"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Perfect Storm

We are living in very strange times indeed, and we may very well look back on the next ten days and tell stories about it to our grandchildren.   At the same time we have a huge breaking national security scandal and cover up (Benghazi) and a close and contentious presidential election, we may also have a once in a century meteorological event, Hurricane Sandy, which is forecast to hit the Atlantic coast on Tuesday of next week.   Here's what's being said about it, all of which freaks me out:

“The more data I see, the more I think we’re going to be talking about this storm for decades.” That’s what meteorologist Nate Johnson said last night on the WeatherBrains live show about Hurricane Sandy. It’s a sentiment I keep seeing expressed again and again, in various forms, by pretty much everyone with pertinent meteorological knowledge. Not just serial alarmists, but everyone.

"This is a beyond-strange situation. It’s unprecedented and bizarre. Hurricanes almost always bend out to sea in October, although there have been some exceptions when storms went due north, but rarely. No October tropical systems in the record book have turned left into the northeast coast.  The strong evidence we have that a significant, maybe historic, storm is going to hit the east coast is that EVERY reliable computer forecast model now says it’s going to happen."

"New York City is at particular risk for serious impacts from storm surge. If Sandy moves inland on the New Jersey coast, huge amounts of water will flow toward New York’s harbor, so predictions of storm surge will be critical. … “I am personally very concerned about storm surges in New York City,” says [Philip Orton of the Urban Ocean Observatory of the Stevens Institute of Technology] … “City managers and scientists agree that we’re not ready for a 100-year flood event, in major part because we haven’t had one in well over 100 years,” Orton says. …"

"A very prominent and respected National Weather Service meteorologist wrote on Facebook last night, “I’ve never seen anything like this and I’m at a loss for expletives to describe what this storm could do.”  Yes, I’ve never seen anything like it either nor have our modern meteorological tools. As I wrote yesterday afternoon, we don’t know whether our tools are up to the task because no storm of this nature has occurred in the modern meteorological era."

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