Friday, August 26, 2011

Bracing for Major Hurricane Irene

High above the Earth from aboard the International Space Station,
astronaut Ron Garan snapped this image of Hurricane Irene
as it passed over the Caribbean on Aug. 22, 2011.                  Credit: NASA
Major Hurricane Irene
Continues to Impact
Cruise Schedules

East Coast Bracing 
for Landfall

For the second weekend in a row, Irene, now a Major Hurricane, is dominating the weather and causing local governments and the entire travel industry to scramble to revise schedules to keep property and people safe from harm.
200 PM EDT SUN AUG 28 2011

Warnings Issued for Hurricane Irene -- See this post for current warnings, location, hazards, and other updates

Despite Hurricane Irene's weakening to a Category One status, it is still packing quite a punch and has local governments scrambling to keep property and residents safe.   The NHC is warning that all of the tropical cyclone Hazards:  Wind, heavy Rainfall, Storm Surge, Surf, and Tornadoes are forecast.

Hurricane of the Century

The GOES-13 satellite saw Hurricane Irene
on August 27, 2011 at 10:10 a.m. EDT
after it made landfall at 8 a.m. in Cape Lookout, NC.
Irene's outer bands had already extended into New England.
(Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

Click image for more dramatic images of Hurricane Irene
Many are referring to Hurricane Irene as the storm of the century.   Mandatory evacuations have begun for parts of the eastern seaboard of the United States.  The picture above, courtesy of NASA, shows why there is this great concern.   The hurricane is massive!  As we write this article, Irene is a Category Three Hurricane with winds in excess of 115 MPH.   Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 290 miles.

Ten States Declare Emergencies - Mandatory Evacuations Across the Region
Transportation Systems Shut Down

Irene will move northwest and approach the North Carolina Coast this weekend before continuing its journey north, skimming the Mid-Atlantic coast with possible landfall in New England.

Fifty-five million people are potentially in Hurricane Irene's path, from the Carolinas to Cape Cod on the U.S. East Coast, and tens of thousands are evacuating as cities including New York brace for the powerful storm to hit.

NYC Unprecedented Evacuation / Transit Shutdown

As powerful Hurricane Irene makes it way up the East Coast of the United States, New York City ordered nearly 300,000 people to evacuate flood-prone areas and subways.  The New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has begun a full system shutdownPhiladelphia and New Jersey will also shut down on Saturday.

It was the first time the nation's largest city was evacuated. Never before has the entire mass transit system been shuttered because of a storm.  New York city has not seen a storm of this magnitude in decades.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was confident people would get out of the storm's way.
"Waiting until the last minute is not a smart thing to do," Bloomberg said. "This is life-threatening."

President Obama spoke with reporters from the farm where he is vacationing on an island off the Boston coast.  He will be leaving the area on Saturday well ahead of the storm.

"All indications point to this being a historic hurricane," 
"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," Obama said.

Cruise Ship Travel Alerts

This past week, many cruises had their itineraries altered to outrun the storm.   In most cases, port orders were changed or in some cases, Bahamas ports were swapped for Western Caribbean ports.

As the weekend approaches and the hurricane bears down on many of the homeports along the east coast, ships are racing to arrive ahead of the storm.  Several itineraries have been modified to cut the current cruise short, arriving in the homeport as much as a day early.  Some ships will delay arrivals until Monday. Departures for weekend cruises vary by port with some scheduled on time while others departing a day or more late. 

Ports impacted:  Baltimore, Bayonne New Jersey, Boston, New York, 

Travel Advisory Links:

Airline Travel Advisories

Major airlines -- including US Airways, American, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and AirTran -- have dropped ticket change fees for passengers scheduled to fly to or from many cities along the East Coast this weekend. 

Airlines canceled more than 9,000 flights for the weekend and another 250 on Monday, according to the online flight tracking service

Check directly with your airline carrier for latest cancellation information

Additional Travel Woes
Transit systems in New York City, Philadelphia and New Jersey   shut down on Saturday.

Greyhound has canceled or delayed a number of routes because of the storm.

Hurricane Preparedness

Each year NHC, FEMA, and other government agencies host several events to raise awareness about the dangers of tropical storms and hurricanes.  See our Hurricane Zone for links to articles we published in conjunction with this year's Hurricane Preparedness Week as well as those from past years.  For those planning to sail this weekend, be sure to read Hurricane Preparedness for Cruisers

We will continue to monitor this major hurricane and post updates.  Hurricane Zone will point to the latest information.   We have provided several links which provide up to the minute news, forecasts, advisories.

Disaster Prevention should include:

"How To" guides for protecting your property from flooding & high winds. (FEMA)

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