The first major hurricane to hit the United States in three years may soon make landfall — and the storm may hit far from where such storms normally strike.
The storm “may continue to strengthen and could make landfall anywhere along the East Coast,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
And the fact that Irene is headed north — instead of aiming at Florida or Gulf Coast states — concerns federal officials.
“There’s a tendency for people to think that hurricanes are a southern thing, but I think folks in the Mid-Atlantic and northern coastal areas need to be taking this seriously,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said Tuesday.
People “need to be prepared now” for the possibility of a major storm battering their area later this week, Fugate said during a call with reporters Tuesday morning.
Among other concerns, Hurricane Irene may disrupt Sunday’s planned formal dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall in Washington.
FEMA is already responding to significant flooding from Irene in Puerto Rico. President Obama issued an emergency declaration for the island commonwealth Monday night and agency officials are assisting local officials in making damage assessments, Fugate said.
Federal storm response teams are also pre-deploying to North Carolina, which is expected to take the brunt of Irene later this week. FEMA officials will assist state authorities with evacuation route procedures, Fugate said.
For more Hurricane Irene updates, visit The Post’s Capital Weather Gang
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost