BREWIN'

08.27.11

Irene Strikes New Jersey

After whacking North Carolina, Hurricane Irene made its second landfall in New Jersey Sunday morning. See the latest updates here, plus photos.

For the latest updates, see the Weather Channel's storm tracker here.

For preparation plans, see Ready.gov's lists here.

Happening Now:

Irene Closes In on NYC
August 28, 4:30 AM

The massive storm came closer to NYC, flooding parts of neighboring New Jersey and cutting power to 127,000 New York and suburban homes.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Too Late to Leave
August 27, 11:30 PM

"You should have left earlier, but if you didn’t, our advice would be—and you do it at your own risk—stay where you are,” Bloomberg warned. The hurricane battered southern New Jersey, as strong winds and rain caused power outages. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter declared a state of emergency, the first of its kind since 1986.

Storm Crosses Over Into Virginia
August 27, 8:00 PM

Hurricane Irene hit Virginia Saturday night as it lost some of its power but remained a Category 1 storm. It is expected to head back out to the Atlantic Ocean before making landfall on Long Island sometime Sunday.

Nearly 1 Million Without Power

Aug 27, 2011 6:18 PM EDT

Nearly one million were left without power in North Carolina and Virginia as strong wind and rain knocked down power lines.

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Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA / Landov

Third Person Dies in North Carolina
Aug 27, 2011 1:32 PM EDT

A third person has died in North Carolina after driving through standing water and hitting a tree.

10+ Inches of Rain in Eastern N. Carolina
Aug 27, 2011 2:06 PM EDT

Irene has poured 10 to 15 inches of rain over eastern North Carolina already, according to the Weather Channel. Several counties are reporting in excess of 12 inches of rain.

Tornado Destroys Five Homes
Aug 27, 2011 1:43 PM EDT

A tornado has destroyed five homes in Tyrell County, North Carolina, according to CNN.

National Guard Deployed to NYC, LI
August 27, 5:15 PM

About 900 National Guard airmen and soliders were sent it to New York City and suburban Long Island to help out with evacuations, cleanup and other duties.

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Obama Declares Emergency in Maryland
Aug 27, 2011 1:34 PM EDT

President Obama has signed an emergency declaration for Maryland--the ninth state to be declared under emergency.

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Joe Raedle / Getty Images

New York Won't Preemptively Cut Power
Aug 27, 2011 12:51 PM EDT

New York City won't preemptively cut power in lower Manhattan in order to avoid damage from possible saltwater flooding, according to The New York Times. However, ConEdison will monitor the area for flooding and could potentially cut power to about 6,400 customers.

U.S. Has 6,500 Troops Ready
Aug 27, 2011 12:47 PM EDT

According to NBC News, the Pentagon is ready to deploy 6,500 troops from all branches of the military.

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Travis Long, Raleigh News & Observer / MCT /Zuma

Second North Carolina Man Dies During Storm
Aug 27, 2011 12:39 PM EDT

ABC News says a second person in North Carolina has died during Hurricane Irene, apparently from a heart attack.

NYC Mass Transit Begins Shutdown
Aug 27, 2011 12:15 PM EDT

New York City began shutting down its mass transit systems Saturday, with the last trains and buses leaving their stations at noon. The shutdown will take about eight hour, and service won’t resume until Monday at the earliest. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also considering cutting off power to parts of lower Manhattan in order to avoid the risk of salt-water flooding while the cables are live. “There’s a lot less damage to cables if salt water gets on them when they don’t carry any current,” he explained.

Irene's First Victim Killed by Falling Tree
Aug 27, 2011 11:53 AM EDT

Hurricane Irene claimed its first victim on Monday morning when a man in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina was killed by a falling tree. The man was outside his home when the accident occurred at 10:20 a.m., according to the Associated Press. Storm winds were blowing around 60 mph at the time. The man was already dead when paramedics arrived on the scene.

NC Governor: 'Please Stay Inside'
Aug 27, 2011 11:45 AM EDT

With Hurricane Irene blowing through the Outer Banks, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue begged North Carolina residents to “Please stay inside.” The storm has so far washed away two piers in the Outer Banks, blown the roof off a car dealership, and knocked out power at a hospital (in addition to hundreds of thousands of homes in North Carolina and Virginia).Winds are clocking in around 90 miles per hour.

109,000 Loser Power in Virginia
Aug 27, 2011 11:34 AM EDT

Dominion Power reports that 109,000 of its customers are currently without power in southeastern Virginia.

