Hurricane Irene is battering the Bahamas this morning with 115-mph winds.  As the Category 3 storm gains strength a hurricane watch is in effect for North Carolina's Outer Banks through the Virginia border this morning. Some mandatory evacuations are already underway.  Irene is expected to become a Category 4 storm later today and to reach the Carolina coast this weekend.  From there forecasters predict the  storm  will track dangerously close to the mid-Atlantic coastline bringing heavy winds and rains throughout the Northeast.  Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says Americans all along the Eastern seaboard should pay close attention to regional weather warnings.