updated 8/29/2011 12:39:37 PM ET 2011-08-29T16:39:37

Guest Host: Thomas Roberts
Guests: Peter Alexander, Jay Gray, Bill Karins, Thomas Roberts, Mark Potter, Bill Karins, Adam Berg, Jim Cantore, Bill Saffo, Ed McDonough

THOMAS ROBERTS, GUEST HOST: Hi, everybody. Welcome to THE ED SHOW. I`m
Thomas Roberts, in tonight for Ed Schultz. And this is special coverage of
Hurricane Irene.

Sixty-five million people are estimated to be in the path of Irene.
And so far, more than 2 million people along the East Coast have been told
to evacuate before the storm makes landfall tomorrow.

We have correspondents along the coast to bring up-to-speed the very
latest news as win and rain and waves begin to lash the shoreline. NBC and
MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins is also with us to track Irene`s path and
the intensity of this storm.

But, first, I want to check in NBC News correspondent Mark Potter who
is in Nags Head, North Carolina.

And, Mark, good evening. And explain to all of us what we are
starting to see there as the storm comes ashore in North Carolina.

MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are definitely getting
the outer bands, forward bands of this hurricane. They started to hit us
about 4 1/2 hours ago. They come and go. And each time we get another
set, it`s worse than last time.

You can see the rain coming down pretty forcefully here. That`s been
going on for a while. Wind is picking up steadily. The waves are picking
up, although we are on a falling tide right now. So, it`s not as bad as it
was before.

Officials here are saying we`ll have gale force winds through the
night and have hurricane-force winds picking up in the morning. There also
have been -- there has been a tornado watch called here until 5:00 in the
morning. There was a tornado warning.

So, we got a lot of foul weather here tonight. It`s only going to
get worse.

The biggest problem here though for the local managers is the threat
of storm surge. Any talk of the storm moving east, which there has been a
little bit of is good news. Their concern is if the eye comes through here
just to the east of the outer banks, there could be a serious double hit in
terms of water coming ashore.

If the eye approaches at that direction, you can first have water
coming from the Atlantic on to the eastern shoreline pushed by the
southeast winds from the eye. And then as the eye pushes into the sounds
to our west, it could stack water up there and as the eye passes, the
northwest wind, the tailing wind could slam all that water back on to the
western shorelines. You could almost have a sandwich-like effect of the
water coming together. That could knock out roads and put cuts in the
island like what happened in 2003. It could take out some of the pilings
under homes.

There are a lot of problems associated with that threat. That`s why
managers are watching it very closely. It`s also why, Thomas, they asked
people to leave the island because of that threat.

Tourists were told to leave yesterday. Most did. Locals were
supposed to go today. Some of them did. Not all.

Some people said they would rather stay home and be in their homes
and be there in case anything happens.

ROBERTS: Right.

POTTER: They fear also if they leave, they won`t be able to come
back. So, that`s not exactly something making the managers happy. But
they are living it, hoping for the best. And we`ll see what the storm
brings when it comes ashore tomorrow -- Thomas.

ROBERTS: As the Governor Bev Perdue pointed out in the last hour,
this is part of hurricane alley. So, they are accustomed to storms like
this.

But, Mark, for the tourists, how have the evacuations been going?
Are they going smoothly?

POTTER: Yes. The tourists all got the message yesterday. We saw
them leaving in drove. And it seemed to be fairly smooth. There was
stacking up in gas stations. There were some traffic problems we could see
here. But it went pretty quickly.

And now, it feels like a ghost town. Certainly now, but even earlier
today. It seemed the tourists did what they needed to do and got out.

A lot of locals did, too. Some locals who said they would normally
stay here and ride out the storm, it`s part of local culture this are
saying this time, because of with the threat, the storm surge and size of
the storm, they were going to leave. And some actually did the first time,
they boarded up and left.

But old-timers here, some of them are saying, I never left before,
I`m not leaving now. So, they are still here. And they and emergency
managers are looking at each other and they kind of called a truce, I
think.

The managers told them, though, if anything were to happen here, in
terms of any those people getting in trouble at the height of the storm,
ambulance drivers, the firemen and police officers and all that couldn`t
help them. So, they`re on their own and they could be trapped in the homes
because of the flooding for 72 hours or more depending on what happens to
the road.

So, it`s potentially a serious situation for them.

ROBERTS: Mark, what about the trifecta of coordination that`s going
on between local, state and federal, with FEMA involved what is going to
happen post-Irene?

POTTER: Well, I think that`s actually been very good. I heard no
complaints about that at all. In fact, I talked to local managers who say
they are getting a lot of guidance from the National Hurricane Center.
They have a lot of phrase for those forecasters there. They are in touch
with them and they say that FEMA is stand buying with materials in Raleigh
that can be brought here immediately as soon as the storm passes.

If there are problems between them, I haven`t heard it. In fact, I
think it`s quite the opposite. Under this new FEMA we have now with Craig
Fugate in charge who was the head of the program in Florida where I`m based
and where I saw his activities back then, they seem to be moving smoothly.
They are not overstating what the threat is here. And they are getting
people`s attention.

