(August 26, 2011 – 4:10 p.m. EDT or 20:10 UTC) As it prepares to move slowly up the U.S. East Coast this weekend, Hurricane Irene has been downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm. Still, a slow-moving storm of this magnitude can cause a lot of damage and possible flooding. That’s why New York City has ordered the first mandatory evacuations in city history. The video below, from CNN, shows what a storm surge in the Big Apple could do.
You might also like to preview this map, which shows NYC hurricane evacuation routes. Download here (pdf).
With hurricane winds stretching 90 miles outward from the center and tropical storm force winds stretching 290 miles, downgraded Irene is still proving its strength.
The National Weather Service has issued hurricane warnings and watches along the East Coast as Irene continues its trek up the U.S. eastern seaboard, bringing with it the possibility of flooding, high winds and extensive damage to several major U.S. cities in the most densely populated part of the country.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded Irene to a Category 2 hurricane Friday, but many experts are saying despite the downgrade, it could still inflict billions in damages. One reason is that it is such a slow-moving storm. Also, it’s possible Irene could build again to Category 3 strength as it moves up the East Coast.
Bottom line: Hurricane Irene has been downgraded from a Category 3 to Category 2 storm, but experts say it could cause billions in damages as it moves up the U.S. East Coast this weekend. New York City has ordered the first mandatory evacuations in its history.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.