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Counter-narrative on Irene

Via Weather Underground.

Shorter: It's the storm surge. Watch out, NY subway system! Or, for that matter, SEPTA. If you think of SEPTA as a subway. Or a system.

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lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

I'm here in NC - it's cloudy and we have some light rain on and off. Hopefully that will be all.

Submitted by lambert on

There is a greater range of possible paths the farther up the coast we go. The center of the current track goes right through the middle of the state and not up the coast, which is weird.

On the other hand, at landfall, Irene was a category 1 storm. Apparently, the real dangers are lots and lots of water -- high tides, which are already normally high, flooding, and lots and lots of rain. I believe I can cope with that. High winds, I don't like: Roofs, trees. So, please, let Irene have downgraded into a humongous rainstorm by the time it gets up here!

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

I have a rather different take on all of this. I've lived on the eastern seaboard, near New York City, all my life, and we've had severe hurricanes before. But never has NY been evacuated by mayoral fiat, nor has the public transportation system ever been shut down completely, as it was fifteen minutes ago (with the storm now downgraded to a Cat 1, and hundreds of miles away, still, from NY).

Think about it: people are being forced into evacuation, yet the entire public transport system was shut down at least 8 hours before the storm arrives! Counter-intuitive, or what?

I don't think that what's going on has anything to do with my safety. I see it as "Natural Disaster Theater", very akin to "Security Theater." Fear is one of the tools that the powers that be use to distract us from the very real and present threats to our well being--like the unpunished theft of trillions of our dollars. Natural disasters are opportunities to manipulate and ratchet up the fear/control of the masses. And that's what were seeing now. Not a hurricane: a fear opportunity.

Submitted by lambert on

Calling for evacuation and shutting down public transport is an especially obvious tell. I mean, you'd think they'd lay on more trains, no? And the coverage on is especially egregious.

Fear is an opportunity to train the people in compliance. That's a win. Fear also encourages shopping. That's a win. And, in general, it's good to ratchet up stress in the general populace because that both reinforces the slide to authoritarian solutions and shortens life expectancy.

The problem with what's a media critique is that it's almost impossible to reverse engineer the truth out of the lying. The coverage of Fukushima was sloppy and hysterical and bad. And Fukushima was also a real disaster, far worse than it appeared at the time. I don't know what to do about this.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

Obviously hurricanes have a schedule all their own. Still I do not think it is entirely a coincidence that this hysterical disaster theater event is taking place just as the 9/11 tenth anniversary media nostalgia juggernaut is beginning to ramp up...

Do you know what the city just did? They are shutting down all the elevators in public housing that's within the evacuation zone "for the tenants' safety". How the f!@^!%$ is it safe for them if they can't leave their homes? Also, Con Ed is "pre-emptively" shutting down power to buildings in Zone 1, the so-called storm surge zone.

Who lives in the storm surge zone? Well, interestingly, that's where a huge number of housing projects are located--Red Hook, the far lower east side. The elites of New York have always lived slightly inland, (the coastal areas, until recently, were industrial--working ports, so only the humble lived around there).

I think that deep in his secret heart of hearts, Bloomberg really doesn't think the tenants of public housing belong in his Disneyland for elites why not fuck 'em?

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

and one that went right by me. I forget who said this, but our kleptocracy treats every crisis as an opportunity to loot, not a problem to be solved.

Bryan's picture
Submitted by Bryan on

Having lived through multiple major hurricanes that have struck the Gulf Coast, people need to stop looking at sustained wind speed as the only gauge of a hurricane.

If the storm was really weakening the pressure would be rising and it isn't. The current central pressure at 10AM CDT is consistent with a Category 3 storm. The wind speed is down because of the size of storm, i.e. it is pushing more of the atmosphere than a normal sized hurricane.

What makes this storm dangerous to everyone along the coast is its consistent slow track. It is building up a massive 'bow wave' / storm surge as it moves North. NYC is going to see water from Long Island Sound trying to find an exit, as well as the Atlantic trying to push inland, while the Hudson is blocked by a water 'dam'.

The recent heavy rains showed that the storm water system in NYC can't cope so water is going to flood the tunnels and basements under Manhattan.

Waveland, Mississippi did not get wiped out by wind, it was the storm surge that 'pressure washed' everything in the town off their foundations.

Because of the recent heavy rains, trees and utility poles are in mud, not solid ground, and they will be a lot easier to uproot.

Katrina made made landfall 200 miles West of me as a Category 3 storm, and the surge washed out a four-lane road on our barrier island. You want to know about storm surge, ask Hipparchia about the I-10 bridge.

