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Hurricane Irene: Live updates as storm approaches Boston

Metro's live coverage of the storm hitting the East Coast.

10:15 p.m.

And the latest news as far as shutdowns for Hurricane Irene?

Harpoon Brewery will not be open tomorrow for tours. The Boston-based brewing company tweeted:

@harpoon_brewery: Due to the state of emergency in MA, our Boston brewery will be closed tomorrow! Stay safe everyone.

Hope you have your fridge stocked with your favorite beverage. It might be a long day tomorrow when Irene comes barreling through Boston.

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

9:10 p.m.

The MBTA went back on its word of cutting all services tomorrow due to Hurricane Irene at the request of local medical staff and professionals.

The T agreed to keep service running - on all modes - until 8 a.m. Sunday so that doctors and staff at area hospitals can get to their jobs before the worst of the storm batters the area.

Anyone else thinking about using the MBTA tomorrow morning, remember that service stops after 8 a.m., so plan accordingly, said a spokesman for the T.

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

7:35 p.m.

There have been no mandatory evacuations for Boston (yet?) but Harvard is wicked smaht and using their noggins to keep their students safe if the time comes for them to get out of their housing.

According to reports from The Crimson, Harvard has a backup plan for its students in place already.

Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal said students who face potential evacuation from houses and dormitories could flock to the universities Faculty of Arts and Sciences building where the school has "a robust emergency shelter plan, which includes facilities, trained personnel, stockpiles of food and supplies and transportation services. The plan has been successfully tested.”

That high tuition gets you all the extra bells and whistles.

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

7:05 p.m.

The MBTA tried to keep on track with Hurricane Irene approaching, debating whether or not to cancel services on Sunday for passengers on the bus and trains.

But after talking with the National Weather Service, the T went the way of New York City and Philadelphia transit and decided to shut down their system when the storm is expected to hit the city.

After reviewing information with the National Weather Service, the MBTA suspended all modes of transportation for Sunday, August 28.

"With severe winds, heavy rain, and flooding forecast for metropolitan Boston, this decision has been made with the safety of customers and employees being the MBTA's top priority at all times," the MBTA said in a press release.

By suspending services on both the Commuter Rail lines and the undeground trains and local bus routes, personnel can concentrate all of their efforts on making sure the transit system, from subway to bus to commuter rail, is up and running at the start of Monday morning's commute, they said.

The T will have emergency buses on standby, however, in case their is a mandatory emergency evacuation of any city or town in the region.

SIDENOTE: For The RIDE customers, only trips of a necessary medical nature will be made. A RIDE customer, who meets this criteria, should contact his/her specific provider.

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

6:40 p.m.

Even God is worried about Hurricane Irene.

Statement of the Archdiocese Regarding Hurricane Irene

“The obligation to attend Sunday Mass must be understood in light of health or safety concerns. Please use good judgment regarding attending Sunday Mass this weekend. Catholics are encouraged to stay informed and to comply with local and state officials and emergency personnel regarding any restrictions. The Archdiocese urges caution and for all residents in the Commonwealth to be careful.”

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

6:30 p.m.

The Tropical Storm conditions still haven't really hit Boston, besides a few hours of rainfall, but businesses are announcing closings all over the place.

At Logan International Airport, a spokesperson said representatives met with all the airlines for a Hurricane Irene update and most agreed they won't be flying Sunday.

"A few may, subject to change depending on the storm's speed and track," according to a spokesperson at Logan. "Normal operations are expected to resume Monday midday. As always, check with your airline for flight status."

Additional closings, courtesy of FoxNews, for Sunday include:

-The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will close on Sunday, August 28 due to the inclement weather. The museum will reopen for normal hours on Tuesday, August 31.

-The Red Sox game against the Oakland Athletics originally scheduled for Sunday has been moved to Saturday at 5 p.m.

-The USS Constitution will not give tours to the public.

-Saint Anthony's Feast will remain open and continue as planned on Friday and Saturday. The Grand Procession of Saint Anthony has been postponed until Sunday, Sept. 4 at noon.

-The first concert cancellation in the Boston Symphony Orchestra's 75-year history at Tanglewood was made, as its Sunday afternoon performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was called off.

-The Mall at Chestnut Hill and Atrium Mall will both be closed for business Sunday due to Hurricane Irene. The Cheesecake Factory located at Atrium is the only exception and will remain open.

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

5:30 p.m.

It's hard to find anything on Twitter other than tweets about Hurricane Irene, so we decided to put together a list of our favorites.

We chose tweets that are keeping the storm chatter on the lighter side of things as people wait for the wind and potential flooding to begin.

@SchwartzHub: In 15 minutes, the #MBTA is officially the best functioning transit system in the northeast. #oyvey #endofdays

@SaraMarieBrown: Mom told me to have my rainboots by my bed tonight. "Not flip flops. There might be broken glass." #Hubicane #Momicane #parentalconcern

@bradkellyfilms: I still have the 3 gal. of water I bought for Y2K.

