Hurricane Irene Has 'Historic Potential'

Giant storm appears to be heading toward New York City
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2011 7:58 AM CDT
Hurricane Irene Has 'Historic Potential'
CARIBBEAN SEA - AUGUST 24: In this handout MODIS satellite image provided by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Hurricane Irene churns over the Bahamas on August 24, 2011 in the Caribbean Sea. Irene, now a Category 3 storm with winds of 120 miles per hour, is projected to possibly clip the Outer...   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – As Hurricane Irene continues to grow as it crosses the Bahamas and approaches the East Coast, the storm is on track to become historically huge, reports CBS News—and it could end up ranking among the likes of 1991's Hurricane Bob or 1954's Hurricane Carol. Based on current projections, CBS hurricane consultant David Bernard sees two options shaping up: "bad and worse." In the bad scenario, Irene hits Long Island and New England as a Category 2 storm, with treacherous winds that will disrupt power. The worse scenario would have the storm sweeping the coast from Maryland to New York City.

The National Hurricane Center expects Irene to become a Category 4 today, writes Dr. Jeff Masters for the Weather Underground, with winds topping 130 miles per hour. The cooler waters further north should lessen its force, and it'll likely hit the US as a Category 2. But because the hurricane's windfield is so large—with tropical storm-force winds predicted 150 miles from its eye tomorrow afternoon—its impact could be like that of a Category 3. Masters writes that Irene will likely make landfall at or near the Outer Banks Saturday afternoon, then hit New England Sunday. (Read more Hurricane Irene stories.)

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