In Long-Gone Past Are Hints That The The North Was Hit By Monster Hurricanes
While all eyes are on the southern U.S. -- as well they should be (when it comes to hurricanes) -- the current shift in storm intensity may also be an omen for places in the north.
Many are those who don't know that in 1893, a category-two hurricane made landfall where JFK International Airport is now located, its surge causing the actual disappearance of Hog Island -- a barrier off the Rockaways at the western end of Long Island.
During that storm, it is believed that a thirty-foot surge swept over parts of the Queens and Brooklyn ocean fronts.
"Nobody I know except the oldest people in the Rockaways remember Hog Island, which began to form just after the Civil War and by the 1870s had hotels on it and bath houses and was the summer playground of Tammany Hall, sort of the Irish 'Riviera,'" says Queens College professor Nicholas Coch, a coastal geologist. "Then it disappeared in 1893, swept under the ocean."
And such is not the worst-case scenario.
That would come with a landfall midway up New Jersey near, for example, the town of Freehold -- which emergency planners tell us would allow a hurricane to unleash its severe right side at New York Harbor and pile water into Lower Manhattan.
Such a storm would only have to be a category-three to cause flooding a couple stories high in neighborhoods such as the one where the World Trade Center was located.
It was for this specific reason that an emergency center in New York was once built with an entrance on the third floor.
That would be necessary in a category-three -- the strength of Wilma when it hit southwestern Florida -- but there is evidence, says another expert, that the entire East Coast up to Cape Cod has been subject in the more distant past to storms that reached category-five intensity.
Such appears to have been true in places like Virginia Beach, Virginia, where a paleoecologist named Dr. Liu Kam-Biu of Louisiana State University says category-four and five hurricanes have struck during the last 3,000 years, if not in recent decades.
Studying layers of sand from what he says are long-ago storm surges, Dr. Kam-Biu told Spirit Daily preliminary evidence indicates that similarly potent hurricanes likewise hurled the ocean at Massachusetts.
"I think part of the reason why we haven't seen more catastrophic hurricanes in the documentary record is because it's too short," says the scientist. "If we extend the record from 120 years to 1,000 years, then I think it is quite likely that we'll find more catastrophic hurricanes hitting the Northeast, including New England, New York, and a lot of parts of the coast that during that 120 years have not been hit by strong hurricanes."
Dr. Kam-Biu has postulated that climate change altered the position of the Bermuda High and steered storms northward.
During the Middle Ages, there was a period of global warming almost identical to what the world is currently encountering, with shifts in the jet stream.
Many experts on the Northeastern seaboard fear that a repeat of an event similar to a storm dubbed "the Long Island Express" in 1938, which like "Wilma" moved very fast, would lead to devastation worse than Hurricane Andrew due to the concentration of population in New York and in New Jersey.
Most susceptible, in addition to the Rockaways, would be Long Beach, Freeport, and Amityville.
Due to development, according to Mike Wylie, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, a storm like the one in 1938, which was a category-three, would cause damage "similar to what we've seen in coastal Mississippi, in beachfront cities like Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pass Christian" after Hurricane Katrina.
In densely populated areas like Long Island , "a category-three storm would do category-four damage" north as far as Sunrise Highway (including towns like Quogue and Westhampton Beach), he warns.
Statistically, the New York area is hit by a large storm every 75 years or so. But with climate flux -- including warmer ocean temperatures -- the situation will increasingly resemble the intense storms that occurred during an eerily similar climate swerve (and chastisement) in the Middle Ages.
[resources: Sent To Earth]
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