And it seems like it`s coordinating fairly well. The only problem is
they just can`t force people to leave and they can`t convince as many
people as they would like to leave. So, they kind of have to live with
what they`ve gotten. But it looks it`s going fairly well given that.

ROBERTS: And the gut instinct of the people that have lived through
this before, the people that are die-hards, that don`t want to live -- what
do they saying that they expect Irene is going to bring?

POTTER: They are talking kind of like the weather forecasters are.
They`ve been saying all along that this is going to diminish. They didn`t
think it was going to be as big as it was said.

You know, people have gotten caught and have gotten killed talking
that way in the past, in past storms. I think of Katrina.

But in this case, who knows, they might be right. We`ll have to see.

Most people I will say, however, took this very seriously. The
managers here took this seriously. And I think people take it seriously.

This situation that you`re looking at now is one where this morning
it was calm and yesterday was bright blue skies. So, this is what`s coming
for the people up stream in nice weather now. It`s not going to last if
they`re in the path of this thing.

ROBERTS: All right. We`ll continue to watch this and see how things
develop for you.

NBC`s Mark Potter, live for us in Nags Head, North Carolina -- Mark,
thanks.

I want to bring in NBC and MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins.

Bill, bring us up to speed, because as we`re hearing Mark there talk
about what the people are saying how they are watching this and maybe
thinking it`s going to dissipate and not being what everybody is saying
that it`s going to be, this is still going to bring a wallop to the East
Coast.

BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: It is, but it`s not going to be your
traditional hurricane wallop. I mean, I lived in eastern North Carolina,
lived through category 1 and category 2s. It doesn`t bother a lot of
people. It doesn`t affect life too much.

Now, if you get the rain and the flooding in the rivers, that`s a
different story.

So, this isn`t going to be one of those hurricanes that if you`re
watching TV throughout entire event and joining us here and watching us
through the next 48 hours, it`s not all that impressive on TV. The winds
are not going to be strong enough that you`re going to see your reporters
blown off the beach. You`re not going to see scenes like that.

The legacy of this storm is going to be either flooding from the
rain, which is hard to show on TV because it`s locational, and once it`s
flooding, it`s hard to get the pictures. And the second part is going to
be a ton of downed trees. We`re going to seeing tree limbs and branches
and whole trees all over the place. And this is going to be kind of one of
those roulette storms, is what I want to call it.

If it happens that a tree falls on your property, on your house or
car, it`s a big deal. If nothing happens to your property, and you don`t
lose power, it`s no big deal. But that`s going to happen up and down the
Eastern Seaboard. It`s not going to be fair. Some people are going to get
hit by trees, and some people won`t.

Now, here`s what we`re looking at currently and right now. The storm
itself, it does not look all that impressive. Considering at this time
yesterday, the hurricane center was calling for a category 3 storm to be
approaching the outer banks and making landfall, this is not all that
impressive.

Now, there`s a lot of strong thunderstorms and really heavy rain
coming from the eastern North Carolina coastline. The water is going to
start piling up. We could get an isolated tornado that could, of course,
do significant damage.

But as far as looks go on this, the west side of this is very weak.
If you`re in Raleigh right now, you`re loving the way this radar looks
because a lot of heavy rain is going to miss you. It looks like it`s going
to be just mostly in extreme eastern North Carolina.

The storm itself, you can`t see it anymore because the clouds -- the
sun went down. But the clouds from this storm now go all the way up to New
York City. Even though the storm is all the way down in North Carolina.
It just shows how big the storm is. And that`s the legacy. It`s going to
take a long time to clear this out about 36 to 48 hours from now is when
we`ll be done talking about the clouds, the rain and the winds.

The wind field is what`s really enormous. And I`m not talking about
hurricane force winds. This is the tropical storm force winds in orange,
already have been moving onshore. Once you get the tropical storm force
winds, that`s when you can get some of the trees that are weak or dying.
They could fall and that`s when the power outages can begin.

So, that`s already happening in the Carolina coastline. The
hurricane force wind is still offshore and it won`t deal with them until
early tomorrow morning.

As we`ve been advertising, 40 million people under hurricane warnings
from Boston, southern New England, New York City, through down through the
Jersey, Maryland, Delaware coastlines, including Norfolk, Virginia Beach
and all of eastern North Carolina.

So, that hasn`t changed. We don`t expect a lot of changes with that.

Here`s the forecast: Landfall should be some time early tomorrow
morning. But again, the center is not all that intense. Don`t expect any
like breaking news as that center comes onshore. A lot of damage will be
done before -- ahead of the storm.

We expect landfall as category 1 and 2 and then the storm will
continue to slowly weaken as it goes up to the coast. It could become a
tropical storm at any point late Saturday night, or early Sunday morning.
We expect about category 1 about Ocean City, Maryland, about 2:00 a.m. So,
the worse in there in the Maryland-Delaware shore. Even Jersey is going to
be in the middle of the night.

And then the storm races to the north. This time line has sped, by
the way. On Sunday people are going to be able to get out there and, you
know, check out the damage and get the all-clear. But 2:00 p.m. Sunday,
that storm is north of New York and starting to dissipate as it heads over
New England.

So, Thomas, I guess the bottom line is that it`s going to be a big
rain-maker. We`re going to have a lot of flooding. And even those
tropical storm force winds are going to knock down trees. And if you have
power out for a week, that`s a big deal for you and your family.

