Now hear this, New York City park-goers: All parks are off-limits starting Sunday because of Hurricane Sandy's expected high winds.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted that pronouncement at about 6:20 p.m. Friday, a few hours after a City Hall briefing in which he outlined preparation plans for the coming storm.
"Because of the high winds that will accompany #Sandy, everyone should stay out of city parks starting on Sunday," the mayor said in the Mike Bloomberg Twitter account.
Shortly after, he tweeted, "Whenever we're faced with a tough situation, New Yorkers always show courage, compassion, and presence of mind #Sandy."
Bloomberg, at an afternoon City Hall briefing, said uncertainty over the storm's path wasn't stopping preparations.
"A major concern given this type of storm is the possibility of prolonged power outages, as you know," he said. "And we're also working closely with ConEd, as we always do. But this is a large, unpredictable storm, so be prepared for possible outages."
As of 8 p.m. Friday, National Hurricane Center forecasters said the storm was about 400 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C., and was expected to make landfall by Monday night in an area that ranged from the North Carolina/Virginia border to the forks of Long Island's East End.
The most likely landfall looked to be just south of New Jersey, according to the hurricane center's update.
But the metropolitan region can expect to feel Sandy's effects by Sunday with steady rain and increasing wind later in the day, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Hofmann, based in Upton, on Long Island. The most severe impact is likely to be felt late Monday into early Tuesday, with possible sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph and gusts of more than 60 mph, perhaps up to hurricane force.
Total rainfall could be 3 to 6 inches, with possible rainfall rates of an inch an hour during the peak of the storm, leading to flash flooding. There's also a risk of "significant coastal flooding" from the storm surge, Hofmann said.
The city's next update regarding storm preparations is expected Saturday afternoon or evening, Bloomberg said.
The command center at the city's Office of Emergency Management has been activated, and the main elements of the its coastal storm plan are on its website at NYC.gov. No evacuations have been ordered as of now, the mayor said.
But special attention is being paid to the areas designated as coastal Zone A, low-lying places at risk of flooding and damage, he noted.
Zone A includes Coney Island and the Manhattan Beach and Red Hook areas in Brooklyn, as well as Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel in Queens and sections of the south Bronx. In Manhattan, the zone includes Battery Park City, stretches of the West Side waterfront and the Lower East Side and East Village.
There are six hospitals and 41 chronic care facilities in those low-lying zones, but Bloomberg stressed there was no recommendation of evacuation at this time.
Whether city schools will be open on Monday will be determined Sunday night, he said.
With Patricia Kitchen