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North Carolina (CNN) Somewhat weakened but still ferocious, Hurricane Irene slammed into the North Carolina coast Saturday morning, drenching the coastline and starting an ominous northward march up the Atlantic Seaboard.
The massive Category 1 hurricane made landfall near Cape Lookout around 7:30 a.m. with top sustained winds of 85 miles per hour thrashing sand and water in every direction.
Kitty Hawk braced next for a nasty right hook from Irene.
Tens of thousands lose power in North Carolina
Ten of thousands of people in North Carolina were without power as reports of damage started filtering in.
About 190,000 customers of Progress Energy lost power, said company spokeswoman Lauren Bradford.
Irene makes landfall Saturday morning near Cape Lookout, North Carolina
The National Hurricane Center said extremely dangerous storm tide could raise water levels by as much as 9 feet in some parts of North Carolina. It also warned of the possibility of tornadoes touching down.
Gusty winds will affect restoration efforts even with tripled crews, she said.
Forecasters expect Irene to bring deadly storm surge, heavy rainfall and misery to millions.
New York airports will be closed to incoming flights Saturday.
Irene’s current track could make it the most destructive hurricane to strike New York City since 1938.
New York City issued an unprecedented mandatory evacuation order, covering low-lying areas of all five of the city’s boroughs. About 250,000 people are affected.
The order meant five New York City hospitals had to evacuate patients.
Major airlines – including US Airways, American, United, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and AirTran – dropped ticket-change fees for passengers scheduled to fly to or from many cities along the East Coast this weekend and early next week.
By Friday night, United and Continental airlines had canceled 2,300 flights for Saturday and Sunday, the carriers said in a joint statement.
American Airlines canceled all Washington-area flights from noon Saturday through noon Sunday, according to spokesman Ed Martelle. The airline also canceled 32 Friday flights.
JetBlue has canceled almost 900 flights in the Northeast ahead of the storm. Most of those are Sunday and Monday flights out of the New York metro area and Boston, spokesman Mateo Lleras said.
New Jersey Transit will shut down at noon Saturday, and the transit system in Philadelphia will halt service at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. Boston said it intends to keep its system operating.
President Barack Obama signed emergency declarations for Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local efforts.