THOMAS: Absolutely. So, is that the best-case scenario for the East
Coast at this point, that you`re saying that people are going to see the
wind damage and some storm surge potentially?

KARINS: Yes, the track is not going to change at this point. It
looks very much etched in stone. But the intensity -- the weaker this
thing gets, the less trees that will fall and that means the less power
outages that will happen. So, every 5 miles per hour this storm goes down,
the better for everyone.

THOMAS: Alrighty. Bill, keep us posted. We`ll talk again
throughout the hour and we appreciate the update.

I want to take everybody now to Asbury Park, New Jersey.

The Weather Channel`s Adam Berg is there for us.

Adam, the Governor Chris Christie wasn`t mincing any words earlier
today. He`s strongly urging beach-goers to leave the Jersey Shore. So,
how is that going? Especially since this is such a heavy vacation.

ADAM BERG, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: You know, it`s right in the middle,
you know? I would say half the people I talked to are taking it seriously
boarding up their homes and boarding up their businesses. The other half
are basically saying I`m going to ride this thing out. I don`t think it`s
going to be a big deal.

So, what I`ve been trying to stress to people, the same thing I was
hearing on your air a few moments ago. Even though this system may
continue to weaken, get towards about, let`s say, category 1 status, it`s
such a large system, that the wind fields are out there waves and surf will
be generated.

So, I would say the worst things that are going to happen at this
point even if those winds continue to come down will be basically surge
coming over places like this, the boardwalk here, ruining a lot of folks`
first floors, businesses and in their homes, heavy, heavy-duty interior
rainfall, as well is going to ill be a big issue. We could be looking at
maybe five to 10 inches of rain. So, combine that all in there, that`s
terrible.

You`re right, though, if wind speeds continue to come down, the
saturated ground is going to have a little bit of hold on some of those
trees. So, that will keep some of those power outages from happening.

But still, so many questions and the last thing we want is to have
people thinking, hey, things are improving, it`s OK to go to the beach.
That`s going to be the most dangerous area.

Where I am standing right now, I may not be able to stand in about 24
hours -- 36 hours could be the worse for New Jersey and as we head into New
York.

ROBERTS: The other big development, Adam, is that in Atlantic City,
they closed the casinos there, sending everybody out the doors?

BERG: Could you run for me one more time?

ROBERTS: In Atlantic City, they`ve closed down the casinos, telling
everybody that they need to get out of there. Do they expect that area
really to be hit particularly hard?

BERG: Probably a little bit of both. They are probably doing it
because it`s a good public service move for sure. They don`t want a lot of
people on their casinos. What if the storm surge is as advertised and
you`ve got major problems in the casinos?

So, I think it`s a smart move. It sends the right message to the
people, hey, we are taking it seriously. You should as well. We like the
move. I believe a lot of these casinos are going to be shut down by about
noon on Saturday.

ROBERTS: And the expectation of this storm being to hit the Jersey
Shore, roughly what time are you going to start seeing these outer bands
like Mark Potter seeing now?

BERG: The outer bands are going to work in earlier than the actual
center of the storm. We`re going to start seeing some of these outer bands
maybe as early as tomorrow morning, no doubt about that. Once we get into
Saturday evening, that`s when winds are going to start pick up. We`ll have
high tide as well, Saturday evening.

So, those two forces coupled together will really bring this water
up. There`s another high tide as we push into Sunday morning that, and
will be right around the time when the eyewall is flirting with the New
Jersey coastline. That could be the worst high tide, I imagine that Sunday
morning.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, we`ll continue to see what happens there.
You`ve got a dancer behind there on the boardwalk. People are still having
fun -- at least for now.

Weather Channel`s Adam Berg live for us in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Adam, thanks again.

We want to take everybody now live to Lower Manhattan with Weather
Channel`s Jim Cantore.

Jim, Mayor Mike Bloomberg already ordered 300,000 New Yorkers to
leave these flood-prone areas including the neighborhood that you`re in,
which is Battery Park. How are people listening to him? Because this is -
- Irene already put a historic stamp on what it means to New York City
because they`ve never had anything like this before.

JIM CANTORE, WEATHER CHANNEL: Well, I think the evacuation order
itself freaked everybody out and, you know, realize what`s happened today.
It`s not only that evacuation order, but, hey, we are shutting down mass
transit noon tomorrow. For those that count on mass transit to evacuate,
they really don`t have a choice, because afternoon time tomorrow, the
method of getting out of harm`s way is not going to be available to them.

We just heard recently, Thomas, in the last hour that the New York
City airports will be shut down, as well, as of noon tomorrow.

So, the city that never sleeps is forced now to take a bug long nap.
And I think a lot of people are going to be caught off guard because you
know how it is here in New York City, everything moves at lightning speed
here to. To ask a city like this to basically shut down not only for 24
hours, maybe up to 48 hours, as this storm moves on by, regardless of the
intensity changes, is going to be a hard move.

And, you know, we`re talking about a wind event that`s going to last
24 hours through some of these buildings. So, people sitting and living in
some of these high rises here that are going to deal with whistling winds
for about 20 hours or so, that`s going to take a toll on them. No question
about it. So, we need everybody to just kind of hunker down and ride this
thing out.