Southeastern North Carolina Spared Major Damage
Aug 27, 2011 11:20 AM EDT

Early storm forecasts had Irene blowing in over southeastern North Carolina, but early reports indicate the area has been spared major damage. "While it will likely take weeks to clean up, Irene appears to have left no catastrophic damage behind in Southeastern North Carolina," the StarNews Online reports.

Hurricane Irene Remains Category 1 Storm
Aug 27, 2011 10:57 AM EDT

The National Hurricane Center's latest advisory says Irene remains a Category 1 storm and will remain near hurricane strength as it moves into the mid-Atlantic region tonight. 

Irene's Low Pressure Could Lead to Stronger Winds
Aug 27, 2011 10:31 AM EDT

Meteorologist Steven DiMartino, tweeting at @nynjpaweather, flags a reason for concern: The pressure at the eye of Hurricane Irene is 951 MB, which he says should lead to stronger winds than are currently being recorded. He says that Irene, "at the very least is going to retain the current strength for some time." He says that in the next six hours either pressure or wind speed will increase. "And I am warning everyone, do not be surprised if those winds increase," he writes.

Pier Collapses at Atlantic Beach, NC
August 27, 10:06 a.m.

Rain Begins in New Jersey, New York City
Aug 27, 2011 10:11 AM EDT

Rain has begun to fall in New Jersey and New York City. Meteorologist Steve DiMartino says it's because Irene has grown larger in size, not because she's moving faster.

91,000 Lose Power in North Carolina
Aug 27, 2011 10:03 AM EDT

Two hours after Hurricane Irene made landfall in the Outer Banks, 91,000 customers are said to be without power in North Carolina.

Mayor Bloomberg: Evacuate Now
Aug 27, 2011 9:53 AM EDT

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has instructed residents planning to evacuate before Hurricane Irene to do so immediately. About 370,000 New Yorkers have been ordered to evacuate low-lying coastal areas. Bloomberg also told New Yorkers to plan for a blackout in lower Manhattan and warned residents that the electric company will have to turn off the grid in other neighborhoods as well if there’s flooding.

Hoboken Evacuates Ground Floors, Closes Bars
Aug 27, 2011 9:13 AM EDT

The mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey has ordered a mandatory evacuation for ground floor units in the city and ordered all bars to close at 8 p.m.

Irene Soaks North Carolina
Aug 27, 2011 9:07 AM EDT

Rain is falling over North Carolina at a rate of five inches or more per hour, says CNN.

Irene Makes Landfall in North Carolina
Aug 27, 2011 8:14 AM EDT

Hurricane Irene has made landfall near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, as a Category 1 storm with 85 mile-per-hour winds. Even prior to landfall, more than 26,000 residents of North Carolina were without power, according to CNN.

Thousands of Flights, Trains Canceled

Aug 27, 2011 7:30 AM EDT

If you haven’t bolted the North East for a warm, sunny beach somewhere yet then it’s probably too late: 6,100 flights have been canceled nationwide in the next three days, and the number is only expected to grow as Hurricane Irene approaches. Beginning at noon on Saturday, the five main New York City airports will all be closed to incoming flights. The overall impact, however, is not expected to be as bad as it is in the case of a severe blizzard: Unless airport facilities are damaged, flights can generally resume almost as soon as the rain stops. Amtrak has also reduced Saturday service and canceled all Sunday trains.

Our Visit From Irene
by India Hicks

As the hurricane tore across the tiny Bahamian Island India Hicks calls home—ripping palm trees from their roots, leveling beach cabanas, and knocking hummingbirds to the ground—she's reminded that a force much greater than us is in control.

Some people can claim to be a connoisseur of wine, or modern art or wild orchids; I have become a connoisseur of hurricanes. You can’t live permanently on an out island of the Bahamas for 16 years without earning a history of hurricanes.

MORE>>

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New York Area Airports Close
Aug 26 11:41 PM

Five New York-area airports will close Saturday ahead of Irene's arrival, including John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in New York City, and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey. Airlines have canceled over 5,000 flights.

