The New York metropolitan area and the famed Jersey Shore are eerily quiet Saturday night, save for Mother Nature. As Hurricane Irene makes it gradual, destructive move up the East Coast, New York City has become a city without subways as Mayor Michael Boomberg ordered the underground off limits as of noon Saturday.
By late Saturday afternoon, nearly 1,000,000 homes and businesses were without power, flash flood warnings were posted across coastal cities and towns, and at least eight deaths were attributed to the storm.
The nation's largest subway system is silent tonight as Hurricane Irene charges northward and New York City prepares to face powerhouse winds that have already blown powerhouse winds, and in some instances walls of water through the mid Atlantic.
Hurricane Irene made landfall in North Carolina on Saturday, becoming the first hurricane to hit the continental United States since 2008.
The storm came ashore just east of Cape Lookout in North Carolina, The New York Times reported.
The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Irene to a category one hurricane, but warns it will still be extremely dangerous.
Hurricane specialist Mike Brennan said the hazards remained the same and “the emphasis for this storm is on its size and duration, not necessarily how strong the strongest winds are."
Irene is progressing in a north-easterly direction at 14 miles per hour, and is expected to weaken after hitting the coast of North Carolina on Saturday morning. It will then continue on its path north along the mid-Atlantic coast on Sunday.
The Associated Press reported that tropical storm-force winds were blowing ashore ahead of Irene, with wind and rain knocking out power to about 45,000 homes along the North Carolina coast.
Seven states, from North Carolina to Connecticut, have declared emergencies, while President Barack Obama warned Irene could be an "historic hurricane".
Upon reaching New York City, Irene will likely have turned into a category one hurricane, with USA Today reporting expected high winds and up to 12 inches of rain.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered an unprecedented evacuation of more than 300,000 people living in low-lying parts of the city.
We've never done a mandatory evacuation before now and we wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think this storm is going to be serious.
The city has ordered both buses and the subway system to be shut down from noon Saturday. New York City's five main airports will also be shut.
Nearly 100 shelters with a capacity of 71,000 people have been opened.