Well, New York is taking unprecedented measures to forestall major damage from Hurricane Irene! 250,000 people have been ordered to evacuate (orange areas on the yesterday's map), and the whole public transit system is closing tomorrow at noon! We've learned that the subway might well flood, and if it's salt water, won't be operative again for weeks! Strong winds could turn the canyons of Manhattan into a killer hail of glass shards! A recklessly numbers-drunk columnist at the Times has speculated that in the worst conceivable scenario of a category 5 hurricane's eye passing right over midtown Manhaattan (we've never had much more than a weak category 1, and Irene's likely to be at very worse a category 2 tropical storm) damages might come to a a mind-boggling $16,183,125,000,000 - though he grants these numbers "are extremely speculative" and nothing remotely as powerful has ever been scene in the Northeast.
Or maybe, like other predicted disasters, it'll be a mere whimper. Friends of mine think the precautions are political theater (Katrina and that big blizzard a few months ago), and are predicting clear skies and sighs of disappointment. Exciting though the prospect of cataclysm is (I feel for the earthquake envy many expressed earlier this week), I hope my friends are right and this will be another mouse that roared.