PHOTO GALLERY: East Coast to see worst of Hurricane Irene this weekend

Friday, August 26, 2011 | 1:46 p.m. CDT; updated 7:16 a.m. CDT, Saturday, August 27, 2011
Erika Audfroid, a lifeguard with Nags Head Ocean Rescue, hoists a no swimming flag along the beach in Nags Head, N.C., on Friday as Hurricane Irene takes aim at the North Carolina coast. The full force of Hurricane Irene was still a day away from the East Coast, but heightened waves began hitting North Carolina's Outer Banks early Friday.

Hurricane Irene's main thrust was still a day away from North Carolina, but heightened waves began hitting the state's Outer Banks early Friday as the storm continued trudging toward the East Coast.

Swells from Irene and 6- to 9-foot waves were showing up, and winds were expected to begin picking up later in the day, said Hal Austin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, the hurricane warning area was expanded and now covers a large chunk of the East Coast from North Carolina to Sandy Hook, N.J., which is south of New York City. A hurricane watch extended even farther north and included Long Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Mass.

Home Depot employees, Richard Howell, left, and Farid Elattar, right, load up emergency generators for Virginia Beach residents in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene in Virginia Beach, Va., on Friday. Hurricane Irene was classified as a Category 2 storm on Friday.
Sandbridge resident Sonny Latulipe fills sandbags in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene in Virginia Beach, Va., on Friday. Hurricane Irene is expected to hit the area Saturday.
Jim Blahut of Perennial Homes boards up the windows at Williams Cottage Inn, as residents prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irene as it makes it's way up the east coast on Friday in Beach Haven, N.J. The building is circa 1886 and was renovated and opened as a bed-and-breakfast in 2007.
Sport utility vehicles pulling pleasure boats drive in lines of traffic headed north on the Garden State Parkway across the Great Egg Harbor Bay Inlet Bridge on Friday near Ocean City, N.J., as much of the Jersey shore evacuates inland ahead of Hurricane Irene.

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