Thankfully, Hurricane Irene didn't inflict the damage that was predicted of her on New York City, but now that she's out of earshot, we're calling her fat and slow. According to the Times, the storm was "like an overweight jogger just holding on to the end of a run." Meteorologists expected Irene's eyewall replacement cycles—when the center of the hurricane contracts and is replaced by an outer band, strengthening the storm—to make her at least a Category 2 storm by early Saturday.
But that didn't happen. "There were a lot of rain bands competing for the same energy," a hurricane specialist says, "So when the eyewall collapsed, there were winds over a large area," diluting the strength. At one point, Irene was 600 miles wide.
Additionally, while experts correctly predicted the path of Irene, they couldn't predict the unrelated wind—called wind shear—that blew into the region from the Great Lakes. "When the wind is different in either speed or direction at different heights, hurricanes don't like that," a scientist at Columbia University notes. "Without argument, it could have been much worse," the National Hurricane Center's spokesman tells the Daily News.
However, many folks in New Jersey and upstate weren't very lucky (and of course those in the Carolinas and Virginia). Governor Chris Christie estimated that the damage would be in the "in the billions of dollars if not in the tens of billions of dollars," thanks to flooding and downed power lines that has left 625,860 homes without power today.
In New York, Governor Cuomo is taking an aerial survey of the damage, which he believes will be in the "tens of millions," including devastating flooding along the Mohawk river. Towns upstate like Margaretville and Maplecrest were completely overrun with water, wrecking bridges and trapping citizens in their cars and homes. Currently, 398,000 people are without power in New York state, but 95% are expected to have it restored by Friday.