Update: Irene Crashes Into Major East Coast Cities – 9 Deaths Reported
Hurricane Irene may have weakened a little since coming ashore early Saturday near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, but it is still a Category 1 hurricane, and packing quite a hefty punch.
By Saturday evening, August 27, the storm had already knocked out power in more than a million homes, forced more than a million people off the New Jersey shore alone and caused at least nine deaths.
At Least Nine People Have Died
Five people died as a result of the storm in North Carolina, and three were killed in Virginia due to falling trees, emergency officials said. In addition, a 55-year-old male surfer died around noon in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Residents in several major East Coast cities — including Washington, Philadelphia and New York — braced late Saturday for the impact from Hurricane Irene.
While the vast majority heeded calls to evacuate, emergency officials continued to plead with some stubborn residents to head to high ground, warning that heavy rains and a storm surge of 4 to 8 feet could cause widespread flooding of low-lying areas and pose untold dangers to residents from Virginia to Massachusetts.
Here Are Some Of Irene’s Highlights:
* As of 11 p.m. on August 27, Irene was 70 miles south-southwest of Ocean City, Maryland, moving north-northeast at 16 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
* New York City ordered about 370,000 residents of low-lying areas to leave. It was the first evacuation order for the city. The city also shuttered its transit system and closed its airports
From The Washington Post:
* Conditions: The region is encountering the windiest period of the storm from now into the overnight hours, with National Airport reporting sustained winds of 29 mph and gusts of 40 mph. As the onslaught of rain continues, the National Hurricane Center reports water levels rising in the Virginia tidewater region.
* Power outages: More than 6,500 homes and businesses in D.C. are without power, 15,000 in Prince George’s County, 10,000 in Anne Arundel and 5,000 around Baltimore. Expect these numbers to rise as gusts whip through the area overnight.
* Nationwide: There were an estimated 9,000 flight cancellations nationwide, with United, Continental and Delta Air Lines canceling thousands of their flights. Air France, British Airways and other international carriers also canceled flights.
* Washington: The three airports serving the Washington area remained open Saturday evening, but most flights had been canceled. D.C. Metro is not planning to close early.
* Virginia: Mandatory evacuations were ordered for at least 11 localities, among them the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach, a barrier island dotted with rentals, Accomack on the Eastern Shore, and for low-lying areas of Norfolk, Hampton and Portsmouth.
* New York: All three of the major airports serving New York City — Newark International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia International Airport — shut down for the duration of the storm on Saturday afternoon. Subways have also been halted.
I find it very humbling that in spite of all our technological advances and progress, we are still at the mercy of Mother Nature, and all we can do is defend against her. A lesson to us humans not to indulge in too much hubris?
Meanwhile, stay safe, all you East Coasters! Mother Nature is letting you know she is still in charge.
Photo Credit: iStock