Hurricane Irene Hits East Coast, Heading for New York (LIVE Blog)
Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project
Late update added Sun, Aug. 28.
WHOOPS! Sorry if you saw this post all on the front page today. Not sure what happened there. I lost my original intro & pic, but the rest of the post and many updates below. Originally published Thursday, August 25, 2011
Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project
Originally published Thursday, August 25, 2011
In this emergency I am activating all levels of state government to prepare for any situation that may be caused by Hurricane Irene. We are communicating with our federal and local partners to track the storm and to plan a coordinated response, and we will deploy resources as needed to the areas expected to be hit the hardest. I urge New Yorkers to personally prepare for hurricane conditions and to cooperate with emergency officials if needed. By working together, we will all be able to face this storm in a calm and organized manner.
According to the Daily News:
Governor Cuomo urges New Yorkers to take stock of their emergency supplies, such as water, non-perishable food, radios, batteries, supplies for any pets, and first aid kits. The Governor also encourages New Yorkers to check in with neighbors, especially the elderly or disabled, who might need assistance to ensure that their needs are met if emergency instructions are issued.
Whether you're in New York or not, this is good advice for anyone. Checking on your neighbors is pretty much a crucial part of being a decent human being. So... go meet your neighbors now so it's less awkward if you all end up stranded together for a few days.
UPDATE 1: Weather.com has a nice, interactive storm tracker tool. And even if you don't live in the path of the storm, the tool is worth a look. Technology!
Image: Screenshot via Weather.com
UPDATE 2: Here's a nice picture to scare the crap out of New Yorkers, while also giving you a good sense of the possible flooding areas that could be caused by a storm surge.
UPDATE 4: Gov. McDonnel warns Virginians to prepare.
UPDATE 5: People that make and sell generators love this stuff.
"The tide rose 13 feet in one hour and inundated wharves, causing the East River to converge into the Hudson River across lower Manhattan as far north as Canal Street. However, few deaths were attributed to the storm because flooding was concentrated in neighborhoods with far fewer homes than exist today."
UPDATE 7: If this goes really badly, National Geographic has given us permission to blame the Moon for something. Finally!
Meteorologist Jeff Masters, director of the Weather Underground website, said flooding caused by Hurricane Irene could be worse than usual, because the storm will be making landfall during a new moon.
During new and full moons, the sun, Earth, and the moon are arranged in a straight line, with the sun and moon intensifying each other's gravitational pull on Earth. The result is more severe tidal fluctuations--low tides are lower than usual, but more to the point, high tides are higher.
UPDATE 7.1: Okay, maybe we can't blame the moon, after all. Mat points out that the timing is a bit off regarding the predicted arrival of the storm and the tides. Want to know how bad the combination of high tides plus storm surge will be? Will Irene hit at high tide? Check your local tide chart here.
UPDATE 8: Lots of interesting things from The Fiscal Times.
Weather forecasters say that by Saturday afternoon, Irene may strike the Outer Banks of North Carolina with winds of around 115 mph and wind gusts of up to 138 mph. Roughly 180,000 tourists and residents of coastal Dare County, N.C., were ordered to evacuate Thursday morning, while forecasters issued a hurricane watch for much of the state's coast.
"In Virginia, 64 Navy ships began leaving their ports in Norfolk and other areas on Thursday to ride out the storm at sea,"
And they finish with some points we've made before about the huge economic impact of storms and other disasters, which are increasing in frequency and scale due to global warming.
UPDATE 9: How do hurricanes get their names? Mental Floss knows what we've all been wondering.
UPDATE 10: It's possible we started this live blog a bit early for a storm that is tracking to do the most damage Saturday and Sunday, but that just means we have time for some thought pieces. Susie Madrak threads a few big stories together, writing about how earthquakes, tsunamis, oil spills and meltdowns affect us all.
I continue to be astounded by the national disconnect over global climate change. We are facing more numerous storms, more powerful weather extremes, and our infrastructure is no longer built to handle it. So what are our brave senators fighting over? Who can cut more spending. Instead of doing what's best for our country, they do what's best for their reelection.
