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Hurricane Irene was the first hurricane of the 2011 season. The National Hurricane Center announced on August 20, 2011 that a tropical cyclone was developing near the Lesser Antilles, a group of islands along the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea. The hurricane made its first landfall in Puerto Rico the following day.
Hurricane Irene developed into a category three storm as it crossed the Bahamas. Then it began to head northward toward the United States. Although it barely missed Florida’s east coast, Hurricane Irene made landfall at North Carolina’s Outer Banks on August 27. After moving over the sea, it made its second U.S. landfall in New Jersey. No other hurricane had made landfall in New Jersey since the Vagabond Hurricane of 1903.
Irene lost its hurricane status and developed into a tropical storm as it approached New York. Amazingly, the storm made its path through New York City and continued up the coast, passing through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and even followed the St. Lawrence River in Canada until it lost power on August 30.
Irene caused considerable property damage in upstate New York and Vermont, where the worst flood waters that had occurred in centuries destroyed buildings and roads. Experts have estimated that the storm caused about $7 billion of damage in the U.S. alone. Its widespread destruction resulted in the deaths of at least 55 people.