Tropical storm Isaias is scheduled to hit New York City late Tuesday morning, with two to four inches of rain expected and sustained winds of 35 to 45 mph by late Tuesday afternoon, with some gusts up to 60 mph. While Isaias has been forecasted to lose its hurricane strength by the time it hits New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell said the city is putting up barriers in Lower Manhattan, which is projected to get the worst of Isaias.
"The storm surge is looking at one to two feet as a worst case scenario," Commissioner Criswell told reporters during a press conference on Monday morning. (For context, Superstorm Sandy caused surges of up to 14 feet.) Criswell said that Hesco barriers and dams are being installed along a one-mile stretch of Lower Manhattan as part of the area's integrated flood protection system, from Wall Street to Catherine Slip.
"Hopefully what the weather services tell us is true, and it won't have much impact. But we'll be ready," de Blasio added.
Asked about what the city was doing for the many other low-lying areas across town, the mayor replied, "Every storm is different, but we also know some things are eternal. Of all the parts of this city, one of the places that is the lowest, that has the greatest vulnerability and the most people and businesses, is Lower Manhattan." (You can check to see what evacuation zone you live in here.)
Commissioner Criswell noted that her agency will have observers placed around the city to monitor conditions on Tuesday out of an "overabundance of caution."
"We don't think that were going to see severe impacts from this storm," Criswell stressed.
The rain is expected to taper off on Wednesday morning, with sunny skies prevailing that afternoon.
Earlier this year, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that global heating and sea level rise caused by human beings is contributing to an increase in the severity of hurricanes.
The city's approach to protecting Lower Manhattan from future storm surges and climate change has been piecemeal since the "Big U" protection system that won a 2014 design competition was broken down due to a lack of funding. Battery Park City is getting its own protection measures.
Sandbags and dams are interim measures while the de Blasio administration moves forward on a $10 billion land expansion between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Battery. Parts of East River Park are scheduled to close this fall as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, which is supposed to shore up East 25th Street down to Montgomery Street.
You can read more about the de Blasio administration's strategy to address the climate crisis across the city here.