After causing widespread damage in Bahamas on Thursday, Hurricane Irene is now heading to North Carolina, New York with winds over 115 miles per hour.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts a further ramp-up of the hurricane over the next day to assume a category 4 nature with winds at 131 mph. A total of $3.1 billion damage has been reported currently.
Due to mudslides and rising water level, the government has evacuated thousands of people to safer locations.
The hurricane could threaten the densely populated U.S. Northeast, including New York, by midday Saturday. New York City officials have begun preparations to evacuate residents from low-lying areas, if necessary.
New York officials are preparing to shut down the city's subway stations and tunnels ahead of time to reduce damage to the infrastructure, as these places are most likely to be flooded. They asked residents to stock emergency supply kits at home, including bottled water, non-perishable food and a battery-powered radio.
However, officials have not yet decided whether to close down the beach or reduce access to water.
The sense is that we're going to be facing a strong tropical storm with winds of 40 to 60 mph, said New York Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno.
Apart from this, a tropical depression was also noted in the far eastern Atlantic region. The center of tropical depression was located near latitude 12.4 north and longitude 30.4 west and moving towards the west-northwest at nearly 13 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph with some strengthening forecasted in the next 48 hours.
Officials were readying to evacuate the most frail and needy from hospitals and nursing homes.
Evacuees will be able to avail public transport facilities before transit authorities cease operations, and they could use shelter on higher ground at dozens of city evacuation centers, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway said. In the event that any kind of evacuation was needed we would be using every available communication means and working with people in the local community.