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Irene Blog: Business Impact

CNBC.com
Monday, 29 Aug 2011 | 5:56 AM ET

Monday, 8/29/11 5:56 AM/ET: Irene Downgraded Again

It appears that Canada will be spared most of the damage that Irene inflicted on New York and points south.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Irene to a post-tropical cyclone as it approached the border with Canada. The storm's maximum sustained winds declined to around 50 miles per hour.

Late on Sunday local time, Irene lashed Vermont with heavy rain, forcing evacuations and causing streams to breach their banks. A local emergency spokesman told Reuters that the swollen waterways would probablly be an issue "for the next 24 hours." As many as 50,000 people lost power as the storm roared through their state.

The rest of New England also absorbed damage and encountered power and transportation problems, with 650,000 homes and businesses losing electricity in Massachusetts alone. Overall, however, the damage to New England was less than had been feared.

Sunday, 8/28/11 9:50 PM/ET: Some Damages to Popular Seaside Towns, but Authorities Say 'Not as Bad'

Susan Petrella, lower left, stands near the King Neptune statue as the first wind and rain of Hurricane Irene blow in on August 27, 2011 in Virginia Beach, VA.
Getty Images
Susan Petrella, lower left, stands near the King Neptune statue as the first wind and rain of Hurricane Irene blow in on August 27, 2011 in Virginia Beach, VA.

Irene damages some beaches along the Atlantic coast and popular seaside towns. Heavy concrete benches on New Jersey's historic boardwalk in Asbury Park were upended, residents say. But the city's governor Chris Christie says damage wasn't "as bad" as expected. Polic reopened the isaland on Sunday afternoon and evacuation orders were lifted.

Atlantic City, which fared well in the storm, will also be ready for the return of tourists, authorities say.

Sunday, 8/28/11 7:10 PM/ET: NYC Airports & Port Authority to Resume Operations

John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports will open to arriving flights at 6 a.m. Monday, Aug. 29, with departures set to resume at noon. LaGuardia Airport will reopen to both arrivals and departures at 7 a.m. tomorrow.

The Port Authority has coordinated the reopenings with the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and our airline partners.

Sunday, 8/28/11 6:21 PM/ET: Downgraded From Hurricane

Large waves from Hurricane Irene pound the Ocean City pier, on August 28, 2011 in Ocean City, Maryland.
Getty Images
Large waves from Hurricane Irene pound the Ocean City pier, on August 28, 2011 in Ocean City, Maryland.

The Northeast was spared the urban nightmaresome had worried about -- crippled infrastructure, stranded people and windows blown out of skyscrapers. But there was still plenty to watch out for. In Rhode Island, which has a geography thick with bays, inlets and shoreline, authorities were worried about coastal flooding at evening high tide.

Sunday, 8/28/11 4:35 PM/ET: Obama Will Speak at 5PM ET

A fallen tree which also knocked over a power line is seen on Loughboro Road after Hurricane Irene swept through the area.
Mandel Ngan |AFP | Getty Images
A fallen tree which also knocked over a power line is seen on Loughboro Road after Hurricane Irene swept through the area.

The President will make a statement on the hurricane early this evening.

Sunday, 8/28/11 3:59 PM/ET: Atlantic City Casinos to Reopen Monday

Atlantic City's casinos report little damage from Hurricane Irene, and the 11 gambling halls will reopen Monday at noon after being shuttered for the weekend.

Sunday, 8/28/11 3:59 PM/ET: Cars Floating Free—Flood Video From Vermont

Downtown Brattleboro is completely flooded as the rivers flowing through the town break their banks.

UPDATE: Additional footage of the flooding in Brattleboro.

Sunday, 8/28/11 3:59 PM/ET: NYC Buses, PATH Trains to Resume

Limited MTA bus service will resume at 4:30 PM Sunday afternoon. PATH trains will resume operations at 4 AM Monday morning.

UPDATE: (Bus service) restoration will begin in Manhattan and the Bronx, followed by Queens and Brooklyn. Conditions in Staten Island continue to prevent restoration of service at this time. No fares will be charged for service provided today.

Sunday, 8/28/11 3:27 PM/ET: Philadelphia is Hard Hit

In Philadelphia, which lies between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, residents in low-lying areas woke up to rising water. Mark McDonald, spokesman for the Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, said water levels were 15 feet above normal in some areas, and were not expected to stop rising until 2 p.m. Sunday.

Sunday, 8/28/11 1:30 PM/ET: NYC Mass Transit Still Assessing Damage

Plastic tape blocks the entrance to the Chambers St subway station August 27, 2011 in New York City. In anticipation of a large storm or hurricane hitting the city, the New York City mass transit network, the nation’s largest, closed at noon on Saturday, ending subway, bus, and commuter rail service until Monday.
Getty Images
Plastic tape blocks the entrance to the Chambers St subway station August 27, 2011 in New York City. In anticipation of a large storm or hurricane hitting the city, the New York City mass transit network, the nation’s largest, closed at noon on Saturday, ending subway, bus, and commuter rail service until Monday.

New York City’s public transportation system remained paralyzed on Sunday afternoon even after Hurricane Irene moved away from the city, and the authorities expected a lengthy and protracted recovery that would most likely leave many commuters stranded on Monday morning.

Sunday, 8/28/11 1:24 PM/ET: Nasdaq Will Open Monday

Nasdaq will open all exchanges normally on Monday.

Sunday, 8/28/11 12:58 PM/ET: Power is Returning

Flooding in Edgewater, NJ
Photo: Gennine Kelly for CNBC
Flooding in Edgewater, NJ

Utility workers fanned out throughout the East Coast to fix downed electrical lines and restore power to millions of people left in the dark by Hurricane Irene.

Power is returning to thousands of customers in the southern coastal states, the first area hit by Irene on Saturday. But more than 4 million people remain without electricity along the Eastern Seaboard.

Sunday, 8/28/11 12:20 PM/ET: PSE&G says 5-7 days until power is restored in NJ

New Jersey power provider PSE&G said Sunday it may take five to seven days to restore power to 330,000 customers in the state after Tropical Storm Irene pummeled the U.S. East Coast, leading to widespread power outages in the region.
Some 3.6 million customers were without power on the East Coast Sunday morning, according to data from companies.

Sunday, 8/28/11 12:03 PM/ET: DC Flights Resume, Trains and Subways Still Uncertain

Story here:

Federal officials said airports reopened around Washington, which took a glancing blow from Irene. American Airlines said it was resuming flights at the three major airports around the capital.

The Wall Street bronze Bull looks out to an empty Broadway in Lower Manhattan, New York, early August 28, 2011 as Hurricane Irene hits the city and Tri State area with rain and high winds.
Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images
The Wall Street bronze Bull looks out to an empty Broadway in Lower Manhattan, New York, early August 28, 2011 as Hurricane Irene hits the city and Tri State area with rain and high winds.

New York-area airports remained closed on Sunday morning. The longer that New York's Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark, N.J., airports are shuttered, the worse it will be as travel delays ripple across the country. Federal officials said they didn't know when the airports would reopen, noting that mass transit in New York remained shut down, making it difficult for airport employees and passengers to reach the airports.

Sunday, 8/28/11 11:15 AM/ET: Power A Primary Concern for East Coast

Power is returning for hundreds of thousands of people after Hurricane Irene passed through coastal states in the South.

Repair crews rushed out in Virginia, the Carolinas and Maryland Sunday after Irene turned north. An enormous job lies ahead. Irene flooded power stations, toppled trees and tore down electrical wires. More than four million homes and businesses are still without power.

In Manhattan, Consolidated Edison said it was optimistic that it wouldn't need to cut power to the financial district. So far, sensitive underground power lines haven't been flooded, the company says.

Sunday, 8/28/11 11:14 AM/ET: NC Nuke Plants Back Up

Progress Energy said on Sunday it will bring units at its North Carolina Brunswick nuclear plant back to full power in the coming 24 to 36 hours as tropical storm Irene weakened near New York after battering the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast.

"Now that the storm has passed and the grid in the Progress Energy service area has stabilized, we will be slowly bringing both Brunswick units back to full power," spokesman Ryan Mosier said.

Sunday, 8/28/11 11:10 AM/ET: NYC Exchange Update

A security guard near the sand bagged front entrance of the New York Stock Exchange August 27, 2011. New York City ordered more than 300,000 people who live in flood-prone areas to evacuate as Hurricane Irene is forecast to reach the city.
Timothy Clary | AFP | New York
A security guard near the sand bagged front entrance of the New York Stock Exchange August 27, 2011. New York City ordered more than 300,000 people who live in flood-prone areas to evacuate as Hurricane Irene is forecast to reach the city.

