Tropical winds likely tonight, hurricane gusts tomorrow

08/27/2011 11:50 AM |
COURTESY NWS | A National Weather Service satellite image showing Irene’s location and cloud cover late Saturday morning.

Hurricane Irene continues to move toward Long Island after hitting the North Carolina coast  this morning.

Tropical force winds are expected overnight tonight on the East End with hurricane force winds later Sunday morning.

The unusually big storm was 50 miles west of Cape Hatteras at 11 a.m. on Saturday, moving north northeast at 15 mph with sustained winds of 85 mph.

It was expected to remain a category I hurricane, with winds of at least 74 mph, until passing over western Long Island sometime on Sunday.

New York City, Long Island and the waters east to Nantucket remain under a hurricane warning.

Hurricane force winds extend 90 miles from its eye and tropical storm winds extend 260 miles. A gust to 87 mph was measured at mid-morning at Cape Hatteras.

The storm at mid-morning was moving overland in eastern North Carolina. It was expected to weaken slightly before crossing back over the coastline near the Virginia border and hugging the coast as it moves north. The latest forecast  takes the center of the storm over Long Island just east of New York City.

A storm surge with water levels 4 to 8 feet above ground level are possible, according to the National Weather Service. Rainfall could total 6 to 10 inches and in isolated amounts up to 15 inches.