President Obama declared a state of emergency for Connecticut early Saturday morning as Hurricane Irene took aim at the state. If Irene continues on its path, it will be the first hurricane to directly hit the state in 20 years.
"This is perhaps the most serious climate event in state history since 1938," said Governor Dannel Malloy, making reference to that year's hurricane, which brought 17-foot storm surges and caused 600 deaths.
The storm was expected to make landfall in North Carolina around 8 a.m. Saturday, and hit Connecticut about 24 hours later. Irene weakened to a Category 1 hurricane Saturday morning, but was expected to remain at that strength when it hit southern Connecticut. The size of the storm's windfield means the region could be beat down by hurricane-strengh winds for hours.
"We are looking at New England getting a direct hit. That is certain — but whether it's Connecticut or Rhode Island is not quite certain yet," said Glenn Field, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. "The track forecast is becoming more and more certain with time, but a small deviation in the track can mean the difference between one state and the next" taking a direct hit.
Both Obama and Malloy declared a state of emergency, and the governor authorized the National Guard to mobilize the resources it needs to respond to the storm.
Malloy has also activated the state's search and rescue team.