Exchanges plan to open as normal on Monday

Sunday, 8/28/11 10:43 AM/ET: NYC's Latest

New York's utility Consolidated Edison said that flooding is not as bad as anticipated in lower Manhattan, and hasn't decided whether to cut power or not. The Coast Guard says it expects to operate normally in New York harbor tomorrow.

Sunday, 8/28/11 9:11 AM/ET: Center of Irene Rolls Over Queens; Storm Downgraded

A New York City Police car drives through a flooded intersection on 43nd Street in New York on August 28, 2011 as Hurricane Irene hits the city and Tri State area with rain and high winds.
Timothy Clary | AFP | Getty Images
A New York City Police car drives through a flooded intersection on 43nd Street in New York on August 28, 2011 as Hurricane Irene hits the city and Tri State area with rain and high winds.

The very center of Irene has reached New York City, with the eye of the storm itself apparently narrowly missing Manhattan but pushing out over the New York borough of Queens. Still, footage continues to show at least a moderate surge of shin-deep water from New York harbor encroaching on Manhattan's Battery Park area.

The storm was downgraded by the U.S. National Hurricane Center to a tropical storm, with winds of 65 miles per hour.

Sunday, 8/28/11 8:46 AM/ET: Closing on NYC, Irene Spawns Flooding, Tornadoes

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says that Hurricane Irene will bring a storm surge of up to 8 feet and rainfall of up to 15 inches as it approaches New York City over the coming hours. The NHC alsoo predicted isolated tornadoes in the area.

Irene is a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds near 75 miles per hour.

Sunday, 8/28/11 6:21 AM/ET: Another Landfall

Hurricane Irene - A CNBC Special Report
Hurricane Irene - A CNBC Special Report

Hurricane Irene has made another landfall, this time on Sunday morning on the New Jersey Coast at Little Egg Inlet, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Landfall came at about 5:35 a.m. local time. Winds were at 75 miles per hour, the NHC said.

Sunday, 8/28/11 5:29 AM/ET: Winds Could Make Problems for High-Rises

Hurricane Irene may wreak worse damage in New York City than it has further south because of the city’s heavy concentration of high-rise buildings, according to Internet weather forecasting service, Weather Underground.

The forecaster writes that the category one storm is unusual because her wind speed increases sharply with height above ground level. Consequently, high-rise buildings could experience significantly stronger winds, with speeds 20 percent faster at 30-stories above ground, and 30 percent faster at 80-to-100 stories.

Weather Underground forecasts that Irene will reach southern New England by this afternoon local time, before moving into eastern Canada by nightfall.

Sunday, 8/28/11 5:00 AM/ET: Latest From National Hurricane Center

A MTA worker prepares to lock the gates at Union Square station as the city’s entire mass transit system beginning at noon will shut down on August 27, 2011 to prepare for Hurricane Irene. It’s the first time mass transit has been shut down because of a natural disaster.
Timothy Clary | AFP | Getty Images
A MTA worker prepares to lock the gates at Union Square station as the city’s entire mass transit system beginning at noon will shut down on August 27, 2011 to prepare for Hurricane Irene. It’s the first time mass transit has been shut down because of a natural disaster.

Irene has made her way to an area 15 miles south-southeast of Atlantic City, N.J., and is expected to pass near New York City to the east before bearing back inland across southern New England, according to the latest bulletin from Miami's National Hurricane Center.

Irene now bears maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and is moving north-northeast at 18 miles per hour.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for areas as far north as the south coast of Nova Scotia. "Interests elsewhere in eastern Canada should monitor the progress of Irene," the NHC bulletin said.

Sunday, 8/28/11 2:26 AM/ET: Irene Cuts Power to 20,000 NYC Customers

The early rains of Hurricane Irene have cut power to almost 20,000 customers in New York City on Sunday.

According to Consolidated Edison, Staten Island was the hardest hit borough with 8,402 homes and businesses without power, while Queens and Brooklyn both had between 3,000 and 5,000 experiencing blackouts. Just 15 customers in Manhattan were without power at 2:01 a.m. EDT.

In all, nearly 2 million customers are now without power in the northeast, with the biggest outages reported by Dominion in Virginia, where 820,000 customers are without power, followed by Baltimore, where nearly 300,000 BGE (Constellation) customers are without power, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center says the eye of the storm is now about 195 miles (315 km) south-southwest of New York City and is moving north-northeast at 17 mph (28 kph).

Saturday, 8/27/11 11:52 PM/ET: NYC Transit Shutdown Complete

New York Transit officials say they have now completed the shutdown of the entire system of commuter trains, buses and the subway, according to the AP. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said it had secured all its equipment and sent all its employees home in an unprecedented shutdown of the largest transport network in the United States.

It's unclear when the system will run again. The MTA says even if damage is minimal, restoring service "will be a lengthy process." And flooding, mudslides, fallen trees and downed power lines could dramatically complicate the work.

Mayor Bloomberg warned a few hours ago that the outer edges of Irene had reached the city and it was no longer safe to be outdoors.

Saturday, 8/27/11 7:42 PM/ET: Update - ConocoPhillips Will Shut

Boats sit out of the water at Pamlico Sound in Buxton, North Carolina, on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. Hurricane Irene made landfall on the North Carolina coast this morning after a night of driving rain and wind in a storm that forced evacuations along the Eastern Seaboard.
Ted Richardson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Boats sit out of the water at Pamlico Sound in Buxton, North Carolina, on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. Hurricane Irene made landfall on the North Carolina coast this morning after a night of driving rain and wind in a storm that forced evacuations along the Eastern Seaboard.

CNBC's Sharon Epperson reports: ConocoPhillips has shut down its 238,000 barrel-per-day Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey, as a precaution ahead of Hurricane Irene. Terminals are shutting down until it is safe to resume operations. Energy News Today Inc reports the 145,000 barrel per day "catcracker", a gasoline-making unit, and part of the crude unit have halted operation. Conoco's 185,000 barrel per day refinery in Trainer, PA is still operating.

Saturday, 8/27/11 7:20 PM/ET: Irene Storms Northward After Pounding North Carolina

From NY Times: Hurricane Irene Pushes North With Deadly Force

After several anxious days of dire forecasts that forced much of the East Coast into unprecedented levels of lockdown, a weakened but still ferocious Hurricane Irene made landfall on Saturday morning along the southern coast of North Carolina and began its gradual, destructive move up the East Coast, contributing to the deaths of at least five people.

Announcing itself with howling winds and hammering rains, the hurricane made landfall at Cape Lookout, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, around 7:30, which instantly became urgent news hundreds of miles north, in the battened-down cities of Washington, Baltimore and, especially, New York, where city officials took the unprecedented steps of evacuating low-lying areas and shutting down the mass transit system.

Click here to read the full story and to see an amazing rescue photo.

Saturday, 8/27/11 6:41 PM/ET: Obama Pays Visit to FEMA

From the White House:

"At FEMA's National Response Coordination Center today, the President participated in a video teleconference (VTC) where he heard operational updates from governors and emergency managers in impacted areas along the east coast including (in order of update based on FEMA regions) North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

Denis Hromin stands on a pier to get a picture of the beach during Hurricane Irene August 27, 2011 in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Hurricane Irene hit Dare County, which sits along the Outer Banks and includes the vacation towns of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.
Getty Images
Denis Hromin stands on a pier to get a picture of the beach during Hurricane Irene August 27, 2011 in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Hurricane Irene hit Dare County, which sits along the Outer Banks and includes the vacation towns of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.

These VTCs are held daily during major federal responses, and have been conducted since Monday in advance of Hurricane Irene. The President’s participation had not been previously announced.

These VTCs are attended by Governors or their designated representatives as well as federal agencies involved in the response. Governors participating in the VTC and conducting updates for their states included Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

Governors and state representatives thanked the President for the emergency declarations that have been granted to support preparations and emergency response efforts. Those pre-landfall emergency declarations to date include; North Carolina, New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maryland and an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico (Aug 22).

Hurricane Irene - A CNBC Special Report
Hurricane Irene - A CNBC Special Report

The President also asked states if there were any unmet needs, and while no immediate additional requirements were identified, he directed Administrator Fugate and Secretary Napolitano to continue to remain vigilant as we move into the next phase of this storm, including additional sheltering needs as the storm progressed."

Saturday, 8/27/11 6:30 PM/ET: Tracking Irene

Wanna see where Irene is right now - click here - The New York Times has a great map.

