ACCUWEATHER UPDATE: By Bill Deger, Meteorologist
Hurricane Irene made landfall on Cape Lookout in eastern North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane and will continue track to the north with conditions deteriorating for millions across the mid-Atlantic through tonight.
8:00 a.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 27: The eyewall of Hurricane Irene has passed over Cape Lookout, N.C. Wind gusts to hurricane force (74 mph or greater) will continue to be experienced over the next several hours, along with a damaging storm surge. Rainfall of 5 to 7 inches has already occurred in eastern North Carolina. A gust of 115 mph was recorded at Cedar Island, N.C. which was in the northeastern eyewall at time of landfall.
Although slightly weaker as a Category 1 hurricane prior to landfall, Irene remains a tremendous threat to the East Coast.
"The wind field associated with Irene remains large and this will thus have more impact than is commonly associated with a storm of this intensity," says Meteorologist Randy Adkins.
For continuous updates through the morning, follow @breakingweather on Twitter. The latest stats on Irene are available in the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center.
The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center expects Irene to track north along the coast of the mid-Atlantic tonight, making another landfall somewhere along Long Island, N.Y., on Sunday morning as a weak Category 1 hurricane or a strong tropical storm.
Though Irene is slightly weaker than earlier forecast, its massive size still poses a serious threat to lives and property.
Tropical storm-force conditions will begin to be felt over parts of the mid-Atlantic later today, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and late tonight over the New York City area.
Residents of the mid-Atlantic, including New York City, have been preparing for Irene for days now, with millions of people displaced from their homes.
Major transportation will also be severely impacted by Irene. In New York City all methods of transportation will be shut down today, including airports and all public transit. In Philadelphia, public transit will be shut down this evening.
Fortunately, many who have been ordered to evacuate have heeded the warning of emergency officials.
For those who have not experienced a hurricane first-hand AccuWeather.com's Jesse Ferrell states, "This will be like a severe thunderstorm that goes on for 8 to 12 hours."
Storm-chaser Ferrell rode out hurricanes Fran, Bertha and Hugo in North Carolina.
Irene is forecast to move on a path closely paralleling the mid-Atlantic coast into Sunday morning, then across Long Island and New England over the balance of the day on Sunday. Extensive flooding rainfall and power outages will ride along with Irene and in her wake.
The large circulation of Irene, although not extreme, will bring coastal flooding and battering waves northward from the Carolinas into New England and into parts of the major bays and sounds along the way.
Irene threatens to bring the worst effects from a hurricane in 50 years in a large part of the I-95 Northeast.