Authorities along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard, from Miami to New York, were closely watching Irene's possible path, with at least some computer forecast models showing it might even sweep up near New York City early next week.
At 5 a.m. EDT Irene had top winds of 100 miles per hour and was 50 miles northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
'NON-EVENT' IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The storm seemed to have spared the economically important tourist area of Punta Cana as it passed by earlier in the day.
``It was a non-event. ... It was kind of just of rainy day, it could have been a lot worse,'' Mike Bryant, who runs a small adventure tourism company at Punta Cana, told Reuters.
Earlier, Irene buffeted Puerto Rico with winds and heavy rain, knocking out power and downing trees.
In Haiti there were fears that rain from Irene could trigger deadly floods and mudslides in a country still struggling to recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake.