The overnight computer models are tightly clustered with a Long Island/Connecticut landfall Sunday afternoon or evening. This is the most serious hurricane threat since September 1985 when Gloria made landfall in Fairfield County.
The exact strength of the storm when it moves past Connecticut is unclear. If Irene moves up the Chesapeake Bay and inland through Delaware and New Jersey the storm will weaken more rapidly but will still be capable of producing damaging winds. If the storm’s track is just off the Jersey shore and into western Connecticut most of the state can expect to see near-hurricane conditions on Sunday. We should prepare for a strong category 1 hurricane across the entire state.
Because of the storm’s slow movement and only modest jet stream interaction this will not be our worst case scenario storm (like 1938). This storm still, however, has the potential to be as or more damaging than Hurricane Gloria. It’s possible depending on the exact landfall time that the storm surge could be worse from Irene than Gloria. There are two reasons for this. One is the astronomically high tide because of the new moon on Sunday. The second is the storm’s slow movement that will exacerbate storm surge in Long Island Sound.
It’s time to start preparing. If you have a boat I’d get it out of the water today or tomorrow. If you live on the immediate shoreline I’d consider boarding up windows. Everyone should stock up on food, batteries, flashlights, and water in case you’re without power for several days. Assume you will be in the dark for a week or so.