I mean, the mayor has do than a good job relaying the message that
need to be relayed.

Back to you.

ROBERTS: If there is an indication how much this storm is going to
weaken, if at all, by the time it makes landfall, what can we expect in New
York? And also, if it starts to stall, especially over New York City, what
does that mean?

CANTORE: I don`t think it`s going to stall. There`s a very a low
probability of that. I mean, it`s kind of in a tube right now and it`s
just kind of riding that tube northward. What worries us the most, Thomas,
is this storm that`s tropical now kind transforms into, if you will, like
an October fall storm, like the perfect storm did over the ocean. Those
same dynamic processes may be in play.

So, that means it won`t go away. Yes, it may be a category 1
hurricane or tropical storm, but the wind field will just expand out and
stay long. That`s why Bill showed that huge wind field. And it just
pretty much exists over the eastern seaboard.

That`s just going to move north tomorrow and even move further north.
But it`s going to take 20 to 24 hours in coastal areas to get out. And
that is a tremendous beating. And that`s why we don`t need people out
walking on the streets.

Any kind of debris that starts blowing around, if that smashes
windows, that means glass will be added to that debris. It could be very
dangerous out and about in these streets especially into Sunday afternoon
right through Monday morning.

Back to you.

ROBERTS: Jim, I think a lot of people around the country are going
to find it interesting that the mass transit system here in New York, one
of the largest in the nation, is going to be shutting down tomorrow at noon
time. Why so far in advance of the worst part of the storm to do that?

CANTORE: Well, the problem with the system that large is it takes
about eight hours to shut it down. So, you know, once they begin that at
noon, it really won`t officially start or they won`t get all the pieces, if
you will, out of harm`s way until 8:00 tonight, the time which we expect to
see the some of those first outer bands. They want everything in
completion by the time that is done.

ROBERTS: All right. The Weather Channel`s Jim Cantore -- Jim,
thanks for the update. We appreciate it.

CANTORE: You bet.

ROBERTS: We`re going to continue to check in with our NBC News and
Weather Channel correspondents along the East Coast, get the latest also
from elected officials in the path of this storm.

Keep it lock in right here. You`re watching special coverage of
Hurricane Irene on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back. A live look at Kill Devil Hills, North
Carolina, as Hurricane Irene is making its approach for a direct land fall
on North Carolina, the outer bands have already reached the area there,
roughly about four hours earlier today.

So, everybody is waiting in anticipation of what the storm is really
going to bring. We`re going to have the latest information for you
throughout the hour right here.

Coming up next though, the mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina, is
going to update us on the conditions down there and his city`s preps for
Irene.

And we want to know what the storm is like in your neighborhood.
Send us your tweets @MSNBCTV and include the hashtag Irene. We`ll get them
on the air right here.

Keep it tuned to THE ED SHOW. We`ll back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW special hurricane coverage
Irene. You know, today, President Obama stressed the need to take this
storm very seriously. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot stress this
highly enough: if you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have
to take precautions now. Don`t wait. Don`t delay. We all hope for the
best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.

All of us have to take the storm seriously. You need to listen to
state and local officials. If you`re given an evacuation order, please
follow it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And as we understand it, President Obama is on his way back
to the White House, as we speak, cutting his vacation short by a day.

Joining me by the phone is the mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina,
Bill Saffo.

Mayor, explain how things are going so far from the perspective of
Wilmington right now.

MAYOR BILL SAFFO, WILMINGTON, NC (via telephone): Well, we`ve got a
lot of rain coming down right now. We`ve got four inches so far, before
this event is finished in the early morning hours of Saturday. They are
expecting over nine inches. We`ve got a lot of wind. We had gusts as high
as 62 miles per hour, 52 mile-an-hour sustained winds as I`m speaking to
you.

We got a lot of trees down, about 7,000 people are without power.
This is going to stay off the Wilmington coastline about 53 miles out. So,
it`s a very large storm. We are feeling the tropical storm force winds
right now.

We should -- what they are telling me right now is that the biggest
part of the storm is going to come through here about 2:00 and 6:00 a.m.
Saturday, so a couple of hours.

ROBERTS: The preparations that Wilmington made for this storm, what
did you suggest and what are you suggesting for the roughly 7,000 residents
that just said that are going to be without power already for what`s coming
with Irene?

SAFFO: You know, what I can tell the citizens listen to your
emergency management teams out there. Listen to your state officials, your
federal officials and your local officials. Get prepared, get ready,
because when it hits, these people are not going to be able to get out and
help I or save you. They are going to be hunkered down, too, waiting for
this storm to pass, make the preparations.

We`ve been preparing now for the last 72 hours. We go through these
emergency operations drills throughout the year. We work with all of the
different teams, state and federal agencies here. We are all in one room
here and monitoring the situation.

So, we`ve been preparing for obviously being here along the
coastline. We prepared for it more than a couple of times a year. So, you
know, just heed what your officials are telling you.

This is a big storm, a lot of wind and a lot of rain. If you prepare
and take care of yourself, you`ll be OK. Listen to what your officials
have got to tell you.

