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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricane Irene Aims For New York Sunday

New York City will sustain 12 hours of tropical storm force winds (with gusts to hurricane force) starting about noon Sunday, according to current National Hurricane Center forecasts (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov) tracking Hurricane Irene.

Irene is presently a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph.

Irene's track continues to be revised eastward. Earlier forecasts predicted a landfall along the South Carolina coast, then the Outer Banks. Now the storm is predicted to skirt the New Jersey shore Sunday morning and probably make landfall near Cape Cod. (Just as I predicted earlier...see my earlier post on Irene.)

The forecast also predicts New York City to be hit with northerly winds, meaning we will be on the western end of the storm. As a large system, Irene will hit us with strong winds well after its center passes.

The approach of Irene imperils the annual Bronx Half-Marathon currently scheduled for 7 am Sunday morning. This will add to the growing list of road races (and the earlier-this-month NYC Triathlon) held in stifling humidity that endangers competitors. It is, however, too early to cancel the race; that is a judgment call probably best left to Saturday. The "tipoff" for a race cancellation should be if New York City's Office of Emergency Management requires police officers to do extra shifts for storm preparation, public safety and even evacuation activities. (Many areas of the City are low-lying and near enough to the coastlines of various rivers that even a "mild" hurricane approach and storm surge could be problematic.)

However, even a slight 100-mile deviation in track can be the difference between sustained hurricane-force winds, and merely a breezy and oppressively-humid Sunday.

In other words, be prepared for the worst, but do not be surprised if "at the last minute" a course change means Sunday is a halfway-decent day.

Also be prepared for a challenging Monday morning commute if Irene causes flooding (for the reasons given above), electrical problems or widespread road and track blockages from downed trees.


Eric Dixon
Eric Dixon LLC
World-Class Strategic Analysis
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