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Hurricane Irene Weakens to Tropical Storm as it Leaves New York

By Tom Liddy | August 27, 2011 7:21pm | Updated on August 28, 2011 10:02am
Hurricane Irene churns of the east coast of the United States, August 27, 201, in the Atlantic Ocean. Irene, now a Category 1 storm, has started to lash the eastern coast of the U.S.
Hurricane Irene churns of the east coast of the United States, August 27, 201, in the Atlantic Ocean. Irene, now a Category 1 storm, has started to lash the eastern coast of the U.S.
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NASA via Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday morning as it moved out of New York City.

The weakening storm dumped 6.2 inches of rain on the city, but officials said power loss and flooding was at a minimum as New Yorkers began to wake up and assess the damage.

City officials warned residents to stay indoors until the worst of the storm passed, which was expected by noon at the earliest.

"This is a very dangerous storm, and we are at the most dangerous window," Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said.

So far, though, there was no more flooding in the city than would be expected during a heavy rain storm, officials said. The city's sewage and drainage system was functioning without significant problems.

The eye of Hurricane Irene moved over the city along the Queens/Nassau County Border, and knocked over more than 400 trees citywide as it passed, officials said.

ConEd said 60,000 customers in New York City were without power, but they were mainly in outer boroughs. There were minimal power problems in Manhattan, the utility reported.

During the overnight hours, the FDNY received a 50 percent jump in calls, but they were mostly from people reporting downed trees and power lines than for fires, city officials said.  EMS received no more calls than on a normal night.

City officials expected the numbers of calls to surge as people woke up and started to assess damage. They urged residents to call 311 to report non-emergencies instead of calling 911.

Irene, still a Category 1 storm, was headed north at around 18 mph, according to the National Weather Service. On Saturday, it made landfall in North Carolina and then at 5:35 a.m. Sunday, it made landfall once again in Little Egg Harbor.

Late Saturday night, a flood warning was issued for the five boroughs and parts of the tri-state area, effective until noon.  

Up to eight inches of rain was expected in the warning area by noon. Forecasters warned of ponding on roadways and about people getting trapped in their vehicles.  

Some 70,000 people in Manhattan are still under a mandatory evacuation order that went into effect at 5 p.m. Roughly 10,000 people have moved into city shelters, officials said.  There were no immediate reports of security problems in shelters or of looting in the evacuated areas.

The weather service said that a wind speed of 39 mph was recorded in Central Park just after 2 a.m.  A 59 mph gust was recorded around the same time at Kennedy Airport.

Tropical storm conditions were expected Sunday morning with sustained winds of up to 55 mph and gusts of up to 70 mph.

The mayor said that the greatest potential for flooding in Lower Manhattan and other low-lying areas is at high tide, which comes at around 8 a.m.

According to the weather service, a storm surge of 4 to 8 feet is expected in New York Harbor with a worst-case scenario of 9 feet at high tide, which was expected after 8a.m.

Tropical storm conditions are forecast through Sunday evening before the storm clears out.

Monday should be sunny with a high of around 80, the weather service said.