Your web browser (Internet Explorer) is out of date. Some things will not look right and things might not work properly. Please download an up-to-date and free browser from here.

Hurricane Irene – Time line of what happened

See our live Updates from across the weekend, plus see below for linking to The Weather Channel for live streaming TV coverage.

Useful links
– All the maps you need – from animated rain radar to tracking can be found here
– Finding some of the weather or US State abbreviations confusing?  Check our simple guide to work them out!


11:20pm – FINAL UPDATE FOR TONIGHT – Twitter update from a Weather Channel meteorologist “RT @JimCantore: Watching a potential RARE #NYC landfall over the next few hours. #Irene Last time that happened 1893. Before that 1821″

LIVE STREAMING:  For on going coverage overnight as Irene crosses NYC we suggest live TV streaming from our good friends ar The Weather Channel.

11:05pm – It’s becoming increasingly clear that serious coastal flooding will be the main problem for NYC not so much wind and rain.   Huge waves coming in and sea is now breaching numerous protective barriers.

11:01pm – JUST IN – Major coastal flooding now occuring around coastal NY and NJ as storm surge times with astronomical high tide. 

10:56pm – CNN’s Anderson Cooper surprised that weather conditions don’t seem severe where he is in New York as news comes in that the worst is peaking now over the city.

10:52pm:  HAPPENING NOW – The worst of Hurricane Irene now affecting downtown NYC with the heaviest rain and strongest winds as the centre moves in – estimated to be around 40kms away however the eye is falling apart as the storm weakens.  The worst should ease around 1am NZT.

10:50pm – estimates over 150mm of rain has fallen in just the past 6 to 12 hours in NYC.  The worst of the rain is now over NYC but rain conditions will start to ease in the next hour or two.

10:41pm – Rain with Irene focused in the north and west.  Worst winds focused in the east mostly.

10:38pm – Flooding reports becoming more widespread and more significant.  Roads closing around NYC.

10:08pm – The city that never sleeps won’t be sleeping now despite being streets being empty.  Irene may be the first storm to landfall in NY since 1938.

10:06pm – Numerous reports of car crashes and trees falling.  Over 3 million suffering power outages.

10:04pm –
1.3 metres storm surge currently in NY Harbour.

10:02pm – Irene now expected to make another landfall over Manhattan as the system jogs more to the west than expected.  Cars being submerged in flood waters already on Long Island.

9:54pm – !BREAKING NEWS – According to NHC, Irene made its second landfall in New Jersey about 20 minutes ago. 1st NJ landfall since 1903 says TWC

9:21pm – A Nuclear reactor remains shut down following minor wind damage in the state of Delaware.  The other reactor working at 100% capacity.  No threat to public safety.

9:20pm –
Storm surge in NYC co-incides with an “astronomical tide”.  Storm surge around NYC already over 1 metre.  That could double in the next 2 hours.

– Irene still expected to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on Long Island just to the east of NYC.  Irene is expected to shortly become a Tropical Storm as it continues to weaken. 

9:03pm – Irene now borderline Hurricane, sustained winds at 120km/h, 1km/h slower it becomes a Tropical Storm.

8:48pm –
Hurricane Irene now hitting Jersey Shore

8:35pm –
Parts of NYC and Jersey City being flooded now – media reports.

8:33pm – Over 3 million people now having power outages reports TWC

8:07pm –
says despite hurricane warnings being in place for New York and surrounding states the hurricane force winds should remain mostly out at sea well to the east.  Wind damage could be an issue for high rise buildings above 10 stories in NYC with Tropical Storm force winds (gale force here in NZ) affecting the city at ground level.  Rain flooding and storm surge coastal flooding still the main risks.  Deaths have been mostly related to falling trees and car crashes according to media reports.

8:02pm – 1 metre storm surge already affecting New York harbours/rivers.  Main storm surge still hours away.  Irene still a hurricane, still has unusually low air pressure and slow movement.

7:57pm – !BREAKING NEWS – Tornado Warning issued for Queens in New York City says CNN.

7:50pm –
Despite still being a Category 1 hurricane there is a general feeling that the east has dodged a bullet, says the large size of the storm means the energy has been further spread, reducing the strength of winds near the centre.

7:40pm –
Fox News says winds should significantly pick up in NYC in the next hour.  They also report that NYC has almost 1000kms of coastline, due to all the islands, including Manhattan.

7:21pm – !BREAKING NEWS – Nuclear reactor in Maryland automatically goes offline after high winds cause damage.  No danger to employees and residents and reactor is secure, but an “unusual event” has been declared, the lowest alert level.

7:20pm – 10 people confirmed dead due to Irene.

7:18pm –
Over 100mm of rain and winds gusting 100km/h affecting parts of New York City.  Centre of Irene still around 300kms away.

7:07pm – Just 15 households are without power in Manhattan – but 1.5 million without power overall due to Irene across the eastern United States.

6:55pm –
Waves offshore at Irene’s centre are now 10metres (the average door in your home is 2 metres)

6:53pm –
Boston shuts down all mass transit.

6:52pm –
Tornado has touched down in Delaware, one home destroyed and 15 homes damaged. Tornado threat for NYC and Long Island too.

6:49pm – Damage and flood reports now coming in from New York City despite Irene still being about 6 hours from landfall. 

6:16pm – Lt. Col. Sean Pierce who has been in the Hurricane Hunter flights through Hurricane Irene at 10,000 feet tells CNN the hurricane is “remarkably calm” to fly through.  The air pressure remains at 958hPa.

6:07pm – Hurricane Irene remains a Category 1 storm this evening as it heads towards New York City and Long Island.  The hurricane is 300kms south south west of New York.

5:14pm – Residents in several major East Coast cities — including Washington, Philadelphia and New York — brace for the impact from Hurricane Irene.

By Sunday evening NZT, the storm had already knocked out power in more than a million homes, forced more than a million people off the New Jersey shore alone and caused at least nine deaths.

Irene weakened somewhat since coming ashore early Saturday near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, and it is expected to slowly lose more strength overnight. But it is still a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds around 80 mph and extending 85 miles from its center. Forecasters expect it to remain a hurricane until it once again makes landfall Sunday EDT afternoon in southern New England. – CNN

12noon – No change in strength.  Hurricane Irene barged up the East Coast on Saturday, an uninvited guest that knocked power out to more than a million homes and businesses, forced a million people from their homes in New Jersey alone and caused at least eight deaths.

While Irene weakened somewhat as it came ashore early Saturday near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, the storm remained a Category 1 hurricane, and the National Hurricane Center said it would likely remain one until it makes landfall again in New England sometime on Sunday –

As of 12noon Irene had sustained winds at 128km/h and gusts to 160km/h. Air pressure remains just 950hPa.

10:30am – NWS says Irene is starting to clear in parts of NC and the centre is now moving back out over water.  Winds remain 120km/h and the air pressure is an incredible 950hPa – meaning the storm has just as much energy as it did last night.  It’s possbile the hurricane may even strengthen a little as it heads back out over water on its way to New York.

10:15am – New York evacuates 370,000 people from low lying areas.

9am – Reports that Irene has now claimed the lives of at least 5 people in the US.

New York subway is now shut as are the airports and once winds exceed 90kph, numerous bridges will be closed.

Almost 700,000 people are without power in North Carolina.

SUN MORN, 8:00am

Winds have weakened slightly but are still maintaining 120kph wind speeds with gusts to 170kph. The latest path trajectory of Hurricane Irene sees it slightly to the west of New York but this isn’t good news in regards to storm surge as it could impact significantly on the Hudson River.

A 9 year old boy has died in his family apartment after a tree fell on the dwelling.

3 people have died in the Carolinas

11:51pm – BREAKING NEWS – IRENE MAKES LANDFALL near Cape Lookout, NC with sustained winds of 140km/h – The first U.S. hurricane landfall in three years. This is just the beginning of the event as Irene heads north towards Washington DC, New York and Boston.

This concludes our live coverage for this evening.  We’ll have extensive coverage across Sunday.

