Masters: “Irene is capable of inundating portions of the coast under 10–15 feet of water, to the highest storm surge depths ever recorded. I strongly recommend that all residents of the mid-Atlantic and New England coast familiarize themselves with their storm surge risk.”
This morning meteorologist and former hurricane hunter Dr. Jeff Masters posted this figure, “The height above ground that a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds would push a storm surge in a worst-case scenario in New York City”:
My brother lost his Pass Christian, Mississippi home in Katrina’s “worst-case scenario” storm surge 6 years ago this week — so as Masters wrote this afternoon, “Take this storm seriously!”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s quote — “From a Flooding Perspective, This Could Be a 100-Year Event” — was from tonight’s NBC Evening News. As Craig Fugate, who heads the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, said last December, “The term ’100-year event’ really lost its meaning this year.”
Masters writes that in addition to the storm surge, we have the deluge:
Irene likely to bring destructive fresh water floodingIn this morning’s post, I highlighted the threat from storm surge flooding, but flash flooding and river flooding from Irene’s torrential rains are also a huge threat. The hurricane is expected to bring rains in excess of 12″ to 100-mile swath from Eastern North Carolina northwards along the coast, through New York City. The danger of fresh water flooding is greatest in northern New Jersey, Southeast Pennsylvania, and Southeast New York, where the soils are saturated from heavy August rains that were among the heaviest on record. At Philadelphia, rainfall so far this August has been 13 inches, not far from the record for rainiest month of all-time, the 15.82″ that fell in August 1867. This record will almost certainly be broken when Irene’s rains arrive. In general, the heaviest rains will fall along the west side of the hurricane’s track, and the greatest wind damage will occur on the east side
Here is the rainfall map:
Finally, here is Masters’ latest forecast.
The latest set of model runs don’t show any major changes to Irene’s track or intensity. Irene will bring damaging winds, torrential rains, and an extremely dangerous storm surge to the coast, affecting a huge area of the mid-Atlantic and New England. Take this storm seriously! Expect widespread disruptions to electric power, transportation, and water systems. Be prepared for many days without power, as utility crews will be overwhelmed with the damage. Irene is capable of inundating portions of the coast under 10–15 feet of water, to the highest storm surge depths ever recorded. I strongly recommend that all residents of the mid-Atlantic and New England coast familiarize themselves with their storm surge risk. The best source of that information is the National Hurricane Center’s Interactive Storm Surge Risk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in to see the height above ground level a worst-case storm surge may go. If you prefer static images, use wunderground’s Storm Surge Inundation Maps. If these tools indicate you may be at risk, consult your local or state emergency management office to determine if you are in a hurricane evacuation zone. Mass evacuations of low-lying areas along the entire coast of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia are at least 50% likely to be ordered by Saturday. The threat to the coasts of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine is less certain, but evacuations may be ordered in those states, as well.
Irene is a very dangerous storm for an area that has no experience with hurricanes, and I strongly urge you to evacuate from the coast if an evacuation is ordered by local officials. My area of greatest concern is the coast from Ocean City, Maryland, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is possible that this stretch of coast will receive a direct hit from a slow-moving Category 2 hurricane hitting during the highest tide of the month, bringing a 10–15 foot storm surge.
Be prepared. Just by happenstance, I’ll be in Colorado for the worst of the storm at the Stephen Schneider symposium..