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Tue 23 Aug 2011 12:19 PM

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Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico

Storm looks set to be first hurricane to make landfall in US since Ike savaged Texas coast in 2008

Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico
Todd Kimberlain a hurricane forecaster studies computer models as he tracks Hurricane Irene at the National Hurricane Center on August 22, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Irene is the first Hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season with winds at 80mph currently and may hit the East coast later this week with higher winds projected (Getty Images)
Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico
Edward Velasquez loads up on water as he shops for hurricane supplies at Home Depot as he prepares for the possible arrival of Hurricane Irene on August 22, 2011 in West Palm Beach, Florida (Getty Images)
Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico
Hurricane Irene strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane as it swept north of the Dominican Republic on Monday and could hit the Southeast United States as a larger and more powerful storm during the weekend, forecasters said (Getty Images)
Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico
Senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila studies computer models as he tracks Hurricane Irene. The U.S. National Hurricane Center's five-day forecast showed the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season swinging parallel to Florida's east coast on Thursday for a possible landfall in North or South Carolina on Saturday (Getty Images)
Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico
In this handout GOES satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Irene reaches hurricane strength as it moves across Puerto Rico towards Hispaniola August 22, 2011 in the Caribbean Sea. Irene, the ninth named storm of the busy 2011 Atlantic season, looks set to be the first hurricane to hit the United States since Ike savaged the Texas coast in 2008 (Getty Images)
Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico
Irene was expected to strengthen further into a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale, with winds over 111 mph, before hitting the southeast US coast by the weekend, the Miami-based hurricane center said (Getty Images)
Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico
The storm was off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic on Monday night and was moving west-northwest (Getty Images)
Hurricane Irene aims at Southeast US after raking Puerto Rico
George Flo (R) and Ziomara Flo load their vehicle with hurricane supplies they purchased at Home Depot as they prepare for the possible arrival of Hurricane Irene on August 22, 2011 in West Palm Beach, Florida. In Haiti there were fears that rain from Irene could trigger deadly floods and mudslides in the country, which is still struggling to recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake (Getty Images)