ROBERTS: When you`re talking about the concerns you have as this
storm passes up the coastline, the Governor Bev Perdue was on the last
hour, governor of North Carolina, saying that North Carolina is in
hurricane alley. And they expect these weather situations come along.

But people really do need to take this seriously even if it is
downgraded coming up to category 1.

SAFFO: Absolutely. You know, I was driving through the operations
center earlier this evening, the roads are starting to flood, trees are
coming down, power was going out. And you know, we were thinking we would
dodge this thing because it was going to stay off the coastline, but we are
catching a lot of wind right now and getting a lot of rain.

You`ve just got to prepare yourself, especially if you`re in a low-
lying area. You don`t want to be out when this starts to come ashore
because it is dangerous, especially with falling trees, power lines. You
never know.

And these storms are very unpredictable. It could go right back out
to sea, pick up steam and come back in. I`ve seen it where it predicted it
would stay off the coast and go out to sea and all of sudden, it makes a
jog and comes back at you.

These are very unpredictable storms, very dangerous. This is a very
large one. It`s going to bring a lot of rain and wind. Just prepare
yourselves and take care.

ROBERTS: What do you anticipate needing at the federal level as you
move forward there in Wilmington post-Irene?

SAFFO: Well, you know, after this thing gets through, we`ll assess
the damage and have assessment teams that go throughout the community and
throughout the county and assess what the damages are. We work with the
federal agencies that come in here in regard to cleanup, making sure we get
insurance claims getting taken care of as quickly as possible, getting
people back -- getting the businesses back online as quickly as possible.

We work with the federal government and certainly different storms
over the years, that we have a good relationship with all our federal
officials and federal teams that come in here. So, there will be an
assessment team that comes through after this is finished with, and will
work together and try to get everybody back online and back in business as
quickly as possible.

ROBERTS: Right now, the anticipation, does it make you feel like a
cat on a hot tin roof?

SAFFO: Exactly. I think you just described it pretty good right
there. Exactly. You just don`t know.

These storms are so unpredictable. Last night, when we were tracking
it, it took a 20-mile jog within about an hour. When we did the advisory
this morning, it went back out 40 miles. It could come right back in.

They are so unpredictable. That`s the uniqueness of these
hurricanes. They are so unpredictable.

Just be prepared. Prepare yourself and get ready before they hit.
Everything should be fine. If you`re not prepared, you could get hurt.
So, just heed what your officials there in your local communities are
telling you. Just be prepared.

ROBERTS: Wish you nothing but the best for all of you in Wilmington,
North Carolina. Be safe. Thanks for your time tonight, Wilmington, North
Carolina Mayor Bill Saffo.

Well, the number of affected people by the mandatory evacuations
orders is in the millions now. Peter Alexander is going to have that story
next.

THE ED SHOW special coverage of Hurricane Irene continues in just a
moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: A quick look at the shot there in Kill Devil Hills, North
Carolina, where NBC correspondent Jay Gray is standing by to give us a
report coming up. We`re going to check in with him in just a moment.

Welcome back, everybody, to THE ED SHOW and our continuing coverage of
Hurricane Irene. I`m Thomas Roberts, in tonight for Ed. Two point five
million Americans living in the storm`s path have been ordered to evacuate
and evacuate to higher ground.

But as coastal residents flee a potentially historic hurricane, a
small group of scientists, they are flying right into the eye of the storm.

NBC`s Peter Alexander has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An inside look
at the ferocious storm tens of millions of Americans fear, Irene, a massive
hurricane churning its was up the east coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should be pretty close.

ALEXANDER: At 10,000 feet, the veteran crew of the U.S. Air Force
Reserve 53 Weather Reconnaissance Squadron is heading right into the eye of
the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like it`s going to be pretty close to
Abico (ph) Islands.

ALEXANDER: The flight plan, fly through the eye wall four times.
Their mission, to collect data for those computer models that predict the
hurricane`s path and its intensity, constantly sending their results to the
National Hurricane Center in Miami.

John Talbot, the squadron`s chief meteorologist, has flown into more
than 150 eye walls over 26 years.

JOHN TALBOT, US AIR FORCE RESERVES: The most critical element in that
plan is geographic position of the center of the storm.

If you don`t know where it started, you don`t know where it is going
to finish.

ALEXANDER: During our 11 hour flight, researchers released nearly a
dozen highly sensitive probes called drop signs, with GPS built in. They
fall toward the ocean with a tiny parachute, relaying back vital
information, including humidity, pressure, wind speed and temperature.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thinking about six right.

ALEXANDER: Up front, the flight`s commander, Shane Devlon (ph),
guides us through blinding clouds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything you learn as a pilot, as an aviator out
there is to leave bad weather. We do just the opposite.

ALEXANDER (on camera): Here in the cockpit, we are about to show you
something that very few people ever see up close, the hurricane`s eye wall.
We are now three minutes away, 15 miles from there. The wind speeds
outside this aircraft are more than 100 miles per hour.

(voice-over): Minutes later, we finally enter the eye and get our
first glimpse of blue. Below, those white-capped waves are more than 30
feet high, the storm itself more than 200 miles long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They come in all shapes and sizes. This is a big
one. This is a large wind field. So this is going to affect a huge area.

