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Hurricanes and New York City

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  • Click on a year for storm path and damage information.
  • Roll over track points for time (GMT), category, and wind speed of hurricane.

While heavy rainfall and powerful winds pose serious dangers to life safety and property, storm surge is the greatest hurricane-related hazard. New York City is particularly vulnerable to storm surge due to a geographic characteristic called the New York Bight. A bight is a curve in the shoreline of an open coast that funnels and increases the speed and intensity of storm surge. The New York Bight is located at the point where New York and New Jersey coastlines meet, creating a right angle in the coastline. A storm surge moving up through New York Harbor and amplified by the New York Bight could devastate susceptible areas of New York City.

Hurricane season lasts from June to November, averaging six hurricanes per year in the Atlantic. During the season, New York City is at highest risk between August and October because water temperatures are warm enough in the Northern Atlantic to develop and sustain a hurricane. According to a 1998 Colorado State University study on hurricane landfall probability, New York City has a 0.9% chance of being hit by a Category 3 hurricane. The same study assigns a 2.4% chance for New Orleans and a 2.5% chance for Houston.

1821 Tide levels rose 13 feet, causing the Hudson and East Rivers to meet at Canal Street.
1893 A Category 1 hurricane scoured away Hog Island off the Coney Island coast of Brooklyn.
1938 A Category 3 hurricane (the most powerful hurricane known to have affected New York City) passed over Long Island, causing 10 deaths in the city, over 700 deaths regionally, and disrupted power in Manhattan north of 59th Street and all of the Bronx. The storm also disrupted subway service.
1985 Hurricane Gloria left 2.2 million people without power in the Northeastern United States.
1999 Tropical Storm Floyd flooded subway tunnels across the city, causing service disruptions.

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