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THE BIG ONE Hurricane Irene: Strongest Storm in Decades? Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Hurricane Irene: Strongest Storm in Decades?

Forecasters said Wednesday that the massive Hurricane Irene could be the strongest storm in decades and they predicted it could be upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane by Thursday—and it’s on track to hit the East Coast. The National Hurricane Center said the storm is currently a Category 3 and is approaching the Bahamas with 120 mph winds. “We are very concerned about what’s going to happen in New England,” said National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read. Read said he the benchmark storm is the famous “Great Hurricane” of 1938. Evacuations began Wednesday in North Carolina to prepare for the storm’s predicted landfall in the Carolinas on Saturday. The storm passed over the Acklins Islands in the southeastern Bahamas Wednesday morning with winds up to 115 miles. Bahamas officials reported late Wednesday that there had been heavy damage from the hurricane.

August 25, 2011 12:45 AM