With Hurricane Irene on track to hit Long Island on Sunday while thousands of returning students unload cars and move into their new dorms, Stony Brook University announced today it would move up move-in to Saturday.

“A message is being posted to the Campus Residences home page (with a similar message being sent via email to all returning students) encouraging them to arrive on Saturday between 10 am and 2 pm to move in,” said Al DeVries, the Director of Campus Residences at Stony Brook, in an email to Think. The charges usually associated with moving in early will be waived.

According to the most recent forecasts from the National Weather Service, Irene will likely brush eastern Long Island on Saturday night into Sunday, right in the middle of what would have been the scheduled move-in date for thousands of Stony Brook students returning to campus for the Fall semester.

Current models place the eye of the storm closer to Montauk, meaning Stony Brook would escape the most devastating effects of the hurricane. But even an indirect hit from Irene could mean up to a foot of rain and sustained winds as high as 60 miles per hour, says Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Brian Colle.

“If it’s a tropical storm warning even, that is still a dangerous situation. Tree limbs could fall, bad things could happen,” he said on Wednesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been steadily updating the most likely path of Irene for the last few days, pushing it further and further out into the Atlantic Ocean. A model from two days ago placed the path of the storm directly over Stony Brook, but it has since been moved about 60 miles east. Colle said that in order for Stony Brook to avoid the effects altogether, the projections would have to shift Irene another 60 miles east.

Elsewhere on Long Island, SUNY Farmingdale is remaining optimistic that the worst of the storm will miss them. Students there are scheduled to return on Sunday as well.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” said Kathy Coley, the Director of Communications at Farmingdale State. “We’re tracking it and we think it’ll be ok.”

Stony Brook is taking no chances.

“We are doing extensive planning to prepare for [Hurricane Irene],” said Gary Kaczmarczyk, the Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. “The Office of Emergency Management is working with Student Affairs and they are coming up with a number of contingency plans.”

“My concern is, if the warnings are issued, that people take them seriously,” said Colle. “If a warning is issued, that is not the time to move into Stony Brook.”

“By tomorrow, or in the next 24 to 48 hours, we’ll know more.”

This is a developing story. Stay with Think for the latest news on Hurricane Irene. Follow our continuing coverage on Twitter at #HurricaneSB, on Facebook, or sign up for our breaking news alerts on Google+.

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