You may not yet have heard yet, but Hurricane Irene is shaping up to be a major disaster for New York City Long Island, and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Weather experts are forecasting a major storm surge that will bring torrential rains, gusting winds and flash floods to New York by Sunday. New York Governor Cuomo has declared a state of emergency, but his statement is slim on details and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service website has only a rip current warning in place for New York currently.
Instead of passing offshore like yesterday's forecasts predicted, the storm looks like it will track northeast, barreling through New England with a likely direct hit in New York City and on Long Island. If the storm stays on its current trajectory, which is very likely, said Bryan Norcross, a hurricane specialist with The Weather Channel, New York City and Manhattan will suffer a direct hit.
Experts say there's a small chance that Irene will still be a hurricane when it hits Manhattan, and that it will likely have been demoted to a tropical storm by then. If that eases your mind, it shouldn't. Regardless of the storm's official title, Norcross suggests preparing for the worst if you're in the Northeast.
That's because hurricanes don't have to be as strong in the north as in other parts of the country to do a lot of damage. "The way the barrier islands are set up is not in some senses hurricane ready. Trees snap more easily and more bad things happen," Norcross said. "Also, the denser the population, the more bad things happen."