Hurricane Bearing Down, NYC Stores Close Up

August 26, 2011

Faced with multiple jeopardies from a 100 mph hurricane tracking towards New York City, Apple has taken the unprecedented step of closing its four Manhattan retail stores starting at 8 a.m. Saturday. Based on storm surge predictions and normal river tides, at least one Apple store could have water lapping at its front doors when the hurricane passes through. The company is continuously monitoring the approach of Hurricane Irene  up the eastern seaboard, but current plans are for the stores to remain closed until 9 a.m. on Monday. The affected stores are SoHo, Fifth Avenue, West 14th Street and Upper West Side. Other stores in the region intend to maintain their regular hours. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered a mandatory evacuation of 270,000 residents in low-lying areas of the city by 5 p.m. Saturday, including Battery Park City, just 1.4 miles southwest of the SoHo store. Subway and other city transportation services will stop at noon Saturday, which would have made getting to work difficult for Apple store employees. The most serious threat is flooding, since several areas of Manhattan are close to sea-level elevation. For example, the West 14th Street store is 1,200 feet away from the Hudson River, and just 13 feet above sea level. According to tide tables, the river will have five to six-foot high tides over the next two days when Irene comes ashore. On top of that, the National Hurricane Center says storm surges from Irene will range from four to eight feet in New York City. That storm surge and tide combination has the potential to create flooding with one foot of water at the West 14th Street store. Apple has previously closed individual stores for electrical and plumbing problems, but never a group of stores for a natural disaster.

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