NOAA to American public: No, we are not going to just nuke the storms

A Q&A piece on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration begins with this incredibly disconcerting sentence: "During each hurricane season, there always appear suggestions that one should simply use nuclear weapons to try and destroy the storms."

Really? Seriously, America?

Anyway, the entire piece ends up being pretty fascinating, as research meteorologist Chris Landsea explains why nuking a hurricane would be a bad idea ... besides, you know, the obvious reasons.

... an explosive, even a nuclear explosive, produces a shock wave, or pulse of high pressure, that propagates away from the site of the explosion somewhat faster than the speed of sound. Such an event doesn't raise the barometric pressure after the shock has passed because barometric pressure in the atmosphere reflects the weight of the air above the ground. For normal atmospheric pressure, there are about ten metric tons (1000 kilograms per ton) of air bearing down on each square meter of surface. In the strongest hurricanes there are nine. To change a Category 5 hurricane into a Category 2 hurricane you would have to add about a half ton of air for each square meter inside the eye, or a total of a bit more than half a billion (500,000,000) tons for a 20 km radius eye. It's difficult to envision a practical way of moving that much air around.

Attacking weak tropical waves or depressions before they have a chance to grow into hurricanes isn't promising either. About 80 of these disturbances form every year in the Atlantic basin, but only about 5 become hurricanes in a typical year.

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Portraits of devastation in Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy: Charles le Brigand

Stéphane Missier, aka Charles le Brigand, has been photographing people and scenes in and around New York City in the week following Hurricane Sandy.

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Lies, damn lies, and the lying liars who tweet them

So, people like @comfortablysmug lie on Twitter, even about important things during a public emergency like Hurricane Sandy. Is this a cause for worry, asks Nick Bilton? "I don't think so. Twitter, in its own way, has a self-correcting mechanism." Read the rest

Engineers warned of storm surge threat to NYC in 2009

“Scientists and engineers were saying years before Katrina happened, ‘Hey, it’s going to happen, folks. Stop putting your head in the sand.” —Malcolm Bowman, professor of oceanography at the State University at Stony Brook. In 2009, he and other experts convened at a meeting in NYC of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and issued warnings that surge barriers or tide gates would help protect. Read more in James Glanz and Mireya Navarro's NYT report. Read the rest

In post-Sandy "dewatering" mission, Army engineers drain one Olympic-sized pool's worth of water per minute

In an Army Corps of Engineers press release, details on the astounding rate at which workers are draining water from New York's subway and transit tunnels: "To date, the USACE has used about 50 pumps of various sizes to remove 64 million gallons of water from the New York City mass transit system. Operations are ongoing at six sites, with pumps removing about 116,000 gallons per minute. The 696,000 gallons the pumps are draining each minute exceeds the amount of water in one Olympic-size swimming pool (660,000 gallons). There were roughly 600 million gallons in the tunnels when pumping operations began on Thursday, Nov. 1." (via Noah Shachtman). Read the rest

Miguel Bloombito: the incredible Spanish of Michael Bloomberg

The @ElBloombito Twitter account is a running -- and hilarious -- sendup of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's terrible Spanish. Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams profiled Rachel Figueroa-Levin, the mastermind behind the account.

In the past two days, El Bloombito’s pidgin Español Twitter stream has been a balm to disaster-scarred New Yorkers, a bracingly funny respite from the ravages of Sandy. Prior to the storm, it was Bloombito who warned New Yorkers, “Cuidado! El stormo somos about to que vamos el lañdfall! Batteño los hatches!” and “Por favor to remaiño insidero until notice de furthero. Peligroso!” Afterward, it was Bloombito who reminded, “El floodo agua esta still todos los everywhere. Necesitos los gearo de scuba y el flipper!”

Speaking to Salon while her toddler daughter takes a post-Sandy afternoon nap, Figueroa-Levin says El Bloombito originally “gave me something to do while I was stuck inside” during Irene. As it happened, the account attracted an instant following — and the attention of Mike Bloomberg himself — who admitted last year that “Es difícil para aprender un nuevo idioma.”

“I don’t know why he does it,” Figueroa-Levin says. “Not that my Spanish is that fantastic, but I live in a neighborhood where it’s common. I grew up hearing it. I’m Puerto Rican. And I don’t know who he thinks he’s talking to. In fact, last year I had an elderly Dominican neighbor tell me he thought Bloomberg was Italian.”

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Deconstructing Sandy

Yesterday, I got to have a great conversation on Minnesota Public Radio's The Daily Circuit. Host Tom Webber and I spent a good 45 minutes talking about Hurricane Sandy, climate change, and why it's so hard to talk about the connections between the two in an easily digestible, sound-bite format. In the meantime, he might have gotten some good sound bites out of me. Read the rest

NOLA to New York

Katrina survivors talk to New York.

