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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why Hurricane Irene Is Dangerous

Hurricane Irene is a Category One hurricane on a wind velocity scale, but its storm surge damage potential is graded at 5.0 on a scale of 0 to 6.   This Wall Street Journal article helps explain why Irene is considered more dangerous -- and why authorities have reacted stronger than one might expect if looking only at the wind velocity -- than most hurricanes which have winds of a Category One.

In particular, note the following passage:
Most importantly, because of its large size, the intense central pressure of the storm is more typical of a Category 2 or 3 hurricane. An experimental product from the National Hurricane Center has rated Irene at 5.0 on a 6.0-point scale for its potential to create damaging storm surge and waves. These are values seen more typically in Category 4 hurricanes, meaning Irene is extremely dangerous.

That damaging potential, combined with Irene’s arrival at what might be exceptionally high tide, is a major reason for the mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas across the New York and New Jersey.
SUNY/Stony Brook has an experimental product that is tracking and forecasting storm surges in and around New York City that is worth your attention.

And a quick observation from both New York and across the Hudson River in New Jersey:  Traffic since about 3 pm has been remarkably light, almost at a pre-dawn level.  Many cars that are traveling are delivering food. 

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and 1994 graduate of Yale Law School who specializes in litigation stress management and crisis management for clients including political candidates. 

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