Hurricane hyperbole and why people are morons...
This is the satellite image as of 11 pm ET. This is a HUGE storm, covering almost the entire eastern seaboard. The weather that is beginning on Long Island - now - is the outer most reaches of Irene. According to The Weather Channel, there are now 29 MILLION people who currently are living in a hurricane warning zone. For those that don't deal with warnings and watches of this nature on a regular basis, what that means is that hurricane conditions are EXPECTED within the next 24 hour period. This storm is headed for highly populated areas, where people don't regularly deal with these types of weather conditions. On top of that, because these areas don't deal with this type of weather condition, there are more trees susceptible to strong winds than areas that get frequent tropical storms (for instance), above ground power wires are a hazard, etc.
Tonight, I have had people call me (because I am "the travel guy") wondering why their flights have already been canceled or why NYC has decided to shut down their mass transit system at noon tomorrow. Then, I log on here and find that there is a hot dog vendor who wants to know why a soccer tournament is being canceled tomorrow, when they are far enough inland that they "probably" won't be affected. (S)He, of course, goes on to answer his/her own question by mentioning that there are teams coming from other states, who may have a hard time traveling to get to said soccer tournament (which may or may not have been affected by a tropical storm). Look at that satellite image again and tell me why anyone would want to go sell hot dogs at a soccer tournament anywhere in New Jersey tomorrow.
Why is NYC shutting down its mass transit system? Because there are XX number of employees that work for the city that may have to take care of their own families, for one. Because there is no way to QUICKLY react to shutting down mass transit and the storm is MORE severe than first expected when you deal with a mass transit system the size of NYC's. It's the same thing with the canceled flights. If they tell people to come to the airport, and have those people arrive to find out that JetBlue (or whoever) wants to try to fly them into the eye of a hurricane, people would be livid. Canceling in advance gives them more time to develop a plan to resolve the situation.
Even though the storm appears to be weakening, these types of storms are, by nature, very unpredictable. No matter how this plays out, the responses from the airlines, New York City and (most) others has been measured and appropriate. That needs to be counter balanced by the hyperbole brought forth by the weather-tainment industry (i.e. The Weather Channel), where hyperbole ("Storm of the Century") reigns supreme. Fearmongering has replaced delivering the news, for the most part. That is unfortunate because, as I said above, people tend to get desensitized to things - like these storms - and DON'T take appropriate action.
I hope that all of my friends have made all necessary preparations and will weather the events of the coming weekend with no significant issues.
Now back to your regularly scheduled bacon porn.