Irene's intensity has changed little since Wednesday, but its reach has grown. Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 70 miles from the center, compared with 50 miles Wednesday. Tropical-storm-force winds now reach as far as 290 miles from the storm's center, versus 205 miles on Wednesday.
Over the past day, Irene's track forecast after leaving the North Carolina coast for the northeastern US has shifted slightly west. The track, which still carries large uncertainties so far in advance, brings the center of the storm ashore on Long Island near Hempstead, N.Y.
Although forecasters held out some expectation that Irene could strengthen to a Category 4 storm, at least briefly, en route to North Carolina's outer banks, the current outlook keeps the storm in the Category 3 range, with maximum sustained winds of 111 to 130 m.p.h. Forecasters caution that storms of this magnitude will deliver "devastating damage."