The storm is currently positioned along the Delaware coast, and the sustained wind speed, to the right side of the eye, is now 80 mph which still keeps it at a category 1 hurricane.
The storm is still on track to be within 75 miles of NYC (if not directly over NYC), and the intensity will be a strong tropical storm or category 1 hurricane by the time it gets to this latitude (70-80 mph range).
Currently still leaning toward storm maintaining 80 mph, cat 1 storm, by the time it gets up to the lattitude of the city. As the Hurricane nears New York City the highest winds will be felt on the east side of the eye, in strong thunderstorms and at higher altitudes.
Essentially, the south shore of Nassau and Suffolk county in LI, spot storms which bring stronger winds from aloft down to the surface, and the high rise buildings in New York City all will likely experience winds of 80 mph for a time with gusts upwards of 100mph possible at the top of the high rise buildings.
The rain forecast looks to be 5-10 inches in and around NYC. Total storm surge will depend upon the exact track of the storm, forward speed and the timing of when it is nearing NYC. If the eye of hurricane Irene is up along the coast just south of NYC at 8 am this morning, then the storm surge of 3-6 feet plus the astronomical high tide of 5 feet could potentially produce a storm surge of 11 feet- this scenario looks to be playing out.
Raritan Bay, leading to southern Staten Island; New York Harbor, leading to lower Manhattan and the west side of Brooklyn; and the Long Island Sound, leading to the east side of Manhattan and the west side of Brooklyn are the most vulnerable areas to storm surge. It’s no coincidence that all the areas just mentioned were the areas designated evacuation Zone A.
In the worst case scenario, an 11 foot storm surge would result in major flooding in coastal sections and low lying areas. In addition, there will be additional widespread flooding in those areas that experience the heaviest rainfall.
There will be “less” widespread wind damage because of the minimal category 1 hurricane; however, the prospect of downed trees and power lines resulting in power outages is still a concern. This would result in localized damage to homes.
The already saturated soil, copious amounts of rain and a long duration tropical storm force wind event would be the cause for the downed trees and powerlines.
There is also a threat of tornadoes, so there could be spotty severe damage if you happen to be the “home” that the potential tornado touches down upon.
The storms rains should begin to taper off later Sunday morning, but the tropical storm force winds could continue into the evening. You want to try to remain indoors on Sunday because of the threat of falling tree limbs and powerlines do to the continued wind threat.