The City That Plans to be Flooded

By: Douglas Hill , 2:22 PM GMT on December 02, 2011

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A guest post by Douglas Hill, a consulting engineer and an adjunct lecturer at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York.

Hurricane Irene, remember? Irene, diminished to a mere tropical storm when it struck New York City, came and went, soon disappearing from the news. But think back to August 26 when Irene, a Category 3 hurricane with winds of more than 110 miles per hour, was approaching the North Carolina coast and headed directly for New York City. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called a news conference to order 370,000 people to evacuate their homes. Then he stepped aside, and MTA chairman Jay Walder stepped to the microphone and announced that public transportation--buses as well as trains--was being shut down.


Figure 1. GOES-East visible satellite image of Irene taken at 7:45 am EDT on Sunday, August 28, 2011. At the time, Irene was a tropical storm with 65 mph winds, making landfall on Long Island, New York. Image credit: NOAA Environmental Visualization laboratory.

Evacuation without transportation: a novel concept that the mayor described as "preparing for the worst and hoping for the best." Fortunately, hoping for the best worked.

Unfortunately, the City is still hoping for the best, and it is not preparing for the worst. The coastal storm plan of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) includes strategies for storm tracking, public information, evacuation procedures, people with special needs, recovery, and restoration, but nothing to prevent flooding.

In other words, New York City is planning to be flooded--and according to the National Hurricane Center, it will be. Based on the historical record, hurricanes of Categories 1, 2 and 3 will strike the New York region on an average of every 17, 39 and 68 years, respectively. The City has been overdue for a Category 1 hurricane--Irene should have been no surprise--and we may expect hurricanes of Categories 2 and 3 within the next decade or two. In testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, Max Mayfield, the former director of the National Hurricane Center, said, "It is not a question of if a major hurricane will strike the New York area, but when" (his emphasis.)

The greatest potential for loss of life from a hurricane has historically been from the storm surge. If the eye of a Category 3 hurricane crossed the New Jersey shore, the surge could reach 24 feet--compared with 4.5 feet in Hurricane Irene's--flooding the World Trade Center site and Wall Street, with City Hall resting on a separate island south of the rest of Manhattan. The ripples from a crippled financial district in lower Manhattan would be felt worldwide. In a severe hurricane, the OEM has estimated that up to three million people would have to evacuate, if that can be imagined.



Figure 2. The height above ground that a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds would push a storm surge into New York City in a worst-case scenario. The image was generated using the primary computer model used by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to forecast storm surge--the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model. The accuracy of the SLOSH model is advertised as plus or minus 20%. This "Maximum Water Depth" image shows the water depth at each grid cell of the SLOSH domain. Thus, if you are inland at an elevation of ten feet above mean sea level, and the combined storm surge and tide (the "storm tide") is fifteen feet at your location, the water depth image will show five feet of inundation. This Maximum of the "Maximum Envelope of Waters" (MOM) image was generated for high tide and is a composite of the maximum storm surge found for dozens of individual runs of different Category 2 storms with different tracks. Thus, no single storm will be able to cause the level of flooding depicted in this SLOSH storm surge image. Consult wunderground's Storm Surge Inundation Maps page for more storm surge images of the U.S. coast.

Other major ports have taken measures to prevent being flooded. After the 1938 hurricane, storm surge barriers were built in New England to protect New Bedford, Providence and Stamford. After a disastrous storm in the North Sea in 1953, the Thames Barrier was built to protect London, and the Delta Plan was started in the Netherlands which includes three such barriers, one protecting Rotterdam, Europe's busiest port. Following Hurricane Katrina, a long-disputed barrier was constructed at the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain along with several others, which are now considered to make New Orleans hurricane-proof to Category 3 storms. Barriers are being completed to protect St. Petersburg, Russia, and Venice, Italy.

The heart of New York City could be protected in the same way. Moveable barriers, closed only when the city is threatened with major coastal flooding, could be placed at the upper end of the East River, across the Narrows and at the mouth of the Arthur Kill. Possibly, the latter two could be replaced with a single, longer barrier extending from Sandy Hook to the Rockaway peninsula. Modeling studies have demonstrated that the barriers would work. Four major engineering firms have presented conceptual designs and cost estimates for barriers at these locations. The estimated costs for these individual barriers range from $1 billion to $4.6 billion, with the total of the two or three needed less than $10 billion, comparable to other major infrastructure projects planned or underway.


