Science

One year ago, a TEDx speaker predicts Hurricane Sandy’s devastating effects

As efforts continue to recover from Hurricane Sandy throughout New York and New Jersey, we stumbled on this surprising 2011 talk from TEDxBermuda: “The 9 biggest weather disasters of the next 30 years.”

In the talk, given in October of last year, hurricane hunter and meteorologist Jeff Masters — who writes a blog for Weather Underground — predicts nine unthinkable weather disasters that could hit the United States over the next 30 years. We’re talking about storms that are dangerous to society, events that could cause $100 billion in damages and knock major cities and industries offline …

And number six just happened.

In his talk, Masters shares charts and data-rich projections that show how a hurricane with even a relatively small storm surge could affect the city, overtopping the sea wall in Manhattan’s Financial District and sending water rushing up the Hudson to knock out power plants for days and even weeks. Plus: the potential to flood the subway system and shut down the city’s airports.

He suggests it’s time for New York to think about Netherlands-style storm surge barriers. As he says: “Has happened before, will happen again: A New York City hurricane is an inevitability, and a 20-foot storm surge will flood the city.”

“We really don’t know what climate change is going to do to hurricanes,” he says, “but it makes sense that it’ll probably make the strongest ones stronger.”