Stay safe and dry.

Submitted by hipparchia on


eta: waveland:

that last link has a good description of the storm surge at waveland and its aftermath:

Note in these aerial photos that lots close to the beach appear clean, with no debris. Katrina's storm surge was a wall of water 20 - 35 feet high moving at 80-100 MPH. When the surge came ashore, it swept clean the first few lots along the beach. As the wave moved inland, it slowed down and debris began to drop and collect in great piles. Look closely at the photo above -- note the trees uprooted and note the debris piles that start about 300 yards in from the beach. The debris pile is the tan stuff that's across the photo -- lumber, shingles, doors, windows, furniture, cars, clothes -- houses and everything in them. The square and rectangular white objects are foundations and concrete slabs on which houses were built.

Submitted by lambert on

That's tsunami territory.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

but maybe my fellow Correntians do know the answer to: all the people who are being evacuated up and down the East Coast -- where the heck are they being evacuated to? The tourists and vacationers can presumably return home, but what about all the residents? There can't possibly be that much shelter space open and ready, can there?

I am just curious, because none of the reports I've seen or read is really answering that question. For NC and VA, they obviously have some shelters set up, and residents there are used to evac action when hurricanes are impending. But where the hell are they sending all those NYC residents? The Soylent Green Packing Plant?

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

And they're robo-calling public school teachers to ask them to "volunteer."

From the comment thread in that link, a teacher says:

I am so sorry. I will help anyone in my neighborhood and strangers if I see them in need during the next few days... BUT I cannot believe the nerve of the DOE, Bloomberg, and Walcott over this. They've bitten the hand that supports this city over and over again, and now they ask us.. wait no - first they TOLD us to report at 10am to an evacuation center. Yes, told us that was the third phone call I received Thursday night. Didn't ask for volunteers. Didn't even tell us who they were - and I thought honestly it was a phishing scam. They stated bluntly that I was to report to work at 10 am on Friday to a center. But it didn't end there. Friday the calls begin again - this time the message changed asking for volunteers and for the first time told us who was calling..

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

via Susie:

“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon

Mm hmm. Yeah, this is all about safety.

beowulf's picture
Submitted by beowulf on

Then in 1927, the great Mississippi flood rumbled down upon New Orleans. As Barry writes in his account, "Rising Tide," the disaster ripped the veil off the genteel, feudal relations between whites and blacks, and revealed the festering iniquities. Blacks were rounded up into work camps and held by armed guards. They were prevented from leaving as the waters rose. A steamer, the Capitol, played "Bye Bye Blackbird" as it sailed away...

If necessary, it would certainly be a reasonable (and legal) exception to the Posse Comitatus law to request the President order the US Army to take custody of inmates during a Major Disaster "to prevent loss of life".
DODD 5525.5, Enclosure 4, the following forms of direct assistance are not prohibited by the Posse Comitatus; therefore, they are considered exceptions to the Act:
Actions taken under inherent right of U.S. Government to ensure preservation of public order and carry out governmental operations within its territorial limits... [in an] emergency to prevent loss of life or wanton destruction of property and restore governmental functioning and public order to such an extent that duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation...

Submitted by WRhouse on

We've had close to 14" of rain this month ( most near the end of it) and now we're going to put another 6 to !! ( sorry 11) inches down. The ground in our area ( Levittown -NNE of Philadelphia ) is totally saturated from two storms we just had ( not related to Irene) and has no capacity to absorb more water, so at this point you don't need to be in a flood plain for bad flooding to happen. Also remember that the storm swells driven by the wind will be from 3 to 6 feet high and both Philly and NYC have large water front exposure and when they hit they'll go for the lowest point they can - i.e. the underground systems.

NJ governor is on live Tv right now letting people know what's open for shelter and to be prepared as best as possible. While there might be some show, They really are concerned about the storm and the damage the 70/80 mph winds will cause.

Oh and they canceled the Phillies double header for today and the game for tomorrow.
Another point - The Local 6abc guy is projecting that the rivers will be rising during the middle/end of the storm at a rate of a foot an hour till they crest on Monday.

See you Sunday Night if we don't lose power

Submitted by jawbone on

from 14 mph. Local weather, right now.

Update- 8:05PM: On another channel, the weatherman said the speed increasing to 16 was a good thing, but...and it's a bit 'but"...usually hurricanes in this part of the US race through at nearly twice the speed of Irene. He's hoping Irene will pick up the pace. But, I wonder if the size is one reason it move more slowly?