We are all connected, everywhere. A nuclear power plant in Fukushima spits out a radioactive plume, and now it's in our air, food and water. A typhoon in one part of the world drives up food prices everywhere else. A massive earthquake in Japan affects the financial health of the global economy.
One world. Everything connected.
Good stuff. Go read the rest. You have time. Trust us. We'll be right here.
UPDATE 11: New York City Mayor Bloomberg has announced the entire NYC transportation system will be shutdown on Saturday in advance of the storm. MTA calls for a complete shutdown of subways, trains and buses when sustained winds reach at least 39 mph. NYC also planning on mandatory evacuations of nursing homes in the areas expected to be hit worse by any potential flooding.
Bloomberg didn't literally stick his head out his window and yell "Head for the Hills!" But this announcement is pretty close.
""We recommend people start going to less vulnerable areas," said Bloomberg.
In other words, now may not be a bad time to go visit your Aunt Upstate or at least touch base with some friends more inland before Saturday, when they'll decide if a mandatory evacuation of Zone A is necessary.
UPDATE 12: Is it too soon to remind you about this post on making a DIY radio out of an Altoids tin? Or what about a iPhone or gadget charger? These, of course, work better with some sun, so while not as useful during a storm, they could come in hand if you're without power in the sunny aftermath of the storm.
UPDATE 13: Mother Jones adds some important perspective regarding the severity of the storm. Hurricane Irene is currently a Category 3. Hurricane Katrina was also a Category 3 storm, though at times as strong as a Category 5. No, these aren't the same storms, cities or circumstances but both very strong storms. Also, The New Yorker hits the spot with a Hurricane playlist.
UPDATE 15: FEMA issues warning for entire East Coast.
UPDATE 16: NJ Gov. Christie says "From a Flooding Perspective, This Could Be a 100-Year Event..."
UPDATE 17: For most people an approaching storm of this magnitude is something to worry about, but for surfers on the east coast, hurricanes provide some larger waves to ride. Over at Discovery blogs, Alex posts a few videos of surfers riding waves of past hurricanes, as well as those from Irene.
UPDATE 18: Lloyd shares this list of tips & resources from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for how to prepare for disasters and how to react to them.
UPDATE 19: In addition to the Weather.com tracker I posted above, there are also a number of smart phone apps that will help you keep a digital eye on the storm.
UPDATE 20: Good thoughts via the NYTimes on the state of climate change denial in the US.
"Still, Irene symbolizes a passage of time in which climate skepticism has risen and is being used by some politicians to establish a conservative brand that discredits, even derides climate science. That means many advocates are focusing on smaller policies, like nuggets of climate adaptation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
The program is finishing an assessment on the impacts of climate change from stronger storms, rising oceans and heavier downpours. Initial findings say the size of areas declared to be floodplains could grow 45 percent by 2100."
UPDATE 21: Now is as good a time as any to make a clarification regarding the connection between hurricanes and climate change. Does global warming cause hurricanes? No. But it can make them stronger.
UPDATE 22: The White House blog has some links and a video from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on how they are preparing to support the evacuations and impacts of Hurricane Irene, as well as tips for people in the evacuation zone.
President Obama also spoke about the storm this morning. We'll update this post when we have a video or audio of that announcement.
UPDATE 23: Jeff Masters at Weather Underground has an update, reporting that the eyewall is collapsing and the storm may be weakening.
Here's what he says about possible damage:
"I don't think Irene is going to do a lot of wind damage to the mid-Atlantic states, since the eye of the storm will be just offshore, and the I-95 corridor from Virginia to New Jersey will be on the weak (left) side of the hurricane. The current wind distribution of Irene (Figure 1) shows almost all of the hurricane's winds are on the right side of the storm, and by the time the storm reaches Virginia, there will be likely be no hurricane-force winds on the left side of Irene. Sustained winds should stay below 74 mph (hurricane force), and wind damage will be similar to that wrought be some of the strongest Nor'easters of the past 20 years, from Virginia northwards to New York City. Since Irene will be steadily weakening as it approaches its second landfall on Long Island, I give a 50% chance that no mainland U.S. surface station in New England will record sustained hurricane-force winds. I do think it likely that one or more of the offshore islands--Block Island, Nantucket, and Marthas Vinyard--will get Category 1 hurricane winds. Though the wind damage to buildings will be similar to what the Northeast has seen during some of the more severe nor'easters of the past 20 years, tree damage will be much worse. The trees are in full leaf during hurricane season, and catch the wind much more readily than during the winter. Tree damage will very heavy, and we can expect trees in regions with saturated soils will fall over in high winds onto power lines. Irene is likely to cause one of the top-five most widespread power outages in American history from a storm. The record power outage from a Northeast storm was probably the ten million people that lost power during the great Blizzard of 1993. I don't think Irene's power outages will be quite that extensive, but several million people will likely lose power."
