Hurricane Irene rains began lashing the U.S. East Coast Friday as residents from North Carolina to Massachusetts started evacuations and traffic chaos gripped routes heading away from the eastern seaboard. New York City announced plans to evacuate low-lying areas and shut down the public transit system.
East Coast residents stocked up on water, batteries and generators and monitored Hurricane Irene's path via storm trackers. On Friday afternoon, the storm looked set to hit the coastal area of North Carolina with hurricane-force winds late Friday night or early Saturday.
As Irene inches closers, here are 10 images of preparations in the U.S. and of other hurricanes before they strike.