New Yorkers are bracing for Hurricane Irene, barreling up the East Coast and expected to make landfall in the New York City area late Saturday night and Sunday morning.
The powerful storm is expected to be downgraded to Category 1 by the time it hits New York. But that doesn’t mean it can’t do plenty of damage, expected to bring with it six to 12 inches of rain and heavy winds, according to meteorologists.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging New Yorkers to prepare themselves for the worst possible scenario, warning that evacuations may be called for in low-lying areas like Coney Island, Manhattan Beach and Battery Park City. About 270,000 New Yorkers could be affected by an evacuation order.
The mayor said he would make the decision to evacuate by 8 a.m. Saturday. But he urged New Yorkers who live in evacuation zones to stay with friends or family this weekend as a precaution.
“At this point, people need to be prepared for a significant event and they must listen to authorities,” warned Brian Ciemnecki, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “They don’t ask people to leave for no reason. Their lives could be in danger.”
He predicted Irene will bring winds between 75 and 85 miles per hour when it reaches our area, speeds that can cause some serious damage.
“I would not be surprised if there were windows blown out,” said David Stark, another meteorologist. “With that wind speed, that’s certainly a possibility.”
High winds can also bring down branches and trees in city parks.
Pack a ‘go bag’
How can you prepare? Mayor Bloomberg is encouraging all New Yorkers to pack a “go bag” complete with drinking water, a flashlight, important medications, car and house keys and important documents like passports and any other IDs.
It may also be a good idea to add in a first-aid kit complete with things like latex gloves, scissors, tweezers and cleansing agents.
Keep a three-day supply of nonperishable food. Two to three gallons of water are recommended per person for a three-day supply.
Will the subways run?
The MTA is expecting to shut down all lines in the event of severe wind and rain this weekend. Officials said they are prepping facilities by clearing drains, securing work sites and bringing on extra personnel. An MTA representative told Metro that the agency shuts down outdoor trains if wind speeds exceed 39 miles per hour. Check mta.info for the latest updates before you travel this weekend.
Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone by entering your address at www.nyc.gov or calling 311. Register for alerts at nyc.gov/notifynyc. Updates are available via e-mail, SMS, and phone and the city will also distribute evacuation alerts through the media and on Twitter.