Sunday, January 06, 2013

CNN: "The Coming Storms" is mostly a review of Sandy

On Sunday, January 06, 2013, “CNN Presents” aired a one hour documentary “The Coming Storms”, which focuses largely on the likelihood of future huge Atlantic hurricanes, particularly those that hit the northeast. 

Chad Meyers narrates. 

The documentary opened with a Staten Island homeowner, Nick Camerada, describing riding out the superstorm  “Sandy” (in late October, 2012) and facing total rebuilding, apparently without insurance. (The flood insurance issue wasn’t covered.)   The storm surge in the New York area ranged 12-14 feet, which, it was said, was unheard of.

But most of the severe damage occurred in residential areas close to water and less than 15 feet above mean sea level. 

Sea level has risen about two inches since the 1960s, and could raise several feet by 2050, according to the worst climate change estimates. 

Meyers presented Kathryn Sullivan, of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), who explained the importance of both equatorial and polar circle satellites.  The polar satellites are in danger of failing and not being replaced, which could mean that another big hurricane could not be forecast well like Sandy was.  Meyers says that the path of Sandy was predicted several days in advance as well as any hurricane ever has been. 

Sandy was an unusual combination of tropical storm (or hurricane) and a cold-core winter storm that enveloped it, making its wind field and storm surge much large, especially to the northeast of the eye, where speeds were “only” 80 mph.
An engineer from the Electric Power Research Institute (link) discussed the relatively poor preparedness of some utilities in the Northeast, including one that used a paper system to process repair order.

There was discussion as to whether the New York area should spend about 20 billion to build a seawall system like that used in Britain and the Netherlands, which it said would have prevented all the devastation of Sandy.

An MTA engineer showed the destruction of the new South Ferry subway station from flooding at the lower end of Manhattan. 

The CNN link is here.

The film really did not get into speculation about future super hurricanes or long-tracking tornadoes in areas that never used to have them, but that could be in the cards with global warming. 

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