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October 12, 2007

What if New York City gets socked by a category-3 hurricane?
Posted by Patrick at 09:23 AM *

Via Bruce Sterling: a Post-Disaster Housing Design Competition, sponsored by the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

Spookiest for me is the description of the made-up New York City neighborhood of “Prospect Shore”:

Prospect Shore covers roughly a mile (1.6 km) of the New York City coastline and immediate uplands. The eastern and western edges are defined by picturesque blocks of three-story single-family homes. The eastern area contains a small historic district. An elevated highway with parking underneath divides the neighborhood. Manufacturing and warehouse buildings, remnants of the neighborhood’s origins, are clustered around the highway, especially by the coast. North and west of the highway is a vibrant mixed commercial and residential area. South and east are large parks and tall apartment towers. In each distinct area, there are multiple schools, health facilities, religious structures and municipal buildings. Two subway lines give the neighborhood quick access to the rest of the city.

Like most of the city, it’s difficult to find an apartment or home in Prospect Shore. A building boom in the last five years has filled in most of the vacant lots and converted formerly industrial loft buildings into high-end residential.

Cripes, I almost feel like I live there.
Comments on What if New York City gets socked by a category-3 hurricane?:
#1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:51 AM:

Looks like a rotated mashup of Park Slope, Bay Ridge, and Sunset Park, relocated to the outer rather than the inner shore.

#2 ::: Christopher Turkel ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 10:02 AM:

My cousin lives in Park Slope. I better warn him a floods a-commin'.

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Actually, the real Park Slope is relatively safe from storm surge, as this map (PDF) shows. But Teresa's right that there's Slope DNA in the composition of that made-up nabe.

#4 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 11:31 AM:

Who mops up after the hurricane? Does FEMA do a heckuva job, or is it Bloomberg's moment of glory, after which he'll run for President?

#5 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 11:37 AM:

66 pages--that's quite a competition brief. It's short on specifics of site and program, which is itself part of the problem--basically, the city seems to be looking for temporary high-density housing, which can be set up anywhere needed. BTW, any competitors will be competing for glory--the money is not very much for a professional team, the competition has little chance of leading to actual commissions, and competitors don't retain rights in their submissions.

#6 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 11:50 AM:

A quick glance yields the following title:
What if New York City gets hurricaned by category-3 sock puppets?

*rubs eyes*
Makes me think of an unholy synthesis of the last three or so threads.

Anyway, I'm a sucker for disaster planning stuff. I was hoping for some really meaty speculation about the effect of, for instance, filling every below-streetlevel void in Manhattan with water. Please entertain me! I'm tired, and all I have is an internets.

#7 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 12:08 PM:

(note: post contains shameless plug)

Midori:

I edited, and Forge published earlier this year, a thriller called Category 7 which discusses the impact of a hurricane on NYC in fair detail.

A category 3 would do huge amounts of damage: potentially a 3-story wall of water would sweep up lower Manhattan as far as Canal Street. The subways would of course flood, in Manhattan, Queens, and elsewhere (you may recall that heavy rains have put the subway out of commission in Queens twice in the past year); the electrical system would fail and salt-water corrosion would be rampant throughout the tunnels and stations.

Fire Island would likely disappear; Coney Island would be flattened. Lower Manhattan would also disappear. The storm surge might reach as high as the Statue of Liberty's feet. All the local rivers would flood, as would Long Island Sound.

High winds would be tremendously dangerous in Manhattan especially--glass curtain wall buildings are essentially shrapnel waiting to happen. Windows would both be blown in and sucked out (people too, possibly). Stuff on the roofs of buildings and on the streets would become flying weapons--benches, planters, garbage cans, etc.

Because of NYC's geography (right angle coastline, shallow ocean bottom, etc.) meterologists generally say that a hurricane in New York is considered to be one category higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale than elsewhere in the country. For instance, a storm which in Florida would be a category 2 would be a category 3 in New York.

Any way you look at it, we're talking about millions of dollars of damage to infrastructure and private property and potentially a large loss of life, since the evacuation order would have to be given more than 24 hours before the storm was projected to hit in order to effectively evacuate the city. And I don't know about you, but I have a hard time picturing New Yorkers taking an evacuation warning seriously.

