As of 5AM (eastern) Sunday Irene’s eye is off southern New Jersey. According to the National Hurricane Center the water level in New York harbor is 3.4 feet above normal. High tide is at 8AM. Central Park has received over 5 inches of rain.
The September 21, 1938 hurricane (CAT 3) produced a tidal surge of nine feet in the East River. Southern Long Island received over 27 inches of rain.
Since coming ashore in North Carolina, Irene has left roughly 3 million without power. Today she will darken many more homes. At least 13,000 are currently in public shelters. Tens-of-thousands more are in hotels or with friends and family. On Saturday night the only public shelter in Hoboken, NJ was itself evacuated as the result of an increased flood risk. The Red Cross has a web-based tool for finding evacuation shelters. (MONDAY UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal is reporting: 2.4 million evacuated, 4 million without power, and 24 dead.)
So far it sounds like Tidewater Virginia has been hit hardest. According the Weather Channel:
More than 1 million homes and businesses lost power in Virginia alone, where three people were killed by falling trees, at least one tornado touched down and about 100 roads were closed. Emergency crews around the region prepared to head out at daybreak to assess the damage, though with some roads impassable and rivers still rising, it could take days.
Perhaps pointing to what’s ahead for New York, the Virginia Pilot (Norfolk) reports:
In Norfolk, Irene’s storm surge at high tide on Saturday night almost pushed water levels to a record level. The National Weather Service reported a combined tide and surge of 7.54 feet around 8 p.m. at Sewells Point, while the city reported a reading of 7.63 feet there… Irene brought 3.5-foot to 4.5-foot storm surges across the region.
Water is not the only sort of storm surge. Hurricanes, snowstorms and other forecast disasters prompt a demand surge for groceries and gasoline. High demand was experienced across the mid-Atlantic states, even in Baltimore more than 100 miles from Irene’s passing eye.
A personal request: I would appreciate readers in the impact zone sharing their observations related to resupply through Wednesday. Please use the comment function for this post to provide any personal observations or links to related reports. Are shelves already restocked today? Any lingering shortages?