Posted at 02:30 PM ET, 08/24/2011

Ocracoke Island evacuations begin ahead of Hurricane Irene


Jeremy Pickett and Thad Midgett board the windows of a store in Cape Hatteras, N.C., in preparation for Hurricane Irene. (JOSE LUIS MAGANA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Visitors to 16-mile-long Ocracoke Island off the coast of North Carolina have been evacuated ahead of Hurricane Irene. Residents will be asked to leave their homes Thursday morning ahead of the Category 3 storm, Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) said at a news conference. “It’s a standard precaution,” the governor said. “We want folks [in eastern North Carolina] to take this storm seriously and to get prepared.”

(Get updates on Hurricane Irene from the Capital Weather Gang.)

Wednesday’s evacuation served as a “test” to see whether people would leave when faced with the possibility of a hurricane, according to the Associated Press. The North Carolina Department of Transportation said in a tweet that ferries leaving the barrier island, part of the popular Outer Banks, are only half-full and traffic is moderate. They expect traffic to increase as the day goes on.

Hurricane Irene has passed through Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean, and is headed for the East Coast, the Capital Weather Gang reports. It’s current trajectory suggests that it will hit North Carolina directly, but nothing is certain. Should Irene stay on its current path, the National Hurricane Center’s forecast predicts that it will make landfall Saturday.

Watch Perdue’s news conference below:

By  |  02:30 PM ET, 08/24/2011

 
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