3:52 a.m. – Reporter Renee Chou says heavy rains are thrashing the Outer Banks as Irene barrels toward land.
3:20 a.m. – The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash and Wilson counties until 9:15 a.m.
2:38 a.m. – Brooke Norris from the Wayne County part of Princeton says she lost power around 2 a.m., cutting off electricity to her turkeys and 17 tobacco barns. She adds, "(The) wind is really different than when I went to sleep at 11, MUCH stronger."
2:21 a.m. – Rescuers near Castle Hayne in New Hanover County were forced to suspend their search for a man who jumped or fell into the Cape Fear River as conditions deteriorate with Irene's approach.
2:19 a.m. – Beach web cams from Topsail Island are showing that some waves crashing onshore are taller than the pier.
1:54 a.m. – More than 54,000 Progress Energy customers are without power across the state, the utility reports. Outages are heavily affecting Cumberland, Sampson, Edgecombe, Duplin, Wayne, Lenoir, New Hanover, Bladen, Columbus, Craven, Pamlico, Carteret and Onslow counties. About 1,400 Duke Energy customers are also without power in Durham.
12:37 a.m. SATURDAY – The state Department of Transportation is warning residents that storm surges are likely to make some coastal roadways impassable, particularly N.C. Highway 12, U.S. Highway 17, U.S. Highway 158 and U.S. Highway 64. People are "strongly encouraged" to stay off the road on the Outer Banks.
11:46 p.m. – Beyond the forecast, YOU help us cover the storm. We're using your photos and tracking Twitter and Facebook for what's going on in your neighborhood.
We were especially amused by this photo submitted on Facebook that shows a WRAL viewer watching Greg give the Irene update.
11:00 p.m. – The Bellhaven Fire Department in Beaufort County said they've received reports that a tornado ripped through the area shortly before 11 p.m., knocking a trailer off its foundation and tearing the roof off a car dealership. The National Weather Service has not confirmed the report.
9:30 p.m. – Terry Wood of Harnett County sent this message to WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel: "On the way to school this morning, my 9-year-old was saying his prayers ... 'Dear God please let the hurricane come, but not too bad.' Of course I had to ask why he prayed this... 'Well Mom if I'm going to be a weatherman, I NEED to see a hurricane.' He has been going around the neighborhood this week telling EVERYONE to get ready. Needless to say every year for career day he dresses as Kendall Fishel."
8:45 p.m. – Reporter Amanda Lamb says the town of Wrightsville Beach has lost power.
8:40 p.m. – Josh Edwards sent this photo of a pier in Southport, where heavy rains nearly caused flooding Friday afternoon.
8:15 p.m. – The Durham Bulls is reassuring baseball fans that Saturday's 7:05 p.m. home game is still on. Raleigh native Chris Archer is starting.
7:50 p.m. –
After Amanda Bron and Henry Boyd had to move their wedding up by one day
to beat the worst effects of Hurricane Irene on the Wilmington area, a wedding guest sent this photo of the bride and her brother Mike.
7:45 p.m. – The city of Kinston's public safety department has declared a state of emergency.
6:20 p.m. – Melissa Worley in Sanford said that afternoon storms knocked down trees and power lines, cutting off electrical service to much of the city. She took this picture of a fallen tree.
5:55 p.m. – Erin Hartness tweets from Kill Devil Hills: "Looks like most people around Kill Devil, Kitty Hawk, and Nags Head have evacuated - still some hearty souls riding it out."
5:30 p.m. – WRAL News photographer Greg Clark took this photo of a boarded home in Kill Devil Hills.
4:55 p.m. – Jill Fields took this photo of storm clouds approaching Jordan Lake off U.S. Highway 64.
4:40 p.m. – Reporter Laura Leslie says the first bands of Irene are moving over the Capitol Complex in Raleigh.
4:30 p.m. – Johnny Drew says his industrial-sized rain gauge measured more than one inch of rain Fayetteville over 40 minutes.
Dave Butler took this picture of clouds rolling into Cary from Regency Park .
4:10 p.m. – About 10 volunteers with the American Red Cross in South Carolina are heading to the North Carolina coast to help with disaster relief.
3:35 p.m. – UNC Wilmington student Hannah Pate says she came home for the storm and took this picture in Sampson County.
3:25 p.m. – WRAL assignment editor Jennifer Joyner says she's seeing heavy rainfall in Fayetteville. "My 7-year-old said, 'Mommy, it's like God just flipped a switch!'" she said.
3:10 p.m. – A viewer, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent these pictures of the Henderson Boulevard access on Atlantic Beach and the Oceanana pier.
2:40 p.m. – Reporter Sloane Heffernan found this funny sign on a restaurant in Wilmington:
2:30 p.m. – K. Phillips took this picture of the Holden Beach pier.
