As Hurricane Irene moves closer to U.S. landfall in North Carolina, the National Weather Service -- which still expects southwestern Connecticut will take a pounding Sunday -- says that today could be the calm before that storm.

After early-morning patchy fog clears, today is expected to be mostly sunny and humid, with the daytime high temperature rising into the low-80s. The winds will be north at around 5 mph, becoming southeast this afternoon.

That's in sharp contrast to Irene which at 5 a.m. today was packing winds of 110 mph as it swirls just off the Carolinas' coast.

Here, this evening should be party cloudy, the NWS says, with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after midnight. The high humidity continues as the temperature dips to the upper-60s.

Tomorrow, with periodic showers and thunderstorms likely throughout the day. The temperature will rise to the upper-70s.

By tomorrow night, the NWS warns, tropical storm conditions are possible. The earlier showers are expected to give way to heavier rain by late night into early Sunday. The temperature will dip to the upper-60s, with lows in the upper 60s. The winds will pick up, registering 15 to 20 mph from the east with gusts up to 25 mph -- later registering up to 45 mph after midnight. Chance of rain near 100 percent.

The NWS has issued a flash flood watch for the region from Saturday night through Sunday night in anticipation of the torrential rains that could unleash from 5 to 10 inches of precipitation during that period.

On Sunday, Hurricane Irene is expected to be on the region's doorstep, with heavy rain and wind gusts early at 45 to 55 mph, increasing in strength throughout the day from 75 mph to 90 mph bursts possible. Temperature should be in the mid-70s.

Irene's onslaught is expected to continue Sunday night, with heavy rain and winds overnight.

But Monday, the weather service predicts, the storm will clear and conditions will be mostly sunny. Temperatures will hit a high in the upper-70s.