Hurricane Irene Bashes East Coast After Landfall; Heads To New York : The Two-WayOne of the largest and potentially most damaging hurricanes to hit the East Coast in decades is heading slowly north. The storm is expected to pass right over New York City and into New England later this weekend. At least four storm-related deaths have been reported, and more than 630,000 homes and businesses are without power.
A motorboat passes a submerged pickup truck on Main Street in Washingtonville, N.Y., on Sunday following heavy rains from Tropical Storm Irene.
A deer wades through floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene on Sunday in Lincoln Park, N.J. Rivers and creeks surged toward potentially record levels.
A person checks a building for occupants as raging floodwaters cross Route 100, closing the main road in Waitsfield, Vt., on Sunday.
A security guard hangs on the door of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's SUV in the middle of a flooded street Sunday in Margaretville, N.Y.
Darrell Tarte surveys damage from a tree at a home hit by the hurricane on Sunday in Port Republic, Md.
A vehicle is covered by trees on a flooded roadway in Southern Shores, N.C., on Sunday after the hurricane swept through the area.
Waves crash along a seawall as the tropical storm, downgraded from a hurricane, slammed into Fairhaven, Mass., on Sunday.
Jimmy Kaplow (left) and David Korostoff watch as water in New York City's Central Park flows down the steps as the tropical storm passes through the city on Sunday.
An Oak Bluffs, Mass., fire department vehicle drives through strong winds and ocean spray from the tropical storm while driving along a costal road in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard on Sunday.
Residents clear debris from downed trees after a tornado spawned by Hurricane Irene touched down, on Sunday in Lewes, Del.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Water sits on the streets of Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood on Sunday.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Denise Robinson and Rich Brown clear out belongings from Robinson's storm-damaged beach home in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach, Va.
People form a bucket brigade to bail water out of a flooded Chelsea apartment in New York on Sunday.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Some flooding is no match for a scooter ride in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., on Sunday.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Waves crash around a home Sunday morning in Southampton, N.Y.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Lower Manhattan sits amid dark clouds as Irene bears down on New York early Sunday, bringing winds and rapidly rising seawater that threatened parts of the city.
Large waves pound a pier Sunday morning in Ocean City, Md.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
An abandoned car sits half-submerged in floodwaters on a southbound lane of the New Jersey Turnpike near exit 12 in Carteret, N.J.
A downed tree blocks a section of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway leading to City Hall in Philadelphia.
A sign stays just above the water in Ocean City, Md., on Saturday.
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(This live-blog is being updated throughout the day. Scroll down for our latest posts.)
Hurricane Irene, one of the largest and potentially most damaging storms to hit the East Coast of the United States in decades, is pounding communities from North Carolina and into Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without electricity. Irene is moving slowly northward, on a track that's expected to take the storm right over New York City and into New England Sunday.
Although the National Hurricane Center said Irene had weakened from a Category 2 hurricane (maximum winds of 96-110 mph) to a Category 1 (74-95 mph) Saturday, and also "lost some organization," the strong winds, torrential rains and potential storm surges in low-lying areas still make it a highly dangerous storm, authorities said.
Track Hurricane Irene
Real-time updates from the NOAA's National Hurricane Center.
Track Hurricane Irene
Real-time updates from the NOAA's National Hurricane Center.
At 5 p.m. ET Saturday, the storm was moving at around 13 miles per hour, with maximum sustained winds near 80 mph, and gusts reported at 115 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
On the NPR Newscast earlier, Brennan added that some mid-Atlantic states' coastal areas are going to experience hurricane conditions for several hours and tropical storm conditions for 24 hours.
More than 2 million people along the coast, including 370,000 in New York City, have been ordered to move away from low-lying areas.
The Hurricane Center predicts that Irene won't weaken into a tropical storm until late Sunday, or possibly Monday. The storm continues to threaten many along the Eastern seaboard, with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 290 miles, according to the NHC.
We've been following the news about Irene all week and will continue to do that through the weekend. We began this post at 6:30 a.m. ET and will keep it updated through the day. Be sure to hit your refresh button to see our latest updates.
Update at 7 p.m. ET. Signing Off:
We're signing off for the day now — but you can follow NPR's coverage of Hurricane Irene, and track the storm, as well. The Two Way will be live-blogging the storm's effects Sunday morning, as it passes the mid-Atlantic area and closes in on the Northeast.
And this advice came from the Red Cross Twitter feed: "Heading to a shelter? Bring clothes, pillows, blankets, meds, hygiene items & important documents." The service also says not to forget cash and a cellphone charger, and reminds us that sometimes, texts go through carriers' networks when voice calls do not.
Update at 6:15 p.m. ET. Eye Of Irene Returns To Ocean:
Hurricane Irene is making her way back out over the sea near the Virginia-North Carolina border, crossing from land and back over to the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is now expected to move along the mid-Atlantic coast, approaching New York City and southern New England Sunday.
Irene is expected to pick up some speed over the water, possibly reaching parts of Canada by Sunday night or early Monday.
Update at 5:35 p.m. ET. New York Prepares For Storm:
More than 370,000 people are under orders to leave low-lying areas of New York City, where wine stores seem to be doing a brisk business. We wrote about that in a separate post, along with questions about evacuating Rikers Island.
Update at 4:15 p.m. ET. Hundreds Of Thousands Of Power Outages:
With Hurricane Irene bringing winds gusts of up to 115 m.p.h., more than 630,000 900,000 (updated at 6 p.m.) homes and businesses are currently without electricity, most of them in North Carolina and Virginia. The storm is currently centered close to North Carolina's Outer Banks, near Great Dismal Swamp.
Reuters reports that the Brunswick nuclear power plant scaled back its power generation, although the plant has not reported any damage.