Figure 3. Proposed hurricane storm surge barrier for New York City near the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Image credit: Arcadis, Inc.

But unlike the original, the 2010 revision of plaNYC, the City's principal planning document, makes no reference to storm surge barriers. The City's latest plans are seen in the March 2011 Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which calls not for protecting the waterfront, but for climate "resilience," the ability to withstand and recover from the disaster. Unfortunately, this may be the best that can be done for those living in the coastal sections of the boroughs that face the Atlantic Ocean.

So the Great Evacuation of August 2011 is a test. In its postmortem on the storm on September 5, the New York Times concluded that "by almost any measure, the evacuation was a success," but it did not report on the principal measure. How many people were left behind? Unlike New Orleans after Katrina, we won't know by counting the bodies. Not this time, anyway.

Douglas Hill, EngScD, P.E., Stony Brook University

Other posts in this series
Storm surge barriers: the New England Experience
Hurricane Irene: New York City's close call

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Link...


could you help me with it?

i mail you the link, lol
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Quoting SPLbeater:



uuuh...you dont want to see it....it is pathetic

Link...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Link?



uuuh...you dont want to see it....it is pathetic
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Quoting SPLbeater:
my website sucks, thats what you get for free i guess. waste of time, lol

Link?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
my website sucks, thats what you get for free i guess. waste of time, lol
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
First time in a while im starting to see a bit more earthquakes near and in Yellowstone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Another look at TS Zeta (2005-6)



Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center
Member Since: July 14, 2009 Posts: 51 Comments: 1721
Quoting ScottLincoln:


Wow, someone actually looks at the graphics we make. And for a little while this morning I was thinking all that fighting with clunky Visual Basic coded ArcMap projects was almost a waste of our time...
It amazes me every day how far computer tech has come...Imagine 20 years from now.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20539
Quoting hydrus:
It is a small, but healthy looking blob on your sat pic.....Floods a comin.. Link


Wow, someone actually looks at the graphics we make. And for a little while this morning I was thinking all that fighting with clunky Visual Basic coded ArcMap projects was almost a waste of our time...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Articuno:

...
I know that
but
what
about
other
things
besides hurricanes?
:|


It tends to get a little bit active during Tornado Season, but not anything compared to hurricane season where you have about 3-4 comments per minute.
Member Since: July 14, 2009 Posts: 51 Comments: 1721
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Make it three by Wednesday?



The origins remind me of Tropical Storm Zeta (2005-6).


Member Since: July 14, 2009 Posts: 51 Comments: 1721
Quoting cyclonekid:
We may have two tropical cyclones by Monday. One in the Southwest Indian Ocean, one in the Jakarta region of the Australian Region.



Make it three by Wednesday?

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
201. Articuno
1:04 AM GMT on December 04, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I hope you're not expecting it to become active anytime soon...Hurricane season is over, everybody has gone away from Weather Underground for the winter. Activity will pick up significantly in May/June as next hurricane status.

T-minus 4 days until CSU releases their predictions for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.

...
I know that
but
what
about
other
things
besides hurricanes?
:|
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2302
200. cyclonekid
12:59 AM GMT on December 04, 2011
We may have two tropical cyclones by Monday. One in the Southwest Indian Ocean, one in the Jakarta region of the Australian Region.


Member Since: July 14, 2009 Posts: 51 Comments: 1721
199. TropicalAnalystwx13
12:56 AM GMT on December 04, 2011
Quoting Articuno:
Once again...
*yawn*

I hope you're not expecting it to become active anytime soon...Hurricane season is over, everybody has gone away from Weather Underground for the winter. Activity will pick up significantly in May/June as next hurricane status.

T-minus 4 days until CSU releases their predictions for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
198. CybrTeddy
12:50 AM GMT on December 04, 2011
Quoting Articuno:
Once again...
*yawn*


Are you expecting it to be active on here?

Honestly, its post-season, its our break, if you want excitement come back June 1st.

