The edge of Hurricane Irene hit New York, bringing torrential rain, freshening winds and fears of widespread flooding after killing at least eight people in its run up the US east coast.
The first hurricane to hit the Big Apple in a generation swept in overnight, accompanied by lightening, reports of tornadoes and deafening rainfall.
The city was a ghost town after 370,000 people were told to evacuate flood-prone areas, including near Wall Street and at Coney Island. Subway trains, buses and the famous Staten Island ferry were all shut down Saturday.
"The edge of the hurricane is finally upon us," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a press conference, adding that "the time for evacuations is over."
"At this point, if you haven't evacuated, our suggestion is you stay where you are," he said. "Nature is a lot stronger than the rest of us."
Packing winds of up to 85 miles (140 kilometers) an hour, Irene was a deadly category one storm when it made landfall at 8:00 am (1200 GMT) Saturday at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, near a chain of barrier islands.
At least eight people, including an 11-year-old boy struck by a falling tree, died in storm-related incidents along the eastern seaboard.
Irene knocked out power supplies for well over a million people, triggered the cancellation of more than 8,000 flights, and forced nearly two million people to evacuate, half of them in New Jersey.
The eye of the storm was expected to reach New York by around midday (1600 GMT) on Sunday.