Authorities along the Atlantic coast of the United States have declared states of emergency and warned residents to prepare for a potential assault from Hurricane Irene.
Irene, which has been battering the Bahamian islands, is currently a major, Category 3 storm, with winds of up to 185 kilometers per hour.
It is expected to sweep toward the coast of North Carolina on August 27, before moving up toward the U.S. capital, Washington, and New York City.
Evacuations have already been ordered in parts of the states of North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland.
In New York City and Washington, authorities have warned people to be ready to evacuate in case of heavy storms.
In Washington, the storm threat has already led to the postponement of a dedication ceremony on August 28 for a new memorial to slain civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
compiled from agency reports