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Open Thread: Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Gridlock and Other Natural Disasters

11:54 AM EDT on August 25, 2011

##http://www.weather.com/weather/hurricanecentral/article/tropical-depression-nine-storm-hurricane-irene_2011-08-20##Weather.com##: Be afraid.

As it turned out, Tuesday's earthquake didn't have much of an impact on New York commuters. Washington, DC, however, was a different story. WAMU (via Transportation Nation) reported "some of the worst traffic jams since 9/11." Meanwhile, dcist noted a surge in bike-share use:

Capital Bikeshare tweeted this morning that it recorded 5,847 rides yesterday, an increase of 1,090 from the day before. Of those rides, 1,246 came between 2 and 4 p.m., compared to the 812 during that same timeframe on Monday. If you think about it, Capital Bikeshare's 1,121 bikes distributed at the 116 stations throughout the District and Arlington are now an integral part of any plan for mobility or evacuation in case of an emergency in the city.

Terry Bellamy, the director of the District's Department of Transportation, admitted to the Washington Business Journal's Mike Neibauer that, despite a lesser traffic nightmare than during winter snowstorms, the region just can't handle the massive traffic exodus that invariably follows an emergency. If you're in a car, you're probably screwed.

Now comes Hurricane Irene. Though the storm could of course weaken or shift away from the city, Mayor Bloomberg announced this morning that agencies are "preparing for the worst." Across the Hudson, Mayor Dawn Zimmer is urging Hoboken residents to leave town (or at least move their cars). The MTA, for its part, is reportedly battening down the hatches and bringing in extra personnel. Irene updates are lighting up the Streetsblog Twitter feed; evacuation maps and "go bag" chatter are the order of the day.

All of which means... what? How, if at all, are the week's terrestrial and aerial turbulence affecting your mobility? Opinions on urbanity? Bottled water supplies? Let us know in the comments.

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