Hurricane Irene began to hammer New York City late on Saturday, prompting Mayor Michael Bloomberg to warn New Yorkers to stay inside and ride out a storm that is on a direct path for the world's financial capital.
"Conditions are expected to deteriorate rapidly," a tired-looking Bloomberg told a news conference. "The storm is now finally hitting New York City. The winds will increase, the rain will increase and the tidal surge will increase."
New Yorkers deserted the streets and took cover from a rare hurricane headed their way -- only five have tracked within 75 miles (120 km) of the city since records have been kept. The full impact was expected through Sunday morning.
Rain pelted all five boroughs of the city, and the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch in addition to the hurricane warning.