The high winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Sandy that are expected to lash New York City through Tuesday could bring damage to the city unlike that seen from any hurricane before.
New York’s structures, especially high-rise buildings, could be extremely affected by the heavy winds. The force of winds hitting the top of skyscrapers will be much greater than that at ground level, according to the National Weather Service.
The winds of 30 to 50 mph, with gusts possible up to 90 mph, that are hitting New York could blow out windows, especially in high-rise buildings. Glass could not only fly through apartment buildings but could also fall to the streets, hitting those below. It is recommended that residents in high rises close their curtains and stay away from windows.
Strong gusts could also cause skyscrapers to sway, also increasing the chances of debris falling.
Cranes atop skyscrapers under construction, like the new World Trade Center building, in New York, could also be affected.
A crane at the top of a building at 59th Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan buckled this afternoon, presumably due to high winds, which were at 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service. The crane was leaning over the platform, threatening to crash to the ground below.
With strong winds, this could happen to any construction on top of a high rise.
New York’s Buildings Department halted construction work at 5 p.m. Saturday and performed random inspections to ensure that equipment was secured properly, The Associated Press reported.
Another damaging effect of Sandy could be a possible storm surge. A storm surge, the mass of water pushed ashore by a storm, is expected to hit New York Harbor this evening and could flood New York’s Financial District as well as other locations along the East River. Tides are expected to reach 6 to 11 feet above normal levels in the harbor into Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
The chance of a strong storm surge could also be heightened due to the full moon Monday night. This could cause life-threatening flooding in New York, a place where there isn’t really anywhere for the water to go. Additionally, salt water draining into the subway could cause damage to underground electrical equipment, including the underground network of power, phone and high-speed Internet lines.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s environmental protection chief, Louis Uccellini told the AP that a storm surge would be the “worst case scenario” for New York.