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Hurricane Irene Prompts Unprecedented Evacuation of NYC 395

oxide7 links this bit of sobering news, as reported by the International Business Times: "For the first time, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered a mandatory evacuation of 300,000 residents of the cities coastal areas as Hurricane Irene barrels up the East Coast. Buses and subways prepared to shut on Saturday as Hurricane Irene approaches as well. All New Jersey rail service will be suspended from noon Saturday, while the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will institute a shutdown of trains and buses starting at the same time. The suspension will include subways, buses, the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Access-A-Ride. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will suspend PATH train service at noon as well. 'This is a mandatory evacuation,' Bloomberg said. 'By five o'clock tomorrow you have to be out. Waiting for the last minute is not a smart thing to do. This is life threatening.'" Good luck to everyone in the storm's path: Irene is big. (Hat tip to Matt Lord.) What, if anything, are you doing to prepare? Having spent more than an hour in worse-than-usual D.C. traffic after Tuesday's earthquake, I shudder to think of leaving New York in a rush. Update: 08/27 06:43 GMT by T : An anonymous reader points out the official evacuation map (PDF), on the swamped NYC server, and suggests "Lets mirror this file anywhere we can ... put it on all social media. Make these systems do what they were supposed to — help us. I'm in Long Island City ~100 yards from the East River in the orange (highest risk) area."
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Hurricane Irene Prompts Unprecedented Evacuation of NYC

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  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:51PM (#37225086)

    Title says it all. Cat-2.

    It has a slim chance of being a hurricane still when it gets to New York.

    It has a slightly better chance of 50 knot wind-speeds by then.

    And it has a decent chance of being a weak tropical storm.

    In other words, not even worth evacuating for....

    For reference, I live in the Big Easy - I've sat out Cat-2 storms before, more than once.

    But from the looks of it, this storm is being blown all out of proportion....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:52PM (#37225094)

    I tried to buy a generator today...they were all sold out everywhere. I did manage to buy a chain saw.

    I've already volunteered to help with communications once the phones go down. (I'm a ham radio operator, and am charging up radios right now.) Any hams who are available, I heartily suggest you contact your local Emergency Coordinator with days/times available. Also let him know if your emergency comms experience. If you don't know who your EC is, go to the ARRL website.

  • Keep perspective (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sierran ( 155611 ) on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:55PM (#37225110)

    300,000 people and the 'affected areas' are a relatively small percentage of New York City. The vast majority of New Yorkers are doing what we normally do when doom is predicted - snark, ignore, and stock up on liquor and cigarettes.

    Seriously, though, there's no way New York City itself could be evacuated without something on the scale of Dunkirk. The thought of 8 million people trying to escape over a mere 4 or 5 Interstate-class roads makes a lot of us laugh at the idea of the 'go bag' that the authorities and preparedness obsessives keep talking about. If anything happened that was big enough to force a major evac on NYC, we'd be going nowhere so fast due to traffic we'd end up using all three changes of clothes just sitting in cars or in train stations or airports. So unless the 'crisis' is fairly personal, I plan on having lots of time to pack whatever's needed - or to make sure I have the requisite amount of booze and books to see me through the forting up!


  • by siride ( 974284 ) on Friday August 26, 2011 @11:01PM (#37225152)

    Flood is a big concern still, as is storm surge. Due to interaction with a trough in SE Canada, a large area of heavy rain will spread out ahead of the storm and keep raining over areas for potentially as long as 24 hours. Many of these areas have already had significant rains during the summer, leading to saturated ground before the storm even gets there. Some gusty winds can thus easily knock down trees and powerlines (for the areas where that's a concern). Flooding is definitely going to be a problem.

    Media hype is...well, very disappointing. They focus on the wrong problems in the wrong area and in their zeal for ratings, they completely distort reality.

  • by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Friday August 26, 2011 @11:12PM (#37225196)

    Counting the 5 grand bonus he's getting for staying?

  • by niktemadur ( 793971 ) on Friday August 26, 2011 @11:57PM (#37225386)

    "The Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas refers to a designated three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, during which Texas governor Rick Perry asked that Texans pray for "the healing of our land [Texas]" and for an end to the drought."

    You know, Texas. Pious, tea bagging Red State. No gays allowed.

    "The drought became worse after the Days of Prayer. While only 15-17% of the state was undergoing exceptional drought during the Days of Prayer, the percentage grew to 50% a month later, and by late June, more than 70% of the state was experiencing exceptional drought conditions, a level at which it has stayed up to August 18, 2011."

    How you like them apples?

  • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @12:18AM (#37225498)

    After Hurricane Wilma, I had no power for almost four weeks.

    Four. Fucking. Weeks.

    I didn't live out in BFE, either... I lived in Coral Gables, which is about as hardcore "Central Dade County" as you can get.

    That said, here's a big, huge tip for anybody who wants to be able to run a window air conditioner from a generator -- all things equal, the magic minimum is around 3,600 watts. I'd recommend 4200-4800 minimum. Why?

    1. The generator's wattage is a polite fiction. The number printed on the box is roughly what it can output for about 5 minutes before Bad Things Happen. The REAL power output it can SUSTAIN is about 80% of that amount, maybe less.

    2. Most generators have split-phase power, which is a nice way of saying that the big number printed by the box is kind of divided between two outlets. So your "4800-watt" generator is really more like 2400 watts (max) per outlet (which translates into about 1800 watts per outlet sustained). A small window air conditioner draws about 1200-1500 running watts, and needs about 1800 watts to start up.

