Your Comprehensive Guide To Frankenstorm — Plus, LIVE Updates!

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readyUPDATE: Things are definitely picking up. The National Weather Advisory announced an imminent turn towards the Northwest at 11 a.m. Mayor Bloomberg has ordered the evacuation of over 370,000 people in coastal Brooklyn and Manhattan, and winds have been recorded up to 80 mph. We're listening live to Mayor Bloomberg's update, so stay tuned. Right now, it looks like the peak surge for NYC is still yet to come — around 8:00 PM tonight (although the exact times depend on your location), and water levels will remain "higher than normal" for about 24 hours. The storm will make landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey. Meanwhile, remember to stay away from large windows (especially in high-rise buildings) and not to use elevators in case of a power outage.

When asked to compare Sandy to Irene (gossip!), Bloomberg noted that it's too soon to tell, but it may be apparent once the "real flooding" comes tonight at high tide. It's a full moon tonight, so that might make things even worse. That said, NPR spoke with a number of listeners who reported anecdotal evidence suggesting this storm is already worse than some of the peak winds and flooding they saw during Irene.

Bloomberg also noted that if you're in a mandatory evacuation zone, you're making a "bad judgment call" if you haven't left yet, though he estimates only half of those affected have actually followed the order (and about 3100 people are currently in shelters, filling only a fraction of the 16,000 beds). On the other hand, while the mayor helpfully suggests that you spend the afternoon watching television or catching up on sleep, you can still go out to local restaurants during the day. Then again, he doesn't want you going out after about 3 PM today.

But really, this is all NYC real estate's fault: "People pay more, generally, to be closer to the water...even though you could argue that they should pay less because it's more dangerous. We cannot build a big barrier reef off the shore," Bloomberg noted. But significant changes have been made to building codes in lower-lying areas, and according to Bloomberg, the city has done basically everything possible to prepare. Fingers crossed it works. Stay tuned for more updates, we'll keep you posted!

Like those creepy cellos that play as Jaws approaches the ship, tweets and blogs are announcing the imminent approach of the FRANKENSTORM. As if Halloween wasn't scary enough, some sort of weird blizzard/hurricane amalgamation is approaching our shores, and, to quote The New York Times, "If the storm does make landfall in the United States, it could become, to use a technical term from meteorology, a whopper." Okay. We are scared.

But handling disasters with a combo of humor and thoroughness is what New Yorkers do best, and so before we all fly into our own respective panics, we've pulled together a helpful list of things to know if Sandy does visit The Big Apple. Obviously, we can make plenty of jokes about stocking up at a liquor stores and renting movies — but we don't need to tell you how to pair box wine with a Roseanne marathon. Instead, here we've got a couple of numbers, experts, and ideas for feeling as safe as possible if the Frankenstorm decides to trick-or-treat. And, first things first: don't forget to check your evacuation zone!

Photo: Courtesy of The City Of New York
Screen Shot 2012-10-29 at 9.44.04 AMThe NYC Metro Transit Authority stopped subway and bus service on Sunday night at 7 PM, and it will remain suspended until 12 hours after the storm is over...so basically, nobody knows when. Mayor Bloomberg noted that this is partially to discourage people from leaving their homes on unnecessary errands (which, of course, does not include evacuation), but also because riding a bus or an elevated train can be dangerous in high winds. Underground subway tracks are also, obviously, susceptible to flooding. Bridges will remain open but traffic will be forcibly slowed once winds reach 39 mph — and NPR reports some gusts have already reached that level.

As the storm develops, it's important to be aware of your evacuation zones and evacuation center. You can check them out here. Stay safe!
kit If you don't have a "go" bag ready, now is the time. NYC's Hurricane Center has a great list of things for you to include, but ones that feel particularly useful to everyone include:

— Copies of your I.D.s
— List of medications/amounts you take/why you take them
— Emergency numbers
— A flashlight with batteries
— A local map

Lifehacker editor Tessa Miller spends a lot of time working on disaster preparedness and gave us her own must-buy list. She says: "You can customize your kit for your specific needs, but every kit should have these things: water (at least a gallon per person per day), food (nonperishable, ready to eat), cooking and eating supplies (can opener, utensils, plates), first-aid supplies, warm clothes and blankets, toiletries (toothpaste, toilet paper, hand sanitizer), basic tools (hammer, crowbar, wrench), trash bags or recycled plastic bags (for garbage disposal), flashlights (at least one per person), and batteries.

These things will sell out if you wait too long (trust me, I waited until the last minute when Irene hit last year, and the shelves were BARE at multiple stores), so it's best to stock up early. Like, now!"

Of course, different families/households have different needs, but these are great to have on hand for everyone.

Photo: Via Amazon
twitter Telling you to stay on Twitter sounds silly, but it can be incredibly helpful. Some of our must-follow accounts include: NY1 Weather, The Weather Channel, Mike Bloomberg, NotifyNYC, and, in this case, the National Hurricane Center's Atlantic account.

Tessa also suggests using trending topics, too. "Keep up with storm tracking by watching hashtags #sandy, #hurricanesandy, #snowicane, #frankenstorm." She also shares a link to a Hurricane Irene prep guide, which still has relevant, applicable tools. "There are lots of apps and websites to help with this, like the Weather Channel's Hurricane Tracker, Stormpulse, Hurricane for iPhone, and Hurricane Software for Android."

Lastly, just some simple, old-fashioned phone numbers are a good thing to have.

New York City Office of Emergency Management: (212) 504-4115
To report power outage call Con-Ed's 24-hour line: (800) 642-2308
NYC has an excellent hurricane brochure, as well.
nyc_bk Of course, a storm is a great time to buy stuff — though, ideally, all of our goods would be bought beforehand. So you don't go batty battening down the hatches, now is a great time to crack out your old Apples-To-Apples for some good board-game time, but make sure you have access to power, should it go out.

We spoke to Gizmodo's Sam Biddle, who recommended purchasing a USB charger with an AC adapter, just to have on hand for any time power isn't accessible. "These things are awesome. I keep a spare bunch of them at my apartment, and they are great if I have to make calls and the power is out." He also suggests using a LED headlamp, which, besides being a neat thing to take camping, allows you to go hands-free.

Though, if you like to have a dance party while you are in survivalist mode (and who doesn't), the option to have a radio with a flashlight/cell charger is a good one. A solar-powered all-in-one gadget will certainly keep some tunes (or news) supplied, while also letting you charge your gadgets as necessary.

Good luck, and most of all, don't freak out. In our opinion, New Yorkers always come together in these moments. No matter who we are, we will all get rained on. So, break out your deck of cards, make a friend stocking up on water, and be safe.

Photo: Courtesy of The City Of New York