October 27, 2012

New York faces most intense storm in history - Outside the Box - MarketWatch

New York faces most intense storm in history - Outside the Box - MarketWatch:
A nasty confluence of forces seem to be converging on the NY-NJ area. This is a Friday, 10/26/12 forecast so a lot can happen before the storm hits in a few days.
"...For those south of the center, the storm’s circulation will actually be pushing flooding seas away from shore, lessening potential impacts.
Right now, the most reliable model tracks have clustered in a relatively tight range from Delaware to New York City. Counter-intuitively should the center of the storm make a direct strike on New York City, the city may actually be spared some of the more serious coastal impacts from the storm.
Should the storm continue on its current path (the National Hurricane Center’s most likely landfall is now in southern New Jersey), all bets are off for the five boroughs.
The latter scenario — the one that now appears most likely — would have many feet of ocean water funneled into New York Harbor over a period of up to 36 hours. Unlike Irene, which quickly transited New York City last year as a weakening tropical storm, Sandy may actually be in the process of strengthening when it makes landfall.
The result could prove incredibly damaging for coastal residents and critical infrastructure. Keep in mind that Irene was only inches away from flooding subway tunnels in Lower Manhattan. Storm-surge forecasts for this scenario haven’t been officially released yet, but six to 10 feet in the city is not out of the question in a worst-case scenario.
That result would put about 700,000 people’s homes underwater, according to a Climate Central interactive analysis. Add to that waves of 10 to 20 feet on ocean-facing shores, and an additional foot or so of tidal influence from the full moon, and we could be dealing with quite a mess on our hands.
With National Geographic reporting that sea level rise is already accelerating at three to four times the global rate in the Northeast due to climate change, impacts are expected to be worse than if the same exact storm would have hit several years ago.
Should Sandy veer further north of its current track and make landfall right over the city, storm surge could be dramatically lessened, though the city could receive about double the amount of rainfall — up to a foot or more.
For these reasons, if I were a resident of New York right now, I’d be rooting for a direct hit. If given a choice, I’d take 12 inches of rain over six feet of coastal flooding any day.
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