Hurricane Irene strengthened to a major Category 3 storm over the Bahamas on Wednesday with the East Coast in its sights. Irene’s maximum sustained winds increased to near 115 mph (185 kph) with additional strengthening forecast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
Speaking Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said people as far north as New England should be ready for the storm. When asked about concerns preparing the Northeast for a hurricane, which is uncommon in that part of the country, Fugate cited Tuesday’s earthquake that rattled the East Coast.
“It’s a reminder that we don’t always get to pick the next disaster,” Fugate said.
As of 8 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Irene was centered about 335 miles (540 kilometers) southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas and was moving west-northwest near 9 mph (15 kph).
Forecasters warned it could get worse: The storm was likely to strengthen into a Category 4 monster by the time it makes landfall in the U.S. this weekend. Irene could crawl up the coast Sunday toward the Northeast region, where residents aren’t accustomed to such storms.
It’s been more seven years since a major hurricane, considered a Category 3 with winds of at least 111 mph (179 kph), hit the East Coast. Hurricane Jeanne came ashore on Florida’s east coast in 2004.
Read more at: Huffington Post