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People crowd a Whole Foods store in Manhattan before the arrival of Hurricane Irene on August 26, 2011 in New York City. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Two Million Flee East Coast
Aug 26, 2011 6:37 PM

As Hurricane Irene caused wind and rain in North Carolina, more than two million people up and down the Eastern Seaboard were issued mandatory evacuation orders. “Don’t wait, don’t delay,” President Obama warned Friday afternoon as he cut short his Martha’s Vineyard vacation. New York took unprecedented measures to prepare by ordering mandatory evacuations of 300,000 people who live in the low-lying parts of the city, including Battery Park City, Coney Island, and the Rockaways and shut down the mass transit system. Parts of suburban Long Island were evacuated Friday and will be Saturday morning, as well as parts of coastal New Jersey.  Atlantic City closed its casinos for only the third time in its history. Hurricane Irene is estimated to cost $20 billion in damages, meaning it would be the third-most costly hurricane, behind only Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew.

Massive Blackouts Expected
Aug 26, 2011 6:30 PM

Officials are warning that Hurricane Irene may result in massive blackouts. FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said, “Power will go out over large areas.” FEMA has sent generators, medical supplies, and other emergency equipment to military bases in various states. The American Red Cross is preparing food and volunteers to serve up to 1 million meals per day if should become necessary. A spokesman for the organization said that the hurricane will reach a “huge geographic area with lots of people,” and it “could take weeks, even months to respond to.”

Atlantic City Casinos Shut Down
Aug 26, 2011 6:29 PM

The resorts in Atlantic City, New Jersey have now been closed. The governor’s office ordered that all casinos close their doors by noon on Saturday, although some of them will voluntarily close at 8 p.m. Friday night. This is just the third time in the city’s history that all of the resorts have been closed; Atlantic County has ordered a full evacuation of the island where they are located. Atlantic City’s casinos were most recently closed in 2006 during a New Jersey government shutdown, which cost them roughly $16 million each day and the state government about $1.3 million per day. A spokeswoman for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said, “During the budget shutdown, properties only had to close the casino floors. This will affect the whole city. This is really unprecedented, as to the magnitude of possible loss.”

Storm Surge Could be Category 2
Aug 26, 2011 5:35 PM

Jeff Masters at Weather Underground predicts that Irene will be a Category 1 storm when it hits North Carolina early Saturday, but that, due to high tides and the storm's enormous size, the surge will be the size you would expect of a Category-2 storm:

 At 3:30 pm EDT this afternoon, a wind analysis from NOAA/HRD (Figure 2) indicated that the potential storm surge damage from Irene still rated a 5.0 on a scale of 0 to 6. This is equivalent to the storm surge a typical Category 4 hurricane would have. While this damage potential should steadily decline as Irene moves northwards and weakens, we can still expect a storm surge one full Saffir-Simpson Category higher than Irene's winds when it impacts the coast.

Irene Cancels Broadway Shows
Aug 26, 2011 4:36 PM

Disney announced that it would cancel performances of its Broadway shows this weekend because of Hurricane Irene. Disney made the decision for the “patron’s and staff’s safety following the announcement of the impending suspension of MTA and Metro North service.” Several Off-Broadway productions have also been canceled this weekend because of the hurricane. The announcements came just hours after the Broadway League and the Off-Broadway league said that all shows would run as scheduled this weekend.

Irene Could Affect 55 Million People
Aug 26, 2011 3:51 PM 

As Irene moves up the East Coast, it could affect 55 million people according to The New York Times

Irene: From Depression to Hurricane in 10 Seconds
Aug 26, 2011 3:35 PM
Irene: From Depression to Hurricane in 10 Seconds
Aug 26, 2011 3:35 PM
Irene: From Depression to Hurricane in 10 Seconds
Aug 26, 2011 3:35 PM
Irene: From Depression to Hurricane in 10 Seconds
Aug 26, 2011 3:35 PM

Irene: From Depression to Hurricane in 10 Seconds
Aug 26, 2011 3:35 PM

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Airlines Begin Canceling Flights
Aug 26, 2011 2:47 PM

With Hurricane Irene making its way up the East Coast, airlines have begun canceling flights at some of the nation’s busiest airports. JetBlue canceled 880 weekend flights on Friday, most of them from New York and Boston. The Associated Press writes that, when all is said and done, hundreds of thousands of airline passengers will be grounded over the weekend by the storm. 

Bloomberg to Rockaway Residents: 'You Have to Move'
Aug 26, 2011 2:45 PM

“You have to move,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told residents who live in the Rockaways and “Zone A” evacuation zones. (To find out which evacuation zone you live in and find the locations of nearby shelters, look here. For the map, click here. Residents will have to evacuate the areas by 5 p.m. Saturday.) It is the first time in New York history that the city has mandatorily evacuated flood zones. A quarter of a million people live in these areas and will have to be evacuated by noontime Saturday if they plan on using mass transit. Bloomberg also said he does not expect any looting, but cautioned people to not stay back to protect their property: “What is more important: your life or your belongings?” 