These things can change suddenly, so we're not making BBQ plans for Sunday just yet, but for those in the path of the storm, reports like this are a welcome change.
UPDATE 24: Here's a transcript of President Obama's statement.
Good morning, everybody. I want to say a few words about Hurricane Irene, urge Americans to take it seriously, and provide an overview of our ongoing federal preparations for what's likely to be an extremely dangerous and costly storm.
I've just convened a conference call with senior members of my emergency response team and directed them to make sure that we are bringing all federal resources to bear and deploying them properly to cope not only with the storm but also its aftermath. I've also spoken this morning with governors and mayors of major metropolitan areas along the Eastern Seaboard to let them know that this administration is in full support of their efforts to prepare for this storm and stands ready to fully support their response efforts. And we will continue to stay in close contact with them.
I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don't wait. Don't delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst. All of us have to take this storm seriously. You need to listen to your state and local officials, and if you are given an evacuation order, please follow it. Just to underscore this point: We ordered an aircraft carrier group out to sea to avoid this storm yesterday. So if you're in the way of this hurricane, you should be preparing now.
If you aren't sure how to prepare your families or your home or your business for a hurricane or any other emergency, then you can visit Ready.gov -- that's Ready.gov -- or Listo.gov. That's Listo.gov.
Now, since last weekend, FEMA has been deploying its Incident Management Assistance Teams to staging areas in communities up and down the coast. FEMA has millions of liters of water, millions of meals, and tens of thousands of cots and blankets, along with other supplies, pre-positioned along the Eastern Seaboard. And the American Red Cross has already begun preparing shelters in North Carolina and other states.
These resources are all being coordinated with our state and local partners, and they stand ready to be deployed as necessary. But, again, if you are instructed to evacuate, please do so. It's going to take time for first responders to begin rescue operations and to get the resources we've pre-positioned to people in need. So the more you can do to be prepared now -- making a plan, make a supply kit, know your evacuation route, follow instructions of your local officials -- the quicker we can focus our resources after the storm on those who need help the most.
To sum up, all indications point to this being a historic hurricane. Although we can't predict with perfect certainty the impact of Irene over the next few days, the federal government has spent the better part of last week working closely with officials in communities that could be affected by this storm to see to it that we are prepared. So now is the time for residents of these communities -- in the hours that remain -- to do the same. And FEMA and Craig Fugate, the director of FEMA, will be keeping people closely posted in the next 24, 48 hours.
Thank you very much.
UPDATE 25: The Washington Post Federal Eye blog has a roundup on the ways the Federal government is preparing for the storm.
UPDATE 26: Inhabitat posts on the ability of East Coast wind turbines to withstand a storm of this magnitude.
In the past 11 years the United States has installed over 38,000 megawatts of wind power with almost 3,000 watts standing directly in Irene's path. Though most wind turbines are built to withstand category 5 hurricanes, most of our installed wind power was erected after the last major hurricane (Hurricane Bob in 1991) hit the east coast. Though theoretically, the large turbines should be fine, a small error in manufacturing, installation or maintenance could prove deadly for them.
UPDATE 27: In their TreeHugger blog, Inhabitat shares 6 tips for surviving Hurricane Irene.
UPDATE 28: Since we're new to covering hurricanes, I'm finding this post from hurricane veteran Kerry Sanders on how to really prepare for a storm interesting.
* Ignore your inner-self that wants to think this is all hype.
Hurricane force winds and storm surge are real and there is nothing you can do at the last minute to push back.
*Find comfortable cotton clothes. You will lose power and that means it will get hot. Hurricanes leave you locked inside thick humidity, so you want to be comfortable. Baby powder is nice to have and forget the jeans, they're just plain uncomfortable.
While I'm personally not in any danger from this storm, I'm still taking her advice and wearing sweats. Be safe and comfortable out there, people!
"In the tropics, one of the biggest concerns is coconuts going airborne in a hurricane force wind. It can become a cannon ball."
So, there's that.
UPDATE 30: Do you have a 'go bag' ready? It's a good thing to have no matter where you live. Jaymi did a post a while back on how to pack an emergency bag and how she adapted a pre-packed emergency kit. The Awl also has a nice post from a Floridian with some first-hand advice on how to prepare. You're going to feel really dumb if you read this and later get caught in a disaster without having prepared at least a basic kit, so get on it. You'll be glad you did, even if you never need it.
UPDATE 31: Choire Sicha warns Brooklynites that the internet, light & some cooking devices are powered by electricity, which is transported via wires. Plan accordingly!
UPDATE 32: Um, GOOD informs us that some people don't know there's a storm on the way. Are they trying to say that not everyone reads TreeHugger?
One of my friends tweeted this exchange: "Italian au pair on the floor above: 'It's going to rain this weekend, right? I'm going to go to museums.' Me: 'No. You're not.'" Another follower responded that he spoke to someone who was heading to the Jersey Shore. "It seems like the rain's passed," he said.
I started to realize that in a place like New York, where hurricanes happen approximately never, your safety depends on your access to information. People in North Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida know to keep their ears to the ground, but how do you get the word out in a place where the last serious hurricane happened in 1938?
This is precisely why it's important to check on your neighbors. Sure, you may think everyone knows about the storm and is making preparations, but that's probably not the case. Talk to people. Say, "Hi," and spread the news.
UPDATE 33: NASA has released this incredible photo of Hurricane Irene from space.
And here's a timelapse from NASA, as well.
UPDATE 34: Laughing Squid has compiled a few interesting links. I like this interactive map of the different flooding zones in New York. You can type in your address and find out if you're in the flooding zone.
Reminder that Zone A is under a mandatory evacuation.
UPDATE 35: Xeni Jardin at boingboing points us Infodocket pointing us "to RadioReference.com, and other online resources for listening in to first responders in the path of Hurricane Irene."
UPDATE 36: Mat says NRDC has a good overview of how cities right in the path have been preparing (or not) for this sort of massive storm--and not incidentally many of these preparation also are good for climate change adaptation.
UPDATE 37: TechCrunch reports that FEMA now has an Android app.
Creating an app is a smart move for FEMA, especially considering the state of most mobile networks during an emergency situation. Cellular networks are quickly jammed up by handsets try to make calls, as some of you may have noticed during this past week's earthquake. FEMA recommends sticking to text messages and emails when trying to contact others, and that the app works fine sans data connection only helps.
UPDATE 38: Discovery News has an interesting piece on how technology has improved the ability to predict the path of hurricanes. "The 48-hour forecast of a hurricane's track is as good as the 24-hour forecast was 10 years ago."
Irene's got a middle name, and it's Global Warming.
Remember--this year has already seen more billion-dollar weather-related disasters than any year in U.S. history. Last year was the warmest ever recorded on planet Earth. Arctic sea ice is near all-time record lows. Record floods from Pakistan to Queensland to the Mississippi basin; record drought from the steppes of Russia to the plains of Texas. Just about the only trauma we haven't had are hurricanes plowing into the U.S., but that's just luck--last year was a big storm year, but they all veered out to sea. This year we're already on letter I--which in a normal year we don't get to until well into October. Every kind of natural system is amped up, holding more power--about ¾ of a watt extra energy per square meter of the Earth's surface, thanks to the carbon we've poured into the atmosphere. This is what climate change looks like in its early stages.
Revkin counters with some context:
"But McKibben's effort to use this United States hurricane landfall as a specter of things to come in a greenhouse-heated world doesn't mesh with the science, which shows a measurable, though subtle, trend in the opposite direction."