I'm really glad I live on high ground. In fact, the high school two blocks from me is a hurricane evacuation center.

#8 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Like New Orleans, New York City will be on its own.

Next?

#9 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 12:19 PM:

I'm reminded of the story of the CitiGroup Center and what happened when the lead structural engineer realized that the 59 story building- as originally built- wouldn't withstand a hurricane. It's a case study in engineering ethics, because he admitted his error quickly so that it was fixed in time.

#10 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Melissa Singer,
Oh yay! Shiny thing! Thank you, I'll have to get find that book.* (Is it really a shameless plug, when the answer is so apropos?) And did I dream it, or did the Weather Channel really have a made-for-cable-tv movie called "Category 10: the End of the World?"

*pause*

ZOMG! I had no idea that NYC would be that, uh, wrecked by such a (relatively) small scale storm. Wow.


#11 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 12:22 PM:

That's a fascinating and bloodcurdling site. Wow.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Melissa Singer... Darn. Now I need to go to the bookstore again.

#13 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Kathryn #9: Fascinating, thanks. Come to think of it, can you recommend any books on forensic engineering? I've got an engineering background, and whilst I really enjoyed books like Petroski's 'To Engineer is Human', I'd like to look at something a little more quantative.

#14 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 01:24 PM:

Oh, I love this stuff. Diasaster plannning + architecture? I should go into this field. So awesome and helpful. Also love that NYC apparently learned the lessons of Katrina and 9-11, "You're on your own, suckers" and is planning for that.

One of the fascinating things I discovered around the time of the big earthquake in Pakistan is that Roger Dean, artist of Asia and Yes album covers, is now fiddling around with sprayed cement disaster shelters... That are all rounded like the architecture he draws on paper. I'm not sure how much fun they'd be to live in, but I gotta respect the thought that disaster shelters can has aesthetics. ...Eh, on checking, it looks like he's no longer pointing to third-world situations for his houses, but it's still a kinda cool idea.

#15 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Kathryn @ #9: that is possibly the best illustration of professional ethics I've ever seen. Thank you!

#16 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Hmm...and a bit of Googling led me to this very different take on the Citicorp/LeMessurier story.

#17 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 02:09 PM:

I don't recall seeing this link here:

New York City after humans.

#18 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 02:33 PM:

#7 Melissa Singer: ...(you may recall that heavy rains have put the subway out of commission in Queens twice in the past year)...

The last time, not just Queens. For the first time in my memory, every subway line, not just the A or the B or the 7 (or?) as often happens, but every subway line in the City was knocked out. It was a taste of... something, that's for sure.

#19 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 02:39 PM:

on disaster shelters:

I recall a post-Katrina NPR interview with a fellow who studied them. It seems that after every major disaster, some architects (or arch school students) start designing "cheap, portable, easy to assemble" portable shelters. Apparently it makes for a good assignment.

The problem is, that though there are hundreds (!) of decent designs for such things, nobody makes them. Why? Basically there isn't a manufacturing/distribution base for making them. Often because making them requires unusual (but eco friendly!) materials, or uncommon skill sets.

One proposed solution the sourcing problem was to abandon clever solutions in favor regular tradesmen and available materials. In the U.S., that means teams of ordinary builders use frame, drywall, paint, etc, the interiors of shipping containers. (Obviously a welder and a supply of cheap prefab windows* would be a help.) Transportation of shipping containers is a solved problem if you can get a semi truck to your destination.

The cost/speed tradeoff vs. trailers is left as an exercise to the reader;)

*are there any other kind nowdays?

#20 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 03:08 PM:

Michael @ 18: Not quite every line, but very nearly. Parts of just about every line, according to the NYTimes's City Room blog, which was keeping the best track.

The previous time, I was dumped out of an elevated train several miles from home and wound up walking most of the rest of the way, since I wasn't going to get any wetter walking than I was standing and waiting with the rest of the mob for the rarely-seen and impossible-to-get-onto buses. (Did the mile on a still-packed but boardable bus.)

The city is better at dealing with snow than rain, imo.

#21 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 03:19 PM:

#20 Melissa Singer: The city is better at dealing with snow than rain, imo.

Yeah, but I hate those mini-Himalayan mountain ranges the snowplows create at every street corner that us poor mini-Edmund Hillary pedestrians have to find our ways over. Without benefit of Sherpas, I might add.