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Mel Evans / AP Photo

For NYC's Broadway, The Show Must Go On
Aug 26, 2011 2:36 PM EDT

The Broadway League said all performances scheduled for the weekend will continue.

National Hurricane Center Warns of Storm Surge
Aug 26, 2011 2:22 PM EDT

The latest public advisory from the National Hurricane Center warns of an “extremely dangerous storm surge” in North Carolina that will raise water levels by as much as six to 11 feet and three to six feet along the Jersey Shore. “The surge will be accompanied by large, destructive, and life-threatening waves,” the Center warns. Irene is also expected to produce between six and 10 inches of rain, with up to 15 inches of rain in isolated areas.

New York City to Close Mass Transit Saturday
Aug 26, 2011 1:57 PM EDT

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that New York City's mass-transit systems will close on Saturday beginning at noon. The transit system is unable to ensure the safety of its vehicles when wind speeds exceed 39 miles per hour, and the city needs eight hours to shut mass transit down, according to The Wall Street Journal. The service outage could last into Monday, depending on the severity of the storm.

Hurricane Irene From Outer Space
Aug 26, 2011 2:06 PM EDT

NASA has posted to Flickr an image of Hurricane Irene as it appears from outer space.

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Obama Ends Vacation Early

Aug 26, 2011 1:50 PM EDT

President Obama will cut his vacation a bit short as a result of Hurricane Irene, and leave Martha’s Vineyard on Friday evening instead of Saturday morning as previously scheduled. Irene is expected to cause problems up and down the East Coast. A White House spokesman said, “I think the president simply reached the conclusion that it would be more prudent to be in Washington D.C., and to be at the White House at the end of the day today.”

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Chuck Burton / AP Photo

NYC Begins Evacuations of Hospitals, Nursing Homes
Aug 26, 2011 1:15 PM EDT

As Hurricane Irene barrels toward the East Coast, New York City has begun evacuating nursing homes and hospitals in high-risk areas, and officials are considering shutting down the city's subways, buses, and commuter rail lines on Saturday. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch for the city, in addition to Long Island, Connecticut, and parts of New Jersey. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was preparing "evacuation contingencies" for water-surrounded places like Coney Island, Lower Manhattan, and the Rockaways. There hasn't been a black out in New York City since 2003, but state officials are coordinating emergency services in the event of power outages in the region.

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Obama: Irene Will be ‘Historic’
Aug 26, 2011 11:50 AM EDT

In a move to ensure that he doesn’t make the same mistake as George W. Bush did with Hurricane Katrina, President Barack Obama rallied Americans to be prepared for Hurricane Irene as it closes in on North Carolina, with the outer bands reaching the coast. "If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now," Obama said Friday morning in an audio speech from his vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. "All indications point to this being a historic hurricane." The storm is miles from Cape Hatteras, N.C., packing “extremely dangerous” winds of 105 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. Track the storm here at The Weather Channel.

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Hurricane Could Cost NYC Billions
August 26, 2011 10:44 AM EDT

Though he admits that the chances of Hurricane Irene hitting New York City dead-on are unlikely, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver has predicted a worst-case-estimate of damages if the storm passed through the Big Apple. Following a complicated data model that lists the financial effects of previous hurricanes, Silver says a Category 2 hurricane could cause up to $35 billion in damages, which is the equivalent of approximately half of the city's annual budget, if it hits Manhattan. It would likely flood the subway system as well as neighborhoods like the East Village, the Financial District, and TriBeCa, as well as parts of Brooklyn and most of the Rockaways. If the storm passed through Long Island, where the National Weather Service has issued hurricane warnings, Silver's model says it would still cause roughly $10 billion in damages. Since Irene is large and moving at a snail's pace, some forecasters have said it is more likely to hit at high tide, which would increase the storm's severity.

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Residents of New Providence Island, Bahamas walk past a downed tree in their neighborhood on Aug. 25, 2011. (Lynne Sladky / AP Photo)

Hurricane Alert Grips East Coast

August 26, 2011 7:40 AM EDT

Hurricane alerts extended up the East Coast Friday, affecting some 65 million people, as Irene moved past the Bahamas and headed north toward North Carolina, where it is expected to hit Saturday. The National Hurricane Center issued warnings to Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and the coast of Massachusetts. Though winds at the center of the hurricane have died down slightly from 115 mph to 110 mph, making Irene a Category 2 storm, officials warned it could strengthen as it approached the coast. And many analysts, including Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, are predicting that the storm could cost tens of billions of dollars in damage.