2:15 p.m. – Kelli Wingfield's photo shows clouds rolling in over U.S. Highway 264 East in Wilson County.
1:50 p.m. – Jeff Wood, of Elm City, was in Edgecombe County Friday morning as clouds from Irene moved into eastern North Carolina.
1:40 p.m. – Reporter Renee Chou enjoys some quiet time on the beach at Kill Devil Hills. "The only time I'll have the beach all to myself," she tweeted, along with this picture.
1 p.m. – This is how a news crew sees a hurricane. Reporter Erin Hartness sent this picture to show that she and photographer Pete James are the only ones on U.S. Highway 64 heading into the Outer Banks.
Noon – WRAL reporter Amanda Lamb is at Wrightsville Beach and said she just experienced a serious downpour and some strong wind gusts.
11:45 a.m. – In anticipation of Hurricane Irene, some airlines have begun canceling flights, according to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. American Airlines and American Eagle have canceled all flights scheduled for Saturday. American Airlines will resume operations at 10 a.m. Sunday. "At this time, approximately 70 of the airport’s 400 daily scheduled flights have been canceled for Saturday ... More delays and cancellations could be announced later today and tomorrow," RDU officials said.
11:30 a.m. – Speaking from his vacation rental on Martha's Vineyard, President Barack Obama says "all indications point to this being a historic hurricane."
11:25 a.m. – North Carolina has activated its toll-free emergency information bilingual hotline to provide info to callers about Irene. It will give updated weather information, highway closings, shelter information, feeding sites and will serve as a referral line for people in need of help after the storm. English and Spanish speaking people should call 1-888-835-9966. Deaf and hard of hearing people may call 1-877-877-1765 (TTY) or 711 (Relay N.C.)
11 a.m. – WRAL photographer Richard Adkins (@tvtog) tweeted this picture of Gov. Bev Perdue speaking to the media. She urged residents to flee the coast and said Irene could affect 3.5 million people in our state.
10:15 a.m. – Renee Chou (@chouchoutv) tweeted this picture of the North Carolina DOT rolling out heavy equipment near Bonner Bridge to help keep N.C. Highway 12 clear.
10:10 a.m. – Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano says: "Given the amount of rain associated with this storm and the likelihood of flooding, I would encourage you not to focus too much on whether it’s a Category 2 or a 3. If you are in the storm’s path, you won’t be able to tell much difference."
9:50 a.m. – Paxton Galvanek, of Fuquay-Varina, sent this picture of a boarded up house in Avon.
9:30 a.m. – WRAL.com will carry these Hurricane Irene news conferences live today.
- 10 a.m. - FEMA
- 10:30 a.m - Gov. Bev Perdue
- 11:30 a.m. - President Barack Obama
8:50 a.m. – Hurricane Irene's outer bands have started bringing rain to North and South Carolina.
8:30 a.m. – Reporter Bryan Mims just talked with Atlantic Beach resident Sam O'Berry, who says he plans to stay and ride out the storm. "I wanna see it. I just wanna see what a Category 3 will do," he said. O'Berry says he plans to fill up his bathtub so he has water to flush the toilet. He also plans to be the first surfer on the beach Sunday after Irene heads north.
8:20 a.m. – This sign at Whalebone Surf Shop in Nags Head asks Irene to go offshore as the hurricane threatens the barrier islands. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)
8 a.m. – Irene is 406 miles south, southeast of Raleigh, moving at 14 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. It's still a Category 2 storm.
7:50 a.m. – Swells from Hurricane Irene and 6- to 9-foot waves are popping up along the Outer Banks. Winds will begin picking up later in the day, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Hal Austin.
7:30 a.m. – WRAL photographer Jamie Munden just posted this picture on Twitter (@JamieMunden) of reporter Bryan Mims on the Atlantic Beach pier. Bryan says people have been walking their dogs on the beach and drinking coffee on the pier this morning.
7 a.m. – WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner says she expects Hurricane Irene to regain strength and return to a Category 3 storm in the next several hours. The center of the storm could make landfall around 2 p.m. Saturday anywhere from Morehead City to Cape Hatteras. Reporter Renee Chou is in Kill Devil Hills in Dare County. She has talked with several locals who plan to stay put. They were loading up on what they called "the essentials" – water, ice and beer.
6:30 a.m. – Irene is inching closer to North Carolina, bringing bigger waves and swells to the coast and some cloud cover over the Triangle. Reporter Bryan Mims says "the waves are churning" at Atlantic Beach "We plan to stick it out as long as we can," he said.
6 a.m. – Hurricane Irene is moving off the coast of Florida and Georgia at about 14 mph as a Category 2 storm. It's about 456 miles from Raleigh and has 110 mph winds. Irene is expected to increase to a Category 3 again before hitting our state.