Storm's impact to be felt along long stretch of the East Coast.
Hurricane Irene is hammering the Bahamas, and the powerful Category 3 storm could still strengthen as it takes aim at the United States.
As Irene moves closer, the storm has almost the entire East Coast on edge.
"It could become a Category 4 hurricane as it comes parallel the coast of Florida, then begins a slow seasoning trend, but don't be fooled by that it will still be a large and dangerous hurricane impacting the Carolinas on Saturday and the North East on Sunday," warns the National Hurricane Center's Bill Read.
Mandatory evacuations are underway along the Outer Banks.
Residents are securing homes and business bracing for what could be the worst storm to hit the East Coast in seven years.
Forecasters worry Irene won't just strike the Outer Banks.
It is a rare track that could take it right up the coast into major metropolitan cities.
Tens-of-millions are now in that cone of uncertainty.
Amtrak has canceled its trains south of washington, dc beginning tomorrow, while officials all along the east coast are deciding what to do next.
More mandatory evacuation orders could be issued later today.