Monday, March 27, 2006
The CNBC weather man is beating the drums this morning about the risk of a major hurricane in the northeastern United States during the next decade or so. Pointedly, he did not blame global warming, but instead observed that ocean temperature patterns today are corresponding with those that triggered huge hurricanes in the northeast in 1938, 1944, and 1954.
The basis of CNBC's report seems to be this story, or one like it.
The current cycle and above-normal water temperatures are reminiscent of the pattern that eventually produced the 1938 hurricane that struck Providence, R.I. That storm killed 600 people in New England and Long Island. The 1938 hurricane was the strongest tropical system to strike the northeastern U.S. in recorded history, with maximum gusts of 186 mph, a 15- to 20-foot storm surge and 25- to 50-foot waves that left much of Providence under 10-15 feet of water. Forecasters at AccuWeather.com say that patterns are similar to those of the 1930s, 40s and 50s when storms such as the 1938 hurricane, the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricanes and the Trio of 1954--Carol, Edna and Hazel--battered the coast from the Carolinas to New England. The worry is that it will be sooner, rather than later, for this region to be blasted again.
The 1938 storm was so powerful it altered the counters of the Long Island coastline. Click here and scroll down for some startling "before and after" aerial photographs. The difference between then and now is that the Hamptons were not nearly as built up. One can only wonder whether the houses there were built to withstand hurricane force winds. Have Hamptonites full absorbed the Department of Homeland Security's disaster preparedness tips? One can only hope.
And we must not forget the lessons of Katrina. Let's all agree right now that if the Hamptons are inundated by a huge hurricane we won't abandon all the poor people who can't evacuate while school buses sit undisturbed in their parking lots.