Here comes Irene, but perhaps not as fierce as once feared.

Hurricane Irene appears to have lost steam overnight, according to the National Weather Service, which has downgraded the storm to Category 1 status as it is poised to make landfall in the Carolinas early Saturday. The storm is moving slowly, the NWS reports, and as of 7 a.m., the center had yet to come ashore on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The storm was generating sustained winds maxxing at 90 mph.

However, hurricane warnings and a flood watch remain in effect for southwestern Connecticut from late tonight through tomorrow night. Torrential rain, strong winds and significant flooding are major threats to the region, forecasters warn, even if the storm is downgraded to tropical storm status by then.

Today, showers are expected to begin after 1 p.m., with the daytime high temperature reaching about 77 degrees.

Rain is expected to intensify through the day, with tropical storm conditions likely by nighttime -- heavy rain of from 3 to 4 inches, with east wind 17 to 22 mph increasing to between 35 and 45 mph. Winds could gust as high as 55 mph. The temperature will fall to about 70 degrees.

By tomorrow, the storm is likely to continue strengthening, the NWS predicts, with heavy rain and the wind shifting to the north at 55 to 65 mph, increasing to between 60 and 80 mph. Winds could gust as high as 90 mph. New rainfall amounts in excess of 4 inches are possible. The high temperature will be about 75 degrees, the NWS says.

The storm will continue tomorrow night, but rain and wind should subside by 9 p.m. as the temperature dips to about 60 degrees. Skies will clear, and the winds will diminish to 22 to 25 mph, and then further decreasing to between 13 and 16 mph later.

On Monday as Irene tracks north through upper New England, sunny conditions should prevail in southwestern Connecticut. The daytime high should be about 80 degrees.

Tuesday, the weather service predicts, will be sunny, with a high near 77.