Aug. 22: Hurricane Irene is seen over the coastal waters of Venezuela. (Handout/GETTY IMAGES)

This post has been updated.

UPDATE: Hurricane Irene is less than two days away from hitting the East Coast, which means it’s time to prepare.

According to Capital Weather Gang’s Hurricane Tracking Center the chance that the storm will hit the coast or even head slightly inland is higher that it was before. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for the North Carolina Outer Banks and a hurricane watch extends from Surf City to the Virginia border.


Use this post to find resources, track news in real-time and view tips on establishing a plan.

Aug. 23: Hurricane Irene approaches the Bahamas. (HO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)


If you’re in or near D.C.:

• Gov. Robert F. McDonnell declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Irene. (Update, Thursday 4:24 p.m.: The governors of Maryland and Virginia have both declared a state of emergency.)

• Is it time to rethink our collective disaster preparedness? Our On Innovations blog has some thoughts on how Washington responded yesterday, and how that may affect how we approach this weekend’s storm coverage. (Post columnist Robert McCartney also shares his thoughts on D.C.’s “teachable moment” here.)

• For now, the weather outside is mostly sunny. But depending on the track of Irene, Washington could expect to see anything from flooding rain to high winds over the weekend.

Is your family ready for an emergency? Blogger Janice D’Arcy revisited the importance of having a family disaster plan after Tuesday’s earthquake hit. In May, she posted a longer explainer,which includes signing up for D.C.’s city disaster alert system.

Preparing for the hurricane, Resort landscaping manager Chris Jaeger fills his truck and 10 five-gallon gas containers Tuesday morning in Garden City, S.C. (Steve Jessmore/AP)

If you’re closer to the coast:

American Red Cross has opened its shelters. Find a shelter using their Google map here or grab the information on your mobile device here.

• Irene an “extreme” risk to coastal mid-Atlantic, southern New England.

• Hurricane Irene is a category 3 storm with the potential to produce a storm surge of 7 to 11 feet. Still, Capital Weather Gang reports that a direct hit to North Carolina to New England is still not a sure thing.

• View this FEMA checklist of things to do before a hurricane hits.

Know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. American Red Cross has this explainer:

Hurricane Watch—Hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours. Review your hurricane plans, keep informed and be ready to act if a warning is issued.

Hurricane Warning—Hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.”

Stay informed with the latest news from NASA’s hurricane coverage or from its hurricane Twitter feed in the stream below.


Follow real-time updates from our list of weather resources here.