Friday, August 13, 2010

NEQ Friday Review, V.15

There continues to be a lot of speculation as to whether or not the predictions for an extreme hurricane season will validate. I continue to firmly argue they will, and that until we are in November and the season is nearly over, there is no room for disagreement.

Some of the nastiest, most high-impact seasons did not get going until September, and I really think this season will do the same. In 2001 the first hurricane did not even form until the second week of September – and then there ended up being a total of nine hurricanes that season! Just goes to show you...

I continue to encourage the hurricane season pessimists out there to hold their breath and stop mocking and bashing the experts who have far more experience predicting hurricanes than the spectators who are quick to call them out.

Now on a more reminiscent note from hurricanes past, this week’s NEQ Friday Review will look back at a historic northeastern hurricane through the eyes of a fan of The Northeast Quadrant. Here, Nick Panico, a secondary education science teacher from Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, tells his story of Hurricane Gloria from September 1985.

"I remember Hurricane Gloria even though I was only eight and a half years old at the time. My family was living in Mastic Beach, which is a small peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic to the South and the Bay to the east and west, in Suffolk County, Long Island. We were told to evacuate on the morning of September 25, 1985 because our house was located about .6 of a mile just north of the Bay.

Gloria was hyped up to be the Mega-Storm or Storm of the Century because it was a category 4 hurricane just south of North Carolina. Then, what normally saves New England, actually took place. Gloria came north, clipped the Outer Banks of North Carolina and weakened, later arriving in Long Island only as a category 1.
Sources argue the hurricane’s true strength upon landfall, but I know the damage I saw would verify a category 1 storm. There was no electricity for 10 days so in the eyes of many, Gloria was considered a major hurricane.

Speaking of major hurricanes, I had recalled folks saying something about 1938, even thought I had no clue as to what they were talking about since I was so young. I later learned an intense hurricane barreled through the very soil I lived on, causing extensive damage and killing hundreds. After learning more about it I began my own extensive research on the 1938 Long Island Express.

Back to Gloria – the population at the time Gloria made landfall on Long Island was no way near as great as it is now. If a hurricane of Gloria’s strength made landfall now, the effect would be absolutely devastating. Besides the risk of extreme flooding from both tropical rains and that from storm surge, the increase in development over the last 20 years would lead to significant structural damage – to homes, businesses, and personal and public property alike. Agriculture would be greatly affected – the loss of trees and damage to farmland and vineyards that line Long Island’s north shore could suffer an extreme loss. Seeing what happens to these areas during a winter nor’easter, it is difficult to imagine what would happen if even a category 1 storm rolled through.”

Now you might be wondering why I am sharing Nick’s story. Well, if you’ve been keeping up with The Northeast Quadrant you know by now that the northeast is overdue for a hurricane landfall, and perhaps this year will be the year it happens.

I mentioned last week that the Atlantic is prime and the pattern set up now very much favors tropical cyclone activity to reach coastlines from the Gulf to the northeast. Experts have said areas from North Carolina to Maine have a chance nearly equal to that of Florida and the Gulf coast in being hit with a hurricane. It’s happened before, and it will happen again.

Have a great weekend and be hurricane ready!

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