"...One of my greatest nightmares was having a major hurricane go up the whole Northeast Coast," Max Mayfield, the center's retired director, told The Associated Press. He said the damage will probably climb into billions of dollars: "This is going to have an impact on the United States economy." - from a Huffington Post article on Hurricane Irene below.
"...Two factors that contribute to more intense tropical cyclones-ocean heat content and water vapor-have both increased over the past several decades--ocean heat content and water vapor--have both increased over the past several decades. This is primarily due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of forests, which have significantly elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere." - article below on a possible link between climate change and hurricane intensity.
NOT A Worst-Case Scenario For New York City. I've been hearing some reports of a 10 foot storm surge in New York Harbor. Not sure where that's coming from - most of the models take Irene east of Manhattan, in which case the storm surge would be in the 1-3 foot range, maybe higher near Union, New Jersey - but hardly the "Storm of the Century". NOAA's latest surge prediction is above.
A New York Hurricane Could Be A Multi-Billion Dollar Disaster. Right now it appears that Irene will track JUST EAST of New York City, potentially sparing Manhattan and the other boroughs of New York from the worst of the storm surge - a much greater threat along the southern coastline of Long Island. Here's a blog post from the New York Times: "Time to think about the unthinkable. What if a major hurricane were to pass close to New York City, as several forecasting models now suggest that Hurricane Irene might? Apart from the inevitable loss of life in the most densely populated part of the country, history suggests that the economic damage could run into the tens of billions of dollars, depending on the severity of the storm and how close it comes to the city. Unlikely but theoretically plausible scenarios could have the damage entering the realm of the costliest natural disasters of all time, and perhaps being large enough to have a materially negative effect on the nation’s gross domestic product. Tropical cyclones in and around New York City and the Northeastern United States are fairly rare but not unprecedented. Using a relatively conservative set of criteria, I have identified 20 storms since 1900 that have made landfall north of the Mason-Dixon line with tropical-storm force winds (at least 39 miles per hour) or higher, 12 of which made direct hits on either Long Island or New Jersey.
Latest Track Projections. After striking the Outer Banks of North Carolina Irene will weaken slightly (probably to Category 1 strength), and then hug the Delaware/New Jersey coast, probably tracking (just) east of New York City. Irene will probably maintain hurricane status as it hits southern New England during the day Sunday.
Probability Of A 4 Foot Storm Surge. The greatest risk of a damaging storm surge is forecast to be in the New Bern, North Carolina area, and near Wilmington, NC. Data courtesy of NHC.
Probability Of A Two Foot Storm Surge? The Tidewater region of the Chesapeake Bay is vulnerable (Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News), and a significant storm surge may roll into the Dover, Delaware area and New York Harbor may see a 2-4 foot surge. Raw data is here, courtesy of NHC.
Hurricane Hunters Taking Off From MacDill AFB. I took a flight on one of these hurricane hunter aircraft back in 2004, for my book "Restless Skies" - a 14 hour flight thru Hurricane Frances - possibly the most uncomfortable flight of my life. America is the only country that flies into hurricanes to gather more data (you can only glean so much from weather satellites). Here's more information from Central Florida News: "Tampa's MacDill Airforce Base has been a launching pad for hurricane hunter planes heading to gather critical details about Hurricane Irene. NOAA researchers tracking Irene have been flying in and out of MacDill AFB while the storm has moved through the Atlantic. One NOAA researcher, Jim Hayes, went into the eye of Hurricane Irene on Friday. "I was in D.C. for the earthquake and it was about 60 seconds of rattling on the 18th floor, and this was that sort of same feeling," Hayes said, back on the ground at MacDill. Hayes described the eerie feeling being over the eye of such a massive storm: "I look up and I could see the blue sky. I look down at the sea and you could see foam from the high winds on the surface." As residents along the eastern seaboard prepare for the wrath of Irene, Hayes and crews from NOAA have been making around the clock mission to help predict the storm's path and intensity."
Photo credit: "A device measures the storm's intensity. The information gathered is sent back to places like the Bay News 9 Weather Center, allowing our meteorologists to translate and report the data to you."
Photo credit: "A message is left for Hurricane Irene on one house, left, as a resident boards up another in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Irene in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, Aug. 25, on North Carolina's Outer Banks." Charles Dharapak/AP
What You Need To Know To Prepare For Hurricane Irene. Here's some timely advice from wten.com in Albany:
- Have plenty of non-perishable food and water supplies on hand. Make sure battery-operated radios and flashlights are available and have an ample supply of batteries. You can also purchase hand-cranked flashlights and radios which do not need batteries. Have a first aid kit available and make sure there is an adequate supply of medicine on hand for those who need it.
- Know how to contact all family members at any time. Identify an out-of-town friend or family member to be the "emergency family contact." Make sure all family members have that number. Designate a family emergency meeting place where your family can meet in case you can't go home.
- Pay particular attention to relatives with special needs, small children and pets. Know where to relocate pets during a storm because most shelters will not allow pets. Most shelters will only accept "service animals" that assist people with disabilities.
- Prepare an emergency phone list of people and organizations that may need to be called. Include children's schools, doctors, child/senior care providers, and insurance agents.
- Know the local radio and television stations that will provide up-to-date official information during a storm emergency. Follow the news and emergency broadcast.
Maximum Rainfall From Tropical Cyclones. I found this graphic vaguely interesting. 45" from one hurricane in Florida (Hurricane "Easy" back in 1950 - love the name, btw). Know anyone named "Easy"? I hope not. Even Minnesota picked up 3.83" of rain from the remains of "Lester" back in 1992.
READ MORE: Royal Caribbean strands 145 passengers in San Juan
ALSO ONLINE: Tourists scramble as Irene heads for East Coast
* 30-Day Rainfall Map above courtesy of NOAA.
* map above courtesy of NOAA's Drought Monitor.
“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer,” he said. “I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know that there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past, but I believe we contribute to that.”Meanwhile, though Romney on Wednesday said, “I don’t know if [climate change is] mostly caused by humans,” he also said, “Do I think humans contribute to it? Yes.” So Romney has been more consistent than I gave him credit for. Yet, that still makes him consistently timid on the science, particularly when it comes to the recent temperature record — the warming that NOAA calls “unequivocal” and that Romney shouldn’t need to cast in such uncertain terms in the first place."