20060512_ir.jpgNearly two inches of rain fell on Central Park during the wee hours this morning. We are getting a break until tomorrow morning as the long tentacle of rain plows up against the ridge to our east and stalls out. The Weather Service is saying drizzle, showers and maybe a thunderstorm are on tap for tomorrow. The Weather Channel says "no way", calling for cloudy skies in the morning and a peak of sun tomorrow afternoon. The two forecasts disagree on Sunday's weather as well, with the Weather Service calling for a drizzly, cool Mother's Day and the Weather Channel again saying it will be dry. Both agree that soaking rains return on Monday.

The rain tentacle spiraling out from the low pressure system over Chicago bears a superficial resemblence to the spiral bands of a hurricane. Hurricane season starts in less than three weeks. National Weather Service meteorologists were reminding us earlier in the week that a moderate hurricane could create all sorts of havoc should it hit the city. It has been more than 20 years since the last big hurricane, Gloria in 1985, hit the New York area. A whole generation has grown up not experiencing the effects of a storm and how to prepare.

One of the more vulnerable locations to storm damage is lower Manhattan. The city Office of Emergency Management has been drawing up new evacuation plans. Any hurricane hitting the city would require the evacuation of Battery Park City and "most Lower Manhattan streets within a few blocks of a river" according to an article in the Downtown Express. A Category 3 storm would require evacuating BPC, Tribeca, the Financial District, the Village (East and West), the Lower East Side and parts of Chelsea. The city is planning to set up 500 shelters that could hold up to 600,000 people. The only shelter in lower Manhattan is at Seward High School on 23rd Street. Interestingly, a major storm would mobilize the city's 300,000 person municipal workforce to assist in the evacuation. The new evacuation plan should soon be on the OEM's website.

Infrared satellite image from the National Weather Service