#22 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 04:44 PM:

I remember one hurricane in 1954 or 1955 which hit Long Island -- my family had to evacuate our home. We lived in Roslyn. I know Hurricane Hazel was the big hurricane storm of that year but I believe the one I am remembering is Carol. Floods and super winds.

#23 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 04:48 PM:

re #7: a three story storm surge is a little overstated considering that Camille, the mother-of-all-EC-storms, only had a 24 ft. surge. If one is to believe Wikipedia, Gloria arrived at L.I. as a low end Cat 3, with a 7 ft. surge at Battery Park. I would bet with what some others have suggested: that the driving issue would be large scale disruption of underground utilities, including transportation.

#24 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Madeline F, #14: Roger Dean (I think with his brother Martyn) has been doing sprayed-concrete architecture for a long time; some of that work found its way into, I think, Magnetic Storm.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 06:56 PM:

I've played with that Google Maps/sea level page, gradually raising the water level while I watch our end of our block. At the point that we finally get flooded, Williamsburg, Secaucus, Hoboken, Newark Airport, and the Fresh Kill landfill mounds have all become islands, and the Atlantic Ocean is encroaching on Gravesend Park, Brooklyn College, and the Eastern Parkway.

Melissa (7): "I have a hard time picturing New Yorkers taking an evacuation warning seriously." It's an interesting question. On the one hand, we're very practical about disasters, and understand the city as a complex set of interdependencies. On the other hand, it takes something on the order of dynamite to get us out of spaces where we've resided a long time. My guess is that a lot of people who should leave won't, but they'll be very helpful and cooperative about it.

Jon Meltzer (8), we will not be on our own. We'll yell for help early and often, and have people organizing evacuation, rescue, and post-storm relief. We will not put up with situations where relief workers and supplies are being turned away from the area. And if the United States fails us, there are a lot of countries out there that have large emigrant populations living in the NYC area. As long as there's communication going in and out, New York is not alone.

Midori (19): Shipping containers! We have scads of shipping containers at sites all around the harbor. You could float them over on barges or container vessels. All you need then is a sturdy framework to hold them, and water, sewer, and electrical hookups. Windows would be a plus. At minimum they'd get you through the first weeks and months following the hurricane, though they'd be less congenial when the really cold weather set in.

C. Wingate (23), Camille was a mother of a storm, but when it hit the East Coast it was eastbound, heading out to sea again after coming ashore on the Gulf Coast, looping north, then turning east to cross the Appalachians, and reaching the Atlantic at the southern end of Chespeake Bay.

The big worry is that a major hurricane heading up the Atlantic Coast would hit the New York bight, which is the right angle formed by Sandy Hook, NJ, and Long Island's barrier islands. The storm surge would be funneled into Jamaica Bay, New York Harbor, and connecting waterways, and would pile up when it reached the shallows.

Manhattan has a sharp rise, but the oceanward side of Long Island is a long, gradual slope down to the water. Even a ten-foot surge -- which is nowhere near the maximum projections -- would be enough to swamp the Rockaways and SSE'n Brooklyn, along with Staten Island's North and South Shore, and Queens inland from Newton Creek and Flushing Bay. Hither New Jersey would be in nasty shape -- all that estuarial area from the top of Newark Bay down past the Arthur Kill would flood.

Washington, D.C. would have a little flooding along the Potomac.

#26 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 07:17 PM:

TNH @25:
All you need then is a sturdy framework to hold them, and water, sewer, and electrical hookups. Windows would be a plus. At minimum they'd get you through the first weeks and months following the hurricane, though they'd be less congenial when the really cold weather set in.

There are a couple of blocks of shipping containers turned into student housing not far from my office. I understand that they make quite cozy studio apartments. They are sought-after housing, in a funky area north of the Ij, a 15 minute (free) ferry ride from Centraal Station.

#27 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 07:36 PM:

The way to get New Yorkers to evacuate would be to have the Rent Guidelines Board grant an automatic 30% decrease on a 2 year lease to anybody who gets the hell out in a timely manner.

Who needs buses? Who needs evacuation centers? Just give us a guaranteed regulated rent decrease and we'll be your evacuation butt-boys for life.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 07:45 PM:

Abi... People living in containers? I suddenly find myself thinking of New York's living conditions as shown in Soylent Green. Without the you-are-what-you-eat aspect.

