As Hurricane Irene continued its assault on the Bahamas on Thursday morning, the system’s future track has been shifted slightly west, increasing the threat to North Carolina and the Northeast.
A hurricane watch has been posted for the North Carolina coast, as the storm is projected to plow over that area late Saturday or early Sunday with sustained winds of 125 mph, or what would be a topend category 3 system.
Florida’s east coast, meanwhile, can expect to feel Irene’s fringes during the day on Thurday and into Friday morning, including gusty winds, occasional rain squalls and rough seas.
The storm was about 200 miles east ofMiami on Thursday morning. It is expect to pass about 250 miles east of Daytona Beach early Friday. Along the way, its max winds are predicted to briefly intensify to 125 mph.
At 11 a.m. on Thursday, Irene was 75 miles northeast of Nassau, or about 645 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C. It was moving northwest at 13 mph with sustained winds of 115 mph, or category 3 strength.
Some good news for the Northeast: Irene is expected to churn into an area of wind shear, which could weaken the system into a tropical storm before it reaches the New York area on Sunday. Previous forecasts called for Irene to threaten that region as a category 2 storm.
However, there still is much uncertainty in Irene’s long-range intensity forecast, said senior hurricane specialist Richard Pasch of the National Hurricane Center.
“Since Irene has such a large and intense circulation, it will probably be rather slow to weaken,” he wrote in Thursday morning’s advisory.
The hurricane center also is monitoring newly formed Tropical Depression 10 in the eastern Atlantic. It is forecast to grow into a tropical storm within the next day and aim north out to sea without threatening land. The next named storm will be Jose.
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