Hurricane Irene makes landfall in North Carolina


In this handout from NOAA, Hurricane Irene is seen on the coast of North Carolina August 27, 2011 in the Atlantic Ocean. Irene, now a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, is making its was up the eastern coast of the U.S.


NOAA via Getty Images

Hurricane Irene made landfall in North Carolina on Saturday, becoming the first hurricane to hit the continental United States since 2008.

The storm came ashore just east of Cape Lookout in North Carolina, The New York Times reports, with the eye of the storm reaching land by 7:30 a.m. eastern time.

While Irene has weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, it is still expected to move slowly up the east coast, and hurricane warnings have been issued for the next 48 hours in North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, ABC News reports.

And despite the downgrade, the National Hurricane Center on Saturday said Irene is still very dangerous.

"[T]he emphasis for this storm is on its size and duration, not necessarily how strong the strongest winds are," Hurricane specialist Mike Brennan said Saturday.

The Miami Herald described the scene in North Carolina:

The storm’s core drilled into North Carolina’s Outer Banks with 85-mph winds, thick sheets of charcoal-colored rain, and an 4-to-9-foot coastal storm surge topped by battering waves. It then sliced entirely through the state’s eastern quadrant.

Reports of deaths have already started to come in.

ABC News reports that a North Carolina man hit by a falling tree limb outside his home early on Saturday was the Hurricane Irene's first casualty.

In Wilmington, Delaware, the Times said, conditions made it impossible to search for a teenager who jumped off a boat ramp into a churning sea.

And according to the Herald, an "incautious surfer" was reportedly killed along Virginia's coast.

More than two million people have been told to evacuate along the eastern seaboard, with President Barack Obama issuing a warning that Irene could be an "historic hurricane."

The Times reports that Irene is now projected to hug the coast through Saturday and make landfall again on Sunday, on Long Island, just east of New York City.

FEMA, the Coast Guard, the National Guard and the Red Cross have all made emergency response preparations.

In New York City, in addition to evacuations, officials were getting ready to shut down the entire mass transit and subway system for the fist time in history on Saturday