25 Aug 2011

Hurricane Irene growing in force

3:48 pm on 25 August 2011

Hurricane Irene has grown to category three force as it heads towards the east coast of the United States.

Irene has wind strengths of 185km/h. The storm is near the Bahamas and could reach the American mainland by the end of the week.

Voluntary evacuations have begun on a barrier island off North Carolina. People are already stocking up on supplies.

Irene, now off the Bahamas, has brought flooding and power cuts across the Caribbean.

Federal officials warn it could do the same along the US east coast as far north as Maine, even if it stays offshore.