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      Monday
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      Hurricane Irene daily updates and developments

      As we plan for the possibility of Hurricane Irene impacting the South Carolina coast later this week, we have gathered, in one place, the developments of the day.

      Friday developments:

      *Horry County and Surfside Beach closed their beaches to swimmers. Details here.

      *Hurricane Irene weakened a little and is now a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 100mph. It is forecast to re-strengthen back to a major Category 3 hurricane as it passes to our East Late Friday into Early Saturday.

      *The Grand Strand is still under a Tropical Storm Warning because Horry and Georgetown counties are expected to see tropical storm force winds (39+ mph) within the next 36 hours, but not expected to exceed 55mph at worst.

      For information on what newcomers to the area (and even those of us who've been through these storms before) need to know, check out Lindsey Theis' story.

      You can find closings, delays, and schedule changes by clicking here.

      For a list of ways you can prepare and answers to Frequently Asked Questions about hurricanes, click here.

      You can use our Interactive Hurricane Tracker by clicking here.

      Thursday developments:

      The Grand Strand is now under a tropical storm warning.

      North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has declared a state of emergency for the region east of Interstate 95 in preparation of approaching Hurricane Irene. The state has issued mandatory evacuations for parts of Eastern North Carolina, mostly in the Outer Banks. Perdue has reached out to President Barack Obama for help with quicker response efforts.

      Hurricane Irene remains a major Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph and is passing over the Bahamas. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Grand Strand, but this does not reflect a change in our forecast. The watch is issued because the Grand Strand COULD see tropical storm force winds (39+ mph) within the next 48 hours. While this may seem concerning, the impacts expected to our area and forecast track are unchanged with Irene still expected to pass well to our East.

      You can always get Chief Meteorologist Ed Piotrowski's latest outlook on Irene's track here.

      Officials in the Bahamas reported extensive property damage on the first two small islands slammed by Hurricane Irene. The storm's path poses the greatest threat to the country's smaller, less-populated islands. There are no immediate reports of major injuries or deaths on Acklins and Crooked islands.

      State officials and an outside expert say North Carolina is well prepared for the kind of large-scale evacuation that might be made necessary by Hurricane Irene.

      Don Lewis, a Florida-based consultant, says leaders at both the state and local levels have enough practice and experience to make emergency planning almost second nature. Lewis says the Outer Banks in particular have developed impressive procedures for getting large numbers of people out of the way of an advancing storm.

      The region's main wakeup call was Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The massive storm caught many people off-guard, leading to hours-long traffic jams in South Carolina as people tried to flee the storm.

      Ocracoke Island and Dare County have ordered tourists to evacuate. Currituck County should have a decision Thursday afternoon.

      Wednesday developments:

      The US Coast Guard sent out a notice to warn boaters about Irene, even without a direct hit, she can still bring choppy and unsafe conditions.

      The South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Office is now at Opcon Level 3 , which means a "disaster or emergency situation is likely. The South Carolina Emergency Operations Plan and the appropriate specific impact hazard emergency plan is activated." Horry County's Emergency Management Division remains at Opcon Level 4 which means county officials are in contact with South Carolina Emergency Management, the National Weather Service and other coastal communities.

      Governor Nikki Haley said she is not planning any evacuations since the forecast has Hurricane Irene trending even further east away from our coast.

      Early Wednesday, Hurricane Irene has strengthened into our first major hurricane of the season. With sustained winds of 115mph, Hurricane Irene is now a Category 3 storm. It is centered about 335 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas and is moving west-northwest near 9 mph (15 kph). Irene continues to enter a favorable environment for continued strengthening with very warm waters and low wind shear. It is still expected to make a gradual turn northward and is forecast to pass off of the South Carolina coastline on Saturday.

      For information on what newcomers to the area (and even those of us who've been through these storms before) need to know, check out Lindsey Theis' story .

      You can find closings, delays, and schedule changes by clicking here.

      For a list of ways you can prepare and answers to Frequently Asked Questions about hurricanes, click here.

      You can use our Interactive Hurricane Tracker by clicking here .

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