New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered the city’s first hurricane evacuations in history in advance of Hurricane Irene, expected to hit the area over the weekend. The city ordered a mandatory evacuation of Zone A of this map. Zone A is marked in orange.

Zone A includes low-lying coastal areas in parts of Manhattan, particularly Lower Manhattan, as well as Queens, Brooklyn and other points, including the Rockaways. Any New York residents who live near the water should either check the map or use the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder online. You can also call 311.

The projected path of the hurricane shows it going up the Atlantic coast and coming into contact with New York City and other metropolitan centers in the Mid-Atlantic by Sunday. Currently, winds are at around 100 mph.

Many airlines have cancelled flights in big cities near the path of the hurricane, including New York, Washington, and Raleigh, NC. Public events have been postponed across the Eastern seaboard, and even transit service in New York will be shut down by noon Saturday.

The President made remarks on the hurricane earlier this morning, and urged residents to follow evacuation procedures.

The hurricane looks big from space, but with 100mph winds it’s more like a Category 2 storm. That will do some damage, and officials are probably right to take an abundance of caution. But this storm is not as big as a Hurricane Katrina (which was of course more of a man-made disaster due to the failure of the levees. And it hasn’t made contact with the US landmass yet, which should reduce the wind level somewhat. It could be as low as a tropical storm by the time it hits New York. But we don’t really know.

I actually worked on a show called Mega-Disasters for the History Channel several years ago, and in one episode, we envisioned what a hurricane hitting New York would look like.