NYC Subway Not Built for 21st Century Storms

In just one a few hours on Wednesday night, between 6 and 10 inches of rain fell in New York City – more than it fell in San Jose, California, last year. Water rose in the basement apartments and seeped into the roof. The rain flooded the subway stations and clogged the tracks. The rest of Hurricane Ida, with destroyed the Gulf Coast in the first week, brought floods to the Northeast. Across the region, the death toll reached 40 on Thursday night. Subway delays and continuation of suspensions.

The city’s infrastructure, see, was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to withstand the kind of storm that comes every five to 10 years. Now brutal, record -breaking is the annual event. The rest of Ida transforms the scene of everyday travel into a disturbing reminder that climate change come for all of us. Lightnings of thunder in the West, blackout in Texas, storms in the South, heavy rainfall in the East: “Everything we said would happen 20 years ago,” said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute. “It’s a little crazy to watch all of this happen at once.”

The storm flooded the roadways. But it also fills with alternatives aimed at getting people out of their cars: bike lanes, sidewalks, and public transportation systems. For a while in New York on Thursday, it was all underwater. Images of pouring water at subway stations are bringing the crisis home. “You don’t have to be someone with a lot of understanding of infrastructures to know that’s the problem,” said Michael Horodniceanu, former president of Capital Construction Company at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and now chairman of the Institute of Construction Innovations at NYU. “We’re starting to see the consequences of what is, in my view, a specific disregard for what our infrastructure is doing.”

New York had its first climate-related awakening nine years ago, when Hurricane Sandy brought a hurricane storm flooding low -lying areas and, yes, subway stations. Since then, the city has spent nearly $ 20 million on assessing the city’s climate, approved by the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency. But some of the funds went to solve a different problem than the one Ida pointed out: water coming from streams. This week, all the wet stuff fell from the sky, threatening even areas above sea level.

The remains of Ida have disturbed all the waters of the Northeast because of a climate quirk. You can expect less rain on a warming planet, but some parts of the world, including the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, are seeing increasing in heavy rain. Temperature directly affects how much moisture can be “retained” in the air before it starts to rain, according to Hausfather. Cooler air retains less moisture – and warmer air retains more moisture after it falls as rain.

A storm is heating up this summer: Ida is accelerating quickly because the abnormally warm water in the Gulf of Mexico is what makes it grow before landfall, resulting in 150 miles per hour of wind. As a swirling mass in the hot air, Ida kept the moisture flowing. Even if the wind dries up as it continues to penetrate the ground, the storm brings an incredible amount of moisture to the northern, wet states along the way.

Climate change didn’t create Hurricane Ida, but scientists know how creating climate change makes hurricanes like Ida even more severe. “This is one of the most important physical relationships that climate has: For every degree [Celsius] you heat up the air, you get about 7 percent more moisture in the air, and that means you can have heavier rain events, ”Hausfather said. “These storms have been wet over the past few decades, and they are expected to continue into the future.” Scientists have also shown that storms have increased more rapidly in recent years, as Ida did, due to warming sea water.

No one would look at it if the bones of New York City were put together more than 100 years ago. When engineers dream of a sewer system, they imagine the worst storm the system could get away with, a storm that could come once in 10 or 20 years. New York’s is slated for a five -year hurricane. Scientists still have to put the monster tabulate that fills the city, but hell is definitely not one of the five. The scale can be like hundreds of years.

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