Update at 3:40 p.m. ET. More Than 9,000 Flights Cancelled:
With many airlines using East Coast airlines as hubs, the effects are expected to be widespread. Amtrak and bus lines are also cancelling travel, as we note in a separate post.
Update at 2:30 p.m. ET. N.J. Gov. Christie Pleads With Seniors To Evacuate:
Around 600 senior citizens who live in Atlantic City, N.J., are apparently refusing to evacuate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) just made an extraordinary appeal to them to let the state put them on buses so they can get to shelters. We've put up a separate post on that.
Update at 2:15 p.m. ET. Tornado Watches In Four States:
The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches for areas along the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.
Update at 1:35 p.m. ET. The "Surge" In Graphic Form:
The blue line is the normal rise and fall due to tides. The red line is what's actually happened today — more than a foot and a half of additional water. And the green line measures how much more water Irene has pushed into the bay — even before she has reached the area.
Update at 1:20 p.m ET. Small Tornado Near Virginia Beach:
As we said earlier, there have been tornado warnings as Irene has moved north. According to The Virginian-Pilot, "a small tornado touched down in Sandbridge this morning, destroying at least five homes and damaging several others in the beachfront community."
"As Hurricane Irene makes its way north, insurance companies are scrambling to get claims adjusters and other personnel in place up and down the East Coast and into New England.
"Companies will be assessing the damage once Irene is through battering the northeastern states. If the hurricane hits as wide an area as is predicted, insured losses could be in the billions of dollars."
Update at 12:20 p.m. ET. New Tornado Warning, In Delaware:
Several tornado warnings have come and gone today, and now there's another. The National Weather Service says east central Sussex County in southern Delaware is under a tornado warning until 12:45 p.m. ET.
It's possible there will be more such alerts as Irene continues up the East Coast. To see the National Weather Service's warnings and watches, click here.
Update at 11:45 a.m. ET. Another Way To Look At Irene:
For those who like to apply Web tools at times like these, Google's Crisis Response page has a variety of ways to look at the hurricane, including this stunning view.
Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. More From The Hurricane Center — On Why Any Weakening May Not Mean Much:
Though the Hurricane Center now says Irene may lose some strength before reaching New York and New England, it cautions that:
"Whether Irene is a strong tropical storm or hurricane over New England will make little difference in the expected impacts of damaging winds ... a dangerous storm surge ... and flooding rains."
Update at 11 a.m. ET. In Latest Advisory, A Tiny Shift In Emphasis:
The Hurricane Center just reported that Irene's maximum winds are now about 85 mph, and that it is expected to weaken slightly in coming hours. And the Center changed its forecast just a bit to say that Irene is likely to remain "near hurricane strength" as it approaches New York City and New England. Earlier, it said Irene would "remain a hurricane."
Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. Gov. Perdue: "Please Stay Inside."
North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D), while saying her state has not been hit quite as hard as had been feared, just asked folks to "please stay inside." The state's only about half-way through hurricane-like conditions, she said, and there's great danger from storm surges and flooded highways.
Update at 10 a.m. ET. A "Long Day" In Hatteras.
In Hatteras, N.C., Midgett Realty has been posting updates on its Facebook wall. At 9:30 a.m. ET it reported that:
"Power has been off for a few hours now, the storm came in south of us and is running up the Sound. Probably will pass us in about 2-3 hours, that's when we'll know how much soundside surge we'll get. It will be tonight before we get out of the high winds, makes for a long day. Several areas of ocean overwash, let's hope the road bed is intact underneath. We need this wind to switch to offshore."
Update at 9:45 a.m. ET. Mayor Bloomberg To Those In Low-Lying Parts Of His City: Get Moving.
"The end of the pier at Atlantic Beach in Carteret County has collapsed into heavy surf.
"Three buildings in Washington County were damaged from Hurricane Irene this morning, and the flooding is starting.
" 'We've got widespread power outages and some flooding, lots of tree limbs down,' said Cheryl Young, Washington County interim manager."
Update at 8:35 a.m. ET. A Photo From Kill Devil Hills, N.C.:
Update at 8:20 a.m. ET. "Hardly A Soul" On North Carolina's Outer Banks:
On Weekend Edition Saturday this hour, host Scott Simon aired a conversation he had earlier today with NPR's Greg Allen, who is in Manteo, N.C.
It was raining hard and winds were gusting up to 50 mph, Greg said. The big fear in the region, he added, is that the "storm surge" as water rises could cause extensive damage. As for whether people paid attention to the order to evacuate, Greg said he saw "hardly a soul" as he drove down the Outer Banks on Friday.
Update at 7:55 a.m. ET. More From The Hurricane Center:
Irene officially made landfall when the eye of the storm touched Cape Lookout, N.C., around 7:30 a.m. ET, the Hurricane Center says.
At that moment, "the estimated intensity of Irene ... was 85 mph," the center adds. And it cautions that while Irene is expected to weaken slightly in coming hours, it is likely "to remain a hurricane as it moves over the mid-Atlantic states and New England" between now and Monday.
Update at 7:50 a.m. ET. Landfall:
The Hurricane Center just reported that the center of the hurricane has made landfall near Cape Lookout, N.C.
The Hurricane Center has posted a map showing the areas along the coast where water is most likely to rise 2 or more feet as a "storm surge" occurs. As you'll see, the North Carolina coast is most at risk (the dark purple area has the highest likelihood).
Update at 7:05 a.m. ET. Landfall Shortly:
The Weather Channel forecasters say the eye of the hurricane is now only about 10 miles off the coast of North Carolina, near Atlantic Beach. As NPR's Giles Snyder just said on our Newcast, "wind and waves are picking up" as she begins to move ashore.