#29 ::: Jean ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 07:48 PM:

I suspect few people remember that on the morning of September 11, 2001, there was talk of a small hurricane just off shore from NYC that could, possibly cause some impact to the city.

That hurricane wandered happily into the North Atlantic, but I'm sure the reporting was lost in the aftermath of what did happen to NYC that day.

#30 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 07:58 PM:

I seem to remember a study/computer model done some years back, of a hurricane the size of Hugo hitting New York Harbor dead on at high tide (something of a worst-case scenario). In that model, Kennedy Airport was under 26 feet of water.

#31 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Well, I played with a Google flood map and found out that even at its highest setting (+14m), my apartment is still a full city (avenue) block from being on the seashore. Of course, most of my neighborhood would be gone, not to mention the steam power plant on 14th Street, but still... my favorite late-night diner would be inundated.

There are some things worth fighting for.

#32 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Teresa, #25, Washington DC already has a little flooding along the Potomac. Usually in spring, from upstream, but occasionally from a storm downstream. There's a reason the Watergate is called that -- they have water barriers that come up in advance of flood to keep the area dry -- and they're at the position of the last water gate that used to be on the Potomac.

#33 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Am I stupid? Where the heck is this exciting google maps water level feature?

#34 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:22 PM:

#33 ethan: Am I stupid? Where the heck is this exciting google maps water level feature?

Oh, sorry, here is one. Just keep clicking down until you get to your neighborhood.

Or just google on "maps google flood" for other choices.

#35 ::: Kristin ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Kathryn #9

Thak you for posting this. I had not read the magazine article before. I interned at LeMessieur several decades ago. I was discussing the Citicorp project as an example of engineering ethics just this week.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:45 PM:

Michael Weholt... I think I'd better not try to raise the seas around my neighborhood. Our little corner of Albuquerque is one mile above the current sea-level. Glub glub would a good chunk of the planet go.

#37 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:51 PM:

Abi, if I were single I wouldn't mind living in one of those myself. That page led to another student housing project based on shipping containers, here.

#38 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:53 PM:

Michael Weholt #33: Wow! According to that map, Rhode Island is in some kind of magical protection zone! Some of the southern coast gets a little floody (goodbye, Mrs. Mulder's cottage in Quonochontaug), but Narragansett Bay (which comprises almost the entire state) is completely untouched!

What's that you say? They just don't have the data? It's not actually magically protected?

Oh. Poop.

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:53 PM:

Serge @ 36

For that matter, flooding Death Valley from the ocean would be a real exercise in raising sea levels. (For those who don't have a map with contour lines - the area between Death Valley and anything at sea level is mostly more than 3000ft elevation. It's called 'high desert' for a reason.)

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:58 PM:

P J @ 39... You know, I think I will buy the DVD of Waterworld. (No, ethan, there is nothing you can say to stop me.)

#41 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 09:59 PM:

#38 ethan: Wow! According to that map, Rhode Island is in some kind of magical protection zone!

Now, now. It's only that that map takes into account the famously anticipated Jamestown Uplift of 2025. It's been in all the papers.

#42 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Serge at 40, may I plaintively raise my voice to say: Are you out of your MIND?

Waterworld is not worth the 50 cents worth of plastic it took to make that DVD. 12 cents. Whatever.

On the other hand... there was a time, long long ago, when I would have considered it a marvelous evening's entertainment to join some friends to kick back with something like Waterworld, a six pack of good beer, a pizza, a few fat joints, Quicksilver Messenger Service in the background. Oh, yeah...

Long ago and far away.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 10:25 PM:

Lizzy L @ 42... I probably am. Out of my mind, I mean. Waterworld has problems, to say the least, and those usually occur when the villains are around. But it has beautiful moments that show the immensity of the sea. And when the Mariner takes the young woman deep underwater and she sees Denver completely submerged, now that was something. There are movies that I can watch and enjoy not because of what they are but because of what they could have been. I'm not sure that makes sense.

#44 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 10:45 PM:

Serge, it makes sense to me; there are some movies I like because they put my into a good story-space. You just ignore what's going on onscreen and use it to prompt your brain. There are certain books from my childhood like this-- I no longer read Jean M Auel, but I skim and remember.

