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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene, a bit weaker, begins its destructive run!


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By MICHAEL BIESECKER and JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press / hosted.ap.org / Aug 27, 2:22 PM EDT.

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) - Hurricane Irene opened its assault on the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday by lashing the North Carolina coast with wind as strong as 115 mph and pounding shoreline homes with waves. Farther north, authorities readied a massive shutdown of trains and airports, with 2 million people ordered out of the way.

The center of the storm, which was estimated to be some 500 miles wide, passed over North Carolina's Outer Banks for its official landfall just after 7:30 a.m. EDT. The hurricane's vast reach traced the East Coast from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to just below Cape Cod. Tropical storm conditions battered Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, with the worst to come.

On Saturday afternoon, forecasters said Irene's effects could be felt as far north as Canada even after it weakens. A tropical storm warning extended from the U.S. border to Nova Scotia's southern coast.

Irene weakened slightly, with sustained winds down to 85 mph from about 100 a day earlier, making it a Category 1, the least threatening on the scale. The National Hurricane Center reported gusts of 115 mph and storm-surge waves as high as 7 feet.

The first death from the storm was reported in Nash County, N.C., outside Raleigh, where emergency officials said a man was crushed by a large limb that blew off a tree.


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