Irene Downgraded to Tropical Storm; At Least 11 Dead

Hurricane Irene has reached New York City and is expected to hang around here until the afternoon before heading north into New England. Though she's still causing flooding, power outages, and heavy winds, she's been downgraded to a tropical storm—raging at only 65 mph, instead of yesterday's hurricaney highs. As we did yesterday, we'll keep you posted throughout the day—so keep checking back here for updates.

For now, here's a round-up to bring you up to speed:

  • Ray Wert of Jalopnik spotted a downed flag last night—the first video evidence we saw of Irene-related damage in NYC.
  • Depending upon who you talk to, either three million or four million people are without power. [CNN]
  • At least 11 people have died, mostly from fallen tree limbs. If you're located along Irene's path of destruction, please put on your hard hat and watch where you wander today. [CNN]
  • New York City brought out the snowplows to pick up debris piles and also inspire sarcastic comments related to last year's Snowpocalypse debacle. [MSNBC]
  • "We are open until the letters fly off this sign."—The sign outside the Hieronymus Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar in North Carolina. [Copyranter]
  • Glenn Beck says the hurricane's "a blessing." Ummmm, how so exactly? Because it's like God is "reminding you—as was the earthquake last week ... you're not in control. Things can happen. Be prepared and be someone who can help others so when disaster strikes, God forbid, you're not panicking." Do you think the families of the 11 people who have died feel very "blessed" right now? Do you think that Glenn Beck is projecting when he talks about people becoming overly emotional and control-freaky? Do you think Glenn Beck should STFU, or should we regard him as our de facto spiritual leader in these trying times? [CNN]
  • Irene made it rain babies in North Carolina. Okay, not really—but that's the impression one might get from a story titled "Hurricane Irene Babies." Turns out that ABC just talked to one new mom, then relocated some grown-up babies of hurricanes past and put together a segment that isn't really about Irene Babies at all. Come on, ABC—show us some real Irene Babies. [ABC News]
  • Before le deluge began, the rats came out to play in Manhattan's Tompkins Square Park. Aw! [EV Grieve]
  • On Friday night, Forbes ran a column by "Koch-funded climate denier" Pat Michaels telling us all to "get real" about "Hurricane Hype," which wouldn't even kill eight people. He was wrong. Now Forbes has edited the column to make Michaels appear less like an idiot. It will take more effort than that, though. [Forbes, via Think Progress]
  • What have you panic-bought? What have you panic duct-taped? [Guardian]
  • New York City got so quiet and weird as everyone shuttered themselves in their homes and hid behind five-foot stacks of bottled waters. [Epoch Times]
  • Maybe the Weather Channel is becoming all about sex and porn after all. At one point the chyron read, "Virginia gets pounded by Irene." [Pat Kiernan's Twitter]
  • A woman named Irene has donated her Twitter feed to the cause of advancing Irene-related knowledge after everyone in the world started emailing @Irene to get the hurricane to stop. Everyone in the world is so stupid (except Irene, and you). [WSJ]
  • Some people dealt with their hurricane-related fears by pondering the big questions, like, "Why do they name Hurricanes fag names like Irene?":
    Irene Downgraded to Tropical Storm; At Least 11 Dead
    It's true that the name Irene is pretty effeminate.
  • 10:56 AM: Manhattan's rat population seems to be okay. You can stop worrying about them now. [EV Grieve]
  • For all you electricity nerds out there (is there such a thing as "powerspotting?"), the ConEd Storm Center's fancy map shows you where people are experiencing outages, and how many people in each area. Colorful triangles all over the damned place. [ConEd]
  • 11:07 AM: NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's going to provide another update at 12:15 PM. Watch by clicking the link. [NYC website]
  • "[J]ust saw an 80-year-old guy jogging, shirtless, on dreary but placid Columbus Ave."—Financial Times guy Telis Demos, reporting from Manhattan [Demos' Twitter]
  • 11:16 AM: "Do we really need a National Weather Service?" You're probably like, "Shit, I don't know." Well, here's some guy from the Competitive Enterprise Institute trying to tell us why we don't need it anymore: "It issues severe weather advisories and hijacks local radio and television stations to get the message out. It presumes that citizens do not pay attention to the weather and so it must force important, perhaps lifesaving, information upon them. A few seconds' thought reveals how silly this is." Who really needs or wants lifesaving information forced upon them? Now you're probably like, "Shit, abolish this thing already." [Fox News]
  • 12:14 PM: Here's a guy kayaking down a Manhattan street. [Via Elnif's Twitter]
  • Where's the wallop? No wallop around here, yo. [NYT]
  • The death toll has reached 14. [ABC News]
  • 2:50 PM: Mayor Bloomberg lifted the evacuation orders for NYC. [CBS]
  • 5:19 PM: Irene's hanging out in New England. Fear of floods commences. [Fox]
  • 5:53 PM: The stock, bond, and commodities markets will be open tomorrow. So will NYC metro-area public transit systems, though you should plan ahead and schedule trips as though you're going to the airport. [Bloomberg, NBC New York]
  • 11:45 PM: Upstate New York and New England were overwhelmed by rain and flooding. "Our entire state has had flooding," says an official from the Vermont Emergency Management agency. "We really haven't seen this before." Vermont's under a flash-flood watch tonight, some New England rivers are expected to crest, and power outages are common. [WSJ, CNN]

[Image of Ocean City, Maryland via Getty]