This isn't to say that the Exchange plays Russian roulette with the safety of its employees: On Feb. 8, 1994, it closed a few hours ahead of schedule because of a brutal snowstorm. Similarly, it delayed opening by a couple of hours on Jan. 8, 1996, when another horrifying storm made it near impossible to get into the office. Still, with precious few exceptions, the exchange has kept to its schedule, at least since central air conditioning made it possible for brokers to conduct business without passing out from the city's brutal summer heat.
Still, there's no beating determination: A NYSE Euronext spokesman affirms that the the venerable institution plans to be open on Monday. "We have contingency plans in place for such events with the goal of having the market up and running while ensuring the safety of our people," he said. These plans include a back-up generator at the exchange's 11 Wall Street location, complete with extra fuel, that will enable the exchange to keep going. For traders and employees who brave the weather, the kitchen has laid in extra supplies of food.
Even if 11 Wall Street closes, trading will go on. Most trading is electronic, and the NYSE's computer facilities -- like its massive 400,000 square foot data center in Mahwah, NJ -- are expected to remain unaffected by Hurricane Irene. Similarly, other exchanges -- like the Nasdaq and the NYMEX -- are expected to stay open for business, using servers that are located off-site. In other words, even if the stock market's physical location gets a little flood, America's equities trading will continue to tread water.
Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.