BRATTLEBORO -- Batten the hatches, hold on to your hat and get the dog inside the house.
New England is bracing for what could be one of the fiercest hurricanes to hit the region in the past 25 years.
"The center of the storm is forecast to pass over southern Vermont," said Steve DiRienzo, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y.
Hurricane Irene could bring between six and 12 inches of rain in 24 hours, he said.
The track of the storm could change between today and Sunday, said DiRienzo, but it's best to be prepared for the worst.
"I would expect a lot of tree damage with lines down and power outages," he said.
By the time Irene reaches southern Vermont, late Sunday afternoon or early evening, it could be either a high-end tropical storm or a Category 1 Hurricane, said DiRienzo, with wind gusts between 50 and 70 mph.
Rain might start falling as early as Sunday morning as the storm approaches the region, he said, with the winds arriving later.
Even though it hasn't rained much in the last few weeks and the rivers are running relatively low, flooding and flash flooding can be expected.
"That much rain anytime of the year is going to cause problems," said DiRenzio. "Tropical storms have a terrible habit of dropping one to two inches of rain per hour."
In the past 25 years, the two strongest storms to hit the region were Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
"Though it could change, Irene is expected to be stronger than Floyd," said DiRenzio.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.