Hilarious Wind-Blown Reporters
by Alex Berg

Aug 26, 2011 1:00 AM EDT

When Hurricane Irene hits the Northeast this weekend, expect wind, rain, flooding—and TV anchors braving the elements. From Al Roker’s wipeout to debris-dodging during Katrina, watch video of hilarious wind-blown reporters at work.

MORE>>

Global Warming’s Heavy Cost
by Bill McKibben

Aug 25, 2011 9:29 PM EDT

Hurricane Irene’s dangerous power can be traced to global warming says Bill McKibben—and Obama is at fault for his failed leadership on the environment.

Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming.

As she roars up the Eastern Seaboard, everyone is doing what they should—boarding windows, preparing rescue plans, stocking up on batteries. But a lot of people are also wondering: what’s a “tropical” storm doing heading for the snow belt?

Category 3 Storms have rarely hit Long Island since the 1800s; one was the great unnamed storm of 1938, which sent 15-foot storm waters surging through what are now multimillion-dollar seaside homes. Normally, says Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, it’s “difficult for a major Category 3 or stronger hurricane crossing north of North Carolina to maintain that intensity, because wind shear rapidly increases and ocean temperatures plunge below the 26°C (79°F) level that can support a hurricane.” The high-altitude wind shear may help knock the storm down a little this year, but the ocean temperatures won’t. They’re bizarrely high—only last year did we ever record hotter water.

MORE>>

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Irene Damage Estimated at $13.9B

Hurricane Irene is expected to reap some $13.9 billion in damages when it hits the East Coast if it keeps on the same path, officials and forecasters said Wednesday. Forecasters say Irene is on a path “eerily similar” to 1985’s Hurricane Gloria, which killed 11 people and caused $900 million in damages when it hit the East Coast. From Maine to North Carolina, more than 65 million could be affected by the hurricane and officials said the storm could cause up to $20 billion in overall damage to the economy in lost hours at work, power outages and service interruptions. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city's coastal residents should move out Friday, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared states of emergency. Evacuations have already begun in North Carolina, and the Virginia city of Norfolk issued mandatory evacuations Thursday night. Federal officials postponed Sunday’s planned dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C., due to the massive storm warning.

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North Carolina Evacuations

President Obama has declared an emergency for North Carolina and has ordered federal aid to help the state. Hurricane Irene is already a Category 3 storm and is expected to gain steam and make landfall in North Carolina on Saturday. Officials in that state’s Dare County have already ordered the evacuation of 180,000 residents and tourists. A Dare County spokeswoman said, “It wouldn’t behoove anyone to stay under these circumstances. Businesses are boarding up. Nobody can guarantee their safety.” The Navy has ordered its Second Fleet, stationed in southeastern Virginia, out to sea, because ships can better handle storms away from port. The path of the storm is not definite, so many states are inspecting bridges up the coast and reviewing evacuation plans.

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Irene Pummels Bahamas

Irene made a ferocious windfall on the Bahamas Wednesday night, lashing the southeastern portions of the island chain but mostly sparing the capital, Nassau. While there were no reports of deaths, property damage was substantial, with some homes destroyed and trees knocked down. On Acklins and Crooked Islands, 90 percent of homes were damaged or destroyed, according to the director of the country’s National Emergency Management Agency.

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East Coast Braces

After striking North Carolina, Irene is expected to cruise up the Eastern seabord and bring rain from Virginia to New York City. The East Coast’s largest cities are preparing for the worst: a direct hit. In New York, emergency shelters are being prepared, and evacuation maps are being circulated. (You can look at NYC’s evacuation map here.) By one estimate, there's a 20 percent chance that the city's subways will be flooded on Sunday night. "We hope for the best but prepare for the worst," mayor Mike Bloomberg said Thursday. In Long Island, school buses are being relocated to higher ground in case they are needed to shuttle evacuating residents. Boston is also preparing, stocking up on sandbags and running tests of communications systems. Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray is instructing residents to “stay off the roads [and] try to avoid being outside” should Irene come their way. Even if the hurricane doesn’t make landfall, heavy wind and rain are still expected on Sunday. Virginia's governor has declared a state of emergency, and has warned residents of mass power outages.