NASSAU, Bahamas (CBS4) – A very powerful and dangerous Hurricane Irene pounded the Bahamas Thursday and there is widespread damage reported on at least two southern islands.
It was a powerful Category 3 hurricane with winds at 115 mph. When Irene blew intoNassau, there was no question the storm had arrived. Hurricane force wind gusts blew through and it was a bit of surprise to some people.
"We were hearing noises every time the wind would whip up, the windows would shake, the floor would shake," Rush Bevans told CBS4's Ted Scouten who is in Nassau covering the storm.
The wind also brought incredible waves crashing to the shore. The rough seas had some people worried about flooding storm surge.
On the streets, downed trees made driving difficult. Scouten described it as driving through an obstacle course.
One man, who Ted met on the street, drove to work battling those heavy winds and fallen trees.
"Some downed trees, utility poles and stuff like that," said Chris Knowles. "A lot of traffic lights are down in the area. I didn't see a lot of structural damage."
Scouten reported there are sporadic power outages across the city and storm surge has pushed into some of the low-lying areas. The impact to Nassau is not expected to be as high as some of the islands to its south. Scouten said he heard on the island of Acklins, 90% of the Lovely Bay settlement is gone.
Nassau's shopping district Bay Streetwill need some sprucing up before tourist come back. The area is littered with trees and debris, Scouten reported. But when the winds died down onlookers made their way out.
Some dove into huge waves at sea. Tourist Randi Petersen said she saw people in the water.
Irene is forecast to move over the northwesternBahamason Thursday as it continues to gain strength. The storm is expected to take a turn to the north-northwest on Thursday and a turn to the north early on Friday.
Hurricane force winds are spreading over the northwestern Bahamas. Hurricane and tropical storm force winds are still impacting the central Bahamas but are expected to diminish by Thursday afternoon or early evening.
In areas near the center of Irene, storm surge is expected to raise water levels by as much as seven to eleven feet. The surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves.
Irene is expected to produce six to twelve inches of rain over theBahamasover the next 36 hours.
WARNINGS AND WATCHES
The following warnings have been issued:
HURRICANE WARNINGS for the Southeastern, Central and Northwestern Bahamas.
HURRICANE WATCH for North Carolina from north of Surf City to the Virginia border including Pamlico, Albemarle and Currituck sounds.
TROPICAL STORM WATCH for north of Edisto Beach, south Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina
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