How Bad Could Irene Be?

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 26 2011 @ 10:48am

by Patrick Appel

Nate Silver prepares for the worst:

According the model, a hurricane with wind speeds of about 100 miles per hour — making it a “weak” Category 2 storm — might cause on the order of $35 billion in damage if it were to pass directly over Manhattan. Such a storm would probably flood New York’s subway system as well as acres upon acres of prime real estate in neighborhoods like the East Village, the Financial District, TriBeCa, Coney Island, Red Hook, Dumbo, as well as parts of Staten Island and most of the Rockaways.

Although far from the most likely scenario, this may represent a reasonable-worst-case estimate of what could happen if Hurricane Irene took exactly the wrong turn at exactly the wrong time.

City by city warnings here. Mike Smith at Meteorological Musings is updating constantly on the situation. From Smith's damage projection:

Because of the wet ground, it will be easy for the hurricane to uproot trees which will bring down power lines as they fall. So, regardless of the exact path of the storm, trees will topple causing extensive power failures. Those power failures will last more than a week in a number of areas. In addition, the difference in wind speed between the ground and the top of skyscrapers makes glass damage especially likely. Storm surge will exceed 10 ft. in some areas causing coastal flooding and river flooding will likely occur as a result of these heavy rains.