Delaware is asking potential visitors to stay away until Hurricane Irene safely passes by the First State.

“Due to the impending and potentially very dangerous Hurricane Irene, all those who plan to visit Delaware the weekend of August 26-28 are urged to postpone plans immediately,” the Delaware Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

“Weather conditions will not allow safe travel and lodging in the beach areas and possibly throughout other areas of the state.”

DEMA also warned that state officials are discussing potentially issuing evacuation orders for coastal and flood-prone areas throughout the state.

“Those who are presently vacationing in the beach areas are urged to return to their homes now while roads and bridges are
safe,” the agency added.

“The governor and all emergency management officials are closely monitoring this dangerous storm and ask that the public take it very seriously, enact their household and business emergency plans and follow directions from state officials.”

The coastal resort town of Ocean City, Md., about nine miles south of the Delaware border, has already declared a state of emergency and ordered residents to evacuate.

“All persons other than identified emergency personnel are ordered to evacuate,” city officials said in a statement.

“Visitors are asked to return to their principle residences. Ocean City residents are asked to seek shelter elsewhere.”

Under the order, the sale of alcohol is banned in Ocean City and all businesses must close by Thursday midnight.

“All incoming traffic to Ocean City, Maryland, will be limited to emergency personnel,” the order added.

“No other vehicles will be permitted entry to the island, except by approved authority.”

The coastal areas of southern Delaware and the Delmarva peninsula are expected to endure gale force winds arising from Irene by late afternoon or early evening on Saturday. Wind speeds could reach 90 mph, with gusts near 120 mph.

Such conditions will be sustained for several hours.

Moreover, about 9.5 inches of rain are expected to fall in Ocean City over the next three days – with storm surges of six feet above normal in low-lying areas, resulting in massive flooding.