Wednesday, October 02, 2013
PBS Nova: "Inside the Megastorm" on Hurricane Sandy
PBS Nova aired a one-hour documentary about Superstorm Sandy, called “Inside the Megastorm”. The link is here.
The documentary tracked the sudden formation of the Caribbean low Oct. 22 that would become Sandy, and by Oct 24 or so, the alarms were raised.
Sandy became a monster because of high pressure around Greenland blocking a normal path, and another low associated with a dipping Jetstream bringing down a strong cold front. The setup was a little bit like “The Perfect Storm” in late October 1991, as in Sebastian Junger’s book and 2000 movie, and leading to the Halloween Blizzard in Minnesota.
The film explains how a warmer world means a wavy jetstream, which can mean fewer hurricanes but stronger ones when they come, and more likely to occur out of season. It also explains that warmer oceans mean higher seas.
The documentary traced the advance of the storm toward New York, and the destruction of Breezy Point in Queens. It also explained how the power in lower Manhattan went out for at least four days because salt water shorted out cables on the West side near a ConEd plant (I thought that happened on the East Side).
As a whole, much of New York City, especially Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond, and the lower part of Manhattan, is a very low elevation, and lower than comparable areas in many other mid-Atlantic cities like Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond, which straddle the Fall Line. When you are in NYC and walking the streets you really don’t notice this. I live at about 330 feet elevation. I snows more here in winter than it does at river level three miles away. Can I be complacent? Not against a mega-tsunami from the Canary Islands Cumbre-Vieja volcano if it goes and slides into the ocean in an earthquake.
The documentary presented one drowning on Staten Island.
I visited the New Jersey coast, Staten Island, and southern Long Island areas in March 2013.