Hurricane Irene struck the Bahamas and threatened the United States

NASSAU (Reuters) – On Thursday Powerful Hurricane Irene will struck the Bahamas from the Caribbean on a path that would bring it back to the East Coast of the United States next weekend from North Carolina , perhaps to New York.

Classified as Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale with five degrees, Irene comes with winds near 200 km / h. The islands of the southeast of the Bahamas have been swept by gusts of wind and rain while the sea level rose dangerously.

“There is a cyclone warning for the southeast, central and northwestern Bahamas,” said the U.S. central hurricane watch (NHC) on Thursday.

Tourists fled the face of increase in hurricane and shipping companies have removed the calls of their cruise ships in the Bahamas.

At 0600 GMT Thursday, the center of Irene was at a little over 150 km southeast of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas and over 1,200 km from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The first hurricane of the storm-filled 2011 Atlantic season is expected to gather power after it leaves the Bahamas on Thursday and race across open warm waters to clip North Carolina’s jutting Outer Banks region on Saturday afternoon.

Then, meteorologists predict that the hurricane would skirt the east coast of the United States over several hundred miles to New England.

Although the center of the hurricane stays away from the coast, it could hit cities like Washington and New York with the winds and rains, causing floods and power cuts.

Bill Read, director of the NHC, said that a “high threat” must be considered in New England, and perhaps in Long Island (New York) as of Sunday.

Irene, the first hurricane of the year to seriously threaten the U.S. Atlantic coast, could become a Category 4 hurricane on Thursday.

The hurricane could also be the first depression of the force to reach full force on American soil since the passage of Ike in Texas in 2008. But according to experts, it should not threaten U.S. oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico.

It has already killed two people in the Caribbean, a woman in Puerto Rico and a Haitian in the Dominican Republic were swept away by floods.

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