Monday, May 22, 2006

Hurricanes in New York

National Geographic News has an interesting article about the hurricane risk in New York City. The risk is fairly low to the city itself, since most hurricanes parallel the coast this far North, and are unlikely to run directly into the city without spending a bunch of time over land first. Long Island, sticking out to sea, is at more of a risk. On the other hand, the potential consequences of such an unlikely event are really quite remarkably bad. Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens could flood. (Not the part I live in; I'm probably at 50 or so feet above sea level.) The financial impact of New York City (financial industry, the Port of New York) being out of commission for a couple of weeks would be really huge on the US economy, more than Katrina taking out New Orleans. Also, transportation on and off of Long Island could be pretty severely impacted if bridges and tunnels were damaged.

In 1821, the eye of a hurricane pushed a 13-foot (4-meter) storm surge into New York Harbor that put Lower Manhattan underwater.

The flooding would have been much worse had the eye not arrived at low tide.

The National Storm Center is predicting another heavy year for hurricanes, although presumably not as heavy as last year's disaster. Normal years have about two major storms, last year had seven, and they're predicting four to six this year...

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