#45 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 10:52 PM:

Serge #40: There's actually a DVD of that movie?

...but then again, at #43: I know exactly what you mean, about what a movie could have been. Just this year there was Sunshine and 28 Weeks Later.

Michael Weholt #41: the famously anticipated Jamestown Uplift of 2025

Now that's something I'm unaware of. Would that be the earthquake we're due for, or something to do with the Rapture?

In case of catastrophic sea level rise, Rhode Islanders can always just relocate to the top of the Johnston landfill, which is, by some accounts, the state's highest elevation.

#46 ::: jayskew ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 10:55 PM:

You do know that Long Island was actually hit by a cat 3 hurricane in 1938, right? And that it was a cat 5 while it was still at sea?

#47 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 11:41 PM:

C. Wingate: Gloria bounced off the North Carolina coast, then walked over the ~middle of Long Island; Wikipedia says the final landfall was at Bridgeport, which is a few dozen miles away from being a direct hit on NYC.

#48 ::: C. WIngate ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2007, 11:46 PM:

re #28: Don't you mean the "you eat what you are" aspect?

re #25: DC's flooding problems come from west, not up the river. Hurricanes that head into the mountains then dump all their water onto the Potomac watershed, whereupon a day or so later it all shows up at Harpers Ferry and proceeds to flood any points downstream that are flat enough to allow the water to spread out (mainly Point of Rocks and Whites Ferry). The fall line runs just south of Georgetown, so SW DC and Alexandria get flooded. This happens every few years; in 1999 it happened twice. The first was a freak heat wave in January that melted a foot of snow in a day; the second was Hurricane Floyd. All of the towns along the fall line are subject to the same sort of flooding, though not so regularly. Ellicott City gets a big flood every few decades, as you can see in this photo of the old B&O bridge where Tiber Creek joins the Patapsco. Those signs over on the right indicate how high the water got. The "1972" a bit below the track level is Agnes; the one on the guard fence is the great flood of 1868.

The 24 ft.surge on Camille was recorded in Mississippi where it first made landfall.

#49 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 12:08 AM:

Shipping container architecture can include some fancy design.

While looking for one design I'd seen profiled in the LATimes, I found this webpage dedicated to shipping container architecture. Here's a multistory s.c. house, for example.

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 01:14 AM:

Kathryn, I got so interested in shipping container architecture that I did a whole separate post about it.

#51 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 01:18 AM:

Teresa 25 (Midori 19): Not afterwards.

#52 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 01:42 AM:

Teresa @50

I don't know why I didn't see that. I suppose it could have been my getting caught up in school bus architecture-- 40 school bus shells turned into an underground shelter in Ontario.

#53 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 02:54 AM:

Here in the UK, most pre-fab windows are plastic, and double-glazed. You'd need to weld a framing structure to the corrugated container side, after making the hole. (I know a place locally that has the metal cutting and bending equipment to make pieces for that.) I think the load-carrying fixings are masonry bolts of some sort, wasily substituted to fix to a steel structure, with gap-filling by expanding foam.

Yes, you can get other sorts of window. This is the sort with the infrastructure in the business to supply a lot.

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 04:08 AM:

Be wary of those flood maps: they can be a bit simplistic. Locally, there's a bit of a mismatch with the contours on the Ordnance Survey maps, and a sea-level rise can really mess with the drainage of low-lying land. The rise can stop water getting out.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 10:06 AM:

C Wingate @ 48... Don't you mean the "you eat what you are" aspect?

Either way, it's made with people!!!

#56 ::: C. WIngate ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 10:06 AM:

re 54: I note that the one linked to has National Airport flooding before Alexandria, when in fact it's the other way around.

#57 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Serge (#36): Here in Prescott AZ, I'm also about a mile above sea level and a *long* way from any ocean. But I wonder if a flooding Gulf could manage to inundate Tucson.... (The cacti wouldn't like that at all.)

Lizzy L (#42): Yay! Another mention of QMS, my all-time favorite band. I still have their "Gold and Silver" running through my head, whenever pop songs or old Gershwin etc. haven't pre-empted the inner soundtrack.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 11:44 AM:

Faren @ 57... If the Gulf could flood Tucson, I'm afraid that cacti would have other things on their minds. For example, a few million people who haven't eaten anything in a long time.

