Pre-storm Report from NYC (updated)

October 29, 2012 | 13 comments
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Since I live in NYC, I’ve been following the weather and news pretty closely from various sources.  I left work early yesterday, and it was closed down today. All transit has been shut down, evacuations taking place, and the Ward/Stake communications network is in place. I live up a hill, so I’m not worried about flooding. I went for a short walk this morning to pick up a few more supplies, and the reactions vary broadly. Some places are boarded up and closed, others open like usual. Fewer people are out on the road, but I saw three runners in twenty minutes. And I’ll confess, one reason I went out was to see if I wanted to run in the weather. (RunnersWorld had some good humor on that.)

So far, it’s not much different than any other storm. Constant drizzle, but not hard rain. Wind, sometimes really strong wind, but I haven’t seen any downed trees or even big branches yet. It’s selfish and shallow, but I enjoy extreme weather; it’s a change in schedule, a little uncertain, and fun… up to a point, obviously. My wife’s trapped in the Chicago area for a few days, so I spent the day cleaning with streaming videos in the background, reading Saving Darwin as deep cultural background affecting how we instinctively read Genesis (post to come!), and eating through anything that might conceivably go bad quickly in the fridge, if we lose power. That means an indulgent cheeseburger, ham/pineapple/olive pizza, and chocolate-chip banana bread (all of which I produced myself.)

Tonight is when we expect the worst, and it really is set to be a perfect storm. As I understand it, the hurricane will meet up with a severe weather system from the west, and a cold system from the north, all on the day the tides are highest (full moon) around the time of high tide. 23-ft high waves have been reported in NYC harbor, and we’re still building. We’ve been warned to expect loss of power, perhaps for several days. And transit may be permanently damaged, due to the antiquity and sensitivity of equipment.  If I have power and internet access, I’ll post an update or two in the next few days. And perhaps Kent can chime in from his neck of NYC.

Stay safe people.

Update: I woke at 4 am, to a near-complete absence of wind and rain. Our area has had some minor power outages (individual buildings), but it appears the majority of damage has been done by the odd falling tree or the flooding, which has been quite bad. One co-worker has lost his house and car, and they weren’t even in evacuation zone A. The MTA is evaluating, but multiple tunnels have flooded and it sounds bad. Red Hook, about a mile downhill from me, is home to Ikea, Fairway, and some of the best food trucks around. And it’s mostly underwater now. I’ve been called in to work to assess things. Edit: Here’s a nice collection of images of damage.

 

13 Responses to Pre-storm Report from NYC (updated)

  1. Researcher on October 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Based on reports from Facebook, there’s been a lot of baking and cooking going on in the early hours of the storm. I made pumpkin pie, wheat bread, and homemade chicken noodle soup. My kids made chocolate chip cookies and a neighbor brought over some brownies.

    We’re a couple of hours west-southwest of NYC. School and work are out for at least two days. I’ve seen numerous reports of power outages and our power’s been flickering throughout the afternoon. Heavy winds, lots of rain. A number of trees are down in the area, including a large one a few minutes ago at the home of someone in the stake presidency. (Landed on one of their cars.) Our township volunteer fire department siren just went off for the third time today. The firefighters must be staying at the station, because the fire engines are already roaring through the township.

  2. h_nu on October 29, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Good luck getting through safely, Ben.

  3. Dave K. on October 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Stay safe Ben. Schools here in Cleveland just announced closures for tomorrow. First “hurricane” day ever.

  4. Tatiana on October 30, 2012 at 1:06 am

    I’m not begrudging and I know there’s a lot higher population density in the northeast, but doesn’t anyone else notice that hurricanes down here near the gulf coast are not nearly as big a deal for the country as a whole as hurricanes up on the eastern seaboard? I mean, sure, they matter anywhere but it seems like nobody really notices all that much when they happen down here. It makes me feel a little like we’re a 3rd world country.

    Stay safe, everyone. Do take it seriously.

  5. Julia Taylor on October 30, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Tatiana,
    I live on the west coast, and we get tons of hurricane coverage no matter where it happens. Maybe you don’t see it as much on your local stations because they are giving you advice on what to do? For us, since there isn’t much we can do but worry about family and friends, there is always at least half of our local newscasts taken up with the areas of the hurricanes, and where on the website you can check for local parishes and their status. The national news channels have been all hurricanes here.
    I hope you are out of the way of this one. My niece in Florida gets hit with something, no matter which directions the hurricane goes, or at least it seems that way.
    :-)

  6. jks on October 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Tatiana, that may well be true. NYC is the center of the universe for many people in the media, so it is a big deal to many news people. However, in this case the storm wasn’t just a hurricane. It was Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy PLUS other storms that met up with it to make an unusual “Frankenstorm” to cause them to predict major flooding.

  7. Thaddeus on October 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Why would the phase of the moon affect the tide levels on earth? A full moon has just as much gravitational pull as a new moon.

  8. Ben S on October 30, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    It’s something that’s been mentioned in several sources, but here, from wikipedia under “tide.” “Approximately twice a month, around new moon and full moon when the Sun, Moon and Earth form a line… the tidal force due to the sun reinforces that due to the Moon. The tide’s range is then at its maximum” So not only did the storm hit NYC at high tide, but at the highest tide of the month.

    Here’s one from FreePres.
    http://www.freep.com/article/20121030/FEATURES01/121030044/Astronomy-links-full-moon-to-Hurricane-Sandy-high-tide

  9. Thaddeus on October 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Ah. Makes sense. Thanks

  10. Kent Larsen on October 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Sorry I haven’t responded earlier. We don’t have Internet right now. Per my Bishop only one family in our ward (in upper Manhattan — highest elevation in the city asI understand it) had a problem — a broken window. But others in our stake had to or should have evacuated.

    I have the sense that the city maybe should have evacuated more –at least in hindsight.

    I’ve been out & even drove to our ward building. Downed trees and awning damage can be seen. But this area of the city was generally spared.

  11. Kent Larsen on October 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    We now have Internet again. As for Tatiana’s observation (4), all I can say is that the same thing happens, to a larger degree, for storms that happen in other countries. When is the last time that you heard of the damage done by hurricanes in the Pacific and Indian oceans? Typhoon Megi (2010) killed 69 in the Philippines and Taiwan, and seems to me to have been a stronger storm than either Sandy or Katrina. How much coverage did it get here in the U.S.?

    I’m not saying its right. I am saying that there are biases in the system, that are fed by what the audience thinks is important, not by what the media think are important. Like it or not, people here in the U.S. think that Atlantic hurricanes that could hit the eastern U.S. are more important than hurricanes that could hit the Philippines. Personally, I don’t like it. But its the way it is.

  12. Sam Brunson on October 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I’m glad you guys are all right, Kent and Ben!

  13. Tatiana on October 30, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Sorry for being whiney. =) I’m glad the damage wasn’t worse than it was. I do think it makes sense that the media cover those populated areas more because they’re less accustomed to hurricanes hitting them directly and so they need more warnings to take it seriously. It’s also just understandable that when something affects you and your family directly it seems more of a calamity. And it’s always bothered me that 3rd world countries are treated as 3rd world countries too and not just the southeast. In this time of the net we have friends and family all over the world, so it matters. And if we don’t it’s only because we don’t know them yet, but we should, right?

    I hope everyone’s power comes back quickly. Our power company here is sending trucks up to help out. These guys are good and do great work.