Saturday, 8/27/11 4:27 PM/ET: Stores Closed, New Yorkers Still Shopping

Photo: Bob Pisani for CNBC

Many stores in New York were closed on Saturday as Hurricane Irene neared, with some posting signs like "Blame the weatherman. Not us." But New York's shopping districts still were bustling as people piled into any store that was open.

Saturday, 8/27/11 4:27 PM/ET: NYSE Expects Normal Trading Monday

After completing additional reviews ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irene, the New York Stock Exchange repeated over the weekend that it expects to conduct a normal trading session on Monday.

Saturday, 8/27/11 3:01 PM/ET: NYT State-By-State Social Media Kit

Here’s a state-by-state social media guide for news and conversation. It is a work in progress and we will be updating it throughout the day and weekend. You will also find some great mobile apps to help you navigate during the storm.

Saturday, 8/27/11 2:38 PM/ET: Conoco Operating, Slows Output

ConocoPhillips said on Saturday its two East Coast refineries continue to operate but that personnel have made preparations for potential winds and water from Hurricane Irene.

ConocoPhillips operates the 185,000 barrel per day refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia.

Sources familar with refinery operations there say rates have been cut ahead of the storm.

STORM TURNS DEADLY

Saturday, 8/27/11 2:30 PM/ET: Deaths Confirmed

Three people are now confirmed dead in North Carolina. One person died in a vehicle crash in Pitt County, while a Nash County man died after a branch fell on him. Emergency officials in Nash County said he was crushed to death outside his home by a large tree limb blown down during high winds from Irene. One person died in Onslow County on Thursday of a heart attack, as he was trying to board up his home.

Saturday, 8/27/11 2:05 PM/ET: NYC Power Update

Consolidated Edison may preemptively shut off electricity to customers south of the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan on Sunday morning if conditions appear right for Hurricane Irene to cause a serious storm surge, the company said on Saturday.

Saturday, 8/27/11 1:23 PM/ET: No NYC Power Shutdown

Senior VP of Electric Operations reports: Consolidated Edison not going to shut down New York electricity systems, but will be monitoring them in low-lying areas due to Hurricane Irene.

Saturday, 8/27/11 1:10 PM/ET: Customers Without Power

A Nasa image of the hurricane bearing down on the Carolina coast on August 26th afternoon.
Nasa
A Nasa image of the hurricane bearing down on the Carolina coast on August 26th afternoon.

Nearly 114,000 Dominion Resourceselectricity customers in Virginia and North Carolina were without power late Saturday morning as Hurricane Irene made its way up the U.S. East Coast bringing heavy rains and wind, the company said on its website.

Saturday, 8/27/11 12:35 PM/ET: Obama Conference Call

President Barack Obama held a conference call on Saturday with emergency officials to discuss Hurricane Irene, which was targeting the U.S. East Coast, the White House said.

Obama was updated on the storm's intensity and anticipated track, as well as response and recovery efforts, the White House statement said. He asked to be updated as necessary throughout the day and overnight, it said.

Saturday, 8/27/11 12:09 PM/ET: FedEx Statement on Business Readiness

"Our meteorologists are tracking the storm around the clock. We will be having calls throughout the day."

"Right now it is too soon to have an assessment on what the service impact will be for Monday."

"We are making limited pickups and deliveries today in areas ahead of the storm. Some FedEx Office locations are closed today in MD, SC, NC, & NJ. We are doing this because our primary focus is the safety of our team members."

Saturday, 8/27/11 10:47 AM/ET: NYTimes Opens its Doors

As a public service there will be no paywall on hurricane coverage in the New York Times on the Web site or on any mobile apps.

Saturday, 8/27/11 9:57 AM/ET: Pluckiness or Bad Taste?

Nouriel Roubini is busy this morning on Twitter. Calling events in New York as the Great Battery run of 2011 he also joked that Helicopter Ben is flooding the East Coast with a massive stealth QE3 liquidity operation, disguised as Hurricane Irene.

Saturday, 8/27/11 9:31 AM/ET: Investors Unfazed?

CNBC's "Fast Money" posted a poll on this site to gauge whether investors are making any investment decisions based on Hurricane Irene. Granted, the poll is unscientific, but it indicates that a big majority of CNBC.com readers consider the storm "a non-event for markets." Cast a vote to check out the running tally here.

Saturday, 8/27/11 7:46 AM/ET: Irene Makes Landfall

According to an alert from the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the center of Irene has made landfall, on the coast of North Carolina near Cape Lookout.

Saturday, 8/27/11 7:29 AM/ET: Coast Guard Goes Inland

HC-144
Source: uscg.mil
HC-144

The U.S. Coast Guard is taking measures now to make sure it can perform rescues later. According to a story that originally appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Coast Guard facility in Elizabeth City, N.C., is moving its four C-130 aircraft inland until Hurricane Irene passes over the area. The same goes for helicopters based there.

As soon as the storm passes, a Coast Guard spokesman said, the aircraft will swing back to the coast to help with rescue and aid efforts. “As soon as it is safe for them to be airborne, they will do so,” the spokesman said.

Saturday, 8/27/11 6:00 AM/ET: Poor Timing From UK Housing Minister

With Hurricane Irene working its way up the East Coast of the United States, the UK housing minister, Grant Shapps, has decided to advise British people in search of a home to live on boats.

"Around 15,000 people live on our waterways and many more would like to do so. The government's commitment to localism could be an opportunity for living on boats to be given a new lease of life,” Shapps said.

Given the threat posed to millions of people in the United States, this latest attempt to talk up the "big society" in the UK could have probably have waited a few weeks before being announced.

Saturday, 8/27/11 5:12 AM/ET: Latest on Landfall

The National Hurricane Center in Miami reports that it expects Irene to make landfall in North Carolina "during the next few hours." The agency's hurricane warning remains in effect from the Little River Inlet in North Carolina northward up to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts. Irene is expected to still be a hurricane — as opposed to a weaker, tropical storm — as it moves into New England.

Saturday, 8/27/11 4:42 AM/ET: You Can Get Out, but You Can't Get In

Airplane
Getty Images
Airplane

Even if there are still any airlines that haven't announced the cancellation of their New York-bound flights, the call's been made for them now, as all three of the New York City-airports will close to arrivals at noon local time Saturday.

However, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on its Web site that the airports — John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty — will stay open for departures.

And even America's Pastime can't escape the effect of a storm as big as Irene. Major League Baseball says it's postponing a number of games that were scheduled for the weekend.

The Philadelphia Phillies, the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees will all have games postponed. Boston will still attempt to squeeze in a double-header against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, before Irene makes her presence felt at Fenway.

And the New York Mets will no longer host the Atlanta Braves on Saturday and Sunday, but instead move those games to September. So that's two defeats the Mets don't have to worry about until next month.

EXTRAORDINARY DISRUPTION FRIDAY

Friday, 8/26/11 5:35 PM/ET: Let's Do A Quick Re-Cap

Hurricane Irene caused extraordinary disruption Friday as it zeroed in for a catastrophic run up the Eastern Seaboard. More than 2 million people were ordered to move to safer places, and New York announced plans to shut down its entire network of subways for the first time because of a natural disaster.

So here's where we stand on this Friday evening:

  • Losses so far outpace those from Floyd in 1999
  • More than $4 trillion in insured coastline at risk
  • President Obama has declared an emergency for New York state in anticipation of Hurricane Irene
  • In NYC: 300,000 people were told to evacuate
  • New York ordered buses, planes and its entire subway system shut down
  • NYT projects potentially huge NYC economic losses
  • New York Harbor fuel hub operates normally for now
  • Power outages could affect millions
  • Colonial oil pipeline expects disruptions
  • Retailers like Home Depot, Walmart and Lowes all see a boost from Irene
  • Oil refineries may brave the storm, continue operating
  • In NJ, gaming activity in Atlantic City will be suspended as of noon Saturday
  • Some nuclear plants may need to be idled through storm
  • Delta Air Lines canceled 1,300 flights this weekend and shut down entirely at New York-area airports on Sunday.
  • JetBlue Airways scrubs about 880 flights, most of them to and from hub airports in New York and Boston between Saturday and Monday.
  • American Airlines said it would cancel 265 flights on Saturday and probably even more on Sunday. It canceled 32 flights on Friday, mostly in North Carolina and Virginia.
  • The impending storm also prompted the decision to shut all Saturday and Sunday shows on Broadway, according to playbill.com. The closure will be the biggest shutdown on Broadway since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
  • President Obama and the First Family cut short their holiday on Martha's Vineyard to return to the White House.
  • And NY Yankee slugger Derek Jeter is a free agent again: After three years together, the Yankees captain announced he broke up with Minka Kelly — Did he think we'd miss that while we were focusing on Irene — THINK AGAIN Jeter!

