(Photo: REUTERS/NOAA Satellite and Information Service/Handout)
Hurricane Irene is taking over the East Coast and warning evacuations have now expanded into New York and Connecticut.
The storm, which has already pounded the Bahamas, has taken a “turn for the worst” and is now being forecast as moving westward to the U.S. mainland.
Other East Coast areas along North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey have already been told to evacuate with hundreds of thousands of people moving to safety.
Meteorologists at AccuWeather.com estimate that by the time Irene hits land, it will be a Category 3 storm. However, they haven’t ruled out the possibility that the storm will strengthen into a Category 4 storm.
Irene poses a serious threat to the East Coast and thus far six states have declared a state of emergency, including North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.
The states have done this in an attempt to garner Federal resources and National Guard troops to deal with the anticipated damage and destruction ahead of time.
A contributor to the Los Angeles Times argued the move signals “how damaging – and deadly – authorities fear that Hurricane Irene can be.”
The storm is set to hit North Carolina first, with winds around 115 mph, and is likely to bring high winds, a downpour of rain, and power outages.
Following North Carolina, Irene is slated to move on a path that lands it in New York by Sunday.
New York has ordered the evacuation of nursing homes and senior centers in low-lying areas.
The New York Times also reported that the city is making plans for “the unprecedented shutdown of the entire transit system.”
Mayor Bloomberg told reporters: “We hope for the best but we prepare for the worst,” and added that the city would arrange for helicopters and small boats to be available at police precincts in low-lying areas.
By the time the hurricane is set to hit New York, it is anticipated that it will become a Category 2 storm that carries winds of 96 to 100 mph.
Experts are concerned that flooding from the storm can pose a real problem to the city. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, has recommended that New Yorkers make sure to have enough food, water and medicine to last at least three days.