Irene is on her way

Outer Banks North Carolina, USA, 25 Aug 2011 (AP)

Hurricane Irene’s rains began reaching the U.S. East Coast on Friday ahead of a weekend of punishing weather from the Carolinas to as far north as Massachusetts, with at least 65 million people in the storm’s track.

Rain began falling along the coasts of North and South Carolina as Irene trudged toward the coast from the Bahamas.

Swells from the hurricane and 6 to 9-foot waves were showing up in North Carolina’s Outer Banks early Friday and winds were expected to begin picking up later in the day according to the U.S. Weather Service.

Meanwhile, the hurricane warning area now covers an area from North Carolina to just south of New York City.

A hurricane watch extended even farther north and included Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts.

The storm is expected to impact New Brunswick early Monday.