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Irene Punishes East Coast

MIAMI, Aug. 28 (UPI) — Deadly Hurricane Irene rumbled up the U.S. East Coast toward New York City Sunday, knocking out power to millions and sending others fleeing, authorities said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 2 a.m. advisory that Irene was still a Category 1 storm with 80 mph sustained winds and gusts up to 109 mph as it churned about 15 miles south-southeast of Ocean City, Md., and about 195 miles south-southwest of New York City.

While hurricane-force winds were recorded “over a relatively small area east” of Irene’s eye, tropical storm-level winds were being pushed out 240 miles, meaning New York was already feeling Irene’s fury, the hurricane center said.

Irene was making headway at about 17 mph and was expected speed up during the next day or so, the hurricane center’s forecasters said. The storm’s eye was expected to move near or over the Mid-Atlantic cost during the morning, over southern New England by the afternoon and into eastern Canada Sunday night.

A hurricane warning was in effect from Cape Lookout, N.C., to Sagamore Beach, Mass. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Chesapeake Bay’s Drum Point to the tidal Potomac, north of Sagamore Beach to Eastport, Maine, and from the U.S.-Canadian border to Fort Lawrence.

Irene wasn’t expected to lose it hurricane status until after making landfall in New England.

Irene is producing heavy rains, with 10-14 inches already falling in parts of North Carolina and Virginia. The storm also is generating coastal surges 4-8 feet above normal, and “large, destructive and life-threatening waves,” the forecasters said.

Tornadoes also are possible in parts of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and southern New England Sunday morning.

New York City’s subway system was shut down — an historic first — and streets were virtually deserted as the winds and rains arrived, The New York Times reported.

“Now the edge of the hurricane is finally upon us,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Saturday night. “We’ve warned the public, and now we have to deal with Mother Nature.”

About 370,000 people had been evacuated from low-lying areas of the city, as were more than a million people in neighboring New Jersey, the Times said.

At least nine deaths had been attributed to the storm since it began its march up the Eastern Seaboard, the newspaper said.

Despite constant warnings of the impending storm, two kayakers had to be rescued from the waters off Staten Island Saturday, Bloomberg said.

“[Why] they were out there in spite of all the warnings, I don’t know,” the mayor said, adding they were kept afloat by life jackets they were wearing. The kayakers were given summonses, he said.

Hurricane Irene churns up East Coast; Virginia boy, 11, is killed by fallen tree

An estimated 2 million were without power, with The Washington Post reporting 915,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers, more than 250,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric, and 120,000 Potomac Electric Power Co. customers were without power. Another 100,000 were already without power in the New York City area.

Irene caused the cancellation of 9,000 flights and forced Amtrak and Greyhound to stop service up and down the coast. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge was close to traffic about 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

“This is a very dangerous time,” the Post quoted Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell as saying. The governor warned people of potentially deadly tidal flooding and storm surges.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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