Up to 60 million people may be impacted by Hurricane Sandy this week and in the weeks to come. A hefty chunk of that population are subway-reliant New Yorkers, who would do well to read this while sitting down with a paper bag handy.
The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn is gross. An EPA Superfund site, the agency describes it as "one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies." The contaminated water "poses a threat to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation."
And thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the Gowanus is flooding.
With the combined effects of the surge from Hurricane Sandy and high tide, the Gowanus Canal broke its banks this morning in multiple locations and flooded over many of the streets in mandatory evacuation Zone A along its shores. The Observer was on hand to take pictures of the waters. It was far worse than anything we witnessed with the initial Sandy surge at high tide last night.
While the only serious flooding we saw last night was on 2nd Street, this morning saw waters creeping up almost every block next to the canal near Carroll Gardens. Flooding in the canal is troubling as its a superfund site that is home to extensive industrial activity and has a long, well-deserved reputation as a hotbed of toxic sludge and pollutants.
This is how the mind works: With this gigantic, unprecedented storm bearing down on the East Coast, will my gas prices go up? Because, you know, I'm fine with the gas and oil that I burn creating massive, deadly storms, but I am not OK with the prices of gas and oil going up as a result. Death and destruction, sure. Another 20 cents a gallon? HOW DARE YOU SIR
Anyway, the answer is, no. Your gas prices are probably not going to go up.
From journalist Brian Stelter, live-tweeting from the Delaware coast as Hurricane Sandy approaches, comes this important public service announcement. This Rehoboth Beach restaurant is in a mandatory evacuation area, but they wanted to set everyone's minds at ease.
Are you worried about the Terrifying Megastorm, as we are now apparently calling it? Well, just think how much cat food, toilet paper, batteries, and beer you'd have to lay in if you were going to weather Saturn's "Great White Spot." This storm was as tall as North America and long enough to wrap several times around the Earth, and it raised the temperature in one part of the atmosphere by more than 150 degrees F.
It's a strange day in New York City. Probably D.C., too, but I can't vouch for that. The city isn't shut down, just static, sitting in place. It's been taken offline in weird ways: power in some parts of lower Manhattan, steam and the subways, the stock exchanges. It's a weird mix of hyper-preparedness and insouciance. Lights are on in apartment windows, people are walking around, businesses are open, businesses are barricaded. It's 8 million people saying, "OK, let's see what happens."
On Sept. 4, 1900, the U.S. Weather Bureau office in Galveston, Texas, learned of a major storm in Cuba. It was hard to predict where it might head next; they apparently thought it was likely to head northeast. It didn't. On the 8th, a hurricane leveled the city.
The Galveston Weather Bureau staff didn't have much choice but to guess. As we've seen with Sandy over the past few days, the path of a hurricane is hard to predict even with modern sensor technology and satellites. Without the data we now collect, almost as blind as Texans in 1900.
And now the bad news: Obsolescence and budget cuts may mean that we're about to lose some of those data-collecting satellites. From The New York Times:
The endangered satellites fly pole-to-pole orbits and cross the Equator in the afternoon, scanning the whole planet one strip at a time. Along with orbiters on other timetables, they are among the most effective tools used to pin down the paths of major storms around five days ahead.
All this week, forecasters have been relying on just such satellite observations for almost all of the data needed to narrow down what were at first widely divergent computer models of what Hurricane Sandy would do next: explode against the coast, or veer away into the open ocean?
Experiments show that without this kind of satellite data, forecasters would have underestimated by half the massive snowfall that hit Washington in the 2010 blizzard nicknamed “Snowmageddon.”
I know you're tired of hearing about Hurricane Sandy. Or maybe you're not. Who knows. If you are, I'm sorry. I can't help it. I live on the East Coast. This, this thing is bearing down on me. I bet it was just as hard for Damocles not to always be blogging about swords. And since I made the first Sandy-related GIF several days ago, by the laws of the internet, I own the story.
Here's where we are this morning.
As you can see, the anticipated track continues to shift west and south. The storm should make landfall Monday night, probably somewhere near Delaware. But as it has over the past few days, that track could change.
Yesterday, we wrote about Tropical Storm Sandy, making jokes about a European agency that wrote with tangible agitation about "THE STORM’S MENACE- A POWERHOUSE CAPABLE OF WHIPPING THE ATLANTIC INTO A FRENZY AND CHURNING UP DANGEROUS TIDES." Caps in the original, of course.