Live Blog: Business Braces for Hurricane Irene @@@@@

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

New York City Skyline
AP
New York City Skyline

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

Manhattan skyline
AP
Manhattan skyline

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

Man takes pictures of utility poles downed from winds from Hurricane Irene, New Providence Island, Bahamas.
AP
Man takes pictures of utility poles downed from winds from Hurricane Irene, New Providence Island, Bahamas.

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.

In this handout satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Irene on August 25, 2011 in the Caribbean Sea.
Source: NOAA
In this handout satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Irene on August 25, 2011 in the Caribbean Sea.

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

Senior Hurricane Specialist Jack Beven tracks Hurricane Irene at the National Hurricane Center on August 24, 2011 in Miami, Florida.
Getty Images
Senior Hurricane Specialist Jack Beven tracks Hurricane Irene at the National Hurricane Center on August 24, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

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

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

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

Nuclear Site Locater
Source: LogSat Software LLC
Nuclear Site Locater

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.