After telling New Yorkers the city was preparing for the worst this morning, Mayor Bloomberg held another Hurricane Irene in the early evening and reassured everyone, "Whenever the City has faced a difficult, tough situation, New Yorkers have always shown courage, compassion, presence of mind, and have been innovative in dealing with whatever is thrown at them. And I have confidence that they will do that again." While the city will not make a decision about a Zone A evacuation (see what zone you're in with the map below) until Saturday at 8 a.m., Bloomberg has announced the evacuation of the "most vulnerable New Yorkers - hospital patients; those in nursing homes and homes for aged; and also New Yorkers who because of age or infirmity are homebound" in Zone A areas.

Zone A includes Brooklyn's Coney Island and Manhattan Beach, Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens, South Beach, Midland Beach, and other low-lying areas on Staten Island, and Manhattan's Battery Park City. There are five hospitals in Zone A, which are reducing their patient caseloads and, in the case of Coney Island Hospital, sending patients to other hospitals. Bloomberg said, “We’re also notifying the other hospitals in these Zone A low-lying areas, as well as nursing homes and senior centers in these low-lying Zone A areas that they must - I repeat the word must - evacuate beginning tomorrow and complete the process by 8:00 PM tomorrow night, unless they get permission to stay in place based on the ability of the particular facility to keep operating during hurricane conditions. If any of these facilities need help moving patients, we’ll be able to provide it."

Bloomberg also said that shelters would be open at 4 p.m. and referred to the weekend's outdoor activities, outdoor activities planned in the city, "More than 300 outdoor activities - street fairs, block parties, and so forth - have been planned. These activities, unfortunately, will have to be curtailed throughout the entire city, not just in the Zone A areas as we want to make sure that streets are available for emergency vehicles and busses throughout the entire city that may be needed in evacuation plans. We are revoking - and I have just signed an Executive Order to do so - all permits for events to take place in the city on Sunday, and in low-lying Zone A areas on Saturday as well. If you are not in a Zone A low-lying area, you can have your activity continue on Saturday, but we have amended the permits that require you to stop serving the public by 2:00 PM so you can use the rest of the afternoon to clean up."

NASA says that Hurricane Irene's "diameter is now about one-third the length of the U.S. Atlantic coastline." While some measures suggest Irene is a Category 2 storm now, it's expected that it will regain strength to become a Category 3 storm when it hits North Carolina on Saturday afternoon. Here's video visualizing the storm with 115 MPH winds from today:

State of Emergencies were called for New York and New Jersey.