For live streaming overnight watch The Weather Channel online here

11:37pm – Serious reports of flooding starting to come in from NC. 

11:29pm – TWC reporting sustained winds of 145km/h and gusts to 180km/h in eastern NC.  Storm surge now 3 metres.

11:20pm – Centre of the eye to make landfall soon. Current Radar

11:11pm – Some coastal homes going underwater in NC.  Landfall expected this hour.

11:06pm – Some parts near Atlantic Beach, NC, going under water by 1 metre.  Water over roads and into houses – entirely due to storm surge says a Hurricane Expert at

11:04pm – Great graphic showing air pressure dropping and winds suddenly rising in NCclick here to view.

10:58pm – Centre of Irene just 24kms offshore.  Landfall timing unsure as system jogs slightly to the east away from land.  Irene not expected to weaken much, if any, tonight.

10:57pm –
Nearly twice as many people without power from an hour ago across NC – 160,000 have no electricity now.

10:52pm – Scott Sexton on Twitter writes “now i know what all the banging was … Shingles and other debris being pulled from the roof, hitting window”

10:50pm – View live streaming video of beachfront damage here.

10:47pm – NBC News says more than 91,000 customers are now without power in NC as winds continue to rise.  Worst of the winds yet to arrive.

10:46pm – From Twitter user @gordonshumway “Wind blowing 70mph according to the radio. Sky super dark. Basically, we’re living through the end of Ghostbusters right now”.

10:41pm – It’s now SUNRISE in North Carolina (6:41am ET)

10:37pm – forecasters say regardless of the category rating the air pressure is “incredibly low”.  The lower the air pressure the bigger the storm surge.  Extreme coastal flooding predicted.

10:36pm – Huge beach erosion being reported in NC right now.  Storm surge yet to peak.

10:35pm –
Landfall in NC will be at the exact same time as high tide reports TWC.

10:31pm – End of Atlantic Beach Pier at Atlantic Beach, NC, falls into ocean, NBC News reports

10:29pm – Winds in NC now strong enough to lift small planes off the ground with the engines off!

10:26pm – Damage reports now starting to filter in as wind gusts across eastern NC gust over 150km/h.  Large oak trees down across highways, powerlines down, hurricane yet to make landfall.

10:19pm – NRC inspectors head to nuclear power plants in path of Irene.  The plants have flood protection and watertight buildings for key components.  Some of the plants were also affected by Tuesday’s earthquake.  Full story via CNN here.

10:12pm – Brian Mull tweets “The roar of the wind right now is awesome and makes me feel very small. #irene”

10:11pm – forecasters say news updates from NC will probably become less and less over the next couple of hours as power cuts become widespread.

10:04pm –
From Richard Lewelling, meteorologist @ TWC – “From Twitter: Reports of trees down around Wilmington, transformers exploding. Wind howling. Not a great night sleep in the Eastern North Carolina”.

9:57pm – TWC Meteorologist and friend of Jen Carfagno just tweeted the following “Just reading article on Hurr Gloria (1985)…noted that Gloria’s lopsided-ness caused it to weaken. Just noting, #Irene is pretty lopsided”.  @JenCarfagno

9:53pm – Forecasters are concerned American’s will consider a Cat1 storm as “Just a category 1” storm.  Worth noting winds are gusting to 150km/h which is very difficult to stand in.  Winds will be over 200km/h for the tops of high rise buildings.  Hurricane Katrina was a Cat1 hurricane when she passed over Florida in 2005.

9:39pm – Some of the barrier islands, which surround the entire eastern coastline and are built up like Mt Maunganui, could be cut in half in places due to the enormous storm surges.

9:38pm – Some forecasters are backing off from wind damage predictions – but are emphasising coastal flooding as being the biggest concern.

9:33pm – forecasters say high rise buildings in New York may suffer more damage than street level when it comes to winds.  This is because winds will be much stronger at higher altitudes – and New York buildings are some of the tallest in the world.