This is considered good news, meaning the storm won't be parked dropping tons of rain. Rainfall will vary from 4" to a foot. Earlier they'd feared higher than a foot. This will be the wettest August on record by quite a large amount.

Surf on Long Branch beach, NJ, right now is, well, impressive.

Northern half of the storm is stronger than the southern half.

Eyewall will hit NYC at noon Sunday, with winds gusting to close to Cat One levels (predicted 55-75 mph, Cat One would be 80 mph.

I think I may not be able to get the gutters cleaned out....

Wow! Surf on Long Island, Nassau County, is very, very impressive.

1000 Nat'l Guard members are on their way to Long Island. Huh? NYC is chopped liver?

Tree tops are moving quite a bit here, and my outside temp just went out on my indoor/outdoor station. Rain has just stopped. Maybe I can get to one or two gutters.... And lay the gas grill down on the ground.

Submitted by jawbone on

if power goes out, they'll stay colder longer, so, if doors aren't opened much, there will be less food spoilage.

Also, at Talk Left, either Jeralyn or a commenter suggested using those glow necklaces or bracelets (for kids, also used at concerts) to provide light to get around at night, after the candles are blown out. The little electric tea lights (best without flicker feature) can serve as night lights.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

Back in the 1970s, there was a hurricane that hit the area I lived in eastern Pennsylvania. It rained for days. The little creek near our house nearly flooded us out, thanks to it suddenly having about thirty times as much water as normal. Hurricanes don't need wind to cause lots of damage. NOAA is predicting 4+ feet of storm surge in Delaware Bay and Hudson Bay today. If you're near there, you might want to be elsewhere at high tide.

It's been quite a while since NYC was hit by a full-blown tropical storm like this. I don't know if they're overreacting, acting badly, or haven't a clue. But that much water can do a lot of damage, and I suspect they're a bit panicky right now. I don't blame them.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

in New York.

That's less than we had in one big rainstorm last week.

The center of the hurricane is coming up the Jersey coast right now. Outside my windows the trees are lightly blowing around, but there's little rain. Really, I've been in thunderstorms worse than this.
Last summer two tornadoes rolled through my neighborhood with 80mph winds, uprooting trees. Now that scared the shit out of me. This does not. In fact I'm going outside right now to catch some air.

The peak of the storm surge is supposed to happen in 40 minutes. We'll see what happens with that. But right now, it's looking like a major case of overkill. New York's been shut down for three days.

Interesting factoid: The NYT is reporting only 9,600 people went into the evacuation shelters, most of them from Rockaway (the beach island). Half the people in public housing in the "Zone A" evacuation areas just refused to move.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Subject: The  Atlantic continues the narrative: Obama the overwhelmed: "Iimplacable forces"

Exit Obama, Enter Irene: A Dispatch From Martha's Vineyard - Atlantic 
This morning there is no need for storm metaphors. There is just the storm.  And the power of the sea, the force of the wind,  the steady roar from both—the wildness of our usually placid land and seascape—makes us feel humble.  We are not people but just things in Irene's path.  We have no control over what will happen—only weak hope that the damage will be slight.  We are reminded, again, of the power and beauty and brutality of implacable forces of nature. We gape in awe at the fury. But we also know that, in twelve hours,  it will be over as Irene spends her force traveling in a northward arc through Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. We can, in the end, ride out the storm.
Yet, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, the hurricanes of policy and politics that beset the president, and Washington, and capitals around the globe—and all of us citizens in the way of such storms—will continue unabated. Today, the fury of public policy dysfunction seems beyond anyone's control. The colliding ideological  forces produce fierce political wind and rain that seems without end. The damage from division and discord in our stormy political culture will be far greater than from power outages, even for millions, along the Eastern seaboard.
Leaders are supposed to have some impact on the course of human events.  Yet the political storms in Washington seem so severe—the potential damage so great—that we ask ourselves, can anyone lead in this time of broken politics and policy polarization? And can we, mere citizens, ride out this storm?  
So, the ferocity of Irene makes us wonder whether Barack Obama might prefer the hurricane in Chilmark, with its dramatic fury but brief staying power, to the hurricanes that await him in Washington, which will go on tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow, through a contentious,  reconvened Congressional session this fall and the sound-byte warfare of next year's election.

And yet against all odds he bravely mans his post:

CAPTIONPool photo from Getty 
Obama stays on top of Tropical Storm: He convened a video teleconference Sunday morning with top White House and administration officials.

Submitted by lambert on

Again. Hardly fair. Looks like the path is right up the NH/VT border toward Quebec City. Pretty windy, here, though.