Brace for a stormy weekend. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for Long Island and the Long Island Sound Friday.
As of 11 p.m. Hurricane Irene, a Category 2 storm packing winds up to 100 mph, is 140 miles south of Cape Lookout, N.C. The core of the storm is expected to reach the North Carolina coast overnight.
The hurricane warning extends from Little River Inlet, N.C. to Sagamore Beach, Mass. Long Island should start to see outer bands from the storm late Saturday.
The National Weather Service has also issued a coastal flood hazard with comunities along the Long Island Sound in a high impact zone. Most of Nassau and Queens are listed as high to extreme inland flood hazards.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Thursday. It started a cascade of emergency measures, including:
- The MTA announced the Long Island Rail Road will suspend fare collection, effective immediately on all westbound trains on the Far Rockaway, Long Beach and Montauk/Babylon Branches to facilitate evacuation. Conductors will view tickets for monthly/weekly ticket holders, but will not collect a fare for those under the evacuation orders. Also, pets will be allowed to accompany evacuees on trains when leashed or in a container.
- The MTA has also said it will start suspending service for buses, subways and trains beginning at noon Saturday.
- Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced a mandatory evacuation order for all residents living south of Sunrise Highway, from the Queens line to Rockville Centre and south of Merrick Road, from Rockville Centre to the Nassau-Suffolk border. All those residing in these areas must evacuate by 5 p.m. Saturday.
- North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman said low-lying areas and storm surge zones need to be evacuated, including parts of Manorhaven, Manhasset Isle, and residents that live along shore road along Manhasset Bay.
- Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko announced a mandatory evacuation effective 8 a.m. Saturday for those who reside in the town's South Shore flood zones, from Center Moriches to Patchogue.
- Islip Town mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas south of Montauk Highway will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday.
- Fire Island mandatory evacuation began 3 p.m. Friday.
- Asharoken Mayor Patricia Irving has urged residents to evacuate.
The 48 hour outlook places the storm track squarely through Long Island, with much of the East Coast in the forecast cone. At the current estimate, Irene could make landfall on Long Island at some point Sunday.
According to NOAA models, Long Island faces up to an 70-percent probability of seeing tropical storm-force winds up to 74 mph. The model also shows the Island has a 20-percent chance of facing hurricane force winds.