9:29pm – Sunrise in eastern North Carolina (NC) is 1 hour 12 minutes from now 10:41pm NZT)

9:26pm –
Major travel problems for Americans – and International flights too.  As of Noon Sunday ET (4am Sunday NZT) all New York airports, including Newark and JFK, will be CLOSED.  6857 flights are already CANCELLED – TWC.

9:15pm – TV reporters finally get their dramatic shots as hurricane force winds hit North Carolina.  A TWC reporter says the seas are incredibly rough and the sand dunes are already suffering erosion.

9:14pm – Irene is expected to reach NYC at the same time as high tide – increasing the risk of significant coastal flooding.

9:12pm –
The Weather Channel says parts of Manhattan and Staten Island will likely go underwater tomorrow.

9:06pm – Despite some minor weakening this afternoon US forecasters say it may not weaken much further over the next 12 to 18 hours as it heads towards NYC.

9:05pm – Irene still expected to make landfall in North Carolina around 11pm NZT – next stop some of America’s largest cities.  Flooding a major worry.

9:04pm – Forecasters here at and across America are surprised at how incredibly low the air pressure is for a Category 1 hurricane – but that simply means the energy has been spread further.  Hurricane’s biggest threat is by far flooding. 

8:56pm – BREAKING NEWS:  Hurricane force winds reach North Carolina.

8:53pm – Winds are now sustained at 90km/h in exposed eastern parts of NC.  Gusts to 150km/h.  Irene still 2 hours from landfall!

8:48pm – Despite Irene weakening a LITTLE in the past few hours she may still gain more strength as she clears North Carolina.  Washington and New York still bracing for a Category 1 Hurricane.

8:40pm – The eastern United States is literally killing Irene with dry air says  Satellite imagery shows how the anticyclonic winds passing over land are dramatically changing Irene.
Irene Enhanced Satellite

8:38pm – Winds gusting to 150km/h in exposed parts of NC right now.

8:36pm – Landfall is expected in North Carolina (NC) around 11pm NZT tonight.

8:35pm – says the difference between a “strong Cat 1” storm and a “weak Cat 2” is a bit like saying 19 degrees is much colder than 20.

8:34pm – Concerns that cranes at the World Trade Centre site may not stand up to hurricane force winds.

8:29pm – Two tornados have touched down in eastern NC.  They have damaged mobile homes and unconfirmed reports of an injury.  Tornados with hurricanes are typically small scale EF0 or EF1 – like the ones we get in NZ.

8:28pm –
Fox News reports parts of NYC could receive 300mm of rain in 24 hours – coupled with storm surges and 2 weeks of previous heavy rain this is expected to cause significant flooding in pockets of the city.

8:27pm –
says the energy from Irene doesn’t match the Category rating – which means the storm is far more powerful than the Category1 rating suggests.  While winds may not be as damaging the rain could be even worse with the system so slow moving.  Some areas can expect upwards of half a metre of rain this weekend.

 8:22pm – The Weather Channel says two months worth of rain may fall in the next 24 hours for some areas.

8:21pm – Forecasters say between 150 and 380mm will fall in eastern areas over the next 24 hours or so.

8:19pm – The eye of the storm is starting to show up on the animated rain radars (which unlike NZ are free to view)

8:16pm – The Weather Channel says high tides will be “astronomical” on the east coast today.

8:15pm – Daylight is breaking along the eastern coastline of the US

8:11pm – From Stu Ostro, meteorologist at The Weather Channel – “the central pressure is unusually low for a Cat 1, indicative of the “pressure gradient” being spread out & Irene being an exceptionally large tropical cyclone in size. Still multiple threats: huge waves; potential for widespread tree damage & power outages; excessive rainfall and significant flash flooding, esp. where the ground is already saturated in the Northeast”.

8:10pm – says while Irene is now a Cat 1 hurricane (great news) the air pressure is incredibly low. 

8:05pm – As Irene hugs the US coast dry air is being fed into the eye of the storm, significantly weakening the western side of the hurricane.  Had Irene tracked slightly further offshore it is likely it would still be a Cat2 or even 3 hurricane.

