Hurricane Irene Pummels U.S. East Coast

Hurricane Irene battered the U.S. Eastern Seaboard early Saturday, knocking off power to around a million people in North Carolina and Virginia.

Irene continued to move northward towards New York City, Washington D.C., and Baltimore—areas where local governments have been preparing for the worst over the past couple of days. The storm weakened as it landed at Cape Lookout, but still packed winds as strong as 85 miles per hour. More than two million people living in low-lying areas have been evacuated as governments prepared for floods that could result from the hurricane.

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a practical lockdown, with the city’s subway and other mass transit system shut down starting Saturday—a move that many people say has never been done before as part of preparations for a hurricane. Officials are not keeping their guard down despite Irene’s weakening strength, as a storm surge was still very much possible. “There’s still a real significant surge threat from the storm,” National Weather Service meteorologist Laurie Hogan said. “What people should be also aware of is that there’s going to be a lot of big wave action on top of the surge,” Hogan said.