Friday, 8/26/11 5:08 PM/ET: Can SEC Declare Bank Holiday Monday?

Paul Giamou | Aurora | Getty Images

From CNBC's Bob Pisani:

If Hurricane Irene is as bad as some feared, traders have asked me if the SEC has the power to declare a bank holiday and delay the opening of trading on Monday for all exchanges.

The answer is yes.

It's happened before: on 9/11/2001 (a Tuesday), SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt did halt trading the following Wednesday through Friday, and reopened Monday, September 17.

Should they? Click here to see what Bob has to say about that.

Friday, 8/26/11 4:58 PM/ET: ALERT: President Obama Signs New York Emergency Declaration

Friday, 8/26/11 4:52 PM/ET: ALERT: Hurricane warning issued for New York City, coastal Connecticut and Martha's Vineyard.

Shelves are nearly out of water at a grocery store in the Rockaways as people prepare for hurricane Irene which is expected to make landfall in New York City sometime late Saturday and early Sunday on August 26, 2011 in the Queens borough of New York.
Getty Images
Shelves are nearly out of water at a grocery store in the Rockaways as people prepare for hurricane Irene which is expected to make landfall in New York City sometime late Saturday and early Sunday on August 26, 2011 in the Queens borough of New York.

More: A Hurricane warning has been extended north to include New York City as Irene approaches the East Coast.

It's the first time since 1985 that such a warning has been issued for the city.

The warning stretches beyond New York to Massachusetts. It also includes coastal Connecticut and Martha's Vineyard, where President Barack Obama was wrapping up a vacation Friday. A warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours.

Warnings stretch as far south as North Carolina, where Irene already is bringing rain and tropical storm-force winds. It's then expected to barrel up the East Coast. As many as 65 million people could be affected.

Earlier Friday, some 300,000 New Yorkers were ordered to evacuate ahead of Irene.

Friday, 8/26/11 4:47 PM/ET: All Aboard, NOT!

New Jersey Transit trains will stop running Saturday because of Hurricane Irene.

New Jersey Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett Hackett says the transit agency will shut down commuter rail service at noon Saturday. Trains will not start new runs after then, but will continue the routes that are already in progress.

The Hudson-Bergen, Newark and River Line light rail trains and New Jersey Transit buses are to stop running at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The Access Link system that serves people with disabilities also is halting service after 6 p.m. Saturday.

No time was set for resumption of service.

Friday, 8/26/11 4:43 PM/ET: Irene and Perdue Go Mano e Mano

(Politico) Hurricane Irene in North Carolina a big moment for Bev Perdue

Irene_NC_sign_200.png

Irene_NC_sign_200.png

Along with the real human risks being ushered in by Hurricane Irene, the storm packs a potentially pivotal political moment for Bev Perdue, the first-term North Carolina governor whose state sits in the eye of the harrowing storm.

Natural disasters often provide image-defining moments for political figures, especially governors. While Irene will test leaders all along the Eastern Seaboard, Perdue in particular is in make-or-break political territory.

Perdue is the most vulnerable Democratic governor facing election next year, and Irene could serve as the event that freshly defines her as she seeks to regain voters’ confidence after a bumpy three years marked by scandals and a dire economy.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco never recovered from the mistakes made during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took considerable heat for continuing his vacation during last year’s blizzard.

More on the big winners/losers of those big storms - here.

Friday, 8/26/11 4:40 PM/ET: File Me Under, "Toldja"

Due to expected severe weather, all NYC beaches will be closed as of 6 PM tonight. For info and updates visit NYC.gov

Friday, 8/26/11 4:30 PM/ET: Irene, The Billion Dollar Storm & Counting

(Reuters) Hurricane Irene caused as much as $1.1 billion in insured losses in the Caribbean, catastrophe modeling company AIR Worldwide said on Friday, with more expected to come as the storm heads for the U.S. Northeast.

Winds from Hurricane Irene bend trees, New Providence Island, Bahamas.
AP
Winds from Hurricane Irene bend trees, New Providence Island, Bahamas.

While no one knows yet precisely where Irene will strike or how strong it will be at the time, it seemed certain as of Friday that Philadelphia, the New Jersey shore, New York City, Long Island, and broad swaths of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts were all going to be hit.

The insured losses for the Caribbean will range from $500 million to $1.1 billion, mostly from the Bahamas, said AIR, one of the three companies the insurance industry relies on to model the impact of both natural and man-made disasters.

AIR had warned that Irene was likely to do more damage to the islands than 1999's Floyd, the last hurricane to strike them in such a direct way.

The next question is what Irene will do to the U.S. East Coast, with some estimates putting more than $4 trillion of insured coastal property in its path. The losses, by some accounts, could be enormous.

Friday, 8/26/11 4:25 PM/ET: My Name's Not Noah

Benedict Willis, director of floor operations for investment banking boutique Sunrise Securities, said the NYSE has a responsibility to open Monday after the hurricane because millions of investors would rely on it for prices.

"But if the waters rise this high," he said gesturing at the buzzing trading floor Friday, "then it's a bigger problem than I can handle. My name's not Noah." You can read the full story here.

Friday, 8/26/11 4:20 PM/ET: Where Is She Now? - Tracking Irene

(AP) The outer bands of Hurricane Irene are lashing the Carolina coast with tropical storm force winds and rain, snapping power lines and flooding streets.

Ambulances wait to evacuate patients at Coney Island Hospital due to the impending Hurricane Irene, which is expected to make landfall in New York City sometime late tomorrow or early the next day, on August 26, 2011 in New York City.
Getty Images
Ambulances wait to evacuate patients at Coney Island Hospital due to the impending Hurricane Irene, which is expected to make landfall in New York City sometime late tomorrow or early the next day, on August 26, 2011 in New York City.

Irene's center remains about 300 miles from Cape Hatteras, N.C. It's expected to hit with full force some time tomorrow, then track up the coast toward New England over the weekend.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Friday afternoon that the storm's outer bands were bringing sustained winds of at least 39 mph. Forecasters also say Irene has weakened slightly and now has winds of 100 mph.

Little change in strength is expected as Irene gets closer to the coast.

Irene is expected to head up the East Coast hitting major cities as far as Boston. President Barack Obama is urging residents of vulnerable areas to make a supply kit and know evacuation routes.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says residents in the densely populated northeast corridor should be prepared for heavy rains, downed trees, and possibly extended power outages.

Want to track Irene - Check out the National Hurricane Center's website.

Friday, 8/26/11 4:11 PM/ET: Putting The Smart In Smart Phones: Protecting Your Tech Stuff

NYTimes: Seven Ways to Protect Your Tech From Irene

Jeb Goldman checking out Black Friday deals
Photo: Jim Goldman | CNBC
Jeb Goldman checking out Black Friday deals

With a hurricane approaching, there’s still time to prepare all of your electronics/gadgets/things-that-like-electricity-and-don’t-like-water for the possible coming deluge.

Here are a few tips that any tech-savvy person should put into action.

If you have a landline, have a corded phone. Cordless phones rely on household power. Phones that aren’t cordless draw their power from the phone lines, so they may be operable even if everything else is dark. Go out and buy the cheapest old-fashioned corded phone you can find and plug it in to a jack.

Charge everything. Now’s the time to make sure all batteries are topped off. If you have any extra batteries for certain devices, be sure to get them powered up as well. If you have an iPhone, which does not have a removable battery, you may want to check out Mophie’s products, which can add an external battery to your iPhone .

Fire up a month’s worth of data for your 3G iPad. If you have the 3G version of Apple’s tablet and are not currently using the cellular-data plan, you may want to pay for one month’s service, so that you have a computer that isn’t dependent on Wi-Fi, which will be out of commission in a blackout. AT&T sells a month of data starting at $15 for 250MB. If you have a Verizon iPad, you need that carrier’s MiFi, an external 3G-to-Wi-Fi hotspot generator, and one month of data, which starts at $20 for 1 gigabyte.

Back up your hard drive(s). You could back up to an external hard drive and put it in a Ziploc bag, but also consider backing up to a cloud-based service which will be impervious to any water that seeps into your home. Some of the big services are SOS Online Backup (which is Windows only), Norton Online Backup, Carbonite and Mozy, and are worth checking out sooner rather than later, since that initial backup to the cloud can take hours, if not days.

To find out how to use your car as a generator and how Twitter can help click here.

