(Photo: REUTERS/Steve Nesius)
Hurricane Irene made landfall in the U.S. Saturday morning, bringing rain and winds at 85 mph to the coast of North Carolina.
The Category 1 storm knocked out power in more than 227,000 homes and businesses, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said Saturday, according to CNN. Some counties in the state are expected to see up to nine inches of rain.
According to the National Weather Service Doppler, the eye of Irene made landfall near Cape Lookout, N.C., around 7:30 a.m. EST. Irene is moving toward the north-northeast and is forecast to move over southern New England on Sunday.
Though the storm is expected to weaken, it is forecast to remain a hurricane as it moves over the Mid-Atlantic states and New England.
Gov. Perdue briefed has urged residents to "stay inside" as the weather will continue to be dangerous through Saturday. Thousands of North Carolinians are staying at dozens of shelters.
President Barack Obama returned to Washington, D.C., early from his vacation and declared state of emergencies for North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Obama and state officials have made one thing clear: take the storm seriously.
"We've never done a mandatory evacuation before and we wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think this storm is going to be serious," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
New York is stopping mass transit starting at noon on Saturday.
Bloomberg said Saturday morning, "We expect a strong Category 1 storm to hit us tonight with winds between 55 and 75 miles an hour.
"People get confused and say 'oh, that's down from 115. The great danger to us here is from the storm surge and there's no evidence that the forecast for that is changing. It is going to be a very serious thing as far as we can tell now."
New York issued a mandatory evacuation order for more than 370,000 New Yorkers.