East Coast braces for Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene has passed the Bahamas and is making its way north toward the eastern coast of the United States.

The Category 3 hurricane pummeled the Bahamas with winds up to 120 mph before weakening to a Category 2 storm.

Forecasters say the storm could strengthen to a powerful Category 4 hurricane by the time it reaches the North Carolina coast some time Saturday morning. Officials there have ordered a mandatory evacuation of some Outer Bank islands..

In Norfolk, Va., 27 naval ships were being moved out to sea away from the storm.

Preparations for heavy winds, flooding and power outages are being made from Maryland to New York, and even Massachusetts.

The National Weather Service is now predicting that New Yorkers will begin to feel the effects of Irene in the early hours of Sunday morning.

New York City is also preparing for the total shutdown of subways, trains and buses. Transit officials say the system cannot operate with sustained winds of 39 mph or more. Officials say service will then be available sometime Monday or later.

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