Hurricane Irene: Could President Obama face evacuation?
First, President Obama's golf game was interrupted by an earthquake. Now, it appears that Hurricane Irene is beating a path toward Martha's Vineyard, where the president is vacationing with his wife and two daughters.
The National Hurricane Center's latest forecast shows Hurricane Irene reaching landfall in the Carolinas late Friday and early Saturday before raking its way up the East Coast and into New England. Coastal areas are urged to keep tabs on the storm's path and remain alert for possible evacuation orders as the hurricane continues to grow in intensity.
It swelled to a Category 3 storm overnight with winds that could exceed 110 mph, and remains on track to gain in strength and ferocity to become a Category 4 hurricane.
President Obama appears to be in the path of the so-called eye of the storm whether he stays or goes.
He's scheduled to speak Sunday morning at the formal dedication for the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. If Hurricane Irene's path holds true to its most current projections, it could hit the D.C. area Sunday morning, and Massachusettes later in the day.
The eye of the storm appears to be sticking to the coastal outlines, which could spell trouble for Martha's Vineyard, an island accessible only by boat or plane. As it has done throughout the storm, the National Hurricane Center stresses that the projected path could change dramatically as weather projections come into sharper focus over the next several days.
Residents are urged to contact their local emergency officials to find out now -- while there's still time to plan -- about evacuation procedures, available shelters and any other oustanding questions about fleeing to safety. They are also urged to check, double-check, and check once more their hurricane evacuation kits in case of a worst-case scenario.
Of course, President Obama doesn't have to worry about such things for himself. The Federal Emergency Management Agency held a conference call to update the media about the upcoming storm. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told the L.A. Times: "We briefed the president yesterday and are keeping him and his team updated."
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Photo: President Obama on the links earlier this week on Martha's Vineyard. Credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press