast of Santo Domingo.
Irene was forecast to pass over or near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas by Tuesday night and be near the central Bahamas early Wednesday.
In the U.K. territory of the Turks and Caicos, a steady stream of customers bought plywood and nails at hardware stores, while others readied storm shutters and emergency kits at home.
"I can tell you I don't want this storm to come. It looks like it could get bad, so I've definitely got to get my boats out of the water," said Dedrick Handfield at the North Caicos hardware store where he works.
Many of the center's computer models had the storm veering northward away from Florida's east coast toward Georgia and the Carolinas. A hurricane center forecast map said the storm's center could come ashore in one of the states on Saturday or Sunday, but forecasters said much was still unclear.
"In terms of where it's going to go, there is still a pretty high level of uncertainty," said Wallace Hogsett, a National Hurricane Center meteorologist. "It's a very difficult forecast in terms of when it's going to turn northward."
In South Carolina, emergency agencies went on alert for what could be the first hurricane to hit there in seven years.
"This is potentially a very serious hurricane," longtime Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said. He led Charleston's recovery from the massive destruction of Hurricane Hugo's 135 mph winds and waves back in 1989.
It's been more than a century since Georgia has taken a direct hit from a Category 3 storm or greater. That was in 1893, and the last hurricane to make landfall along the state's 100-mile coast was David, which caused only minor damage when it struck in 1979.
Irene could bring much-needed relief to a fire blazing in the Great Dismal Swamp on the North Carolina-Virginia line, however. If the storm stays on its current track, it could soak the smoldering fire that's consumed more than 9 square miles of swamp in both states.
Across Florida, emergency management agencies were closely monitoring Irene's movements and track. They urged residents to make sure they have batteries, drinking water, food and other supplies available in case Irene takes aim at the state.
"We must prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Joe Martinez, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission.
Gov. Rick Scott met with state emergency management officials and the state meteorologist, poring over detailed charts involving wind speed and steering currents. Scott, a first-term Republican who has not experienced a hurricane as governor, asked questions such as how much advanced notice would be needed for evacuations of low-lying areas.
"Irene's going to be close," Amy Godsey, the state meteorologist, told Scott. "We're not out of the woods yet."
Scott replied, "I'm an optimist."
Associated Press writers Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Nagua, Dominican Republic, Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Martha Waggoner and Michael Biesecker in Raleigh, N.C., and Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C., contributed to this report.
@yahoonews on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook
EXPLORE RELATED CONTENT1 - 4 of 12
People watch as emergency officials search for survivors and victims after a building still under construction …
Incredible Views of Hurricane Irene
Businesses Take Steps To Ensure Power Stays On After A Storm
Hurricane Irene stronger, heads to Bahamas, US
Hurricane Irene has churned into a stronger Category 2 storm and has cut a … Full Story »Hurricane Irene stronger, heads to Bahamas, US
TOP STORIES »
Libyan rebels storm Gadhafi compound in Tripoli
Sex charges dropped against DSK, not in effect yet
Surfer witnesses 9/11 attack from the water
Powerful Hurricane Irene churns toward Southeast U.S.
Poll: Obama tied with Romney, Perry, Bachmann, Paul
Syrian opposition members form national council
Photos: Astronaut photographs Hurricane Irene from space
USA becomes Food Stamp Nation but is it sustainable?
GOP may OK tax increase that Obama hopes to block
Missouri teacher sues state over ‘Facebook law,’ says she can’t contact her own child online
What's next in Libya key to US politics, economy
Social Security disability on verge of insolvency
NJ GOP lawmaker quit over wife's Carl Lewis email
TODAY ON YAHOO!1 - 4 of 48
Is Libya a victory for Obama?
Judge dismisses Strauss-Kahn charges
'GMA' anchor's onscreen mishap
Hurricane first threat to U.S. in years
All CommentsShared On Facebook
Leave a comment...Comment Guidelines
Please Enter a CommentPost As
Popular NowNewestOldestMost Replied
0Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!0William 15 minutes ago
Recent Hurricane tracking have suggested that Irene might barrel down the East Coast. So far it seems like New York City might get hit by it as well when it goes down to a category 1 hurricane.
9Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!9Dabears 22 minutes ago
Let's see - Puerto Rico is still getting rain and Obama declares a disaster to open the flood gates of government aid, Texas asked for government aid to fight fires and couldn't get Obama to answer the phone. And I thought Puerto Rico was already getting federal aid on a 24 hour basis for years... More
7Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!4DIANNEJ 33 minutes ago
irene just go out to the sea
42Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!1Alana about an hour ago
swing to the west, Texas needs the rain
17Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!37Frankmargel.Com about an hour ago
It's headed for Washington D.C. The Tea Party used a wind machine to wake up America!
32Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!9PoppaSmurf201 about an hour ago
Hurricane? No problem... we have FEMA always ready and capable of handling any catastrophe right?
13Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!0Litebrownsuga about an hour ago
If I remember right that last hurricane named Irene did some great damage as well!!!
2Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!28James 2 hours ago Hire me as your public adjuster, I work on commission. Reply
Comment hidden due to low rating.Show Comment
3Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!22Terry V 2 hours ago hey Reply
Comment hidden due to low rating.Show Comment
73Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!82Jane Campbell 2 hours ago
whats wrong with thr tea party? why be hateing them? at least they are out there doing something while your setting on your butt watching them on your telly!
3Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!13Tony C 4 hours ago Still not long enough in my book. :) Reply
Comment hidden due to low rating.Show Comment
15Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!50Pump M 6 hours ago
come on , come get us!
0Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!2Serf_tide about a minute ago
Al Gore said that we would have the worst hurricanes ever over the next 10 years (starting in 2003). All because of global warming. I guess the warming waited 8 years before kicking in.
0Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!0G about a minute ago
Anyone heard of HAARP?
0Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!0Cha-Ka 3 minutes ago
Just don't listen, Irene is full of hot air.
0Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!0REAL DEAL 3 minutes ago
Irene's next stop Washington D.C. I hope it gives them their just desserts .
1Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!0Mr. OCD 2 minutes ago
as long as it throws some rain Texas' way i don't care where it lands
1Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!1Adrian 3 minutes ago
To all you Republicans down south, here comes Hurricane Irene. Have fun. Hope ya enjoy it!
0Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!0Vladimir 4 minutes ago
I'd repent if I wasn't saved... Just in case ;)
It's amazing how much time Jesus gives to some people...
Just more proof of how much God loves His creation and wants good for them.
0Please sign in to rate!Please sign in to rate!0Martie 4 minutes ago
A Flood is Coming 7-20-11
Post a comment
NEWS FOR YOU
French woman in Malaysia 'killed for refusing sex'
Teen model sues Urban Outfitters for selling ‘salacious’ t-shirt of her in ‘spread eagle position’
Scientists warn that aliens may come to destroy us
Is "assortative mating" to blame for the rise of autism?
Oil Market Smells A Rat
How To Use The New Tax Break For Married Couples
Doctor says he was surprised to find penile cancer
Man uses a bird house to trick speeders into slowing down
Family helps Glen Campbell fight the darkness
Dead baby found at CA home where man shot officer
( What's this? )
Hot Stock Pick - OBJE
Obscene Jeans & Lifestyle Brands. Invest, Trade, Stocks.
View Today's Rates
Find Today's Interest Rates, Money Markets, CDs and Much More.
3 ETF's Set to Soar
Motley Fool Report - 3 ETF's You Need to Own during the recovery.
US NEWS »
Powerful Hurricane Irene churns toward Southeast U.S.
SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - A strengthening Hurricane Irene churned on a northwest track toward the Southeast United States on Tuesday, threatening the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas with battering …
Judge rejects special prosecutor for Strauss-Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York judge on Tuesday rejected a request to appoint a special prosecutor in the case of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, clearing the way for him to dismiss sexual assault …
Forecasters warn of possible severe Midwest weather
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Forecasters on Tuesday warned residents of much of the Upper Midwest to brace for possibly severe afternoon weather as a cluster of powerful thunderstorms swept east and south out of …
Dougherty siblings charged with attempted murder
DENVER (Reuters) - Three Florida siblings accused of carrying out a multi-state crime spree before they were arrested following a shootout with Colorado police were charged on Monday with attempted murder …
Colorado shaken by its biggest quake in decades
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 5.3 magnitude earthquake, the biggest in the state in some four decades, shook Colorado late on Monday in an area of the United States where quakes are rare, the U.S. Geological …
Share your story
Tell us how 9/11 changed you and Yahoo! will give $10 to the 9/11 Memorial Fund. More »Share your story
The backlash begins
Government investigating S&P's mortgage ratings leading up to financial crisis. More »The backlash begins
Upgrade Your Life
Revive a dying laptop battery. More »Upgrade Your Life
New toys called Cubes are blocks with brains. More »Toddler Tech
Six quick-start careers
With the right preparation, you could be prepared for a new career in 1-2 years.
What's the hottest field right now?
See how you could prepare for a career in this hot industry.
All Yahoo! News »
ALSO ON YAHOO!
All Yahoo! »
Will and Jada
Lil Wayne accident
Debit card rewards
miraCLIKEA para ver galeria de fotos CLIK .LAURA LEGAZCUE bailarina y coreografa fotos-OREMOS POR NUESTRO PAIS-
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CHARRUA( uruguaya ,oriental o yorugua)------------------la primer CHARRUA( uruguaya ,oriental o yorugua) que fue jurado del Metropolitano de Tango y del Jurado Mundial ,por merito propio,ahora seleccionada como "maestra reconocida mundialmente",dara un Seminario de Alta Intensidad en el Mundial.No solo es futbol mundial el Uruguay."Tanguera Ilustre de Buenos Aires" "Condor de Oro de San Luis,Argentina....Quien es? L.L. pasion,voluntad y tecnica.Tecnica,voluntad y pasion.Abriendo caminos para Uruguay,embajadora cultural de este Paisito que es un gran Pais con mayuscula. -------------------------------------------------------------- Ver .The one,en Apoteosis Tanguera,España..........................................................................................................................