U.S. News

Live Blog: Business Braces for Hurricane Irene


Friday 8/26/11 1:17 PM/ET: Alert: NYC To Shut Down Mass Transit At Noon Saturday (according to Dow Jones News Wires)

And from the Governor's Office:  New York Governor Cuomo Orders all NYC bridges to shut down if winds exceed 60 MPH (96 KPH) including the George Washington Bridge and the Tappan Zee Bridge.

And for those living in New Jersey -

New Jersey Transit trains will stop running at noon Saturday because of Hurricane Irene. Governor Chris Christie made the announcement during a briefing on the storm Friday. Christie did not provide any additional information.

Friday 8/26/11 1:15 PM/ET: Irene - In Pictures

People shop at a grocery store in Coney Island before the arrival of 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

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 12:55 PM/ET: This Just In....

President Barack Obama holds conference call on Hurricane Irene with FEMA Director Craig Fugate, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
Photo: Pete Souza

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.

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

Irene Impact on Insurers

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.

So what does the storm mean for the biggest property insurers?

Allstate Travelers and Chubb are "going to be big beneficiaries of a major event," says UBS analyst Brian Meredith.

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

Workers hurry to board up a store before heavy winds arrive on August 26, 2011 in Ocean City, Maryland. Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan has ordered a mandatory evacuation for thousands of residents and visitors to leave the oceanfront community.
Getty Images

Sooooooooooooo....what are you doing?

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

- you'll be glad you did.

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


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

Walmart's Irene Prep

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 :

East Coast Refiners Brace For Storms

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

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.

A man pushes a cart with a generator at a Home Depot store in Kitty Hawk in the North Carolina Outerbanks ahead of the expected landfall in the area of Hurricane Irene.
Nicolas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

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

A boarded up storefront in Cape May, New Jersey. The Cape May Department of Emergency Management ordered the evacuation of all residents and visitors of Cape May County in anticipation of a direct hit by Hurricane Irene.
Getty Images

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.

Hill Street Studios | Blend Images | Getty Images

(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 holds conference call on Hurricane Irene with FEMA Director Craig Fugate, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
Photo: Pete Souza

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?

Power Preps in North Carolina

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?

Hurricane 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

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

A 'closed' signs hang on the door of a convenience store in preparation for Hurricane Irene August 26, 2011 in Villas, New Jersey.
Getty Images

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."


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

NJ Turnpike Toll
Photo by: Bobby Hindy

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.

A boarded up storefront in Cape May, New Jersey. The Cape May Department of Emergency Management ordered the evacuation of all residents and visitors of Cape May County in anticipation of a direct hit by Hurricane Irene.
Getty Images

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

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