The newly weakened Tropical Storm Irene banged into the edge of New York today, unleashing rain and wind on a city girded for the worst. Salty floodwater surged toward lower Manhattan, threatening Wall Street and the heart of the world financial network with devastating damage. The storm pushed a 3 1/2-foot surge of water into New York Harbor, and forecasters said the peak could be twice as tall later in the morning. And 370,000 people had been ordered to move to safer ground, although they appeared in great numbers to have stayed put.
The National Hurricane Center said at mid-morning that Irene's winds had fallen to 65mph, below the 74mph dividing line between a hurricane and tropical storm. The system was still massive and powerful, forming a figure six that covered the Northeast. It made landfall at Coney Island and was moving at 25mph, twice as fast as the day before. As a hurricane, Irene had already unloaded more than a foot of water on North Carolina, spun off tornadoes in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, and left 4 million homes and businesses without power. Nine people have now been confirmed killed.