Hurricane Irene Heading Towards East Coast: New York City prepares for Close Encounter Sunday


hurricane-ireneNew York City emergency planners are gearing up for a direct hit from Hurricane Irene as the strengthening storm battered the Bahamas with 120 mph winds Wednesday.

The first major Atlantic hurricane of the season was charting a course that will take it up the East Coast and dangerously close to the city as early as Sunday.

Cas Holloway, the city’s newly appointed Deputy Mayor of Operations, said emergency shelters were being readied and other steps were being taken to prepare for Irene’s fury.

“There is the possibility of a hurricane-force storm hitting the city,” Holloway said. “I’m not sure if that’s going to happen. Now’s the time to start paying attention.”

Since 1851, only five hurricanes have struck within 75 miles of New York City – the last being Gloria in 1985.

“New Yorkers have been through a lot of emergencies. Overall, New York is very resilient,” said Commissioner Joe Bruno of the city Office of Emergency Management.

The storm, which is expected to at least bring torrential rains and some flooding to the city, also threatens to derail Monday’s start of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens.

The monster Category 3 storm ripped through the Bahamas Wednesday, producing storm surges greater than 10 feet.

Bahamas Meteorology Department reported the hurricane was “pounding” the islands of Mayaguana and Little Inagua Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of deaths or major damage.

Once its through beating up the Bahamas tomorrow, Irene is expected to arch north and bear down on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Evacuations have begun on the small tourist island of Ocracoke, part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which is one of the first places expected to be hit when the storm reaches U.S. soil.

The 16-mile-long barrier island is home to about 800 permanent residents, and thousands more flock there to vacation in summer months. It is only accessible by boat, so getting people off the island in time could be a challenge. It will likely be the first real test of whether people have heeded official warnings to clear out of the hurricane’s path.

Meteorologists are urging residents all along the East Coast, as far north as Maine, to be prepared for heavy rains, mass flooding and power outages.

The storm is expected to hit North Carolina on the weekend. It is projected to then change course and start heading north, passing through parts of Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane’s center is likely to stay off the coast of New York City, but the eastern tip of Long Island could experience the full force of mother nature.

Irene is the first hurricane to seriously threaten the U.S. since Ike slammed into Texas in 2008. The last Category 3 storm to come ashore on the East Coast was seven years ago when Hurricane Jeanne slammed Florida in 2004.

Irene has already carved out a destructive path across the Caribbean, first striking the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico with torrential rain and dangerous winds.

It left more than a million people without power in Puerto Rico, and one woman reportedly died – causing President Obama to declare an emergency to make the island eligible for federal help.

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter}


  1. Everyone should gather the needed canned and packaged goods, water, candles, batteries, etc. ASAP. This storm could come up along the NJ coast. Above all, let’s daven for a change of course (Irene’s and ours!)