7:59pm –
NWS says winds have eased a little, even though the air pressure remains very deep at 952hPa. The slight weakening in winds means the storm is now a “strong Category 1 hurricane” with sustained winds at 145km/h and gusts to 194km/h.

Earlier news updates…

3:20pm Update

Winds are still sustained at 160km/h with gusts to around 200km/h.  The air pressure is very low at just 950hPa.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Centre say there are a few main concerns with this storm.  Firstly it’s large – a big hurricane means more people are affected.  Secondly, the size means people will endure an extended period of severe weather.  In comparison to Cyclone Yasi which hit Queensland earlier this year, this storm is less intense but much slower moving – hurricane force winds are expected to last for up to 12 hours with gale force winds (sustained between 62 and 119km/h) are predicted to last an incredible 24 hours.  Thirdly, the storm will be tracking over or very near major cities, including New York City.  Finally, the storm is intense and slowly moving – meaning rainfall totals will be huge, around 250mm of rain expected in 24 hours.

A tornado has also been reported in eastern North Carolina.

MAPS – see all current maps, including free animated rain radar, by clicking here

1:20pm Saturday – HEADLINES

  • President Obama has left his holiday resort at Martha’s Vineyard as the island is put under hurricane warning.
  • Parts of New York are under mandatory evacuation for the first time in history
  • New York’s mass transit system will be shut down this weekend – for the first time in history.
  • The hurricane is tracking on a path that has only twice been travelled by a tropical storm in recorded history.  Once in 1971 and the last time 1821.  Some are saying this is worse than the 1971 hurricane, making this the most threatening hurricane to American people in almost 200 years.
  • 29 million Americans are currently under a hurricane warning.
  • Airlines are quickly cancelling flights into New York City and surrounding big cities ahead of expected airport closures.
  • Tornado warnings now in force for eastern North Carolina
  • Lower Manhattan may be underwater as the eye of the hurricane passes near – or possibly directly over – NYC. 
  • Lower parts of New York City may be 2 to 4 metres underwater due to storm surge overnight Sunday and Monday NZT.
  • confirms a 22yo surfer is the first death from Irene.


Guest on 27/08/2011 10:08am

Thanks for the updates – this is most informative. 

WW Forecast Team on 27/08/2011 11:43am

Our pleasure – glad you’re finding our live coverage helpful!

– WW

daveG on 27/08/2011 4:35am

If possible can you superimpose Irene into the tasman so we can get a sense of the hurricanes size?

WW Forecast Team on 27/08/2011 4:59am

Hi Dave, we just measured it and it would perfectly cover much of the Tasman Sea.  It’s roughly 1400kms wide and 1400kms north to south.

– WW

Mark on 27/08/2011 3:32am

I take it that the hurricanes in the NH are what we call cyclones in the SH. From what I understand cylones in the SH rarely leave the tropics and any remnants that make it to NZ’s higher latitudes (even the Far North at 34/35 degrees South) are extra-tropical depressions. Why then is Hurricane Irene well into the higher temperate latitudes of North America?

WW Forecast Team on 27/08/2011 3:50am

Hi Mark.  Yes the only difference between a hurricane and a cyclone is the direction they spin (clockwise here and anticlockwise in the NH) plus where they form.  Cyclones form in the SH and Indian Ocean, typhoons in the NH Pacific Ocean west of International dateline and Hurricanes form east of IDL in the NH Pacific Ocean and the NH Atlantic Ocean.  The reason why hurricanes can last longer further north than our storms last further south is due to the Gulf stream – a current of very warm sea water that travels up the eastern US coastline and into maratime Canada and towards Greenland.  It’s this warm current that keeps the hurricanes going for longer.



Guest on 27/08/2011 11:22am

Would a full on hurricane irene type storm ever reach NZ land (Bola etc were mainly remnants weren’t they, more rain than hurricane force winds?)

WW Forecast Team on 27/08/2011 11:44am

Hi there – Wilma was our closest storm to Irene earlier this year.  Before that Fergus and Drena in the 96/97 summer.  We don’t get “full on” cyclones because the sea temperatures around NZ are too low.

– WW

Related Articles