Nate Silver, everybody's favorite stats guy, runs some numbers on the economic damage a direct hurricane strike on Manhattan would do.
The numbers do not paint a pretty picture. According to the model, a hurricane with wind speeds of about 100 miles per hour — making it a “weak” Category 2 storm — might cause on the order of $35 billion in damage if it were to pass directly over Manhattan. Such a storm would probably flood New York’s subway system as well as acres upon acres of prime real estate in neighborhoods like the East Village, the Financial District, TriBeCa, Coney Island, Red Hook, Dumbo, as well as parts of Staten Island and most of the Rockaways.
Although far from the most likely scenario, this may represent a reasonable-worst-case estimate of what could happen if Hurricane Irene took exactly the wrong turn at exactly the wrong time.
Fortunately, a direct hit is highly unlikely. A far more likely scenario, according to Silver, is a strike on Long Island. He estimates the damage there would be around $10 billion.
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