Hurricane Irene

I’m watching this situation pretty closely for all kinds of reasons. It’s not often my professional and personal interests coincide.

Best resource, hands down, is Jeff Masters’ blog. The source of all the raw analysis is the National Hurricane Center.

The latest modeling is annoyingly inconclusive.

I’m going to focus on New York, because that’s where I live. (In general I’d say the Carolinas are effed and most of Jersey is in for a beating)

There are three scenarios for New York, all of which seem plausible from that modeling output.

  1. If the storm stays inland and heads over the Pocono mountains, we get some serious flooding and damaged countryside, but nothing too crazy. The storm weakens considerably and the wind dies off.
  2. Toss up over which of the next two is worse: if the storm goes straight across the Carolinas and streaks along the coast, we’ve got a problem in the city. This means that all of the coastal areas (ie the most vulnerable to storm surge) get battered and (AND) the warm water keeps the storm strong. NY will probably get flooded right up to 14th street, I get evacuated from Battery Park City and it takes days for the Subway system to drain.
  3. Door #3 has the storm veer off into the ocean, really really power up and hammer (absolutely clobber) Long Island. This will have the worst wind damage, though Jersey and NYC will probably be spared. Next up is Cape Cod and Nantucket. These probably get a big helping of Hurricane winds, too.

Using this, I’m trying to handicap the models and am having some serious trouble. I’ll probably keep updating this post as the day wears on.

Edit 1:

I keep saying Carolinas, but I really mean North Carolina and Virginia

Edit 2:

Wowee. Jeff Masters gives us lots to think about. A few key points:

  • They eyewall has collapsed, which means higher pressure and a less powerful heat engine. We’re in the endgame, so rapid, massive intensification is unlikely now.
  • Wind shear, hurricane Kryptonite, is moderate (note on pic: red line is direction relative to storm track, I think, and blue is speed) but doesn’t seem to be having a big effect.
  • This sucker is a monster, which means more storm surge, damage potential measured at an eye-popping 5.1/6.
  • Masters gives a 20% chance of topping Manhattan’s flood walls and filling the Subway system with seawater.
  • Wind damage likely won’t be a big deal, now. The heaviest winds are East and out to sea (sorry, Long Island!), but aren’t crazy-strong, just strong.
  • Probability of big winds in NYC has plummeted
  • Get ready for blackouts

Personally, I’m scheduled to fly to Florida tonight for a wedding in the Jacksonville area tomorrow. 20% chance of complete flooding is probably high enough to evacuate and fleeing to the Hurricane’s wake is probably my best bet.

How and in what manner I get back is the trick.

Edit 3:

Well, looks like I’m outta here. From my building management:

The NYC Office of Emergency Management is strongly advising all residents of Battery Park City to evacuate today.  While the evacuation is not mandatory at this time, it seems clear that it will become mandatory at some point today or tomorrow.  Since the MTA is going to shut down at some point tomorrow, we strongly urge everyone to make immediate arrangements to evacuate now.


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