Friday, 8/26/11 4:00 PM/ET: Irene & Those Budgets

Hurricane hunter program could face budget cuts (AP)

The hurricane hunter planes that feed forecasters vital information from the eye of storms like Hurricane Irene could face big funding cuts.

Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Florida, wrote House Speaker John Boehner on Friday asking for a reversal of proposed cuts to the program. The flights take off from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

Castor says that could mean cuts in the number of flights and personnel, which would in turn affect the accuracy of forecasts. Castor says Hurricane Irene, which is threatening the East Coast, could be a "wake-up call" that officials should not reduce the hurricane hunter budget from $29 million to $17 million.

Hurricane hunter planes fly directly into the storm to take measurements used in forecasts.

Photo: NASA Goddard

Want to see them in action - click here for a look at what it's like to fly into the eye of the storm.

Friday, 8/26/11 3:50 PM/ET: Meanwhile, Back In The Pits

CNBC.com: Oil Rises as Irene Targets US East Coast

AP

Brent crude futures rose in choppy trade Friday as Hurricane Irene targeted the U.S. East Coast and traders weighed comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman treat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Bernanke said "the recovery from the crisis has been much less robust than we had hoped."

But he did not announce any new stimulus measures even though a U.S. government report revised second-quarter economic growth lower on Friday.

A separate report showed the Thomson Reuters/University of Michiganconsumer sentiment index fell to 55.7 this month from 63.7 in July, slightly better than August's preliminary reading of 54.9, the lowest level since May 1980.

To read more on this and "Bernanke's bigger picture," click here.

And check out:

  • NC utilities bracing for power outages inland
  • Irene: Sector Snap: Insurance
  • Getting ready for the storm? Don't forget your pet

IRENE IN 3D

Friday, 8/26/11 3:42 PM/ET: OMG -NASA’s View of Hurricane Irene in 3-D

OK, ok, ok, I give...UNCLE!!!!

NASA has been busy imaging the hurricane from space.

Meanwhile, NASA has been busy imaging the hurricane from space.

Posting multiple images of the storm, the space agency’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) has provided important information on “rainfall rates, hot towering clouds that act as hurricane heat engines, and cloud heights.”

As the TRMM satellite repeatedly sweeps over Irene, we are seeing the hurricane as never before.

Pictured here is a 3-D view of Irene as imaged by TRMM on August 24th.

As NASA writes, “this image of Irene passing over the Bahamas “revealed once again the presence of a deep convective tower within the eyewall. The red area indicates rainfall rates of 50mm/hr, while yellow and green areas indicate moderate rainfall between .78 to1.57 inches (20-40 mm) per hour.” (More from SCPR.org)

And for those of you who don't scare easily - check out NASA's Flickr website -- WARNING: Not Safe For Women, Children And Normal People.

Friday, 8/26/11 3:35 PM/ET: What To Do When You Can't Reach Out And Touch Someone?

How to stay connected during Hurricane Irene.

Phone service often cuts out when it's needed the most — when disaster strikes.

That applies to cellphones too, even though they seem independent of power and phone lines.

For tips for communicating with emergency services and loved ones as Irene sweeps up the East Coast, click here.

Friday, 8/26/11 3:10 PM/ET: What Does A Girl Have To Do To Get A Drink In This Town?

From the StarNews.com: Irene Winds at 100 mph; Town Bans Alcohol Sales

Caswell Beach, NC has instituted an 8 p.m. curfew, which includes a ban on alcohol sales. The curfew will last until 8 a.m. Saturday, and police officers have been given authority to enforce it “as necessary,” the announcement states.

Friday, 8/26/11 3:01 PM/ET: Irene, Eh, I've Seen Worse

CNBC.com:Irene 'No Worse Than Snowstorm' to Airlines: Analyst

The coming of Hurricane Irene may be a threat to the average person but to the airlines it's a nonevent, Dahlman Rose airline analyst Helane Becker told CNBC Friday.

"It's nothing worse than a snowstorm that might hit the East Coast" in terms of the disruption of flight schedules and vacation plans by the approaching hurricane, she said.

With the Category 2 storm nearing landfall as soon as Saturday, "people in the middle of their trips may push forward to return home early or push back to return home a few days late, and if you are starting a trip maybe rescheduling it altogether," Becker said, lessening the financial impact to the airlines.

"By and large the airlines let you change your flights" although there "aren’t too many refunds," she said.

You can read what she has to say about any potential financial damage to the airlines, here.

Friday, 8/26/11 2:55 PM/ET: Comfort Food And Your Investments: How to Trade Irene

An Investor's Perspective on Hurricane Irene(hey, we are CNBC)

As Irene barrelled toward the Eastern Seaboard, the "Fast Money" traders looked at the storm from an investor standpoint.

People are stocking up on supplies right now, trader Patty Edwards noted. She said investors should look at the kinds of things people are buying, such bottled water. Both Pepsico and Coca-Cola have water brands. Canned meat is another hot item right now, she noted, adding investors should look at Hormel Foods because of its popular SPAM line. Comfort food is another area to check out, as Hershey's stock is up on the day.

You can check out all the other investor opportunities here.

Friday, 8/26/11 2:51 PM/ET: How To Play The Irene Retail Trade

While some of my favorite New Yorkers tell me they are heading to the cheese and wine shop to prepare rather than to Home Depot , most consumers are taking Irene seriously.

First, the good news.

From an investment perspective, there are the obvious places. Consumers are flocking to Home Depot and Lowe’s stockpiling batteries, flashlights, generators and plywood.

The Lowe’s website has a preparation and clean-up guide, as the company does not want you to forget anything at the register. The company also has a video guide available in English and Spanish.(You can read more here)

Friday, 8/26/11 2:47 PM/ET: Earthquake, Irene—What Are The Chances...

Feeling a tad stressed out?

Well it's no wonder - An earthquake AND a hurricane all in one week.

How likely is it that on the East Coast of the U.S., in the same week, an earthquake is felt and a hurricane makes landfall?

Statistically speaking, this should occur only once every 128 years.

Oh yeah...we got it all here - By The Numbers - read it, you'll feel so much better, promise.

Friday, 8/26/11 2:41 PM/ET: What's In Your Go Bag?

NY Times: After the Mayor’s ‘Go Bag’ List (It’s Here), What’s in Yours?

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has encouraged New Yorkers to prepare a “go bag” as Hurricane Irene churns toward the city.

To make it easier to evacuate, if necessary, the mayor said New Yorkers should pack a few essentials.

Click here to read what should be in your "Go Bag."(C'mon all the cool kids are doing it.)

Friday, 8/26/11 2:31 PM/ET: NYMEX - Open For Business

From CNBC's Sharon Epperson:

Regular floor trading is expected to go on ...however the CME Group will be monitoring the storm because as of now NYMEX at 1 North End Ave, 10282, is in a mandatory evacuation zone.

CME Group Statement: “We have contingency plans in place to ensure the proper functioning of our markets. We will continue to monitor the situation and will notify customers, market participants and our employees as appropriate.”

Friday, 8/26/11 2:30 PM/ET: Vacation's Over - For Everyone

This just in from the White House:

"The First Family will join the President this evening when he departs Martha's Vineyard to return to the White House."

Earlier it was reported that the President was to leave alone tonight leaving Michelle and the girls up on MV until tomorrow.

Obviously, they've had a change of heart.

AIN'T GONNA GAMBLE ON IRENE

Friday, 8/26/11 2:22 PM/ET: AC Casinos To Go Quiet

From NJ Governor's Office:

"Governor Chris Christie's today announced that, in coordination with the Governor's Office, the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) and Casino Association of New Jersey, all gaming activity in Atlantic City will be suspended as of noon Saturday. Security, surveillance and maintenance operations and personnel have been ramped up and coordinated to ensure that the necessary resources to protect and secure the casino properties and assets are substantial and in place.

Guests of the Atlantic City casino properties who find themselves stranded due to travel logistics problems will be permitted to stay in the hotels. Meanwhile, evacuation of all others able to leave will proceed via local evacuation plans.

To ease the traffic flow into southern New Jersey and specifically traffic into Atlantic City, southbound lanes of the Garden State Parkway will be closed at Wall Township (Exit 98) beginning today at 8:00 p.m. Ahead of that, all eastbound traffic into Atlantic City will be diverted beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Casino executives, officials of the DGE, state and local Office of Emergency Management officials, and the New Jersey State Police Atlantic City district commander will be meeting again this afternoon to further coordinate storm-related issues ahead of Hurricane Irene.

