The Real Hurricane Irene Threat Is a Shocker

Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene from space
When you think hurricane, you think wind, right? I mean, they don't call them hurricane-force winds for nothing. So why isn't anyone really talking about the winds that Hurricane Irene is blowing across the eastern seaboard? Oh right, because they're worried about the storm surge.

Irene has been downgraded to Category 1 (thank you North Carolina for slowing her down), but it's the threat of all that water that's still got the folks at FEMA, meteorologists, and other experts on edge. And considering it was the surge of water that Hurricane Katrina sent flooding into New Orleans that really cost FEMA the big bucks, I don't blame them. THIS is the real deal.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "Along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane. In the past, large death tolls have resulted from the rise of the ocean associated with many of the major hurricanes that have made landfall."

The NOAA blames most of the 1,500 deaths linked to Katrina on the storm surge. So far Irene has already claimed five folks including an 11-year-old boy in Virginia, but they don't seem to be surge-related . . . yet. But experts are talking a surge of more than 4 feet to 8 feet of water along the coast. That's above and beyond the normal tides.

It's the stuff that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warns could flood the southern tip of Manhattan. Already 250,000 people have been evacuated, the city has had a historical shut down of its subway system, and major power company Con Ed is threatening to cut power if the surge arrives. 

Don't get me wrong, the wind, the rain, they're plenty scary. They've canceled flights, these deaths are horrible. But I'm going to be keeping an eye on this storm surge at the NOAA storm surge projections.

Take a look at the projections: are you at risk? Are you worried about the storm surge?

 

Image via NASA/Flickr

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