Hurricane Watches for the Connecticut shoreline have been upgraded to Hurricane Warnings now with hurricane force winds likely in the next 36 hours.
The storm's inner core has weakened and it's possible that Irene falls just below hurricane strength before reaching southern New England. BUT the impacts will not be very different for us here in CT if the storm is a weak category 1 hurricane or a strong tropical storm.
Irene is still forecast to move slower than your typical tropical storm as she makes landfall which will produce extended periods of tropical storm/hurricane force winds.
The latest National Hurricane Center track is shifted only slightly so that the storm makes landfall over Long Island, followed by another landfall over Norwalk. This would put the heaviest rain 6"-12" in western Connecticut (Fairfield, Litchfield, Western Hartford and New haven Counties), with 3"-6" everywhere else.
Conversely, winds will be the strongest east of the storm track in southern Middlesex, New Haven and all of New London County with gusts to 90 mph. Although gusts could also reach hurricane force in central Connecticut but will remain slightly weaker, up to 80 mph.
Storm surge is still a major concern and is likely to be worse than Gloria with the storm arriving at the same time as the highest tidal departure of the month.