The monstrous hurricane Irene began walloping New York Sunday morning, leaving city streets virtually deserted except for adventurous taxi drivers.
Video of storm's ferocity in North Carolina:
The downgrading of the storm to the "Hurricane One” level gave little solace to millions of East Coast residents, two million of them evacuated and another two million already without electricity.
Subway systems in Baltimore and New York were shut down as rains pelted the coast with up to 16 inches of rain in some places. Furious winds of up to 80 mph (130 kph) were reported shortly after midnight EDT (early Sunday morning in Israel).
The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the hurricane was approximately 195 miles (315 km) south-southwest of New York City as of 2 a.m. EDT.
Waves were as high as 10 feet along eastern beaches. A surfer in Florida was killed when a high wave catapulted him head-first into the sand.