Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said all Virginians should prepare for Hurricane Irene, which is expected to bring strong wind and massive amounts of rain to the state Saturday.

“It is important that everyone to know that Hurricane Irene is a very dangerous storm,’’ he told reporters. “What’s critical is that the residents take this storm seriously.”

McDonnell (R) said Virginia will be “significantly impacted” by hurricane-force winds and flooding, particularly in Hampton Roads and on the Eastern Shore and Tangier Island.

The eye of the hurricane is expected to come near the Virginia-North Carolina border early Sunday morning, but McDonnell said he expects rainfall to begin Saturday and continue for 30 hours.

Earlier Thursday, McDonnell declared a state of emergency and authorized localities to issue mandatory evacuation orders for their residents if they deem it necessary.

McDonnell has spoken to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D) about their efforts. He will speak to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) later Thursday. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) called him to offer resources and advice on coping with the hurricane.

McDonnell will brief leaders of all counties and cities Thursday afternoon about the state’s preparations for Irene and speak to all state legislators Friday morning in a conference call.