Storm Watch

Hurricane Irene to Become Category 4

Hurricane Irene is picking up speed: The storm is expected to become a Category 4 hurricane Thursday, with winds exceeding 131 miles per hour. North Carolina has begun evacuating parts of the Outer Banks in advance of the storm, which is expected to make landfall at the state on Saturday morning. Early Thursday, Irene pounded the Bahamas with up to 15 inches of rain. The last Category 3 hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Wilma in 2005.