Skeptical comments by one weather forecaster have likely prompted some in the path of the encroaching storm to ease back on their preparedness as Hurricane Irene bears down on New York City. The forecaster, Simon Atkins, writes:
The demise of Irene has already begun. There is no visible eye. The storm intensity is down to 99 mph. This would be a low-end category 2 or a strong category 1 storm, while 36 hours ago some predicted a catastrophic category 4 storm. Air Force Reserve aircraft have found that Irene’s eyewall has collapsed, and the central pressure has risen—rising pressure means a weakening storm.
The reduction in storm intensity likely confirms that this storm is not going to be as monstrous as it has been publicly forecast to be.
The good doctor’s analysis is confirmed by the National Hurricane Center, which reports that the storm has lost some of its destructive power since coming ashore on North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds at present are being clocked at 85 miles per hour. The storm is likely to lose additional strength as it heads northward.
So why not assume the worst is over? Because Irene is “still a massive, powerful storm capable of producing widespread damage.” Says Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Weather Underground:
By the time Irene arrives on Long Island Sunday afternoon, it will probably have top sustained winds in the 65-75 mph range. However, since Irene is such a huge storm—tropical storm force winds extend out up to 290 miles from the center—it has set a massive amount of the ocean’s surface in motion, which will cause a much larger storm surge than the winds would suggest.
Here in New York, the risk of flooding remains a very real possibility. The smartest strategy for residents is to expect the worst and hope for the best. Make sure you have drinkable water on hand, food, and plenty of batteries, just in case.
- Hurricane warning issued for NYC; mandatory evacuations possible
- Irene now on path to NYC; some city residents warned to evacuate
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