Irene downgraded to tropical storm

Hurricane knocks out power to 4 million people and blamed for the deaths of at least 11 people.

The East River tops its banks near East 120th Street in uptown Manhattan on August 28. Greg Sandoval/CNET

A weakening Hurricane Irene was downgraded this morning as it inched through New York City and headed into New England.

Irene was packing sustained winds of about 60 mph this morning as it moved up the Eastern seaboard at a speed of 25 mph, prompting the National Hurricane Center to downgrade it from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm. The storm has been blamed for at least 11 deaths in six states, due mostly to car crashes and failing trees, and more than 4 million people have lost power due to the storm.

Despite the downgrade, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warned residents that the storm was still packing heavy rains and that high-water levels were still a threat to their safety. As the storm moves north, inland flooding was a major concern for New England.

"#Irene has already been deadly, stay inside, stay off the roads, if evacuated, don't try to return until given the ok by officials," Craig Fugate, a FEMA administrator, tweeted this morning.

Transportation to and around New York City was paralyzed for the second day as a result of the storm. The city's subway system, which was shut down Saturday in preparation for the storm, is not expected to resume normal service until tomorrow morning, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced today. Air service remained suspended at the John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, and LaGuardia airports.

However, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this morning that the evacuation order for low-lying areas of city would be lifted this afternoon, allowing some 370,000 residents to return to their homes.

For the latest on Hurricane Irene, check out CBS News' complete coverage, and for a tech take on the storm, see our roundup .

 

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