Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Latest Storm Reporting From Here

This is Brooklyn.

So far, it's the calm before the storm, very humid with hardly a breeze. We've had rain off and on all day. In this part of town, people are taking this seriously, but no one is really panicking. I'm very grateful that I'm not living in one of those over-priced cinder-block and drywall high rises right now. I noticed this morning that none of them had taped their large floor-to-ceiling windows. Most of the mob scenes were on Manhattan yesterday. Grocery stores here were open and very busy, but no lines out the door or anything like that. Lots of things like bread were already sold out. Michael and I have enough peanut butter to feed a kindergarten class. We have so many flashlights with fresh batteries that even the cats have flashlights. We also have candles just in case.
Michael is very upset about missing what is usually his busiest and most profitable day of work.
I'm mostly bored. I've finished with preparing for the first day of classes (which may or may not happen on Monday depending ...). I suppose I could walk over the Williamsburg Bridge to my studio, but the building management sent an email telling everyone to stay home. Besides, who knows what the wind will be doing later this evening. No way I'm crossing an East River bridge in high wind.

It looks like Irene will barely qualify officially as a hurricane when it arrives tonight. However, since the storm is so big, it is expected to arrive with a storm surge that could be as high as 15 feet, and that on top of high tide and almost a foot of rain. Flooding will be the big issue in this city full of tunnels and basements with sub-basements. Perhaps the Mayor was wise to order people out of the coastal and riverfront areas after all. If anything knocks the power out, it will probably be flooding, not the high wind. Flooding may keep the subways and buses down on Monday. The college where I teach says it is closed for the duration and will make a decision about Monday later.

I'll try to keep this post updated. If the power goes out, you'll have to wait.

Irene apparently will be fashionably late. She is now scheduled to arrive here at 10AM tomorrow.

Now I'm hearing a different story on the radio. It's now expected to make landfall on Long Island just east of here sometime after midnight. We are expecting 70 to 80mph wind gusts here (higher in Manhattan because of the "canyon effect" between buildings). Long Island is expecting 90mph wind gusts. The major worry is flooding. The storm surge is expected to be very large on top of perhaps as much as a foot of rain. The breeze is picking up, and the heavy rains are just a few miles off the coast and on their way.

One of my colleagues from the college, originally from Israel, posts on his Facebook page:
Well... we pulled everything in, prepared water, food, and batteries, and primed the water pumps. Let God's wrath fall upon the earth - we're ready!

The Mayor's latest press conference:

UPDATE 8:45pm EDT:
Oy! What a media circus! All the channels are doing live coverage. Times Square, Rock Center, all of these places that would normally be packed with people on a Saturday night, now look like the day after The Rapture. They are empty. La Guardia is not only closed, but empty of people.
We're getting a lot of rain right now, but not much wind.

UPDATE: 7:30am
A very windy rainy morning. We still have power, though it's out in much of Queens and Staten Island. Irene is now just barely a hurricane, and its full force is expected in New York sometime between 8am and 9am. The big problem already is flooding, especially in New Jersey now, though there are parts of Manhattan and south Brooklyn that are already flooding. From where we are in Billyburg, at the moment, it's wind and a lot of rain.

UPDATE: 9:10am
The center of the storm is off the coast of Atlantic City. If we are supposed to get hurricane force winds, we should be getting them now. So far, just a little windier than usual. I went ahead and made tea and worked on Powerpoints for my modern art survey class with may, or may not, start tomorrow. I would imagine that the real problem is flooding, and mindful of that, for once I'm glad I don't have waterfront property. So far here, just lots of rain.
I'll reserve judgment for after the center of the storm passes through, but I'm beginning to suspect that Irene, like the great New York "Earthquake" on Tuesday, might go down as one of those greatest disasters television has ever seen.

UPDATE: 10am

The storm is officially over. The center just passed through with barely a ripple. The rain appears to have stopped, but it's still windy out.

Glad that's over. Now for the real disaster, tomorrow's commute.

But in the meantime, let's have another cup of coffee, and let's have another piece of pie.

UPDATE: 12:25
It coulda been so much worse! Thank God it wasn't!


June Butler said...

The slowing of the movement of the storm is not good news for the coastline. Irene relentlessly pushes water in toward the land as it creeps along. The damage won't be from wind but from rain and storm surge. Juan behaved that way off the coast of Louisiana.

IT said...

Take care and stay safe!

JCF said...

Stay high & dry!

Paul (A.) said...

I'm like 100 feet above sea level of the Raritan River estuary, but I ended up with three inches of groundwater infiltrating my basement.

Bail and mop Sunday.

But we have electricity and no falling trees, so life is good. Boil-water restrictions may follow.

JCF said...