Matzav.com Hurricane Coverage: Could Hurricane Irene be a once-in-a-lifetime storm for New York and New Jersey? At least one weather expert believes that could be the case.
“There is potential for the worst hurricane impacts in 50 years along the northern part of the Atlantic Seaboard, as Irene plows northward,” Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist, said in a column on AccuWeather.com.
“The impacts on lives, property, commerce and travel will be serious.”
While the path of the storm is likely to change at least a bit over the next few days, Irene’s latest track puts it extremely close to or over New York City around 8 p.m. Sunday, according to AccuWeather.com. That is, after it slams into the Outer Banks of North Carolina Saturday evening as a strong Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane.
“On its current forecast path, Irene would spread destructive hurricane-force winds (gusts between 80 to 100 mph) across the Delmarva coast, eastern New Jersey, New York City, western Long Island and southwestern New England,” AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.
“Widespread tree damage, major power outages and structural damage to buildings and homes would ensue,” Ms. Pydynowski said. “Glass windows could shatter along the sides of New York City skyscrapers.
Mayor Bloomberg this morning urged city residents living in low-lying areas to line up a place to stay on high ground ahead of possible evacuations.
Bloomberg said that he expected to make a decision by late tomorrow whether residents in the city’s so-called “Zone-A” — including residents who live along the shore — would need to evacuate ahead of the storm that’s now expected to hit the city Sunday.
“The timing is a little bit up in the air,” he said. “We want to get as close as we can to the actual event, to make sure we don’t do something unnecessary, but there is a point at which we have to, and the logistics require just going ahead.”
Residents in the zone areas should begin moving items to upper floors and gathering important documents now as a precaution, the mayor said. A network of shelters would be available during any evacuation, but Bloomberg suggested that residents with friends and relatives in safer areas of the city ask if they might be able to stay with them if forced to leave home.
Bloomberg said he would issue an executive order instituting a forced evacuation only in the worst of circumstances. A suggested evacuation is more likely, he said. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said his department was most concerned about people who are not able to evacuate.
“I think most people will obviously use common sense and leave,” he said. “There are some people who obviously are not able to leave their homes under their own power. We’ll help in that regard as well.”
He said EMS officers are equipped with inflatable boats; highway units will also direct traffic where flooding could occur. The city already has crews working to clean out some of the 143,000 catch basins in the metropolis to help with street drainage.
Bloomberg said that nearly $2 billion in sewer upgrades over the last decade would also help reduce flooding. The city has moved boats to police station houses in low-lying areas, hired emergency forest contractors and topped off hospital emergency generators with fuel in anticipation of the storm.
Department of Sanitation workers have been asked to be on the look out for any street debris that could clog drainage.