Watching Irene

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:04pm

Storm reaches hurricane strength; could hit East Coast within days.

As it blew through Puerto Rico early Monday Hurricane Irene was just barely a Category One storm.

Still, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season knocked over several structures and knocked out power to at least 800,000 customers, half the island.

"The storm is likely to skirt the coast of the Dominican Republic over the next 24 hours and that's going to produce an awful lot of rain, three to six inches easily, maybe as much as ten" warns Weather Channel meteorologist Carl Parker.

It's the path Irene takes after that that has U.S. forecasters concerned, and many in Florida already preparing.

"Why wait? I mean, I'm not panicking, I just want to be ready," says Fort Myers resident Jane Stephen. "You're not going to be getting into the stores. Everybody is going to panic."

Most models have Irene skirting the southeastern seaboard by Friday after delivering what may be a 115 mile per hour blow to the Bahamas Thursday.

Forecasters say there's no system over the U.S. to stop Irene from strengthening.

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