ALEXANDER: By sunset, we head home. Another set of hurricane hunters
already en route to meet Irene and help detail the next forecast.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Really amazing when you go inside. That was NBC`s Peter
Alexander reporting out of Biloxi, Mississippi, for us.

Preparations, they are well under way all along the east coast, where
state and local governments -- they are bracing for the impact of what
Hurricane Irene is going to bring. We`re going to be back with more live
coverage. Keep it right here, locked in to THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back. Here`s the current radar loop of what Irene
is looking like at this hour, 10:38 on the East Coast. NBC`s Jay Gray is
live for us in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

Jay, explain what you`re seeing there. You`re just north of Nags
Head.

JAY GRAY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right, Thomas. What we`ve seen in
the last 30, 45 minutes is the wind picking up dramatically. We wanted to
bring you down here to the water`s edge because the surf is growing as
well. We are seeing the waves starting to crest around four or five feet
down here.

Forecasters say that could double by the time all of this is over. I
could tell you the wind is strong enough now that it`s beginning to pick up
little pieces of debris and sand here along the beach. Of course, that is
going to grow as well. Stronger winds will move through the area
throughout the night.

As we move and look at what`s happening right now here in Kill Devil
Hills, I can tell you that throughout the day, people have been preparing
for the worst of this storm, knowing that this area was targeted. They`ve
been boarding up. A lot of people moving to higher ground.

But unfortunately, Thomas, a lot of the people we talked to today also
said they were going to ride this thing out. This is an area that`s used
to these storms. They`ve been through storms before. And they say they
don`t have a problem with waiting to see what happens.

Unfortunately, what the forecasters and emergency managers are saying
here is most haven`t been through a storm like this one. And if they have,
it`s been decades. The big concern is not only the wind, but the water.

We talked about it all day and all night. The storm surge will be
very strong. But it`s the rain. The Outer Banks flood when there`s a
heavy rain. Now, though, they are going to be pounded with this wind-
driven rain for 10, maybe 12 hours.

It`s going to push water into places it`s never been before. There
are a lot of people here, Thomas, who are worried about exactly what that
water will do. As we walk back up and along the pier here, in and closer
and in between the dunes, the wind calms down.

But out there by the water, it`s blowing pretty good.

ROBERTS: Yeah, you can definitely see it. It`s a hard rain. It
looks like it`s almost blowing sideways. We`ll continue to follow this.
But Jay, thanks so much. Stay safe. That`s NBC News` Jay Gray for us in
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

Coming up, meteorologist Bill Karins is going to join me to tell us
what we can expect over the next 24, how things are changing as we watch
Hurricane Irene coming ashore. Back with much more on THE ED SHOW after
this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Here is a live look at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina,
where -- or excuse me, Nags Head, North Carolina, where Hurricane Irene has
started to come ashore with the outer bands of that storm. Landfall is
expected roughly around 9:00 a.m. That`s near Cape Lookout on North
Carolina`s Outer Banks.

Welcome back, everybody, to THE ED SHOW, our breaking news coverage of
Hurricane Irene. With more on this advancing storm, I want to bring you up
to speed about the evacuations that are taking place and let you know that
over one million people in New Jersey, 550,000 people in New York, 315,000
people in Maryland and 300,000 in North Carolina and 200,000 in Virginia,
100,000 in Delaware, all being told that they need to evacuate. Get out of
the way of Irene, because here she comes.

I want to bring in Bill Karins. He is our meteorologist on duty all
morning, all night. Bill never gets a rest. He joins us to fill us in on
what we can expect over the next 24 hours.

BILL KARINS, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Well, welcome back. One of the
things that we are watching and the thing that is going to cause the most
life-threatening conditions right now 00 and this happens when we get land
falling systems -- is tornados.

These aren`t the tornados that went through the deep south or the ones
that hit Joplin. These are usually smaller tornados. Let alone, it still
has a chance to knock a tree over, knock a roof off a house or two. We
already heard one report in eastern North Carolina of a trailer that has
been knocked over. They suspect it was done by a tornado.

So that`s the situation. On this map here, you can see this red box.
This is a tornado watch. The most likely area for tornados, from now for
the next couple of hours, is all of eastern North Carolina, from the Outer
Banks over the Albermarle and over the Pimlico Sounds, back down through
Camp Lejeune -- big Marine base down there in Jacksonville -- near
Jacksonville, I should say, and also to Wilmington.

Right now, we just had near Camp Lejeune a new report of a tornado
possibility, at least Doppler indicated. That`s why you see this county
fill-in in red here. That is a tornado warning there, near the Camp
Lejeune area. Again, doesn`t mean there is a big one on the ground or
anything. There`s just a possibility for tornados in that area.

Everyone in this region should be in their safe rooms anyway of their
houses, listening to the radio and TV. They shouldn`t be outside. So
hopefully it shouldn`t be too bad.

If I get any details in of any tornados near that area, I`ll let you
now.

Also on this map, you see these little numbers on here. These are our
little weather reporting stations that tell us how strong the winds are.
We are starting to get some stronger gusts now. We just had a gust of 55
on Hatteras, 44 Moorhead City, just near Cherry Point around 52, and
Wilmington at 48. So now the winds are starting to pick up and we`re
starting to get to the point where we`re going to start seeing some power
outages.

