Curiosity turned to concern in the New York City area as the big storm arrived on Monday. Here are some of the stories.
Stephen Weisbrot thought his building would be the safest place in the storm. Then he watched the water move up his street with a feeling of helplessness. Late Monday night, he had two and a half feet of water in his lobby, no power and worries about food.
"It's really a complete ghost town now. My apartment now has a waterfront view," Weisbrot said from his tenth-floor apartment in Lower Manhattan. "There was an explosion in the sky earlier, and I heard rumors it was Con Ed. It sounded like the Fourth of July. "
All he could see was the occasional light from flashlights in other apartments. He expected to be stuck at home for a couple of days.
"My fear is food, now that the refrigerator without power, and Lower Manhattan should be without food for quite a while," Weisbrot said. "I stocked up on a bunch of stuff and cooked a bunch of it, but I don't know how long it will last."
He planned to go out exploring in the morning. "I'm here with my boyfriend," he said. "We've been playing Monopoly and drinking beer while it's still cold. I think the best thing is to have a few more drinks, go to sleep and wake up early."
In the middle of the storm and power outages, some New Yorkers were still looking for a party.
"I was out on the street, and a lot of boisterous drunk people were out there that police were telling to go home," said Lisa Swain, 47, who lives in the Greenwich Village area. "I had to take my dog out, and they were just hooting and hollering. They wanted to go out because they were bored."
Louis de Caunes made a last-second decision to evacuate his apartment in the East Village. Later on Monday, an explosion was reported near the Con Ed substation just three blocks from where he lived.
"Right now, it's a little scary, to be honest," he said. "This is way bigger than Irene. And with all the photos I'm seeing, I feel like a science fiction movie. Very surreal."
He ended up at a friend's apartment, and despite the power outage he remained linked to the world through a pair of mobile phones. On one, he tracked storm news on Twitter. On the other, he and his fiance listened to radio updates.
With the refrigerator working, they quickly discovered they would have to be creative about food.
"We had a dinner of cereal, cans of tuna and yogurt," de Caunes said, then paused to consider the combination.
"And tomorrow for breakfast, some almonds, lot of cookies. A little bit of turkey and ham. So a very weird mix."
A young man near the New York Stock Exchange said he's ankle-deep in water and trying to save his business.
Andrew Auernheimer was in the basement of his data center Monday night, surrounded by high-voltage lines powered by a generator. The 27-year-old said it's nearing time to shut it all down.
"There's water dripping through the roof, and it's a Starbucks," he said. "If it collapses, we're all dead."
Auernheimer said colleagues have reported cars floating in the street. "It's crazy out there," he said. "There's definitely an element of danger."
He lives in Brooklyn and couldn't go home. When it gets too bad in the basement, he and colleagues planned to move to their other space on the seventh floor.
"I'm feeling OK, and, you know, I have faith that things will turn out for us," he said. "We're hoping to not lose everything. "
New Yorkers weren't the only intrepid pedestrians outside watching the storm's approach.
"My sister called me from Spain, and she said, 'Are you crazy? Why aren't you inside?'" said Juan Sanchez. The 36-year-old businessman from Barcelona, arrived Sunday to prepare to run next weekend's New York City Marathon.
Minutes earlier, a city parks department truck rolled past pedestrians on the walkway along the water, announcing that Riverside Park was closed.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please leave," a man's voice said, amplified from the truck.
High above the Hudson River, some avid Manhattan birdwatchers set up their post for a very specific purpose: To catch sight of exotic birds that normally live thousands of miles away.
They hoped some so-called storm petrels and white-tailed tropicbird would "get trapped in the eye of the hurricane, and drop out as the storm moves inland," said Peter Scully, a 30-year-old lawyer aiming his scope at the air above the Hudson.
He and a handful of other birdwatchers lined up just inside a stone terrace of the Boat Basin Cafe on Manhattan's West Side.
There's even a name for this special hobby: storm-birding.