"We have advised staff of the current forecast projections, just as we would during a pending snowstorm," said Bill Seiler, a spokesman at University of Maryland Medical Center. "In addition, we have asked staff scheduled to work this weekend to plan for the possibility that strong winds and rain coupled with fallen trees and flooded roads could extend the time it takes to get to work on time."

At the Maryland State Fairgrounds, all events will continue as scheduled until officials receive more precise information about when the storm will hit the area, said Grove Miller, chairman of the fair's board.

"We can shut down very quickly," Miller said. The Ferris wheel can withstand 90-mph winds, even without removing the carts, he said, but if wind speeds are predicted to be higher, they will take it and another tall ride down.

If they do decide to close, they will put an announcement on the fair website and alert media, he said. "We certainly don't want anybody to be hurt. If we do err, it will be on the cautious side."

Several Maryland universities have changed their move-in schedules for freshmen and returning students in anticipation of Hurricane Irene.

At Towson University, first-year students were scheduled to move in Saturday but will instead move in on Monday. Returning students were scheduled to move in Sunday and will instead move in on Tuesday. The university also shuffled its schedule of orientation events.

First-year students will still move into the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Saturday, but they will be allowed into their rooms earlier in the day than scheduled if families are worried about travel plans. New students will also be permitted to move in Monday if they don't plan to travel until after the storm.

At the University of Maryland, College Park, check-in for arriving students will proceed on Saturday and Sunday. But any students who are unable to reach campus because of the weather will be permitted to check in on Monday or Tuesday.

About a third of Goucher College students have already moved in, but check-in for the rest was shifted from Sunday to Monday.

At Salisbury University, move-in was tentatively rescheduled for Monday.

Reuters and Baltimore Sun reporters Meredith Cohn, Jill Rosen, Liz F. Kay, Childs Walker, Liz Bowie and Andrea Siegel contributed to this article.


Maryland weather blog: Frank Roylance on meteorology

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