As Hurricane Irene continues to strengthen, its shape is becoming more defined. In this image, taken by the GOES satellite at 2:55 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 24, 2011, Irene has a distinct eye. The clouds spiraling around the center are becoming more compact, and the storm is more circular than in previous days. This animation of GOES images shows the storm develop.
The image also shows how large Irene has become, measuring several hundred kilometers across. The storm is threatening the Bahamas with strong winds and a dangerous storm surge 7 to 11 feet (2 to 3 meters) above normal tide.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Irene is a Category 3 storm with wind speeds near 195 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour). It is moving northwest at 19 km/hr (12 mph) over warm ocean waters. The storm is forecast to strengthen before moving over cooler waters and gradually weakening. The National Hurricane Center warns that Irene will remain a large and dangerous storm for several days.
Irene, the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season, was poised on August 26 to be the first to make land-fall in tU.S. since 2008. More than 50 million people were estimated to lie within the path of the storm.