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Opinion: Heed the Hurricane Warnings

Weather blogger Matt Hammer says it's important to be prepared even if you think the storm will pass us by.

Editor's note: Matt Hammer is the creator of weather blog Hammer Out the Weather. He lives in East Setauket.

Hurricane Irene remains a potent threat to Long Island for this weekend. As of 2 p.m. EST, Hurricane Irene was located roughly 300 miles South-Southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C. packing winds of 100 miles per hour, a slightly weaker storm than it was on Thursday. It was thought that Irene would strengthen to a category four storm because of the warm waters it's over, but that simply hasn't happened. 

That being said, Irene still remains a strong storm and is still on track to create a very dangerous situation for us here on Long Island this weekend. It's important to heed the warnings of local authorities and get out of your area if you are told to do so.

While the weather is not by any means a perfect science, and we've been wrong before, there's too much consistency with Irene and the computer models wanting to bring the storm right up the East coast. All indications are it will continue to move in a direction that would cause significant problems for our area.

While an exact storm track has yet to be nailed down, Long Island residents should expect periods of heavy tropical rainfall, wind gusts to around 100 miles per hour and a strong storm surge when Irene really gets cranking around here from late Saturday night into the day on Sunday. By late Saturday night, things really take a turn for the worse and then from Sunday morning through Sunday night, expect the strongest winds and heaviest rain.

As of this time, Irene should be a category one storm when it reaches Long Island. Once a better idea of the track is determined, hopefully by later tonight, there will be a better understanding as to how much rain will fall as well as who will see the strongest winds.

It's been a while since we've had to deal with a storm like this and while I would like Irene to take an Earl-type track, at this time, that does not look too likely.

If you have any friends or relatives in the New York City area make sure they know that MTA services will be suspended as of noon Saturday.

If you have not prepared for the worst, please try your best to do so now. It's so much better to be safe than sorry when you're dealing with the wrath of Mother Nature.

Just use common sense when considering what to have. Also, have a bag ready to go in case you are told to leave your home. Know where your important documents are, things like that.

If Irene stays on her current projected path, it is possible she could knock out power for quite some time. It's happened on Long Island before, and it's only a matter of time before it happens again unfortunately.

Stay tuned to weather updates leading up to and through the storm on my website, and please consider preparing as best as possible for what Irene may provide us with.

Be safe and if you have any storm photos or video, be sure to send them in.

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