So there is this category one hurricane heading for the northeast, and we are being subjected to a nationwide news blitz about how there will be death and destruction. I pointed out that there is a bit of hyperbole going on here, and I see comments about how the central pressure of the storm makes it a cat 4. You Yankees are smoking crack. It isn’t the minimum central pressure that is important in a hurricane, it is the sustained winds. As of this writing, Sandy has maximum winds of about 90mph. That makes it a Category One on the Saffir-Simpson scale. At Cat1, all we do here is evacuate trailer parks and beach fronts. New York panics and closes elevators, mass transit, the Stock Exchange, and tunnels.
In Orlando, when Hurricanes Charley (CAT4) and Frances (CAT3) made landfall in 2004, Walt Disney World closed for half a day. I thought New Yorkers brag about toughness! What does this mean? Why is this a bad thing?
In 2004, the fire department that I worked for had just hired a new chief. He was from New York, and as Hurricane Charley neared, the chairman of our department’s hurricane committee wanted to meet with him to discuss our disaster plan with him. His reply was that they got hurricanes in New York all the time, they were not any worse than a nor’easter, and he then left to attend a conference in New Orleans.
The town had major damage, power was out for two weeks, and he was unable to get a flight back. He had to rent a car and drive back. Making such a big deal out of a minor storm puts a false sense of security the next time a REAL hurricane nears, and that endangers lives.