Once these winds gust between 50 and 60 miles per hour, you`ll start
to get those scattered outages. That is the look at the latest radar.
This is the worst of it so far that we`ve seen. It will continue like this
up the coast.

By the way, in Virginia Beach, the rain is knocking on your door. so
it`s not just North Carolina anymore. Now we are starting to see the
extreme northern bands even get into southern Virginia.

Let me take you through the timeline of the storm. We still don`t
think we`re going to get a landfall on the center of this system until
about 9:00 tomorrow morning. So we are still about ten hours away from
this moving onshore.

This is the old forecast. The new one should be coming out here any
minute now, probably within the next five to ten minutes. Of course, we`ll
bring you those details if anything changes with the intensity or the path.

But the thinking is pretty much hurricane-force winds on the Outer
Banks early tomorrow morning. Then that clears out. The worst comes
Saturday at 6:00 p.m. in this area of red. That`s where the strongest
winds will be. If we have hurricane force winds, that`s where it will be,
near Virginia Beach, the Norfolk area, heading down to Elizabeth City there
in eastern North Carolina.

Then, as we go through Saturday night into Sunday morning, the storm
starts to accelerate. But also the hurricane-force winds start to
disappear as the storm weakens down to a tropical storm. So the hurricane
force winds, if there are any left, would just be on the Jersey Shore come
6:00 a.m. Sunday. The orange color is tropical storm force winds. So
that`s what is going to take a long time to leave, is the tropical storm
force winds.

Really, the winds that could do the damage are going to be minimized
as they go throughout Sunday afternoon and evening up into New England.
Notice by Sunday, late in the afternoon, we are clear from North Carolina
up almost to New York City. So a lot of people will be able to get out
Sunday afternoon and check things out.

Let me show you a breakdown of what we`re expecting in the New England
area for this storm. I know a lot of people are concerned in the New York
City area. They did the evacuation. There`s a possibility of what they
would consider a very significant storm surge either in lower Manhattan --
we`re calling for about three to six foot storm surge. Then we get some
wave action on top of that, rainfall four to eight, max of ten, and the
winds about 50 to 70 miles per hour.

That`s enough for trees to go down and for some power outages. We`re
going to call it moderate damage, not extensive damage up through southern
New England. But definitely moderate damage. And the power outages will
be significant.

If there is one thing that`s catching my attention is that even though
the storm has weakened, the rainfall amounts have not come down. It`s
supposed to be a prolific rain maker. Our computers are estimating that as
we go throughout the forecast, anywhere around six to seven inches of rain
from D.C. to Philadelphia. And this is only through Sunday morning. So
you get the idea, Thomas.

I think the rainfall and power outages will be the big story. We`ll
keep you updated on any of those possible tornados in eastern North
Carolina through the night.

ROBERTS: Bill, you`ve been forecasting for a long time. Is the thing
that surprises you most about Irene the fact that it`s coastal beach
communities, but it`s also these big cities that we are talking about,
going from Norfolk to Baltimore, D.C., all the way up to New York?

KARINS: I think that`s what`s different about this one. That`s
probably what has so many more people concerned than typically with these
storms. Eastern North Carolina, on average, would be hit by a storm like
this once every four years. So if you live there and you`ve been there a
long time, it`s expected, once every four years. You are prepared. You
have your hurricane plan. You have your shutters. No big deal, right?

But further up the coast, there are a lot of people panicking in the
suburbs or D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford and even
Providence. They haven`t gone through this, and they`re very worried about
eight inches of rain. They`re worried about their basements being flooded.
And they`re looking up at their trees, wondering if they fall, where will
they fall and where is the safe place for my family? So that`s what`s
different.

ROBERTS: No. I know that is what my family in Baltimore is thinking
about. Where are the trees in relation to the house? Bill, thanks so much
for the update. We`ll talk again.

We want to bring back NBC`s Jay Gray. He`s in Kill Devil Hills, North
Carolina. Jay, explain how you have seen these swells of the waves change
just over the few hours that you`ve been watching the storm as it comes
ashore there.

GRAY: Thomas, I think the most notable change is in the height of the
waves. They`ve really grown in intensity. And we`re seeing them climb.

In fact, let`s take a look out over the dunes and back out at the
waters here. And what we have noticed is the surf has become much rougher,
obviously, pushed by these winds. But also, just as I was talking bout,
they are growing in intensity.

I want to echo some of the things that Bill said. We are seeing the
wind pick up here dramatically over the last 30 to 45 minutes. And then
that rain, it`s been coming in spurts. It`s been a driving rain at times,
as each band moves through.

It`s been more intense more often as of late. Listening to Bill
throughout the evening and others, it sounds like it`s just going to
continue to come down. That`s the issue for so many people here.

You talked about people experienced with storms. Most of the folks
along the Outer Banks are. But what I can tell you is they are worried
about the winds. They know it`s going to knock down trees. They know it`s
going to pull down power lines.

In fact, a lot of people preparing to either be away from their homes
or trapped inside without power for more than a week. But their biggest
concern is that water, the storm surge that Bill was talking about, but
then also just the driving rain for so long, Thomas. It`s something that
while they are used to storms, they are used to storms coming through,
pushing through and getting away. They are worried now that this storm is
going to linger. It`s such a massive system. And it`s going to drop so
much water that they won`t know what to do with it.

