(MIAMI) -- It has been three years since an Atlantic hurricane has hit the United States, but that is all about to change as Hurricane Irene continues to gather strength and makes it way towards the nation's southern East Coast.
Now a category 2 hurricane, Irene is lashing the northern coast of the Dominican Republic Tuesday morning with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour.
Later Tuesday, "it's expected to move over the Turks and Caicos Islands near the southeast Bahamas," said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
But the biggest threat from Irene may come later in the week when the storm is projected to hit North and South Carolina, possibly as a category 3 or 4 hurricane.
"We are urging residents all along the extreme southeastern coast of the United States to be very -- to be paying very close attention to this storm. Folks in the Carolinas right now have the threat of a landfalling major hurricane here as we get into the weekend," Feltgen said.
He said that, according to models, Irene will "be curving more to the northwest than the north," and "it's impact on Florida will be to parallel the coast."
Feltgen advises those in the Carolinas to make sure they have all of their hurricane plans and supplies in place.
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