We're in hibernation atm, though sometimes it picks up if there's a earthquake, or super outbreak of Tornadoes in the spring.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23626
197. Articuno
12:42 AM GMT on December 04, 2011
Once again...
*yawn*
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2302
196. yqt1001
11:06 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting SPLbeater:
i would make my own weather website..but i am not going to pay NOTHIN!!


There is a lot of free hosting, and I learned to code for free.

Right now though, I hitch a ride on a payed dedicated server for a website I co-develop. :P
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1285
195. SPLbeater
11:02 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
NEVERMIND TAWX13!!! GOT IT, lol. thx
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
194. SPLbeater
10:58 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Link


still requires money
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
193. TropicalAnalystwx13
10:41 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting SPLbeater:
i would make my own weather website..but i am not going to pay NOTHIN!!

Link
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
192. SPLbeater
10:33 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
i would make my own weather website..but i am not going to pay NOTHIN!!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
191. PensacolaDoug
10:29 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting StAugustineFL:


May be awhile Doug. Repeat of 2009? In 09 it was mild right through the end of the year then BAM! Literally on New Years it got a wee bit chilly in these parts.



Sho'nuff.

May be a while.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 553
190. HuracanTaino
9:32 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Hurricane Alice: December 30 - January 6
Winds: 80 mph
Pressure: 987 mbar.

Didn't make landfall on Puerto Rico, but did cause damage from heavy rainfall in the northeastern Leeward Islands.





Thank you , very accurate information, now I know that my late "abuela" was telling me the truth, about how her old wooden house, moved with the wind while she was giving labor that night just before New years eve. She didn't know what was going on, there was not electricity in those days ...
Member Since: May 31, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 845
189. Articuno
9:12 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting SPLbeater:


now listen here mr. tar heel fan....I, do not care for kentucky, lol. i am an NC State fan, and do not like tar heels at all so i was pullin against them, LOL. (and look who won xD)

._.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2302
188. SPLbeater
8:14 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting Articuno:

"73 to 72"
You got VERRRRRRY lucky.
"stinky tar heels"
Tar heels..Stinky?
Well Kentucky is Yucky!


now listen here mr. tar heel fan....I, do not care for kentucky, lol. i am an NC State fan, and do not like tar heels at all so i was pullin against them, LOL. (and look who won xD)
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
187. Patrap
8:12 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
past "Sneaux" deep in Dixie
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
186. StAugustineFL
8:08 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
I'm still waiting for the GFS to go
crazy and give me my big Arctic push into the south.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock...


May be awhile Doug. Repeat of 2009? In 09 it was mild right through the end of the year then BAM! Literally on New Years it got a wee bit chilly in these parts.
Member Since: March 8, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 798
184. Articuno
7:53 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting SPLbeater:


your a tar heels fan? LOLOLOL!!!! HAHAHAHA!!! kentucky won!!! 73 to 72 over them stinky tar heels, LOL!! WHOO HOOO!!!

"73 to 72"
You got VERRRRRRY lucky.
"stinky tar heels"
Tar heels..Stinky?
Well Kentucky is Yucky!
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2302
183. SPLbeater
7:34 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting Articuno:

NOOOOOOO
I am a tar heels fan :(
we lost for stupid reasons we shoulda won


your a tar heels fan? LOLOLOL!!!! HAHAHAHA!!! kentucky won!!! 73 to 72 over them stinky tar heels, LOL!! WHOO HOOO!!!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
182. Articuno
7:22 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting SPLbeater:
Man i hope Kentucky beats the Tar Heels.....COME ON KENTUCKY!!

NOOOOOOO
I am a tar heels fan :(
we lost for stupid reasons we shoulda won
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2302
181. TropicalAnalystwx13
7:22 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting HuracanTaino:

Just a historic data (hasn't been verify)Dec. 30, 1954,San Juan,Puerto Rico, we were hit by an storm, that came from the NE, I know because my grandmother told me that she was in labor for my uncle, in a very unusual end of the year storm.

Hurricane Alice: December 30 - January 6
Winds: 80 mph
Pressure: 987 mbar.

Didn't make landfall on Puerto Rico, but did cause damage from heavy rainfall in the northeastern Leeward Islands.





Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
180. HuracanTaino
7:19 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
So, here's what the models see...

