What was once Hurricane Irene is now a strong area of low pressure moving north/northeast headed for it’s demise over Greenland. In the aftermath, most of us will look back and say it could have been worse, and while this is no comfort to people without power or with structural damage, most of us do realize, yes, it could have been worse.
The National Hurricane Center, in my view, did a very good job with its watches and then warnings. We all had plenty of time to prepare for the worst. Beginning five days out, the consensus thinking was that the hurricane would pass within 100 miles of NYC, and as time went by, that distance was narrowed down. In fact, the center of circulation did go over New York City. The timing of when the storm would affect us was very good. What was off was the forecasted strength of the winds. Poughkeepsie had a maximum wind gust of 48 mph. Others in our area were higher, like Central Park at 60 mph, LaGuardia Airport with 67 mph and Bridgeport, Ct with 63 mph. Sayville, in Suffolk County did report a gust at 91 mph, but for the most part, most of us in Putnam and Dutchess County were spared.
The storm’s third landfall was in New York City. As we all remember from grade school science, hurricanes feed off of warm ocean water, which provides the latent energy to fuel them. As they pass over land, they loss there nourishment and weaken. Had the storm track been 50-75 miles further east, it’s likely it would have produced the forecasted stronger winds and would have gone onshore over Long Island as a stronger Category 1 instead of a tropical storm, which I believe is what happened.
Rainfall totals (from the National Weather Service) were impressive. Our area saw between six and nine inches of rain. Officially 7.74 inches at Poughkeepsie, and 7.29 inches in Stormville.
While the track that Irene followed is unusual, we’ve had at least a dozen storms or remnants of storms impact our region since the mid 1970’s. Tropical storms are not an unusual occurrence in the local region. And while the next two named storms “Jose” (already dissipated away from everyone) and “Katia” are not likely to impact us, keep an eye on “Katia” . The old adage remains true in the case, when we’re dealing with Mother Nature…It’s better to be safe, than sorry.