For further information about safety precautions, evacuation routes and best practices please go to ready.nj.gov "

Friday, 8/26/11 2:16 PM/ET: Latest: Tropical storm-force winds arriving in Carolinas as Hurricane Irene approaches

The National Hurricane Center just issued this update on the storm: Hurricane Irene weakens slightly with maximum winds of 100 mph; little strengthening expected

Friday, 8/26/11 2:06 PM/ET: Irene - Bank On It

From the NY Times: As Irene Approaches, Banks Prepare for the Worst

As Hurricane Irene travels up the East Coast, New York is steeling itself for disaster. Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the state on Thursday, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has urged city residents of low-lying areas to prepare to evacuate their homes.

Wall Street, too, is entering the bunker.

Many of New York’s largest investment banks are headquartered in midtown Manhattan, and thus fall outside the city’s designated flood zones. Bank of America’s 1 Bryant Park skyscraper, Citigroup’s 399 Park Avenue building, Morgan Stanley’s 1585 Broadway bureau, and JPMorgan Chase’s 270 Park Avenue offices are all outside the zones. Credit Suisse’s tower, located a little further south at 11 Madison Avenue, also carries a “no zone” designation.

You can read the full story here.

Friday 8/26/11 1:58 PM/ET: New York Steps Up Storm Plans

NYC's Mayor Bloomberg holding a news conference right now

First headline: Evacuees Should Leave Today

Bloomberg ordered mandatory evacuations for residents in low-lying coastal areas ahead of Hurricane Irene.

The low-lying areas are scattered across the city and are home to about 270,000 residents. They include parts of Battery Park City, Coney Island and the Rockaways.

More From Bloomberg's News Conference:

Friday 8/26/11 1:55 PM/ET: US Nuclear Plants Take Precaution In Anticpation Of Irene's Arrival (Just sayin')

Nuclear power plants along the U.S. East Coast are bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irene which is barreling toward North Carolina according to Reuters.

Plant employees are securing equipment and readying extra staff for the weekend.

Dominion Resources Inc, after shutting down its North Anna nuclear power station because of an earthquake on Tuesday, is taking precautions at its other plants ahead of the storm. "We're going through the steps that we go through in anticipation of a major storm, making sure everything is secure, that no loose material or construction material is hanging around and checking staff," said Dan Genest, a spokesman in Richmond, Virginia.

You can read more here.

Friday 8/26/11 1:50 PM/ET: Irene - In Pictures

So far in 2011, the storm of the hurricane season is Irene, a Category 2 storm expected to affect the eastern U.S. between August 26 and August 29.

The storm has already passed through the Carribean, causing widespread damage, while the eastern U.S. prepares for landfall. The entire eastern seaboard is expecting high winds and flooding as a result of the storm, although the extent of the resulting damage is anyone's guess.

CNBC.com will be updating this slideshow with fresh images of the storm as they come in, illustrating the events of Hurricane Irene as it happens.

Click here for scenes from the storm.

Friday 8/26/11 1:40 PM/ET: The Not-So Friendly Skies

U.S. airlines have cut at least 1,000 flights and are moving airplanes out of the anticipated path of Hurricane Irene, while airports are taking steps to minimize damage from the storm.

AMR Corp's American Airlines is "battening the hatches at our airport operations," said spokesman Ed Martelle.

"We are laying in supplies, things like tarps to throw over computers and electronics should we shut down the terminals, and plywood so that if there is any glass damage we can move quickly to secure those areas," he said.

The airline has terminals in New York and other cities that the hurricane may hit. American has canceled more than 130 flights on Thursday and Friday as the storm moves north, and that number could increase, Martelle said.

It is shutting down its Washington operations for 24 hours starting noon on Saturday and will probably make a decision about New York area airports later on Friday.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees air traffic control operations, has made no decision to close any airport towers.

There were few delayed flights on Friday in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, where U.S. air traffic is heaviest.

JetBlue Airways was the first airline to cancel a significant number of flights, nearly 900.

The airline, which is based out of New York's JFK Airport, is canceling all flights scheduled for Sunday into Monday while adding extra sections on Saturday night and Monday night, said spokeswoman Allison Steinberg.

In the Northeast, JetBlue is moving about 50 aircraft out of New York and Boston area airports to cities outside the expected path of the hurricane.

"We anticipate ... that we'll be able to recover more quickly with those aircraft and crews repositioned," Steinberg said. (JetBlue to Waive Change Fees and Fare Differences to Assist Customers Affected by Hurricane Irene Customers - Get the Details Here)Other airlines are canceling flights in the Carolinas and in Virginia.

Several carriers, including Delta Air Lines said they were holding meetings and would announce more detailed plans during the afternoon.

Friday 8/26/11 1:32 PM/ET: Get Out While the Getting's Good

New York and New Jersey have announced plans to shut down public transportation ahead of Hurricane Irene.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York City's mass transit system, which serves 8 million riders a day, will be shut down at about noon on Saturday.

Across the river in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie said New Jersey Transit trains will stop running at about the same time.

Friday 8/26/11 12:55 PM/ET: This Just In....

President Obama will leave Martha's Vineyard tonight instead of tomorrow — this is earlier than planned and it is because of the hurricane, his spokesman says.

MORE from NBC News:

White House spokesman says the President made the decision to leave Martha's Vineyard early "in the last few minutes" and informed his team.

According to Josh Earnest in the off-camera gaggle:

"The President simply reached the conclusion it would be more prudent for him to be in Washignton DC at the White House tonight."

Obama's wife and daughters will travel back to DC as planned on Saturday.

IRENE AND THE INSURERS

Friday 8/26/11 12:50 PM/ET: Irene And The Insurers (No, It's Not A Band)

As the east coast braces for Irene, some analysts say it could cost insurers billions of dollars.

There are some who are saying it could be a $10 billion storm - that's right folks - TEN BILLION DOLLARS.

Check out the interview in this video tape.

It follows an update from CNBC's Bob Pisani who gives the latest update from the NYSE floor on how its still planning to be open for business on Monday.

Meanwhile, what are the all-time costliest hurricanes to have ever hit the U.S.? Here are the Top 10.

Friday 8/26/11 12:42 PM/ET: Irene And Your Investments

Sooooooooooooo....what are you doing?

Making any trades because of - or in spite of Irene?

Take our poll- you'll be glad you did.

No registration required, you don't have to tell your mom, and oh yes, it's totally unscientific.

Cast your ballot here.

Friday 8/26/11 12:35 PM/ET: Update From The Weather Channel:

Hurricane Irene's Assault on the US begins - Rain bands from Irene are beginning to hit North Carolina. Click here for the latest images.

Friday 8/26/11 12:30 PM/ET: What's Happening At The Stores

CNBC's Darren Rovell is reporting from a north New Jersey WalMart and says it does seem people in the area are taking the storm warnings a little bit more seriously. Perhaps, he suggests it was this week's earthquake that gave everyone a little nudge to be prepared.

But at the Walmart where he is, the ready to eat stuff like beef jerky is flying, trail mix all this type of goodies and basics are flying off the shelves. He did get the last flashlight - but says there are a lot of things gone...including batteries.

Friday 8/26/11 12:22 PM/ET: All Creatures Great and Small

And you thought your storm preps were hard...

This just in from From Jim Breheny, WCS Senior Vice President of Living Institutions and Director of the Bronx Zoo:

"The Wildlife Conservation Society has been preparing this week for Hurricane Irene. WCS operates the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and the New York Aquarium. We are working to secure all of our parks and are taking appropriate steps to ensure the safety of our animals, staff and guests. Our inventories are fully stocked, and we have sufficient supplies to last through the anticipated storm. We will update the media and the public about potential closures of the zoos and aquarium."

Friday 8/26/11 12:15 East Coast Oil Companies Make Plans For Irene

From Hess :

Hess Corp said on Friday it was preparing for bad weather at its 70,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Port Reading, New Jersey, as Hurricane Irene approached the U.S. East Coast. Hess also said it intended to operate the refinery and terminal network through the storm, but would adjust as needed. The refinery and terminals were operating normally on Friday, the company said.

From Kinder Morgan

Kinder Morgan said on Friday it will shut docks at its petroleum terminals on Staten Island and Cateret, New Jersey on Friday night as Hurricane Irene approaches the U.S. East Coast. Truck racks at the terminals will be shut some time on Saturday, company spokesman Joe Hollier said.

You can track Energy Commodities Here

HOME DEPOT, WALMART AND OTHERS GET A BOOST FROM IRENE

Friday 8/26/11 12:07 Home Depot, Walmart, Grocers Get Boost from Irene

(From Reuters) Hurricane Irene sent east coast shoppers into stores to stock up on essentials this week, instead of the clothes, notebooks and other supplies that retailers were counting on selling as parents prepare to send their children back to school.