1.) Energy from the remnants of 90L near Nova Scotia move southeastward while consolidating.

2.) Energy from that line of showers and thunderstorms from the Eastern Caribbean moves northeast and consolidates slightly.

3.) The current Extratropical low near 40W 30N dissipates while moving southwest.

4.) The Caribbean energy and leftover energy from 90L meet up and make a tropical cyclone.

Note: The CMC is the only model showing the Caribbean energy combining with the remnants of 90L. All the other models develop the system with just the remnant energy from 90L, but I thought I'd add the Caribbean energy just to be sure. :)

Just a historic data (hasn't been verify)Dec. 30, 1954,San Juan,Puerto Rico, we were hit by an storm, that came from the NE, I know because my grandmother told me that she was in labor for my uncle, in a very unusual end of the year storm.
Member Since: May 31, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 845
179. HuracanTaino
7:12 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting Articuno:
Anyone know if this earthquake is associated with the 5.8 virginia one. It's in sw va and its far away from the main quake..
Don't worry ,east coast isn't a prime area for earthquake; on the contrary we are use to them,here in P.R. we got 96 within a period of a few days two of them pretty strong, 5.3, 5. 1 in te SRS scale. But, just scare of the big one, due anytime, now.
Member Since: May 31, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 845
178. SPLbeater
6:47 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Man i hope Kentucky beats the Tar Heels.....COME ON KENTUCKY!!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
177. PensacolaDoug
6:40 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
I'm still waiting for the GFS to go
crazy and give me my big Arctic push into the south.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock...
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 553
176. TropicalAnalystwx13
6:35 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
So, here's what the models see...

1.) Energy from the remnants of 90L near Nova Scotia move southeastward while consolidating.

2.) Energy from that line of showers and thunderstorms from the Eastern Caribbean moves northeast and consolidates slightly.

3.) The current Extratropical low near 40W 30N dissipates while moving southwest.

4.) The Caribbean energy and leftover energy from 90L meet up and make a tropical cyclone.

Note: The CMC is the only model showing the Caribbean energy combining with the remnants of 90L. All the other models develop the system with just the remnant energy from 90L, but I thought I'd add the Caribbean energy just to be sure. :)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
175. Tazmanian
6:32 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
where we been with this be for


99L poof


90L poof

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114771
174. TropicalAnalystwx13
6:29 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Actually, after looking at the 850 mb. vorticity maps, it isn't what the models develop into the Subtropical/Tropical cyclone.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
173. TropicalAnalystwx13
6:28 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
172. yqt1001
6:19 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That's the thing the models have becoming a cyclone.


Is it actually?
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1285
171. WxGeekVA
6:14 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That's the thing the models have becoming a cyclone.


It's not connected to a front, and does have a broad lower level circulation...
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
170. WxGeekVA
6:10 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting yqt1001:
Well, last night when I said something about a LFC (Liberal Forecasting Center)..I wasn't kidding. (not sure if this is directly relevant or not, but it's not active or anything right now).

It's just a theme so far, but otherwise I got the basics for it.

Link



LOL
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
169. TropicalAnalystwx13
6:10 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting WxGeekVA:
Look at the interesting low located at 30N 40W.

Most likely extratropical but it could make the transition.


That's the thing the models have becoming a cyclone.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31546
168. SPLbeater
6:09 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Quoting WxGeekVA:
Look at the interesting low located at 30N 40W.

Most likely extratropical but it could make the transition.



i doubt it will develop. unlikely :)
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
167. yqt1001
6:05 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Well, last night when I said something about a LFC (Liberal Forecasting Center)..I wasn't kidding. (not sure if this is directly relevant or not, but it's not active or anything right now).

It's just a theme so far, but otherwise I got the basics for it.

Link

Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1285
166. WxGeekVA
6:04 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
Look at the interesting low located at 30N 40W.

Most likely extratropical but it could make the transition.

Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
165. SPLbeater
6:01 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
HEY EVERYBODY!!

Link to my NEW tropical blog. :D
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
164. Articuno
5:52 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
*yawn*
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2302
163. SPLbeater
5:29 PM GMT on December 03, 2011
I finally figured out how to change my blog profile. Another dumb moment recorded for SPLbeater =P
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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