Hurricane Irene Hits NC
Its winds have slowed slightly, but its bite hasn't faded, say experts
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2011 5:52 AM CDT
Updated Aug 27, 2011 7:00 AM CDT
Hurricane Irene's outer bands reach Kill Devil Hills, N.C., early Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011.   (AP Photo/Robert Ray)
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(Newser) – The good news: Hurricane Irene's power faded slightly overnight, with the National Hurricane Center reporting that the storm's top sustained winds have slipped from 100mph to 90mph. The bad news: "The hazards are still the same," according to an NHC hurricane specialist. "The emphasis for this storm is on its size and duration, not necessarily how strong the strongest winds are." And those strong winds have officially hit North Carolina, reports the AP.

The storm's center passed near Cape Lookout on the southern tip of North Carolina's Outer Banks around 7:30am EDT; it remains on track to hit New England and the NYC area. Gusts as high as 94mph were recorded near Jacksonville, NC; 200 miles northeast, in Nags Head, the surf pushed as high as the backs of some of the houses and hotels fronting the strand. The AP notes that at least 2.3 million East Coasters have been ordered to evacuate their homes. "This is probably the largest number of people that have been threatened by a single hurricane in the United States," says a geography professor. (Track the hurricane using a new Google map.)