NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you thought Hurricane Sandy was bad, the mayor’s office says conditions are ripe for far worse weather around here: like heat waves, droughts and coastal flooding.
The study that Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered on the city’s weather future predicts a grim scenario of more heat waves, more rain and wind and more coastal flooding that will affect increasing numbers of people. A panel of climate change experts compiled the study.
“When they’ve looked at what the potential storm surge from a so-called hundred-year flood could be, the height of that hundred-year flood could be five to six feet higher than Sandy in the out years, and maybe over six feet higher,” city Rebuilding and Resiliency director Seth Pinsky told reporters including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “We’re likely to have more frequent heavy downpours and for those heavy downpours to be heavier.”
The city estimates that by the year 2050 there will be a 101 percent increase in the number of people affect by coastal flooding — from 398,000 in 2013 to 801,000 in 2050. Lost jobs will go up 59 percent from 271,000 this year to 434,000 in 2050.
“Our focus should not be on preparing for the next Sandy — in other words, preparing for a storm that is going to do precisely the same thing in precisely the same places, in precisely the same way as Sandy,” NYC Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer on Monday.
The city report predicts a significant increase in heat waves — three or more days with temperatures in the 90s, saying it could go from two a year to seven a year.
“At the high end of their estimates, by the 2050s, New York could have as many 90-degree days as Birmingham, Alabama,” Pinsky said.
Officials voiced concern about the heat wave projections
“It makes our infrastructure extremely vulnerable,” Holloway said. “It is clear that we’re going to need to make investments as a city, significant investments if we’re going to be protected over the long term.”
And in terms of flooding, officials are worried that in the future the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, where the 60 percent of the city’s food supply is brought in, would be especially vulnerable.
“When we get weather trends they usually run in 40- to 50-year cycles, so we’re clearly into something right now — 18 of the last 20 years have been above average,” CBS 2 severe weather expert Lonnie Quinn said.
On Tuesday, the mayor will unveil a plan for dealing with all this weather gloom and doom and how to cope with it and how to make the city stronger.
The study also found that if the city does nothing almost one-tenth of the waterfront — more than 40 miles — could see flooding on a regular basis.
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