#59 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 02:21 PM:

The Great Hurricane of '38 in New York.

(It was a Category 3 -- and salt water from Long Island Sound fell on the statehouse lawn at Montpelier, Vermont....)

#60 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Faren Miller @ 57

I doubt that the high desert is likely to be watered even by all the ice caps melting. For the water to rise more than a thousand meters we'd probably have to import from the pulp magazine Venus. But Kansas and Nebraska will return to their previous condition of watery goodness. Hmmm, Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood is at about 1200 meters; I wonder if that will be shoreline property?

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 60... For the water to rise more than a thousand meters we'd probably have to import from the pulp magazine Venus

Or maybe Bellus and Zyra finally show up?

#62 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:43 AM:

The Weather Channel, in one of its pre-hurricane season articles, listed the top 5 US cities at risk from hurricanes.

NYC was #2; New Orleans was #1. According to them, the storm surge gets funnelled directly into the city due to harbor geography, with all the garages, subways, maintenance tunnels, etc, becoming filled with seawater. Not to mention the Venturi effect of having 120mph winds accelerated to 150mph+ due to the numerous highrise buildings, pulling glass windows out and sending shrapnel through the streets.

#63 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:06 AM:

Pet Peeve Alert: "Shrapnel" is a specific type of artillery shell that hasn't been used since the 1930s.

#64 ::: Valuethinker ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:32 AM:

63 Jim McDonald

'shrapnel' is also the generic term for the fragmentation created by shells, grenades and bombs?

#65 ::: Valuethinker ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:38 AM:

43 Serge

Waterworld is a cheap rip off (or actually a very expensive rip off) of Road Warrior (or Mad Max II as it was known in Australian, Mad Max I had no wide release in the US, hence the renaming: MMI's American release had the indignity of the young star, Mel Gibson, having his voice dubbed to make it more comprehensible to an American audience).

Road Warrior is one of those westerns (set in an oil poor future) that really works, although I keep waiting for the makeup on the good guys to get smudged (you know, running around an exploding oil dump, then driving through the desert at high speed pursued by homicidal baddies, etc.).

#66 ::: Joel Aufrecht ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:54 AM:

OED:

3. Fragments from shells or bombs (see quot. 1940^1).

1940 N. & Q. CLXXIX. 278/1 The public has chosen to ignore the facts that shrapnel shell has become obsolete and that anti-aircraft guns fire high-explosive only. In consequence the shell fragments which are at present descending upon its devoted head are unhesitatingly referred to by the public as ‘shrapnel’ and the correct expression, ‘shell fragments’, has begun to verge on pedantry.

#67 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:59 AM:

Mad Max makes me laugh. Between movies one and two, the apocalypse occurs! And boy, people get weird fast. I am clearly not going to survive the poxyclips; I am far too normal.

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:13 AM:

valuethinker... Waterworld is a cheap rip off (or actually a very expensive rip off) of Road Warrior

Oh, agreed... Still, like I said earlier (*), I enjoyed Waterworld for what it could have been, has the Road Warrior aspect been sunk. Ther are beautiful scenes, usually the ones focused on the Mariner on his boat. That of course is just my opinion.

Speaking of Road Warrior... Did you recognize the character that RW's archer woman later played in Farscape?

(*) Not later, what with my own TARDIS being busted.

#69 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:31 AM:

"Speaking of Road Warrior... Did you recognize the character that RW's archer woman later played in Farscape?"

Heh; would have never realized she played Zhaan in Farscape unless you had told me.

Re: shrapnel; well yes, it technically covers exploding chunks from shells, bombs, grenades and mortars, but I doubt anyone reading my description had any trouble visualizing the scene with all those shards of glass whirring through the air.

#70 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 12:25 PM:

Diatryma #67: Mad Max makes me laugh. Between movies one and two, the apocalypse occurs! And boy, people get weird fast.

Huh? Doesn't Mad Max start with a voiceover explaining that the apocalypse has already happened? And people are plenty weird in it, too.

I love those movies, though I haven't seen them nearly enough times, so maybe I'm mistaken? My understanding is that all three are post-apocalypse.

#71 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 12:35 PM:

I may have misunderstood the first one; it's been some time, and it was on TV, so I may not have caught all of it.

