TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - Hurricane Irene maintained her strength as a Category 3 over the Bahamas.
Winds are rated at 115 miles per hour with storm surges of more than 10 feet possible.
The storm is moving northeast over the northern islands of the Bahamas and heading towards the open water off the Southeast coast.
This water is very warm and Irene could gather more strength, possibly becoming a Category 4 hurricane, as she moves north along the Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coastlines.
She is forecasted to hit the Outer Banks and Eastern North Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
It's likely Irene will weaken slightly before the eye makes landfall. Land creates friction, which tears the storm apart.
Irene is then forecasted to track north, skirting along the Mid-Atlantic coast, and could even hit Long Island, New York as a weaker hurricane or tropical storm Sunday afternoon.
However, the cone of uncertainty in the forecast could move Irene inland over the Carolinas or continue to keep her eye at sea, which would be the ideal situation.
A Category 3 storm is considered a Major Hurricane and can produce significant damage where it makes landfall. Wind speeds are 111 to 130 MPH. Storm surges can reach anywhere between 9' to 12' near the eye of the storm.
In 1938 a Category 3 hurricane nicknamed "The Long Island Express", made landfall during high tide along Long Island, New York and the Connecticut coast.
There were at least 600 deaths, 1,700 injuries, and around 57,000 homes destroyed.
Katherine Hepburn's family home was destroyed in that hurricane. She and some of her family swam out of the house before it was destroyed. All of them survived.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) says that damage from the Long Island Express would equal about $38 billion in insurance damages today.
III President Dr. Robert Hartwig says "More than half of the total value of all insured property in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine is categorized as coastal. Collectively, AIR Worldwide estimates that the insured value of coastal property in these four states plus New Jersey, Rhode Island and New Hampshire exceeds $4.5 trillion."
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