ROBERTS: And the big deal for those people there within that region,
within Kill Devil Hills, is the fact that you have Kitty Hawk Bay on the
western side and then you`ve got the Atlantic on the East Coast. So they
are going to get it from both sides, the storm surge.

GRAY: You`re absolutely right. There is nowhere for that water to go
except to the middle. They are going to get a surge from both sides. It
is going to lap up over the sides. it is going to come up over the
breakers here, and it`s going to be an issue.

Now they did refurbish the dunes here not too long ago, and really
rebuilt the area, rebuilt the beach. They are worried about the erosion.
You know, the wind is going to be strong enough that it`s going to move
some of that sand. And then again, we keep talking about it, but it`s
those driving rains and the surge that`s also going to wear away some of
this new sand and some of the dune work they`ve done.

So everybody poised to see exactly what happens and how they get true
this thing, Thomas.

ROBERTS: Jay, just out of curiosity, Crotan (ph) Highway is the major
thoroughfare that`s going to get everybody up and down. How were
evacuations, from what you have heard? Did they go smoothly for everybody?

GRAY: They really did. That`s the good story that`s coming out of
here, a lot of people heeding the advice of the emergency officials and
getting out early. There were never any long traffic jams, as we`ve seen
in some other areas. There were lines of cars and people had to wait a
little bit. But everybody that wanted to get to higher ground was able to
do that in an ordinarily fashion.

It`s those that are staying. Unfortunately, we visited with several
families today who decided to ride this thing out. Those are the people
that the police and sheriff`s deputies are so worried about now. They`ve
done some neighborhood checks. The time to leave has past at this point.

But what they told those who are riding this out is if you decide to
stay, we can`t make you leave, but we`re not sending our officers out
during this storm. We are not putting them in harm`s way to come help you.
So if you have an emergency, it will have to wait until the storm has
cleared this area. That could be a full day.

So those people are doing this on their own at this point, Thomas.

ROBERTS: They`ve been forewarned. All right, Jay Gray, thanks so
much, in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina for us.

When we come back, more on how state and local governments along the
east coast are getting ready for Irene. We`re back with much more. Stay
tuned to THE ED SHOW, right here on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: All right, a live look at Andrews Air Force Base, where
President Obama and his family have just arrived from their vacation in
Martha`s Vineyard, cutting that vacation short to arrive back home in
Washington, D.C. to get ready with the rest of the East Coast. What Irene
is going to bring nobody knows, but the outer bands of that storm have
already started to come ashore in North Carolina, along the Outer Banks, in
Nags Head and also Kill Devil Hills, moving its way slowly, but surely up
the eastern seaboard.

Welcome back, everybody. We continue to monitor the path of Hurricane
Irene as it makes its way up the Atlantic. States of emergency declared in
all states across the east coast, including the state of Maryland.
Thousands leaving the beach town of Ocean City earlier as part of a
mandatory evacuation.

Meanwhile, state and local authorities urging residents in other
flood-prone areas to get out before the storm hits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: This is a large -- this is a
deadly -- this is a slow-moving hurricane that is bearing down on the state
of Maryland. And we need all citizens to do their job of taking every
precaution to protect their families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Governor O`Malley earlier. Joining me is Ed McDcnough, the
public information officer for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
Sir, it`s good have you on.

I spent many summers growing up in Ocean City, Maryland, at the
Calypso on 62nd Street.

ED MCDONOUGH, MARYLAND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Well, I spent
many a summer in Ocean City also.

ROBERTS: So it`s I know hard pressed for people that they`re going to
leave their vacations early, pack up and go home. But what are you
expecting for the people on the Maryland coast line over the next 24 hours?

MCDONOUGH: Well, we certainly are going to be expecting a lot of high
winds, a lot of flooding, a lot of tidal surge. As the governor said
earlier today, very dangerous conditions, which is why we had the mandatory
evacuation in Ocean City, and why there are a number of either mandatory or
voluntary evacuations up and down Maryland`s eastern shore communities.

Hello?

ROBERTS: Sorry, I lost you for one second there. What is the team
doing, though, to prepare, especially when you get to the metro areas, like
Baltimore.

MCDONOUGH: Well, the message that we`re getting out to people is that
while we believe that the worst of the storm is going to be on the eastern
shore, there are several significant things to worry about over in the
metropolitan areas. Our soil is already saturated because we`ve had a lot
of rain over the last two or three weeks.

That means that trees are going to come down easily. And that means
we`re going to have power outages. We also are concerned that because of
that, people will start using generators and things like that. And we are
concerned that they use that safely. So we`re trying to get the word out
about that.

Then again, we are also going to have issues of flooding over here.
We could have small steam and urban flooding here. We could have some
storm surge flooding along both sides of the Chesapeake, including some
areas around Baltimore and perhaps on the Potomac around D.C.

ROBERTS: People taking this seriously. Ed McDonough, thanks for your
time tonight, Ed. Appreciate it.

Our coverage of Hurricane Irene is going to continue in just a moment.
Stick around. We`re back with more.

END

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BE UPDATED.
END

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