#72 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 02:27 PM:

It certainly appeared to me as if --something very bad-- had happened prior to Mad Max I. You've got lawlessness running rampant, abandoned roadways, vehicular refugees, and bunker mentality law enforcement types.

Where everyone got the gasoline was the only part of that movie that made little sense, though, especially considering the premise of MM II and III.

#73 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Yeah, a bit of IMDB corrected me.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Ah, Road Warrior... It was 1982 and the Chicago worldcon had just ended. My con roommate and I thought we should catch a movie that Quebec City theaters were not likely to show right away. We had to choose between Road Warrior and BeastMaster (double-billed with Scott Baio's Zapped). We chose the second one and, as we watched, we were wishing we had chosen RW.

#75 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 03:47 PM:

The magnitude of the apocalypse increases from Mad Max film to Mad Max film as the special effects budget grows. In the first film, it's a general descent into lawlessness; in the Road Warrior, conventional war; in Thunderdome, full-on nukes.

Although the Road Warrior is the more archetypal film, I think the original Mad Max was the best story†. It's a portrait of the degeneration of a good man into a callous beast* in the face of unbearable loss, and the proportionate dimunition of his foes**. I remember it as being very powerful, despite the low budget and the dreadful dubbing.

-----
† We will not discuss the Thunderdome‡
* "The chain in those handcuffs is high-tensile steel. It'd take you ten minutes to hack through it with this. Now, if you're lucky, you could hack through your ankle in five minutes. Go."
** The boy he does this to is a pale shadow of the biker who destroyed his family.
‡ Apart from noting, with approval, the word pockyclipse

#76 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 03:53 PM:

abi, I agree that the first is the best. It's even more chilling if you believe that what they show happening to his wife isn't the result of a low budget and poor stunts, but actually what happened (i.e., she's not dead, just in horrible shape, and he abandons her to go get revenge).

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Abi @ 75... In the first film, it's a general descent into lawlessness; in the Road Warrior, conventional war; in Thunderdome, full-on nukes...

...and people with Big Moussed Hair. (Max & Tina.)

#78 ::: Valuethinker ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:38 PM:

75 abi - Nukes in Beyond Thunderdome?

I don't remember that part of the plot. I remember methane generators via pigs, and restarting an old plane.

But nukes?

#79 ::: Valuethinker ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:39 PM:

75

I would add Beyond Thunderdome had one of the great last lines of dialogue in any movie

'oh raggedy man, what shall we do with you?'

#80 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Valuethinker @78:
I was talking about the nature of the fall of civilisation before the beginning of each film.

The backstory in the opening of Thunderdome has, if I recall correctly, mushroom clouds.

#81 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:59 AM:

Oddly enough, I was reading The Name of the Rose before reading this thread (aside: I think that if I had tried to read it before studying Latin, it would have left me severely annoyed) and the word "Apocalypsis" came up in it, and I realized the etymology of the word. "Apo", a preposition meaning "away" (cf. "apotropaic" and "apogee"), and "calypsis", "conceal" (cf. Calypso, the nymph who held Odysseus in a gilded cage for seven years). So an apocalypse is taking away concealment -- discovering, revealing. And we find that the book called "Apocalypsis" is called in English "Revelation".

#82 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 07:14 AM:

Abi @ 80:

Yes, the children had drawn a mushroom cloud on the cave wall as part of the history they remembered. Interesting that they returned to a non-nuked Sydney, though; at least there was no radiation since the last scenes showed them healthy with new babies as well.

#83 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 08:54 AM:

There were bits with Geiger counters, too.
I loved the children, and never really understood why they'd leave their nice waterfall valley. What's better in the city?

#84 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 09:07 AM:

#64 'shrapnel' is also the generic term for the fragmentation created by shells, grenades and bombs?

No, those are called, variously, splinters and fragments.

I know it's a lost cause, and sloppy usage will always be with us. As I noted, it's a pet peeve.

#85 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Diatryma @ 83:

They were told to believe that "we will be returned to the city" as Truth ever since Walker left them; it was a belief they never let go of even after Max showed up.

I often wondered what happened to the children that didn't make it to the plane, though; it didn't carry all of them but later on you saw a large number in the ruins. Did the pilot return for the rest? He didn't really seem like the altruistic type.

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