Update Sunday: More than 108,000 customers are without power in Northern Virginia.
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Update 3:15 a.m. Sunday: Dominion Virginia Power reported that as of 2:45 a.m., more than 1 million of its customers were without power in Virginia and North Carolina; 908,000 were in Virginia and 107,000 were in Northern Virginia.
At 2 a.m., Hurricane Irene was located very close to Ocean City, Md. and heading NNE at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds at 80 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Wind and rain will continue the remainder of tonight, diminishing sometime in the mid-morning hours.
The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management released this statement on its Fairfax County Emergency Blog at 2:30 a.m.:
Hurricane Irene is beginning to diminish in Fairfax County. The National Weather Service predicts another 0.5 to 1 inch of rain until daybreak. Sustained winds will be 25-30 mph with 30-40 mph gusts, slowly diminishing Sunday afternoon.
Update 7:28 p.m.: As of 7 p.m., Dominion Power reports that over 750,000 customers are without power, 22,000 of which are in Northern Virginia.
Without Power Northern Virginia 5,338 Shenandoah Valley 1,480 Richmond Metro 223,495 Southside Virginia 68,474 Gloucester/Northern Neck 61,928 Southeastern Virginia 694,049 North Carolina area 121,223
Update 3:42 p.m.: Hurricane Irene continued to pound eastern North Carolina and Virginia Saturday afternoon as rain and wind both increased across Fairfax County. Tropical storm conditions are continuing to spread northward and rain and wind are now starting to pick up in New York City.
The Category 1 hurricane has sustained winds of 85 miles per hour and is moving north-northeast at 13 miles per hour, according to the 2 p.m. ET advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane is now centered less than 90 miles south of Norfolk, Va.
The center of the storm will move across northeastern North Carolina during the afternoon. The hurricane is forecast to move over the Mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday night and over southern New England on Sunday. The worst weather in Northern Virginia will occur between 6 p.m. tonight and 6 a.m. Sunday.
Update, 12:38 p.m.: Wind gusts topping 30 mph and heavier rains are hitting coastal Virginia as Hurricane Irene pounds the East Coast late Saturday morning.
It was about 50 miles west of Cape Hatteras just after 11 a.m., Capital Weather reported.
Howard Bernstein, meteorologist for Washington D.C.'s WUSA9, said the storm could be shifting further west, bringing more inland rain.
Meanwhile, Gov. Bob McDonnell said this morning that he asked for and received a federal emergency declaration, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide supplies, equipment and other needed resources to state and local government agencies in southeastern Virginia.
The federal declaration does not provide disaster assistance to individuals, which would be handled separately.
Original, 9:07 a.m.: Less than 24 hours before she is expected to reach Virginia, Hurricane Irene has made landfall on the Carolina coast.
The now-Category 1 storm recorded "sustained winds of 80 mph" near Jacksonville around 6:15 a.m. before hitting Cape Lookout, NC, a little more than an hour later, according to the Associated Press.
The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning for Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William, Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George counties as well as Falls Church and Alexandria. The warning includes the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland.
Howard Bernstein, meteorologist for the District of Columbia's WUSA9, predicts wind gusts between 40–60 mph when the eye of the storm reaches Maryland early Sunday.
"Rain could be anywhere from 2–4 inches," Bernstein told Patch.
The storm was about 330 miles south of the District of Columbia as of 8 a.m.
"I would expect some power outages," said Bernstein, who cautioned against damage the high winds could cause. "If you have tall trees outside your house, don’t sleep upstairs."
Category 1 hurricanes are defined as having a central barometric pressure of 28.94 inches or more, winds of 74 to 95 mph and a 4- to 5-foot storm surge while causing minimal damage. Irene had earlier in the week been a Category 3 storm, meaning winds up to 130 mph and storm surges as high as 12 feet while causing "extensive" damage.
AccuWeather reported storm surges as high as 8.5 feet on the Carolina coast at 7:30 a.m., around the same time rainfall from Irene’s outer band reached Maryland and Delaware beaches.
The Weather Channel has issued an “extreme” threat level for Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland along with parts of Southern Maryland. The threat level is considered “high” from Baltimore to the District of Columbia and “medium” or “low” in the far western parts of the state.
About 29 million people are under a hurricane warning, according to The Weather Channel.