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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene Similar To Katrina?

Hurricane Irene threatens the mid-Atlantic coast, including New York City, the New Jersey shore and the Long Island shore -- each with barrier islands at huge risk -- with a storm surge expected in some places that may make it comparable to 2005's infamous Hurricane Katrina

This breakdown from the Wall Street Journal shows that some places, like the area near the mouth of the Raritan River in New Jersey, the south shore of Long Island and parts of New York Harbor including downtown Manhattan, may see storm surges of 18 feet.  Katrina had a 24 foot surge in southern Missisippi and made landfall as a Category Three hurricane. 

This shows that the Saffir-Simpson wind scale for hurricanes does not correlate wind speed with storm surge danger.  This is important, because the storm surge is often the greatest danger to both property and life. 

Already, Irene has produced a water level at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel at the level of the previous record high set during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.  

From the latest National Hurricane Center advisory at 9 pm Saturday: 
THE PRELIMINARY WATER LEVEL AT THE CHESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE TUNNEL HAS RECENTLY PEAKED NEAR THE RECORD LEVEL THAT WAS ESTABLISHED DURING HURRICANE ISABEL IN 2003.
Elsewhere in the same advisory, we are told:

STORM SURGE...AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS STORM TIDE WILL RAISE WATER
LEVELS BY AS MUCH AS 5 TO 9 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL IN THEP
HURRICANE WARNING AREA IN NORTH CAROLINA...NEAR THE COAST...THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE...DESTRUCTIVE...AND LIFE-THREATENING WAVES.

As this graphic shows, all the aforementioned coast areas are rated as being subject to a near-certainty of a two-foot storm surge.  

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who handles crisis management and investigative matters.   

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