My benchmark for hurricanes is the state of Texas. If it appears bigger than the state of Texas from the satellite images, then it’s Really Bad. Irene is bigger than the state of Texas.
This is not a “sit in the basement sipping high powered fruit drinks with your pals and giggle when the TV goes off” kind of a storm. This one is going to be bad.
I appreciate the advanced warning, but the increase in anxiety and its duration is not a good thing.
All the best to family and friends on the East Coast. I hope you are out of its way and that any damage you get is minor.