But the important question for society is how much climate events that matter to people are being meaningfully shaped by that rise in greenhouse gases. In the case of American hurricane risk, the science says there's a negative trend in storm number, while storm energy and rainfall probably are rising.
So is Irene's middle name "global warming"?
I say its middle name is "stay out of my way."
UPDATE 40: The AP reminds us which nuclear power plants lay in the projected path of Hurricane Irene:
Nuclear reactors sit on eight coastal sites along the Eastern seaboard in the projected path of Hurricane Irene. They are built to withstand winds much stronger than those expected from Irene. They are also equipped with backup generators protected from flooding to provide power to keep the reactor cool if outside power is lost. Still, some will likely be shut down as a precaution in advance of Irene's winds and heavy rains.
As Mike posted following the shutdowns that resulted from the Virginia earthquake, shutdowns are normal.
UPDATE 41: Stan from the comments pointed out we weren't talking about the damage Irene has done to the islands it has already passed over. It's a good point, so here are some links on the damage already done.
Hurricane Irene losses already reach $1.1B, firm estimates
Hurricane Irene damages cruise lines' private islands
No Caribbean insurance payouts from Hurricane Irene
UPDATE 42: Irene lashes Carolinas, reports NPR.
UPDATE 43: The on-going Tar Sands Action protest taking place at the White House since last Saturday is going to be a little less on-going over the next day or two.
More on their specific plans here. Hopefully the storm will give them a chance to regroup and have increased energy for the coming week.
"We are not evacuating Rikers Island," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon. Bloomberg annouced a host of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter's question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with more than a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.
UPDATE 45: Discovery News has a nice Storm Tracker.
UPDATE 46: This isn't very helpful. John Boehner and Eric Cantor Won't Commit To Hurricane Relief Without Budget Cuts And if you thought that was odd, listen to Ron Paul describe his ideal storm response plan. "We should be like 1900, we should be like 1940 1950 1960," he said.
Yes! I too have had enough of this high-technology and preparation!
UPDATE 47: A potentially crucial tip from a Daily Dish reader.
"If nobody has told you this, you need to fill your bathtub with water. It is not for drinking; it is for flushing the toilets if you lose water after the storm. You don't want to be without a flush toilet."
Reminds me of some of what I learned while reading Lloyd's 8-part series on the history of the bathroom.
UPDATE 48: Revkin points us to a potential "End Game," highlighting the latest storm projection. You can see the path in the video below, but it still looks to be heading towards New York.
In another post, Revkin reminds us that wind or not, there is going to be a lot of rain dumped on the area. This reminds me of a recent post by Matthew Yglesias following the burst pipe and flooding in Brooklyn as an example of our failing infrastructure. How will cities with dated pipes handle this potential deluge?
UPDATE 49: Good evening, North Carolina!
UPDATE 50: Probably should have been timestamping these updates, but for the record, it is now Saturday at 10am.
North Carolina is still where the action is at this morning, seeing a lot of rain and wind. CNN's Live Blog has some video of the flooding. Also, the hurricane caused a tornado, which itself caused some damage. What can't a hurricane do?
Up in New York, Mayor Bloomberg reminds people that the transit systems will be shutting down at noon, stating, "If you have to leave, you have to start right now."
UPDATE 51: You know how earthworms will surface after a rain to avoid drowning? Well, that's sort of a more pleasant version of this: New York City rats could be forced above ground in mass numbers should Hurricane Irene flood the city.
Maybe forced evacuation isn't sounding so bad now?
UPDATE 52: Lloyd picks up on Ron Paul's crazy line about longing for 1900-era storm prep & response.
UPDATE 53: Via MSNBC:
Traffic jams as long as 20 miles were reported and some service stations in New Jersey and other areas ran out of gasoline, according to the Oil Price Information Service, which tracks supplies and prices. Gasoline demand jumped 20 percent to 40 percent in Mid-Atlantic states, the service said.
Evacuation orders covered 1 million people in New Jersey, 550,000 in New York, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia and 100,000 in Delaware.
UPDATE 54: Enjoying this live blog from NYMag, but have to say I'm glad I didn't use roman numerals.
