Mayor Bloomberg said the city would start a mandatory evacuation of residents in Zone A areas—this 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 (see map below). He admitted, "We've never done a mandatory evacuation before. But this is a serious storm. We need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," and warned, "This is very serious. Do not be fooled by the sun outside."

Bloomberg said all residents need to be out by 5 p.m. tomorrow (8/27)—"If you can leave today, that would be helpful...At the moment the strongest winds are expected to arrive in the early evening tomorrow. It is expected to be a category 1 storm. The full brunt of the storm—if you are in its way—is a lot more powerful than any of us."

Technically, not heeding the mandatory evacuation order would be a violation of the law that could get you fined and sent to jail. But Bloomberg assured New Yorkers today that "nobody is going to get fined and nobody is going to go to jail, but if they don't evacuate they could die." You can see where your local evacuation centers are on this map from the city.

The mayor estimates that roughly a quarter million people live in the Zone A area. The shelter capacity for what the city is opening up is about 70,000, which they think should suffice but they say they are prepared to open more if needed. Shelters will be available, but it is also recommended that you go to friends' apartments, stay with relatives, etc. Yellow and livery cabs will move to “zone-fare” plan on Saturday with reduced fares, group rides, and liveries allowed to make street pick-ups (just like the city used in during the transit strike of 2005).

The Mayor also says that if you can take in your air conditioners, that would be preferable (so as to prevent an accident), but if you can't, that is okay. Just make sure it is securely attached.

Regarding the website crash, he said that " was so overloaded that the system crashed a few times. Today it saw three times its average traffic. Yesterday had 4.3 million hits, shattering the high of 2.6 million on January 26. We're adding more service and offloading some to commercial servers. But if you can't access the site, go to @nycmayorsoffice and @notifynyc. If that doesn't work, you certainly can call 311. It may take a few minutes but we have extra staff in the offices to deal with demand."

The Mayor continued, "From 9 p.m. tomorrow to 9 p.m. Sunday please, stay indoors. It is dangerous when the winds are this high and the rains are so heavy. Second, avoid being near glass windows. For your own safety stay in rooms with no or few windows. Don't stand or congregate in a glassed-in vestibules or atriums." He also added that it is a good idea to fill your bathtub with water, just in case.

Are you still not getting that this is a big deal? Bloomberg made it clear that "one more time: Because of the danger of falling limbs or trees and blowing glass and furniture and who knows what PLEASE stay out of the parks on Sunday and if you can possibly do it stay inside on sunday. It would be great if we can wake up Monday morning and say there were no tragedies. Unfortunately with a storm this big the likelihood of such a thing is great."

"We can joke about this on Monday morning," the mayor said. "But until then this is a matter of life and death."

Finally, you can read a full transcript of Bloomberg's press conference right here.