Hurricane Irene has arrived in the tri-state, churning over a coastal New Jersey inlet as it lashes the rest of the metro area with howling winds and flooding rains after barreling up the East Coast.
Meteorologists say Irene made landfall near Little Egg Inlet, N.J., at about 5:35 a.m. and its center was moving toward New York City, where all residents in vulnerable areas were ordered to evacuate and mass transit has shut down.
The hurricane weakened considerably as it neared the city, but remains a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph that could shatter skyscraper windows.
Irene's projected path shows its center could pass directly over Brooklyn's eastern edge and into Queens and Long Island.
Rain swamped pockets of some highways around New York City as fallen trees, branches and other debris blocked roads in New Jersey. The north tube of the Holland Tunnel was closed by 8:45 a.m.
On Long Island, water rose in the streets and storm drains overflowed, flooding roadways and grass already saturated by this month's rain.
Hundreds of thousands are without power.
Flood warnings stretched from Long Island to New Jersey, which was seeing "record-breaking" inland river flooding, Gov. Chris Christie said.
Irene, which claimed 10 lives before arriving in New Jersey, poses the biggest storm threat to the city since the 1980s.
NEW YORK CITY
Central Park clocked a wind gust of 60 mph and more than 5 inches of rain, and LaGuardia Airport measured a gust of 67 mph. More than 300 trees are down around the city.
The storm surge in Lower Manhattan was not as severe as expected because the storm is tracking a bit further east. Storm surge on the south shore of Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island is still a major concern.
Utility officials shut off 10 miles of steam lines in Lower Manhattan, and warned power will be shut off there if there is flooding.
After days of urging New Yorkers living in low-lying areas to move to higher ground, Mayor Bloomberg said late Saturday those who hadn't left should stay put. "The time for evacuation is over," Bloomberg said at a briefing. "Everyone should go inside and be prepared to stay there."
The mayor's office closed three major crossings in the Rockaways -- Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, Broad Channel bridge and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge -- just after 1 a.m. Sunday as wind gusts hit 60 mph. It was unclear when they would reopen.
The Belt Parkway is closed in both directions at Bay 8th Street.
Officials fear that, with the bridge closings, a storm surge will leave parts of the Rockaways inaccessible to emergency vehicles. The only way off the Rockaways at this point is through Nassau County, which would require traveling through low-lying areas.
A tornado watch is in effect until 11 a.m. for parts of New York City.
After an unprecedented mass transit shutdown, the MTA said Saturday night it had secured all its equipment and sent employees home. Sandbags and tarps were placed on or around subway grates. The transit system won't reopen until at least Monday, after pumps remove water from flooded stations.
Some 10,000 people, primarily from Queens, spent the night in city shelters, officials said.
Some 370,000 people live in the low-lying areas under the historic mandatory evacuation order. Many New Yorkers in the primary evacuation zone refused to leave.
All tri-state-area airports closed to arriving flights at noon Saturday, and closed to departures at 10 p.m.
The NYPD has stationed row boats at police precincts in flood-prone areas. Emergency Service Unit officers also have small motorized boats that they can deploy in floods.
Convoys of National Guard, utility and tree-cutting trucks made their way down the New York State Thruway toward New York City Saturday.
Irene made landfall Sunday morning in Little Egg Inlet with winds of 75 mph.
Nearly a half a million homes and businesses were without power as of 7 a.m. Sunday. Atlantic City Electric says it has about 104,000 customers out. PSE&G reports about 233,000 customers without power. Jersey Central Power and Light has more than 137,000 customers out. The power companies say it could take several days to restore everyone's service.
Christie said the state was seeing record river flooding Sunday, warning residents: "Stay in your home, do not go out."
Hoboken has ordered residents to stay off streets because live electrical wires are down in flooded areas, which poses electrocution risks.
Newark Airport reported more than 6 inches of rain.
The governor's office said 15,000 stayed in shelters overnight.
A tornado watch is in effect until 11 a.m. for parts of New Jersey.
Jersey City banned all vehicular traffic not related to emergency management.
The lower level of the George Washington Bridge is shut down.
The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township was shut down in advance of Irene's arrival. The plant, the nation's oldest, is a few miles from the Jersey Coast.
The city's 11 casinos closed Friday. It's only the third time in the 33-year history of casino gambling in New Jersey that the gambling halls have closed.
Suffolk County recorded gusts of 71 mph in East Moriches, N.Y., and 3.5 inches of rain in East Farmingdale.
The Long Island Power Authority reports 117,000 power outages, mostly in Nassau County.
A tornado watch is in effect until 11 a.m. for parts of Long Island.
Nassau County ordered mandatory evacuations for everyone south of Sunrise Highway between Queens and Rockville Centre, and south of Merrick Road from Rockville Centre to the Suffolk border.
Residents in low-lying areas on the North Shore were also under a mandatory evacuation order. In total, about 250,000 people were affected.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for Suffolk, Fire Island, Babylon, Brookhaven and Islip. Suffolk County asked for voluntary evacuations in all Suffolk coastal areas.
One person has been killed by a fire in Prospect; officials believe it was caused by downed wires as a result of Irene's high winds
Connecticut Light & Power reported nearly 40,000 customers without power.
Tractor-trailers are banned on all Connecticut roadways.
The Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways are closed.
Connecticut's hurricane emergency information is here.
In Fairfield, a mandatory evacuation affected 5,000 to 6,000 people along the shoreline. Other coastal municipalities including Guilford and Milford called for voluntary evacuations.
About 1,600 people spent the night in shelters.
Bus and train service was suspended in cities across the state.
For all your hurricane preparedness questions, go here. You can also make sure you're taking all the right steps with this preparedness checklist.
An earlier version of this story can be found here.
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