Chains such as Home Depot Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc were doing brisk business on Friday, selling water, flashlights, batteries and other goods in states standing in Irene's potential track from the Carolinas to Massachusetts.

"We're selling things like generators almost as soon as they arrive at the stores in the watch areas," said Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes.

But - Irene could could hurt retailers like Saks Inc and Tiffany & Co if airports stay closed for too long or people cancel their trips, said Morningstar analyst Paul Swinand. The hurricane hitting on a weekend worsens its impact, he added.

You can read more on how Irene may affect Lowe's, Rubbermaid, Costco and Target here.

Friday 8/26/11 11:56: I'll Have What They're Having

From CNBC: According to the U.S. Coast Guard, they have entered port condition “whiskey” – which is the lowest of the warning levels once the U.S. coast guard activates a hurricane and severe weather plan. “The port (for shipping traffic) is not scheduled to be closed at this time. It will remain open until further notice.” --U.S. Coast Guard

Friday 8/26/11 11:50: Info Overload: NYC.gov Crashes

A high volume of users in the run up to Hurricane Irene has crashed the New York City government's website.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has urged city residents to use the site to determine if they live in a flood-zone area that might be evacuated.

Residents can also call the city's 311 information line.

Emergency officials say the city is working to get the nyc.gov site back online.

The city had placed its hurricane preparedness guide on the website, as well as its maps of flood zones and shelters. (From AP)

Friday 8/26/11 11:50 AM/ET: Back to the Jersey Shore

Governor Chris Christie announced additional measures being taken to prepare for Hurricane Irene and aid New Jerseyans in shore evacuations.

From the Governor's Office:

"Beginning at 6:00 p.m. this evening, contraflow will be in effect on Route 72, running for 28 miles to Route 70, closing all lanes to eastbound travel and utilizing all lanes of traffic for use in moving traffic westward.

The measure is the latest action to aid residents in evacuating Long Beach Island in Ocean County.

In addition, Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) offices in Atlantic, Cumberland, Monmouth, Ocean and Salem counties will close beginning at 4:00 p.m. today until further notice. To aid New Jerseyans whose licenses will expire at the end of the month, the MVC will also provide an extension until September 10th for renewals on expired drivers licenses, identification cards, vehicle registrations and inspections effective September 1. Authorization was previously provided for MVC office closures in Cape May county."

You can read more here.

Friday 8/26/11 11:41 AM/ET: The Show Must Go On....At Least For Now.

(From the AP) The threat of Hurricane Irene hasn't halted any Broadway shows -- so far.

The Broadway League, the national trade association, said early Friday that all Broadway shows this coming weekend are playing as scheduled. The Off-Broadway League also said early Friday it was unaware of any show cancellations.

Irene is expected to hit North Carolina's coast sometime Saturday and trudge up the East Coast. The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane watch for New York City, and the storm is expected to come closest to the city sometime Sunday.

Weekends on Broadway are its busiest times, with most shows offering two performances on Saturday and two more on Sunday. Potential theater closures may be triggered if officials shut down the city's entire transit system, which is expected.

Friday 8/26/11 11:31 AM/ET: This Just In From Martha's Vineyard - The President on Hurricane Irene

President Barack Obama says people in Hurricane Irene's path should be prepared for the worst and take precautions now.

Says the president; "Don't wait, don't delay." He says all indications point to Irene being a historic hurricane and he can't stress enough the need to prepare.

The president also urges residents to evacuate if told to do so.

The president spoke Friday morning from the vacation home he is renting on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. As he spoke, rains from Irene's outer bands began hitting the Carolinas, along with 6- to 9-foot waves.

On Martha's Vineyard, though, skies were sunny.

Obama was already planning to leave Martha's Vineyard Saturday and that's not expected to change.

Friday 8/26/11:20 AM/ET: How Does Irene Affect Duke's Bottom Line?

Duke Energy's CEO James Rogers was on CNBC this morning to talk about how he gets his team ready for the storm - and the surprising affect to the Company's bottom line.

CNBC's Tyler Matisen asked, "Does a storm like this potentially impact your profitability, and if so, by how much? Can you translate it into pennies per share?"

Rogers said, "I can. I mean I can do it in a grander way by simply saying we normally plan to spend 30 million a year for the cost of restoring service, and just to give you a sense of how many storms that we've had this year, we've already spent $70 million. significantly above what we planned for and this.

- East Coast Energy Sites Brace for Hurricane Irene

Friday 8/26/11 11:14 AM/ET: Riders on the Storm

NBC's Peter Alexander took to the skies flying for more than 11 hours with the Air Force pilots who flew into Hurricane Irene to get the very latest information and a view that most of us will never see. You can watch his report here.

Friday 8/26/11 11:08 AM/ET: Why Is Irene So Different?

From the Weather Channel:

Hurricane Irene is set to become one of the more destructive hurricanes to hit the East Coast in at least several decades. The latest computer model guidance confirms this extraordinary threat and the first hurricane warnings and hurricane watches have been issued for the East Coast.

It all starts with Hurricane Irene's incredible wind field. As of Thursday evening, tropical storm-force winds were up to 430 miles wide. This is the distance from Baltimore to Portland, Maine. (You can read more here)

Friday 8/26/11 11:00 AM/ET: Latest on Irene from the National Hurricane Center

MIAMI (Associated Press) — Hurricane Irene is a little weaker but still a Category 2 storm with top sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (165 kph) on its way to the U.S. East Coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said little change in strength was expected before Irene reaches the North Carolina coast Saturday.

A hurricane warning was extended into Chesapeake Bay as far as Drum Point. Existing warnings remain from North Carolina to New Jersey.

Want to read more—Check out the National Hurricane Center's website - maps, videos and Q&A's

Friday 8/26/11 11:00 AM/ET: Irene Has Everyone Talking

Wanna see what everyone is saying about Irene on their tweets - click here, c'mon, you know you want to.

Friday 8/26/11 10:55 AM/ET: This Just In From The White House

"The President convened a conference call and was briefed once again this morning by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and other senior White House officials about preparations being made for Hurricane Irene. A photo of the President leading that call is available on the White House Flickr photostream."

NO ONE IS WAITING TO SEE SNOOKIE

Friday 8/26/11 10:53 AM/ET: No One's Waiting to See Snookie!

The latest from the "Shore" from the wires:

Traffic moved smoothly away from New Jersey's coastal areas Friday as the state braced for Hurricane Irene to bring dangerously heavy rains and strong winds over the weekend.

Officials said they were not seeing huge delays on roads, even as mandatory evacuations were under way affecting nearly 1 million residents and visitors in Cape May County, coastal Atlantic County and Long Beach Island.

Voluntary evacuations were affecting the entire shore and even Atlantic City's casinos were preparing to shut down.

It wasn't a sure thing that the calm would last. "A lot of people -- I don't want to say are procrastinating -- they're waiting," said state police Capt. Frank Davis.

Davis was expecting more serious tie-ups Saturday as more people hit the road in what promised to be the state's biggest ever weather-related exodus.

The National Hurricane Center said Friday morning that Irene was likely to pass over -- or more likely, near -- New Jersey by midday Sunday. Rains and winds were expected to start ramping up on Saturday.

The National Hurricane Center was predicting the storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 3 to 6 feet above ground level along the Jersey shore. This would be accompanied by large waves.

Irene was expected to dump 6 to 10 inches of rain in New Jersey, with isolated amounts of up to 15 inches, forecasters said.

If it makes landfall in the state, it would be just the third hurricane to do so in the last 200 years.

The frantic preparations brought confusion in some areas.

Officials in Cape May and Atlantic County announced mandatory evacuations on Thursday, but they did not update their websites immediately with that information. The state police, which was coordinating carefully with the state Office of Emergency Management, did not have full information about local evacuations.

Atlantic County officials said that all coastal areas in the county were to be evacuated, but they could not say whether that would affect Atlantic City's 11 casinos, all of which are on the coast.

By Thursday evening, at least one casino -- Bally's Atlantic City -- was telling people they could not check into the hotel. By Friday morning, it appeared all the casinos would shut down later in the day, but it wasn't clear exactly when.

It would be just the third time since gambling was legalized in Atlantic City 33 years ago that the 24/7 businesses would all shut their doors.

Pearson Callender was waiting in vain for a Greyhound bus before 5 a.m. Friday at the Atlantic City bus terminal. He did not want to wait until later in the day, when one might be available, so he had to shell out extra money for an NJ Transit bus ride back home to New York City.

"I like gambling, but you don't play with this," he said. "People are saying this is an act of God. I just need to get home to be with my family."

