MTA may close subway system as powerhouse hurricane approaches!
NEW YORK - August 25, 2011 - With Hurricane Irene barreling towards New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said it might close the city’s entire mass transit system, officials said this afternoon.
The decision to stop buses, the subway and trains would be made if high winds and torrential rain became too dangerous to continue service, jittery transit officials said.
"Because of the severity of the wind and rain associated with a hurricane, there may be partial or full shut down of our services to ensure the safety of our customers and employees," the MTA said in a statement.
"We are also prepared to implement evacuation plans if the mayor and governor decide that is necessary."
To prep for the storm - which could hit this weekend - the MTA is bringing in extra workers, clearing drains and establishing plans to move equipment and supplies away from low-lying areas.
Irene was expected to have a crippling impact on travel throughout the U.S. East Coast this weekend, with Amtrak announcing it had canceled all of its trains operating south of Washington, D.C., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
At the same time, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency in New York in preparation for the potential impact this weekend. A state of emergency allows New York to use state resources to assist local governments more effectively and quickly.
"In this emergency I am activating all levels of state government to prepare for any situation that may be caused by Hurricane Irene," said Cuomo. "We are communicating with our federal and local partners to track the storm and plan a coordinated response, and we will deploy resources as needed to the areas expected to be hit the hardest."
Hurricane Irene will likely wallop the city and Long Island with winds of up to 50 mph and 4-8 inches of rain this weekend.
Heavy rainfall is expected to start after midnight Saturday night and last until Sunday evening.
Weather watchers nudged her track a bit farther east yesterday afternoon, predicting that Irene's eye - the center of the storm - will pass over Montauk, at the eastern tip of Long Island, bringing with it 90-110 mph winds.
Suffolk County officials announced a voluntary evacuation of beach towns on western Fire Island on Thursday. They say that could become mandatory on Friday. Officials are asking ferry companies not to bring anyone to the island who doesn’t own a home there.
Campers at county parks are being asked to take a hike.
Accuweather.com reported that Irene could be a "once-in-50-year" hurricane for the northeast United States.