@conoryunits: Suckers. While you're stocking up on water, I have whiskey isle all to myself. #Irene #hubicane

@tgraydar: You call this a storm?! It's time for a showdown. YOU! and ME! #irene #bored #letsdothis

@EliBraden: #FF also please follow the hilarious @AndyLevy - he's also in NYC but he'll be safe from the hurricane locked in Rupert Murdoch's bunker

4:45 p.m.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced that tolls for tunnels will be waived starting tonight at midnight and going into Sunday.

According to MassDOT, no tolls will be collected on Interstate 90 (The Mass. Pike), Tobin Bridge, or the Ted Williams Tunnel from Midnight tonight thru 10pm Sunday.

MassDOT is asking residents to "Stay home, safe," according to a tweet made this evening.

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

4:20 p.m.

Rain from Hurricane Irene has started to roll into Boston, but the worst of the anticipated storm is still hours away, according to state officials.

Irene's name has quickly become a trending topic online and was being called one of the worst storms of our lifetime by meteorologists, before it even made landfall.

Deriving from the Greek word "Peace," Metro started to wonder how one of the "worst" storms of our time received such a soft name.

According to the National Hurricane Center, giving Hurricanes quick, easy-to-say names, beats the old school method of identifying a storm by latitude and longitude.

"These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea," according to the NHC.

The original name lists featured only women's names. In 1979, men's names were introduced and they alternate with the women's names. Six lists are used in rotation.

To read more about the history behind the naming system, check out the National Hurricane Center's website.

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

1:30 p.m.

“Good luck to us all.”

That’s how Gov. Deval Patrick ended his 1 p.m. update today on the state’s preparedness as Irene begins to move in to New England.

Patrick used the update to reiterate the seriousness of the storm when it hits Massachusetts late tonight and most of tomorrow.

He warned that people to stay off of the roads and be prepared for “widespread power outages.”

“It is unsafe for people to be outside,” Patrick said in a news conference from the state’s emergency management bunker in Framingham. “This is a very, very serious weather event.”

The track of the storm has shifted slightly west, moving it over Springfield and western Massachusetts, which has already been hit hard this year by damaging tornadoes.

Winds are expected to be most severe on the right side of the storm, meaning Boston and the eastern part of Massachusetts could feel sustained winds of 70 to 90 m.p.h.

“Those winds will sustain at that speed for most of the rest of (Sunday), tapering off at 10 or 11 in the evening,” Patrick said.

Six emergency shelters will be available on Cape Cod and nine will be available across the rest of the state.

Like the Cape Cod bridges, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth will also close if sustained winds reach 70 m.p.h.

Patrick said he hopes the forecast will be incorrect and that the weather will change for the better, but added officials are not counting on that.

“We are planning for the worst,” he said. “Just as the conditions can improve, they can also worsen.”

--Michael Naughton

1:15 p.m.

With New York's subway system shutting down, and Philly following in its non-transit-operating footsteps at midnight tonight, Boston's MBTA has become the best operating system this side of the East Coast.

The T is sticking to it's gun and hasn't announced a change in services yet, even with a Tropical Storm Warning that threatens to bring heavy winds and possible flooding to the Boston area.

"We will monitor situation closely to see if there is any need to alter Sunday's regularly scheduled service," said spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

One of the highlights of the MBTA's clean-up and hurricane watch is the trains packed with chainsaw-wielding crews, preparing to chop up and fight back any fallen branches along the train tracks.

They will be riding the lines tonight and tomorrow to keep things clear.

The T is also watching potential flood areas that have been in a problem in the past. In 1996, Pesaturo said a portion of tunnel near Fenway flooded. He said they aren't taking any chances this time around and have been preparing for a water overflow.

When asked if the T shut down if they would lose any money, Pesaturo told Metro, "like every public transit system in the world, the T has never turned a profit."

Homelessness and finding shelter

The Transit Police are worried about those without shelter during the hurricane and tropical storm weather.

The T tweeted today that if you see homeless people in need of shelter call Transit PD at 617-222-1212.

--Steve Annear (follow him on Twitter at @steveannear)

10:30 a.m.

As Irene moves closer to the Bay State, the hurricane’s anticipated damaged has led to President Barack Obama declaring this morning a state of emergency in Massachusetts.

The move allows for federal funds to be used to help with any clean up or disaster relief.

Although Irene has weakened slightly with the National Weather Service reporting her sustained winds at 85 m.p.h. as of 10 a.m. today, she is causing headaches and damage along the East Coast.

Irene made landfall in North Carolina early this morning. More than 200,000 people there are without power, a roof was torn off an auto dealership and some ocean piers were damaged, according to reports.

The hurricane and tropical storm warnings for New England remain in effect from yesterday.

If you are deciding to spite Irene and not let her ruin your Cape Cod vacation plans, be prepared to get stuck.

Officials are weighing whether or not to close the two bridges that allow traffic on and off of the Cape. They will be closed if winds reach 70 m.p.h. or if conditions are unsafe, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to provide an update just after noon today.

--Michael Naughton

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