Hurricane Irene is probably at its strongest moment at this writing, as a Category Two hurricane, and will become weaker over time as she moves north. However, Irene is very large and will be moving very slowly. So, which is worse? Category Two hurricane winds passing quickly through an area or Tropical Storm force winds hanging around for a day? I suppose it depends of if you are a well built jetty or a fast food sign at a strip mall.


In 24 hours from now, by late afternoon on Saturday, Irene will be a Category One storm on the sitting on top of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Tropical Storm conditions are already present in the area and will continue through Sunday AM. Between 36 and 48 hours from now, so by Sunday night, Irene will traverse Delmarva and southern New England and New York, with the current track a little more to the west than predicted a day ago. Irene is very unlikely to be a hurricane by the time it reaches Long Island, but it will be a large, lumbering wet, windy tropical storm and will bring significant flooding to all those hilly areas in New England and eastern New York.

Likely, the real significance of this storm with respect to life and limb and to a lesser extent, property, will be the interaction between people’s expectations and ensuing actions vis-a-vis the actual wind and flooding that occurs. Your best bet is to take Irene fairly seriously and hope to later say “Oh, that wasn’t as bad as I expected.” The alternative is to take reports of Irene’s weakening to mean that you have nothing to worry about, and during the storm you go out to buy a pack of ciggs and drive through some water you didn’t realize was that deep and be washed into the river and die. Up to you. I suggest you take the former course and stop smoking, for maximum results.

Comments

  1. #1 Bacopa
    August 26, 2011

    Thanks for commenting on my observations about fast food signs. They can get pulverized and yet most of the florescent lights survive.

    Someone mentioned having beachfront property. Hope you get lucky, Ike scoured the beaches clean. I hope you got your house built by the engineer who rebuilt this guy’s house.

    Looks like Irene will not become stronger than Ike and have a considerably smaller storm surge. I must also point out that the community in the above video was pretty far from the worst part the storm.

    Most important thing if you live outside of the storm surge zone is how strong your electricity infrastructure is. I live in an area with hardened underground cables also live next to a phone switching station and have a major hospital a half mile away. I had power back in a day and a half. my ex-gf lived in a less developed where most electricity came in above ground. She was without power for sixteen days but at least had a crew dispensing food and ice rations near her home.

    Most of all, DON’T PANIC! All of southeast Texas went completely insane when Rita followed just a few weeks after Katrina and Houston was full of Katrina refugees. If you do not live in a mandatory evacuation zone, DO NOT EVACUATE! Keep the roads and gas stations open for people who really have to get away. We had mayhem on the highways during the Rita debacle. We learned from it and weathered Ike well. You cannot control the storm but you can control how you react to it.

    To wrap up, if you’re outside the storm surge zone a hurricane is sort of like a supercell thunderstorm where everyone is in a strongest downburst ever that lasts for six hours with plenty strong wind before and after. Think of it like that. Shelter in place, and best of luck

  2. #2 Lynn Wilhelm
    August 26, 2011

    I recall Floyd was a slow storm. Lots of flooding in eastern NC. Looks like we won’t get so much rain here in the Raleigh-Durham area–but we’ll find out tomorrow.

  3. #3 skippy
    August 27, 2011

    good luck to everyone, i’ll be watching it on tv.

  4. #4 hoary puccoon
    August 27, 2011

    Re evacuation– As I recall, an official hurricane warning means a hurricane is expected to hit you within 24 hours. For some purposes (saving a boat, for example) this is not enough time to prepare. If you are in an official evacuation area, it would be a really good idea to keep up with the storm through the National Hurricane Center web site instead of just your local news station, and get out early if you can possibly manage it. You’ll save yourself, and avoid adding to the congestion if there is an evacuation.

    I know this is a hassle, reacting to the threat of a hurricane that may turn before it reaches you. When we were living aboard, we ended up preparing for five hurricanes and only got hit by one. But preparing carefully for that one saved our boat, and probably our lives.

  5. #5 Jason Thibeault
    August 27, 2011

    Just posted a video of Irene from space, via Time’s news feed, over at my place. Click my name.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2011

    Jason, I wonder if they hear it when they fly over it.

  7. #7 Jason Thibeault
    August 27, 2011

    Ah. But in space, noone can hear you… blow.

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