Friday 8/26/11 10:46 AM/ET: What's Happening: Nags Head

From The Fayatteville Observer: Hurricane Irene's effects begin being felt in North Carolina

NAGS HEAD - Hurricane Irene's main thrust was still a day away from North Carolina but heightened waves began hitting the state's Outer Banks early Friday as the storm continued trudging toward the East Coast.

Swells from Irene and 6- to 9-foot waves were showing up and winds were expected to begin picking up later in the day, said Hal Austin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, the hurricane warning area was expanded and now covered a large chunk of the East Coast from North Carolina to Sandy Hook, N.J., which is south of New York City. A hurricane watch extended even farther north and included Long Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Mass.

For hundreds of miles, as many as 65 million people along the densely populated East Coast warily waited Friday for a dangerous hurricane that has the potential to inflict billions of dollars in damages anywhere within that urban sprawl that arcs from Washington and Baltimore through Philadelphia, New York, Boston and beyond. (You can read more here)

Look: Latest Photos From NC's Outer Banks

Friday 8/26/11 10:40 AM/ET: Home Depot - How They Gear Up For Your Needs

You need batteries, generators, boards, tape, etc — How does Home Depot prepare for you - Their guy on the front line has the details - and some tips for you.

You can watch it here.

Friday 8/26/11 10:36 AM/ET: Irene's Going to Be Expensive

NYTimes reports: A New York Hurricane Could Be a Multibillion-Dollar Catastrophe

Time to think about the unthinkable. What if a major hurricane were to pass close to New York City, as several forecasting models now suggest that Hurricane Irene might?

Apart from the inevitable loss of life in the most densely populated part of the country, history suggests that the economic damage could run into the tens of billions of dollars, depending on the severity of the storm and how close it comes to the city. Unlikely but theoretically plausible scenarios could have the damage entering the realm of the costliest natural disasters of all time, and perhaps being large enough to have a materially negative effect on the nation’s gross domestic product.

Tropical cyclones in and around New York City and the Northeastern United States are fairly rare but not unprecedented. Using a relatively conservative set of criteria, I have identified 20 storms since 1900 that have made landfall north of the Mason-Dixon line with tropical-storm force winds (at least 39 miles per hour) or higher, 12 of which made direct hits on either Long Island or New Jersey. (You can read more and see their charts here)

Friday 8/26/11 10:22 AM/ET: The City Never Sleeps — But It Will Stop for Irene.

WNBC News reporting: NYC orders all construction work halted this weekend.

Meanwhile AP reports:

Work continues at the World Trade Center construction site, but storm preparations also are under way there.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Friday it is securing all cranes and other construction equipment at the site.

It also is securing debris and smaller objects that could be blown off the building at 1 World Trade Center.

Sandbags were being installed in areas that could be subject to flooding.

Friday 8/26/11 10:15 AM/ET: Will Irene Shutdown the NYSE?

Even though parts of lower Manhattan may be evacuated, the NYSE is prepared for the impact and planning to open as normal on monday morning. With more on the contingency plans, CNBC's Bob Pisani has all the details... and you can watch him here.

Friday 8/26/11 10:08 AM/ET: NYC's Bloomberg's Warning: Coastal residents should move out Friday

New Yorkers living in low-lying areas should think about moving out on Friday before Hurricane Irene hits the city of 8.4 million people, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Thursday.

The mass transit system might have to be shut down on Saturday, making it difficult for residents to leave if they wait, Bloomberg said at a televised news conference.

Hurricane Irene, raging up from the Caribbean toward the U.S. east coast, is expected to hit New York on Sunday with winds of up to 95 miles an hour.

Public transport in New York, home to Wall Street, Broadway theaters and thousands of businesses, might have to be shut through Monday.

Bloomberg made it clear people in coastal areas such as Battery Park City on Manhattan's southern tip, Coney Island and the Rockaways should not linger until he issues an evacuation order because that could endanger emergency workers. (You can read more here)

New Yorkers - Want to know if you live in the flood zone — Look here.

Friday 8/26/11 10:06 AM/ET: Utilities Bracing for Widespread Power Outages

Hurricane Irene's strong winds and heavy rains threaten to deliver long-lasting power outages to millions of customers along the East Coast, utility officials and weather forecasters say.

An unusually large number of people may be affected by Irene because it is forecast to stay just offshore — and thus retain much of its power — as it inches up the coast from North Carolina to New England. When a hurricane hits land, it quickly loses steam.

High winds are the biggest threat to utility wires and poles. Recent heavy rains in the region have made trees even more vulnerable to toppling over. Flooding can cause problems for power plants, which are often located near rivers or other bodies of water.(Read more here)

Friday 8/26/11 10:00 AM/ET: Hurrican Warnings: North Carolina to New Jersey

File this one under: Don't Mess Around.

From Weather.com: Dire warnings are being issue in advance of Hurricane Irene. It will affect North Carolina tonight before moving to the Northeast with EXTRAORDINARY impacts expected.

They go on to say:

We've added an "EXTREME" threat level category from eastern North Carolina to southern New England. According to Hurricane Expert, Dr. Rick Knabb and Sr. Meteorologist, Stu Ostro, "this is a particularly threatening situation and it's best for people to be on alert."

  • Computer models are currently trending toward a forecast solution of rare potency for portions of the Northeast.
  • Irene will be a serious and multi-hazard threat for the major metropolitan areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This includes Norfolk, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, and Boston. This hurricane has the potential to produce flooding rains, high winds, downed trees (on houses, cars, power lines) and widespread power outages. Significant impacts along the immediate coast include high waves, surge and beach erosion.
  • For North Carolina, the main impacts of damaging winds and storm surge flooding will be confined to the far eastern portions of the state. In addition to the Outer Banks, this potentially includes Morehead City and Atlantic Beach.
  • Timing: Irene will make its closest approach to North Carolina late Friday night through Saturday. Northeast U.S. impacts would be Saturday night through early Monday.
  • We remain a couple of days away from Irene's direct impacts along the US East Coast and critical uncertainties related to Irene's exact track and intensity remain. Stay tuned to The Weather Channel and right here on weather.com for further updates.

You can look at the maps and read more here.

Friday 8/26/11 9:52 AM/ET: For Your Schedule: Latest from the White House

NBC News tells us that at 1:30AM EDT the President will deliver a statement on Hurricane Irene. We'll be monitoring that and keep you posted right here.

Friday 8/26/11 9:51 AM/ET: Planning on Flying - Read This

From NBC News:

In anticipation of Hurricane Irene hitting the US East Coast, most airlines now have travel waivers in place for passengers to make fee-free changes (or refunds in many cases) if they're traveling to/from/through the Northeast.

JetBlue is the first carrier to begin canceling a significant amount of flights. The New York-based carrier cancelled most flights to/from JFK and Boston on Saturday evening and Sunday — 434 cancellations in all.

Other airlines are holding off except most are canceling flights on Saturday evening to/from the Carolinas and Southern Virginia including Norfolk, Charlotte, Williamsburg, Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, etc. We expect most airlines to begin canceling large numbers of flights today and tomorrow morning and we will keep you updated.

Please expect further notices from FlightAware.comas we have more information and Hurricane Irene gets closer to the US. Also, be sure to bookmark two useful pages - our FlightAware.com live flight cancellations page and also our airport delays page.

Friday, 8/26/11 9:40 AM/ET: Irene to Hit Cities, Resorts on US East Coast

North Carolina braced on Friday for a direct hit from Hurricane Irene, cities along the U.S. east coast were on alert and millions of beach goers cut short vacations to escape the powerful storm.

With more than 50 million people potentially in Irene's path, residents stocked up on food and water and worked to secure homes, vehicles and boats.

States, cities, ports, oil refineries and nuclear plants scrambled to activate emergency plans. Read more here.

Friday, 8/26/11 9:40 AM/ET: Disaster Preparation: There’s An App For That

Since the March earthquake and tsunami hit that Japan, there’s been no shortage of new apps designed to help users prepare for, deal with and even recover from a disaster.

But are these apps offering quality and potentially helpful information, or just playing on fears?

“There is a thin line between what is fear mongering and what is providing transparent information for people who have their feet on the ground,” says Charles Golvin, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.

“The extent to what may be fear mongering is holding up a mirror to the individual for their response.”

There is no definitive number of how many apps are currently available, with new ones popping up every time something bad happens.

But many of these apps are free or available for a low cost, and include the Emergency Radio App for the Apple iPhone, which costs about $1, and delivers thousands of live radio feeds, including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather; to the free iPhone American Red Cross: Shelter Views. Read more here.

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