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Hurricane Irene Hits Puerto Rico

Hurricane Irene was born early today (Aug. 22), becoming the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Irene hit Puerto Rico, knocking out power to 800,000, according to NHC. The storm is headed toward the island of Hispanoila, where more than 600,000 Haitians are still without shelter due to the 2010 earthquake.

Irene is a Category I storm, with winds of 75 mph (120 kph). Irene is moving west-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph). Forecasts show the hurricane could affect the southeastern United States.

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The 2011 season has already set a record for the most number of storms without a hurricane.

Irene is the first hurricane for what has been forecast to be an active season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) updated its forecast on Aug. 4, predicting 14 to 19 named storms (which include tropical storms and hurricanes), seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). An average Atlantic hurricane season will see 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

August through October are the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Live Science Staff
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