Hurricane Irene: Massachusetts Braces for Severe Rain, Wind

Storm prompts cancellations of flights, performances.

Aug. 27, 2011— -- Massachusetts residents are bracing for the worst as Hurricane Irene slammed into North Carolina this morning.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told residents that this is "not a time to panic but a time to be prepared."

He urged Massachusetts residents to stay off the roads beginning Saturday evening.

He said parts of the could get winds of up to 70 to 90 mph as of 11 a.m. Sunday morning and 10-12 inches of rain is possible for the western part of the state.

According to the National Weather Service, Boston will get up to 6 inches of rain, with winds of up to 60 mph and will likely experience power outages.

For more on how Hurricane Irene is affecting the North Carolina coast and the surrounding area, go to ABC News affiliate WTVD-TV

"This is a very, very serious event," Patrick said. "Just as the conditions can improve, they can also worsen."

The storm has disrupted mass transit and scheduled weekend events.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra canceled its first performance in 75 years: a Sunday afternoon concert of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Click here to see the projected track of Hurricane Irene.About 80 percent of the flights at Logan International Airport have already been cancelled for Sunday and more cancellations were expected Saturday.

State officials are considering closing the bridges that connect Cape Cod with the rest of the state if winds in the area reach 74 mph, which has some residents of the summer resort area concerned that they could be cut off. Officials have said no decision has been made as of yet.

Further inland in Harvard, people were concerned about the apple crop. Apples are a huge agricultural boon to Massachusetts and the next few weeks are critical.

The trees are laden with ripening fruit and if the rain and wind pick up, as they are expected to, farmers fear the crop could be wiped out.

In Springfield, site of the June 1 tornado, homeowners are turning a worried eye to the sky as they face the potential for massive flooding in the western part of Massachusetts, which is expected to get soaked with up to 6 inches of rain.

Pilgrim Nuclear Plant, located in Plymouth, is expected to close Sunday if winds hit 70 mph, Patrick said. The nuclear plant is located next to the Massachusetts coastline.

Safety officials in Massachusetts have positioned 15 rapid reconassiance teams ready to be deployed at dawn Monday to identify areas hard hit by Hurricane Irene and to begin recovery and clean up.