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Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy: The "Big One" for NYC?

Hurricane Sandy is approaching central New Jersey and is expected to make landfall by this evening.

AccuWeather provides the most interesting set of "loops" that show the storms progress.

There is a classic radar loop:

As well as the enhanced loop shown above.

The "enhanced water vapor loop" shows this:

The more "orange" areas indicate more "dryness" - greens and yellows more moisture.

The "water vapor" loops shows (at 10:15 AM EDT) a distinctive "sharpening" of the eye (it becomes smaller and a more intense green).

If you draw a line from the center through the center of the New Jersey coast this is more or less the track of the storm's landfall.  But of course it may vary up or down depending on winds and the "low" near the coast.

The most destructive aspects of the storm will be north of the eye as the flow is a strong, counter-clockwise one.  This flow is what pushes water into the coast as part of the "storm surge."

The real potential damage will be in the urban coastal areas from landfall north - most likely including all of Long Island and the NYC harbor.  The governor of Connecticut is calling for tremendous damage.

For the global warming enthusiasts you can see here how this store is not an effect of global warming but instead a series of unfortunately coincidences.

I've been in a hurricane or two over the years.  There's little to compare the power and majesty of these store with and, at least at this point, there isn't much humanity can do about them.

Like everything else government funding for weather satellites is part of the larger political football (see this NPR article).   Making liquor, cigarettes, and Twinkees available to those who least need them seems to be a priority over having a consistent country-wide policy on tracking dangerous weather systems.

In any case this will have a big impact on, among other things, voting.

Save for Sandy being (at the time of this writing) only a Category 1 Hurricane this looks like the big one for NYC.

Not that the buildings themselves are structurally in danger from the wind (the World Trade Center was designed to handle the impact of a Boeing 707 at the time it was built).  Its the storm surge that presents the most difficulty.

Much of NYC exists underground - subway, water, power, sewer, and so on.

The "shore" is only a few feet above sea level and a storm surge of just a few feet will severely test these systems.

For the rest of us in the Mid Atlantic this most represents a wet and windy nuisance - unless you live in the higher elevations of Appalachia where upwards of four (4!!) feet of snow has been predicted.

I think that if nothing else this one will go down into the record books as the one that flew down the "harbor" of NYC...

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