A satellite image is worth a thousand words.
Governors of five states have already declared a state of emergency. And as Nate Silver warns in the New York Times, after assessing the history of hurricanes making landfall in the Northeast:
“Apart from the inevitable loss of life in the most densely populated part of the country, history suggests that the economic damage could run into the tens of billions of dollars, depending on the severity of the storm and how close it comes to the city. Unlikely but theoretically plausible scenarios could have the damage entering the realm of the costliest natural disasters of all time, and perhaps being large enough to have a materially negative effect on the nation’s gross domestic product.”
A sobering if not downright frightening assessment of possible damage is offered by meteorologist Mike Smith here. “The damage potential is huge,” he writes. “Even if the “best case” occurs, I believe the damage may be north of $10 billion.”
He also notes that on its current path, Irene will hit New York City with ground-level winds of 70 to 90 mph. “However, above about the 20th story of buildings, winds will gust well above 100 mph.”
– Jay Bookman