Irene is destined to strike the southeastern United States later this week as a major hurricane. Residents in the Carolinas are urged to begin preparations.
The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center is expecting Irene to target the Carolinas after emerging from the Bahamas later this week.
AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski has the latest details on how bad it will be for the Carolinas.
Irene strengthened into the season's first hurricane as it pounded Puerto Rico early Monday morning.
The hurricane will continue its assault on the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean prior to reaching the Bahamas.
As Irene plows through the Bahamas, the storm is forecast to become a major Category 3 hurricane this week.
Exactly when and where Irene moves onshore with its torrential rain, destructive winds and flooding storm surge depends on how soon the storm tracks in a more northward fashion instead of its current northwestward heading.
The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center currently expects landfall to be somewhere between the North Carolina-South Carolina and Wilmington, N.C., the first part of this weekend. Since the track has had a tendency to shift east, residents farther northeast along the North Carolina coast need to pay close attention to this storm as well.
According to Sosnowski, "Often, the worst effects of a hurricane moving in this manner are on the northeastern quadrant of the storm, which would involve at least part of eastern North Carolina."
"Part of this same quadrant will blast the Bahamas during the week," Sosnowski added.
This track will give Irene time to strengthen into a major hurricane and become an even greater danger to lives and property at landfall.
Even though landfall is expected in the Carolinas, Irene should still graze the Florida Peninsula with strong winds beginning the second half of the week.
The severity and westward extent of these impacts will depend on how close Irene tracks to the coastline.
Meteorologists in the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center are also weighing the possibility of Irene curving farther to the northeast, perhaps paralleling not only the Florida coastline, but also the Carolina coastline.
A track inland or just east of the Carolinas would still raise concerns for potentially dangerous and destructive impacts farther north along the coast of North America, including New England and part of Atlantic Canada.
It is not just coastal communities in the Southeast that will endure the wrath of Irene in the upcoming days.
Torrential rain and gusty winds will likely spread northward across the East Coast after Irene makes landfall, threatening to cause widespread and serious flooding.
Rising temperatures and humidity across the mid-Atlantic will have it feeling like the end of June.
Slow-moving showers and storms will bring heavy rain and flooding potential.
Heavy rain returning to the northern Plains will generate a renewed flood threat for the Red River.
More than 20 tornadoes were reported by the National Weather Service with hundreds of hail and wind reports Sunday afternoon through Sunday night.
Several tornadoes touched down from Oklahoma to Iowa, including near Wichita, Kan., and Oklahoma City, on Sunday.
Severe storms may erupt from Oklahoma to Wisconsin on Monday as the storm system that spawned several tornadoes across the Plains on Saturday and Sunday shifts slowly to the east.
Alberta, Canada (1992)
Snowfall of 1-2" between Edmonton and Grand Prairie.
NYC (Central Park) (1996)
96 degrees. There were no 90 degrees days in July 1996.
Niagara, Ontario (1996)
During a showing of the movie "Twister" at a local drive-in, a real twister struck. There was some flying debris, but nobody was hurt.