Hurricane Irene moves over northwestern Bahamas: NHC 25 Aug 11

Storm clouds loom as a beachcomber walks on a beach access ramp on the west end of Sunset Beach, North Carolina August 24, 2011

(Reuters) – Hurricane and tropical storm watches were issued for a portion of the U.S. East Coast early Thursday as Hurricane Irene moved over the northwestern Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said in a report.

A hurricane watch had been issued for the North Carolina coast from north of Surf City to the North Carolina-Virginia border including the Pamlico, Albemarle and Currituck Sounds.

A tropical storm watch had been issued from north of Edisto Beach, South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina, the NHC said.

At 5:00 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT), Irene was located about 735 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, packing maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour (185 km/h).