Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Heading Straight For New York City?

We're are still in the "forecasts can change" period, but that window is rapidly closing, and if I were a government official, I'd have a Katrina sized knot in my stomach right around now.  How do you like this impact chart, currently considered the most reliable?

(Click to enlarge)

Or go here for an animated version, which shows Irene tearing through the Jersey Shore like The Situation through twins before heading smack-dab into New York.

Brendan Loy has been doing some of the best reporting to date (as well as the most accurate) on Irene's track and movements.  Heed his words:

It’s still not at all clear exactly where in the northeast Irene will go. But for everyone in the threat zone, and most especially for folks in the highly vulnerable Big Apple, the time to prepare is now. That includes being prepared to leave, at least if you’re in a low-lying coastal area and/or evacuation zone. You need to be ready to potentially leave town as early as Thursday night or Friday morning, when I expect evacuations will begin if the track forecast doesn’t decisively shift eastward in the next 24 hours. (Side note: Although the storm would not hit until Sunday, with no serious adverse impacts likely until Saturday night at the earliest, I predict the New York Stock Exchange will be closed on Friday, barring such a track shift, in order to facilitate evacuations and begin clearing out Lower Manhattan. You heard it here first.)

It’s also time for NYC’s local officials to stop pretending that a Category 1 hurricane strike is the “worst-case scenario” for their city. That sort of false reassurance, masquerading as a warning, is deeply unhelpful.....It’s been clear all day today that something far worse, while perhaps still unlikely, is very much within the realm of realistic possibility for New York City…

And as of right now, I have not heard a peep from our government officials. Mayor Bloomberg's been silent, Obama's trying to squeeze in another 18  at Martha's Vineyard, and there has been nary a sound save the concerned voices on the local newscasts.

If you want to see a revolution, well...just wait and see what happens if we get a Katrina-esque event in New York, proving our government learned nothing from the storm that destroyed New Orleans.  A failure of government officials to act preemptively and lay the groundwork for evacuations and rescues will beg the question:  What the f*ck are we giving these clowns 1/3rd of our salary for? There will be no mercy in the streets of the big city as we pick through the rubble of was once the world's greatest metropolis, fishing out bodies that might have been saved had the people we put in charge had done their jobs. They have been warned; why haven't we?

What are they waiting for? Are they afraid we sheep will panic like wildebeets should we be properly informed?  Or are they frozen by fear, fear of being held responsible, fear of being mocked if it all comes to naught, fear of just acting in a life spent shifting responsibility to others?

Let us hope the past is not prologue:

To learn about New York City’s last direct hit from a severe storm, you’d need to look all the way back to 1893, when a so-called “West Indian Cyclone” carried sailing ships to Sixth Avenue, created a river on Canal Street that briefly connected the East River and the Hudson, swept much of Coney Island into the sea and entirely destroyed a barrier beach called Hog Island that once lay south of the Rockaways in Queens....

The geography, quite simply, is not kind:

New York Harbor is narrow, which means that water rushing northward from the storm surge, with nowhere to go, would build up very high — as high as 30 feet, or the third floor of some buildings, according to past warnings from the city’s Office of Emergency Management. According to an evacuation map posted on the city’s official Web site, aside from Lower Manhattan, many low-lying parts of the other four boroughs would also be at risk, including LaGuardia Airport and J.F.K. Airport, which are located right by Flushing Bay and Jamaica Bay, respectively. All of this would be compounded if the storm surge happened at high tide. …

Every New Yorker has seen how messy subway stations get in heavy rain: dirty puddles form on the platforms, water streams from openings in the ceiling onto the tracks, and trains are frequently delayed. Now imagine even heavier rain, plus a storm surge that sent water from the rivers and harbors crashing into the stations through the stairwells, ceilings and tunnels. It would not even take a worst-case scenario to bring the entire New York City public transportation system to a standstill. In the short term, this would eliminate any chance of last-minute evacuations...

Don't worry, though. Barack Obama will take care of everything. As soon as he completes the back 9...

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