Hurricane Irene may have just come ashore in North Carolina on Saturday morning, but the massive storm is already having major effects here in New York State, and even in Central New York, where storm effects are expected to be minimal.
Just after sunrise we could see the first of the wispy clouds on our southern horizons, the outer edges of the huge storm system. It was before sunrise, as area National Guard units - 900 soldiers and airmen, and over 100 vehicles - started organizing for their call-up to help downstate. In Auburn, 20 military police from the 102nd Military Police Battalion, and in Utica, 45 members of the 107th Military Police Company are being deployed to the Hudson Valley on standby for Hurricane Irene's aftereffects. Another 45 MPs from Auburn's 102nd, and Air National Guard members from Syracuse's Hancock Field will be deployed to Camp Smith near Peekskill, also to stand by.
If you're planning on flying this weekend, double check your schedules: The five major New York City-area airports - including JFK, LaGuardia and Newark - shut down starting at noon on Saturday, and the ripple effect could affect national and international flights. On Saturday morning, Syracuse's airport commissioner told us there were still some flights scheduled for Philadelphia and Washington, DC as well as Orlando and points west, including Chicago and Cleveland.
The Red Cross has emergency shelters set up in 90 locations in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York, and in New York City alone, they're evacuating more than 300,000 people in low-lying areas. One concern is that the tunnels and the subways beneath the rivers could flood, so they're being shut down. There are also travel restrictions in the Hudson Valley and New York City, with a Thruway advisory that Interstate 87 and the Tappan Zee Bridge could be shut down.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has also raised concern that people vacationing in the Adirondacks should be careful with saturated grounds, and state campsites in the Adirondacks are being closed.
We will have updates for you: First Alert Meteorologist Peter Hall is on Long Island and will be updating the situation as Irene gets closer. Click on the video player for one of his reports from Long Beach. You can follow Peter's reports on our CNY Central Facebook page as well as our Twitter feed. He'll also be giving live reports on NBC3 and CBS5 news this weekend.