    Now, the half & half rule isn't quite set in stone... you can usually get away with drawing about 2400 watts (sustained) from a single outlet on a "4000-watt" generator with no load on the other outlet, but then you run into the next problem:

    3. Generator run times are usually quoted at "50% load". If you have an air conditioner connected to one outlet of a 4KW generator, it's not really a "50% load", even if it's the only thing you're running. Why? Unbalanced loads make your fuel economy go WAY down. It won't quite suck down as much gas as a 100% load, but from my own experience, it'll act kind of like an 80-90% load fuel-wise. So if you're going to run a window air conditioner from a 4KW generator, you might as well plug the refrigerator (or another small air conditioner) into the other outlet and enjoy it, because at that point it will barely make a dent in your fuel use.

    That said, don't go hog wild and buy a 10KW generator without a good reason. Especially not a cheap one. Most cheap generators do a really bad job of throttling down to accommodate reduced loads, and will burn almost as much gas with a nightlight as they will with a 50% load. It's a balancing act, and it's an important one, because if you're going to be feeding a generator for a few days, let alone a few weeks, a $40-50/day gas habit quickly becomes painful.

    Oh, I almost forgot... there's one last catch...

    4. Generators and UPSes don't get along. At all. 99.9% of the UPSes you can buy at a retail store will ignore electricity from a generator, will run 100% from the battery until it's drained, and shut down. There ARE expensive inverter-type generators that can charge a UPS, and UPSes that can charge from a cheap generator, but both are likely to cost more than it's worth spending.

    4b. Generators and some DC power supplies don't get along very well, either. It's hit-or-miss, and hard to tell which power supplies are generator-unfriendly without testing them. Some will operate very, very inefficiently, and some won't work at all. The problem is that cheap (non inverter-type) generators don't output sine waves, and their "dirty" output doesn't play nicely with switching-type power supplies. You MIGHT be able to get around this by "double conversion". After Wilma, I had to power my DSL modem by plugging a 12v adapter into an outlet (which gave me a fake cigarette lighter rated at 1000mA), then plugged an inverter into it (giving me a 110v outlet), then plugged the DSL modem's power supply into the inverter. Ugly in countless ways, but it got me back online.

    4c. As a corollary to 4b, most cheap generators suck at battery-charging.

    The moral: if you don't need air conditioning, and can afford it, buy an inverter-type generator. They'll play nicely with power supplies (but your UPS might still get bitchy), and low-RPM expensive inverter-type generators also tend to be the quietest and most fuel efficient. Apparently, Honda makes some o

  • by bashibazouk ( 582054 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @12:24AM (#37225520) Journal

    "In California, you don't get much snow or ice, or sub-zero temperatures"

    Uh...I would like to introduce you to this mountain range called the Sierra Nevada. Believe me, it snows there and gets quite cold...

  • by RobbieThe1st ( 1977364 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @01:00AM (#37225618)

    Most of this is correct, but the problem with low-quality output on cheaper generators is not the lack of sine-wave output. Any AC motor will, by definition, put out a nice, true sine wave. The problem, however, is frequency. As frequency output is directly linked to engine speed, a generator loping or at the wrong speed will produce a not-60 cycle output, which UPS's are often designed to watch for and switch to battery.
    Modern computer power supples on the other hand, are designed to handle 100-240V, 47-63hz, so a few hz off won't matter at all.

    Low-quality inverters put out 60hz, "modified sine-wave" output - something akin to a square-wave with a positive and negative cycle. They work great with modern electronics(though they hum), but motors don't like it.
    High-quality, "true-sine" inverters put out just that... more or less.

  • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @01:37PM (#37228492)

    You weren't around for the blackout of '03 then I guess. It's no big deal unless you absolutely need refrigeration. But then that prompts all of the restaurants to cook and practically give away all of their food. It's better than letting it go to waste.

    Almost every large building has and will be running on backup generators. After the numerous generator critical failures during '03, it shouldn't be an issue anymore for anyone. Last time was bad because a lot of generators had been sitting around rusting for years without any use. For many such places, there were enough generators that failed to make it a pretty close call. This time, you won't have electricity to run your computer or AC, but your building's hallways, and any other bit of critical infrastructure, will.

    The biggest issue is water, which will only have enough pressure to reach around the 4th and 5th floors of most buildings. That's why people buy cases of bottled water and fill their tubs in advance. It's probably the most crucial thing. Though if you ask, people will help you fill up your buckets from their faucet on the first or second floor.

    The other major problem is powering back on. Last time, it had to be done in zones over several days. That was a pain. But most outer boroughs experience enough power loss enough times a year for it to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience. At least it's not the middle of a 100+ heat wave. That's when places usually suffer power loss.

    All in all, it can be a fairly pleasant experience.

  • Re:Reminder (Score:4, Informative)

    by flonker ( 526111 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @01:48PM (#37228548)

    In Florida, homes are theoretically built to survive up to category 3 storms. After that, it's a question of how far you are from the shore, and how far you are from the eye of the storm, and whether or not there was any non-approved construction. Even newer trailer homes are built to survive hurricanes. The eye-wall has the most intense winds, which is followed by an eerie calm for a few hours, followed by some more of the most intense winds. Wind speed dies off rapidly as you get farther away from the eye-wall.

    As far as building techniques are concerned, the main thing is windows are required to be "hurricane windows", meaning that they will stop a 10-foot long, 15-pound, wooden 2x4 traveling at 100 miles flying through the air (they break in the process), and have a film on them so that when they break, they don't shatter into small sharpened projectiles. Roofs also have some additional structural support so that they don't get pulled off. (Simpson Ties []) And there are some things regarding elevation above sea level.

It seems intuitively obvious to me, which means that it might be wrong. -- Chris Torek