Added by Erik West on August 27, 2011
More than 400,000 homes are currently reported to be without power as the storm ripped down power lines and snapped trees in half. Power losses are limited to areas in and around Wrightsville NC. An official of the local electricity utility said that they expect the numbers to increase.
Up to 65m people are in the hurricane’s path with New York city and the surrounding areas preparing for the storm’s arrival. Hurricane Irene is travelling at about 30kph in a NNE direction along the US eastern coast; the storm’s size – about 1,300km across, makes it a threat to locales not used to hurricane warnings. New York had its last hurricane warning in 2008.
New York Mayor Bloomberg urged residents to prepare and evacuate, despite the deceptively sunny weather. About 370,000 people were ordered to get out of their homes, ahead of the city’s transit shutdown at noon local time (4pm GMT/UTC). New Yorkers were reported to have a difficult time exiting the city since most do not own cars, yet taxis were busy and allowed passengers to bring pets for the first time. The city has opened 65 shelters away from areas prone to flooding and the city’s electricity utility is prepared to cut power to areas in flood zones should flooding become very bad.
The storm is expected to retain most of its energy as it makes its way up the eastern coast because its center is expected to remain over the water, just off the coast. Areas that have declared states of emergency, to free up federal funding, include New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Gasoline shortages are expected as automated resupply systems go offline, forcing stations to call gasoline supply terminals, leading to slower than expected deliveries.
More than 8,300 flights have been cancelled, with 3,600 cancelations on Saturday so far. Train and bus services are also very limited in many areas, with trains between Washington and Boston cancelled well ahead of the storm’s arrival.