MIAMI (CBS4) – Hurricane Irene, a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, continues to thrash the Bahamas as it continues moving towards the northwest at 12 miles per hour.

There is almost no threat of the core of Irene impacting South Florida but we will feel the effects of the storm with winds from 25 to 35 mph and gusts to around 50 mph in stronger squalls, according to CBS4 Meteorologist Craig Setzer.

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In addition to the wind, torrential rainbands may set up across parts of South Florida creating local flooding problems.  Also, high surf and dangerous boating conditions are expected Thursday into Thursday night.  The onset of rain squalls and stronger winds should occur after midnight Wednesday and last into early Friday morning.

Anticipating squally weather, the National Park Service has closed the islands of  Biscayne National Park.

Except for the possibility of some power outages and downed trees, no significant impact is anticipated in South Florida.

Everyone should allow extra time for their morning and evening commutes on Thursday.

In a joint interview between the National Hurricane Center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NHC director Bill Read said in Florida, “the biggest problem will be for people getting out into the rip current and swells.”

Find Out What Else Was Said

As Hurricane Irene moves in on the southern Bahamas, it’s causing flight cancellations at Miami and Ft. Lauderdale’s airports.

CLICK HERE for more information on cancellations.

At 11:00 p.m.,  Hurricane Irene was about 150 miles east-southeast of Nassau with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph with higher gusts.

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Irene was moving to the northwest near 12 mph and this general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday night. A turn toward the north-northwest and then north are expected Thursday and Thursday night.

On this forecast track, the center of Irene will move across the southeastern and central Bahamas through Wednesday night and over the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday.

Bahamas Preps For Irene’s Arrival

Irene is currently a Category 3 storm but could strengthen and become a Category 4 hurricane by Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center is urging interests from the Carolinas northward through New England to monitor the progress of Irene. Hurricane and tropical storm watches will likely be required for portions of the coast of the Carolinas early Thursday.

WARNINGS AND WATCHES

The following warnings have been issued:

HURRICANE WARNINGS for the Southeastern, Central and Northwestern Bahamas.

Tourists on a North Carolina barrier island began evacuating early Wednesday. It won’t be easy to get thousands of people off Ocracoke Island, which is accessible only by boat. The 16-mile-long barrier island is home to about 800 year-round residents and a tourist population that swells into the thousands when vacationers rent rooms and cottages. Tourists were told to evacuate Wednesday. Island residents were told to get out on Thursday.

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