UPDATE 55: "Get the hell off the beach! You've maximized your tan!"
UPDATE 57: NYC transit may not be back by Monday morning according to Mayor Bloomberg. If you're in the area and use transit to get to work, it's probably a good idea to rethink your commute.
UPDATE 58: Ezra Klein looks into who is most likely to evacuate. People with kids? Yes. People with pets? No. More here.
UPDATE 59: For the latest forecast for your area, visit the National Hurricane Center site and input your zipcode in the top left for a local forecast.
Here's the latest forecast for New York.
This Afternoon: Periods of showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 80. East wind around 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Tonight: Tropical storm conditions expected, with hurricane conditions possible. Rain and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Low around 69. East wind 40 to 50 mph increasing to between 45 and 55 mph. Winds could gust as high as 65 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts in excess of 4 inches possible.
Sunday: Tropical storm conditions expected, with hurricane conditions possible. Rain and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. High near 76. North wind 50 to 70 mph decreasing to between 45 and 55 mph. Winds could gust as high as 80 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts in excess of 4 inches possible.
Sunday Night: Tropical storm conditions possible, with hurricane conditions also possible. A chance of showers before 9pm. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly clear, with a low around 60. West wind 24 to 29 mph decreasing to between 15 and 20 mph. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Monday: Sunny, with a high near 81. West wind around 9 mph.
UPDATE 60: 8 people have lost their lives as a result of this storm.
Discovery News has a good video on why Hurricanes are so dangerous.
UPDATE 61: "The storm is finally hitting New York City," - Mayor Bloomberg. How are things where you are? Let us know in the comments.
UPDATE 62: If the flooding and flushed out subway rats weren't enough of a concern for New York:
When Hurricane Irene hits the New York area on Sunday, the neighborhoods surrounding the Gowanus Canal are in for a literal shitstorm -- and that may be the least of their problems.
The latest projections anticipate a storm surge of 7 to 15 feet in New York Harbor on Sunday. A dome of water would travel from Upper New York Bay, through Gowanus Harbor, and into the 1.5 mile-long Gowanus Canal near Smith and 9th St. Once in the canal, it could stir up a heady mix of pollutants -- essentially oil, heavy metals, and human excrement -- and distribute it throughout the slowly gentrifying area that sits among some of Brownstone Brooklyn's priciest neighborhoods.
UPDATE 63: Good to hear the storm has weakened considerably before hitting New York. While not a severe as predicted, there has still been considerable flooding. Here are a few videos from NY & NJ.
UPDATE 64: Spared from the worst-cast scenarios, Revkin wonders if the close-call will serve as a wake-up call for New York officials to get serious about the threat of rising sea levels.
My guess is that the dodged hydrological bullet may work the other way, allowing city officials to punt the question. The difference between New York and London -- and even more so the Netherlands, which built storm defenses sturdy enough for the rarest calamity -- is likely in part a function of America's newness, Bowman said, adding, "The United States is a young country with that exuberance and sense of indestructibility of youth."]
UPDATE 65: 3.3 million people are without power and two nuclear power plants shut down as precautionary measures.
UPDATE 66: Bridges into NY are opening. Bloomberg announces NY transit will be running tomorrow and the Zone A evacuation is lifted. These and other updates on the Reuters live blog.
UPDATE 67: Look at what fun people can have when there aren't any cars on the street?
UPDATE 68: Bad flooding in the Catskills.
UPDATE 69: We had some tech difficulties yesterday and lost our Sunday updates, but to wrap up the live blog, I'll leave you with these dramatic photos of the damage this storm caused. And as Mat notes today, the storm helped set a new record for wettest month in NY.C. While the storm didn't cause as much damage to NYC, there is a considerable amount of damage along the coast and elsewhere in the northeast. Our thoughts go out to those affected by the storm.
We don't know if this storm will end up doing the damage people fear it might but we'll post what we learn and find interesting here, so check back often for new links and info. And follow @TreeHugger or #Hurricane #Irene hashtags on Twitter for more up-to-the-minute updates.
For tweets on this and other topics, I'm @ChrisTackett