August 27, 2011 – Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall at North Carolina: Hurricane Irene began lashing North Carolina today, foretelling with ruthless authority what is to come as this massive storm, its most forceful winds stretching outward for 90 miles, churned north toward New York. At 9:00AM PDT (Noon EDT) the eye of the storm is just east of Hatteras North Carolina with extremely heavy rains and wind battering the state. Tornado warnings are posted throughout NC. Hurricane generated tornados are extremely dangerous because you cannot see a water bourn tornado, like you can out on the plains of the Mid-West.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered all along the Eastern Seaboard, as far north as the New Jersey shore and parts of New York City. Roads and highways were filled with caravans of ousted vacationers and homeowners.
With an estimated 55 million people in the path of a storm, the size of Europe, the East Coast’s major cities were preparing for the worst. Hurricane watches were posted and states of emergency declared for North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and New England. Amtrak canceled train service for the weekend, and airlines began canceling flights, urging travelers to stay home.
For the first time in its history, New York City planned to shut down its entire mass transit and subway system, beginning at noon on Saturday. At least, 370,000 people in the city were ordered evacuated from low-lying areas. New Jersey Transit was set to suspend service then as well.
The high tides of Sunday (Aug. 28th, New Moon) come at a particularly bad time. That’s because tidal forces are at their maximums at the New Moon, when both the Sun and Moon exert their tidal pull on the Earth’s Oceans. For example, the high tides for East 41st St., in New York City on August 28th are at 9:10AM (5 feet) and 9:19 PM (6 feet). Add that to the storm surge and the wind-driven waves and you’re looking at up to 40 feet of additional water, at its peak. For example, sea level will at times be 40 feet higher than normal! This is why the Major of NYC has evacuations for many areas close to the water. Flooding will be severe, devastating and wide-spread.
This Hurricane is huge and is carrying so much wind and water that it will be catastrophic to the U.S., with estimated deaths of 1,000 and costs running close to 100 billion dollars! The emphasis for this storm is on its size and duration, not necessarily how strong the winds are.
This enormous storm has winds stretching 300 miles. The power of the winds will not be as important as the amount of rainfall. Such a huge dump of sustained rain along with high winds will most likely uproot trees from soggy ground and cause wide-scale loss of power. Think of Lake Erie coming out of the clouds and dumping on your head!
Flooding is the biggest concern, with as much as 10 to 15 inches of rain falling over wide areas of the eastern seaboard, overwhelming drainage systems. Add in the high tides and wind driven waves and the flooding will be unprecedented!
With most airlines grounding flights, no subways (and other transportation cancellations); the 8 million mega-city, that is New York, will seem like a ghost town!
The Master of Disaster