Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sedimentary evidence of hurricane strikes in western Long Island, New York

"If you could just take a look at my script, I know you'd like it"
Overheard. Many times.

From the American Geophysical Union:

Evidence of historical landfalling hurricanes and prehistoric storms has been recovered from backbarrier environments in the New York City area. Overwash deposits correlate with landfalls of the most intense documented hurricanes in the area, including the hurricanes of 1893, 1821, 1788, and 1693 A.D.

There is little evidence of intense hurricane landfalls in the region for several hundred years prior to the late 17th century A.D. The apparent increase in intense hurricane landfalls around 300 years ago occurs during the latter half of the Little Ice Age, a time of lower tropical sea surface temperatures.

Multiple washovers laid down between 2200 and 900 cal yr B.P. suggest an interval of frequent intense hurricane landfalls in the region. Our results provide preliminary evidence that fluctuations in intense hurricane landfall in the northeastern United States were roughly synchronous with hurricane landfall fluctuations observed for the Caribbean and Gulf Coast, suggesting North Atlantic–wide changes in hurricane activity.

Received 28 February 2006; accepted 7 March 2007; published 21 June 2007.

From Wikipedia:
The 1821 Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane is one of two hurricanes in recorded history to have directly struck what is now modern New York City (the other was in 1893).

The hurricane struck the city on September 3, 1821; it is estimated to have made landfall at Jamaica Bay. The hurricane occurred just 6 years after the destructive Great September Gale of 1815.

...Though the hurricane struck at low tide, it produced a storm surge of over 29 feet (9 m) along several portions of the New Jersey coastline, causing significant overwash.

When finally the storm reached New York City, it caused widespread flooding as far north as Canal Street.
Few deaths were reported due to the affected neighborhoods having far fewer homes than they do today.