August 26, 2011
Hurricane Irene Spares Haiti, but Threatens the United States
I've been blogging for some years now about the apparently increasing impact of North Atlantic hurricanes, and in particular their effect on one of the poorest nations on the planet, Haiti. Today Hurricane Irene has left Haiti in its wake, and according to the United Nations this time around:
Hurricane Irene has left impoverished Haiti relatively unscathed, with only isolated damage from flooding and no widespread serious emergencies in a country that is still struggling to recover from last year’s devastating earthquake.
Now Irene is continuing on her path and threatening the United States of America, by most measures the richest nation on the planet, with rather more than just "isolated damage". According to the National Hurricane Center's latest public advisory:
THE HURRICANE WATCH FROM THE NORTH CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER TO SANDY HOOK NEW JERSEY…INCLUDING DELAWARE BAY AND CHESAPEAKE BAY SOUTH OF SMITH POINT IS CHANGED TO A HURRICANE WARNING.
THE TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR CHESAPEAKE BAY FROM SMITH POINT NORTHWARD AND THE TIDAL POTOMAC IS CHANGED TO A TROPICAL STORM WARNING.
A HURRICANE WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM NORTH OF SANDY HOOK NEW JERSEY TO THE MOUTH OF THE MERRIMACK RIVER…INCLUDING LONG ISLAND…LONG ISLAND SOUND…BLOCK ISLAND…MARTHAS VINEYARD AND NANTUCKET.
In anticipation of Irene's imminent impact on the east coast of the USA, Reuters reports that:
From nuclear plants to pipelines and refineries, energy companies braced on Thursday for a potentially devastating Hurricane Irene that is barreling toward the most populated part of the United States.
Gloria, the last hurricane to slam the eastern seaboard in 1985, left at least 2.2 million people without power along the East Coast, and caused $1.84 billion in damages in today's dollar terms.
and according to the NHC once more:
The same broad region is now "well within" the path of Irene.
As if that wasn't sufficient cause for concern, Reuters also points out that:
While the East Coast region has no major offshore oil and gas production like the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast, the stakes are still daunting. The region has around a dozen nuclear plants, a massive oil delivery hub at New York Harbor, and its pipelines and power networks serve more than 100 million Americans.
According to Progress Energy it is:
Taking safety precautions at its two-unit Brunswick nuclear plant in Southport, North Carolina, where the storm is expected to pass nearby on Saturday. The plant, 22 feet above sea level, is built to withstand winds of 128 miles per hour.
According to NHC director Bill Read:
Irene could blast up the East Coast with Category 2 storm force, packing winds of 96 to 110 mph. Being a large hurricane, tropical storm-force winds will extend far inland.
Let's hope, and pray if you're so inclined, that Bill's forecast is reasonably accurate.
Filed under Disasters by