New York City is Due for a Hurricane

Has been 117 years since a hurricane directly hit New York City.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The question isn't if--but when? That's the conclusion in a weather channel report on the five biggest cities most overdue for a severe hurricane. Target number two: New York City. Tim Minton has details. (Published Friday, Jul 16, 2010)

    The phrase "Hurricane threat" is an oxymoron in the city that never ruminates about natural disasters. 

    As Sophie Bell in Downtown Brooklyn put it: "I worry about a lot of things in New York, pools closing early and money for schools -- but I don't worry about hurricanes."

    That attitude is ubiquitous in the Big Apple, which bakes in summer but almost never sees severe weather commonly associated with southern areas where warm ocean and gulf waters energize storms.

    But Dr. Rick Knabb of the Weather Channel has just released a study that identifies the top five major cities that are "most vulnerable and overdue" for severe hurricanes. Miami ranks #1. New York City is #2. The only other northern city to make the list is Atlantic City at #5.

    "Just because you haven't been hit in a long time doesn't mean it couldn't happen some time in the near future,"

    To come up with the ranking, researchers at Weather Channel -- which is owned by a consortium that includes NBC Universal, the parent company of NBCNewYork -- analyzed historic storm patterns. They also took into account population density and property concentration on coastlines.

    If there were a category 3 or 4 hurricane (wind speeds between 111-155 miles per hour) slamming New York harbor, the storm surge could be devastating. 

    "The water gets pushed up, with coastal neighborhoods all the way up to the northern Bronx being inundated," said Jake Cooper, deputy commissioner of New York City's Office of Emergency Management.

    So what to do? OEM planners suggest reading the city's preparedness guide and looking at a map of evacuation zones. If you live in one, have a family plan that accounts for moving to higher ground --  and getting your pets there too -- in a weather emergency.

    Until then, enjoy the calm -- 117 years and counting -- before the next Big One comes... whenever.