|Posted on August 27, 2011 at 7:20 AM|
In the image released by NASA, the GOES-13 satellite saw Hurricane Irene moving through the Bahamas on August 25, 2011 at 1402 UTC (10:02 a.m. EDT). U.S. officials on Thursday warned Hurricane Irene, which is approaching the East Coast of the United States, could impact not only the coastal regions, but inland as well.
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New York has declared a state of emergency
Irene is more than 800 miles/1287 kms in diameter
US Open stars lie low as Irene approaches
AFP | Aug 27, 2011
NEW YORK: As Hurricane Irene barrelled up the US East Coast on Saturday, top tennis players preparing for Monday's start of the US Open took the expected arrival of the storm in their stride.
Officials at the final Grand Slam of the season had already taken the precaution of cancelling Saturday's Arthur Ashe Kids' Day festivities, preferring not to draw thousands of people to the National Tennis Centre at Flushing Meadows on a day when residents of low-lying areas of the New York area have been instructed to evacuate.
A few players hustled through an abbreviated schedule of pre-tournament Media Day interviews, while others opted not to make the trip to the facility in the Queens borough of New York City.
The centre was to be closed on Sunday, when the fury of the storm was expected to peak in the area.
"I kind of usually always take a break anyway shortly before the tournament," said world number three Roger Federer of Switzerland, who said he would have planned to wrap up his practice on Saturday in any case.
"I won't be playing tomorrow. I'm not even going to try to. It wasn't on the plan anyway to do so.
"But sure it's somewhat scary, because we don't know how hard it's going to hit us. I've got family. We're in New York City. It's not just a regular city. It's quite something with all the buildings.
"So it's unusual, but we'll follow the news closely and we'll try to stay as safe as we can so we get through it."
Another former US Open champion, Maria Sharapova, was a bit blase.
"Well, I'm a Florida girl so I'm used to this stuff," said the Russian who has lived in Florida for years. "I think everyone's a bit overreacting about everything, but of course you have to take precaution and all that.
"But, I mean, where are we going to go? So I just hope that our hotel is nice and tough and sturdy. That's all we can do, right?"
Sharapova said she wasn't sure if the impending storm had affected the atmosphere of New York City, famous for its hustle and bustle.
"So I'm not really sure if everyone was sleeping in New York on a Saturday morning or if it's the hurricane effect, but it was pretty quiet," she said.
Despite the disruptions, including the closure of New York-area airports just as many were due to arrive for the tournament, officials expected the event to begin as scheduled on Monday.
Qualifying matches were completed on Friday.
Irene blasted ashore in North Carolina on Saturday, a weakened but still massive category one storm.
Sustained winds of 85 miles (140 kilometers) an hour lashed coastal areas as Irene made landfall near the southern end of a chain of barrier islands that ring the North Carolina coast, the National Hurricane Centre said.
Trees were uprooted, highways closed and streets flooded, as powerful winds and heavy rain battered the coast and a local power company announced that 300,000 people were without electricity.
Top American Mardy Fish, a Florida native, said the prospect of seeing a hurricane in New York was "pretty surreal".
"Obviously, it doesn't happen a lot," said Fish, whose biggest concern so far was that he had a hard time finding an open coffee shop.
He said his Californian wife, Stacey, "is a little freaked out about it".
"Stacey went to shop quite a bit last night, got a bunch of magazines and flashlights. She's preparing for Armageddon, I think."