Energy emergency: Sandy profiteers sell gas, generators at predatory prices on post-apocalypse Craigslist

Gas supplies remain extremely limited in New York and New Jersey, nearly a week after hurricane Sandy, and the power's still out for many in those states and others, such as nearby Connecticut.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie signed an executive order announcing a state of energy emergency and instituting gas rationing for the purchase of fuel by motorists in 12 counties, starting today at noon.

Make way for price-gouging entrepreneurs!

Try this, to get a taste of how bad it is: search for "gasoline," "gas," or "generator" on NY Craigslist right now. Gas sales I've found on Craigslist range from $5 to $20 a gallon, but there are probably ads at higher prices. My favorite was the 55-gallon drum of gas for a thousand bucks. Unleaded! Cash only, folks.

Not only is this exploitative, it's explosive. A black market of gasoline reselling, without appropriate safety measures, seems to me like a recipe for tragedy. Read the rest

Report: Black mother who sought help as sons drowned during Sandy was denied

Two brothers, ages 2 and 4, were swept away Monday night when waves of water crashed into an SUV driven by their mom in Staten Island. They were later found dead. A story now emerging: their mother, who is black, went door to door begging for help—and was turned away. (via Steve Silberman) Read the rest

How Victoria's Secret saved the National Guard from Hurricane Sandy

Why do we love Noah Shachtman and Wired's Danger Room blog? Because they break very important stories like this:

On Monday night, Hurricane Sandy hit the armory of the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, leaving the soldiers without power, hot water, or anything but the most rudimentary means of communicating with the outside world. So the next morning, the Regiment’s officers made an emergency plea — to the producers of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

As they had done for the last three years running, the lingerie company was holding its annual television event at the Regiment’s historic armory, located at 25th street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. For the show, the producers had hauled in eight massive 500 kilowatt generators. Of course, the producers said, we’d be happy to help. Hours later, the lights flashed back on.

“We were dead in the water until Victoria’s Secret showed up,” says Capt. Brendan Gendron, the Regiment’s operations officer.

You'll want to read the rest at Wired.com. Read the rest

Sandy hits vulnerable populations hard; disabled and elderly at risk, post-storm

On NPR's Talk of the Nation today, a segment about the particularly damaging impact Sandy has had this week on elderly and disabled populations in the storm's path. Many remain isolated "in cold, dark homes without assistance, food and running water." Related: News today that a 93-year-old man whose electricity was knocked out has died from hypothermia from prolonged exposure to the cold. Read the rest

Gasoline shortage makes Sandy recovery harder for NYC

"Our gas crisis should end shortly." Those words of reassurance from NY Senator Charles Schumer this week aren't enough for fed-up drivers in Brooklyn, after Hurricane Sandy.

Coast Guard ends search for Robin Walbridge, missing captain of HMS Bounty

photo: Cpt. Robin Walbridge, 63. Photo: Jaye Bell and Jerry Parisi.

The US Coast Guard announced Thursday that it has suspended a search for the missing captain of the HMS Bounty some 200 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina. Robin Walbridge, 63, is presumed not to have survived.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Walbridge and Christian families," said Capt. Doug Cameron, the chief of incident response for the Coast Guard 5th District. ”Suspending a search and rescue case is one of the hardest decisions we have to make.”

(HT: Andrew Thaler)

  What happened to the HMS Bounty? After Hurricane Sandy sinks tall ... Rescue video: Sandy sinks tall ship HMS Bounty replica off NC; 14 ... Read the rest

Hurricane Sandy: aftermath photos reveal extent of devastation

Burnt houses next to others that survived in Breezy Point, Queens, after Hurricane Sandy, on October 31. (Reuters/Adrees Latif)

At The Atlantic, a big-picture gallery of photos from AP and Reuters photogs and others, documenting the scope of damage in NYC, NJ, and other areas hard-hit by the recent "Superstorm" Sandy. This is way bigger than "some lights are out," folks.

BB Archives: Hurricane Sandy posts. Read the rest

Helping to get deep cycle batteries, chargers, etc to disabled couple on 12th floor of dark Manhattan apartment building, to run survival necessities

Rob writes,

My childhood friend and dedicated humanitarian, Crystal, is helping coordinate an effort to source deep cycle batteries, chargers, inverters, and other supplies to meet the urgent needs of a disabled couple, Nick and Alejandra, living on the 12th floor of a Lower Manhattan apartment building that's without power. Nick is on a series of electronic medical devices, including a ventilator, necessary for his survival. The committed group of folks involved in meeting their needs in this emergency continue to need financial help and also in-person assistance of those within driving range of Manhattan. Portlight Strategies, Inc. is coordinating donations.

UnconVENTional Aid: Helping Nick Dupree, Social Networking Style

(Thanks, Rob!) Read the rest

Time-lapse video of Hurricane Sandy hitting NYC: 2 days into 2 minutes

The time-lapse covers two days of the hurricane's assault on New York, from the early morning of October 29 through Oct. 30.

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