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Hurricane Irene heads up East Coast

A hurricane watch is in effect for north of Surf City, N.C., to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the Pamlico, Albemarle and Curritck sounds, the National Hurricane Center announced Thursday morning.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for north of Edisto Beach, S.C., to Surf City, N.C.

Hurricane Irene remained a powerful Category 3 storm this morning, with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. The storm was about 65 miles east-northeast of Nassau, Bahamas, and about 670 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Irene was expected to strengthen tonight, according to reports.

Interests in the Mid-Atlantic states and New England are advised to monitor Irene’s progress. Current forecasts show the storm moving over the North Carolina/Virginia border early Sunday before heading into New England – for what would be the first hurricane strike since Bob in 1991.

Click here to track the hurricane.

In New England, commercial fishermen and some pleasure boat owners pulled lobster traps, fishing nets and boats out of the water in anticipation of a Sunday visit from Irene, which became a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday, ready to lash the Bahamas with 120-mph winds.

On the other side of Point Judith Pond, at the Point Judith Marina in Snug Harbor, a crane and several lifts were busy pulling out the 45 pleasure boats on service coordinator Tim Green’s list.

On Wednesday, the price for removing a boat from the water was $8 per foot of boat length, Green said. On Thursday, the price will be $18 a foot, on Friday, $30, and on Saturday, $40 a foot.

Click here for the full report from Rhode Island.

People throughout New England, and the east coast, are preparing for Hurricane Irene this weekend.

It has been 20 years since a hurricane’s wrath has been felt in Massachusetts. Hurricane Bob came ashore in 1991 as a Category Two storm ready to wreak havoc.

“The force of it just blew everything right down,” said one woman.

Now, a storm that could be as strong as one of Massachusetts’ worst has set her sights on New England.

Click here for a local TV broadcast comparing the two storms, and click here for a clip of coverage of Hurricane Bob from the still fledgling Weather Channel in 1991.