Irene strengthening, has potential to reach hurricane status by late Friday

| 8/12/2005

Tropical Storm Irene could reach hurricane status late Friday, Aug. 12, as the storm continues to intensify and move closer to the U.S. East Coast.

According to the National Weather Service, satellite imagery shows Irene appearing to strengthen in intensity. As of midday Friday, the storm was about 300 miles south-southwest of Bermuda and about 700 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, NC.

Irene is moving toward the northwest at about 13 mph and is expected to continue in this direction during the next 24 hours, with a gradual decrease in speed.

Maximum sustained winds are estimated near 65 mph, with higher gusts expected. Tropical storm-force winds are expected to extend outward up to 60 miles from the center of the storm.

According to The Associated Press, the storm could strike anywhere between South Carolina and New Jersey along the Eastern seaboard.