In yesterday evening's detailed post concerning the impacts of Sandy, I mentioned the likelihood that windows would be blown out of high rise structures. I was particularly referencing likely impacts in NYC, but this applies to other municipalities that will be impacted throughout the region as well.
There are two main reasons that high rise glass breakage will be a major threat with Sandy:
First, wind speeds associated with a tropical cyclone tend to increase with height. For every 30 stories that you rise above ground level, the wind may increase as many as 20-25 mph (or an entire hurricane category level). This means that a storm producing 75 mph winds at the surface may produce 95-100 mph winds at the 30th floor, and 125 mph winds at the 60th floor. Add some debris to the equation, and we have all of the ingredients necessary for instant glass breakage.
Second, particularly in an area like New York City where high rise buildings are tightly packed within relatively small geographic areas, very strong "wind tunnel" effects are created as strong winds blow in between ever tightening spaces between buildings, as illustrated below:
The rapid increase in wind within these relatively narrow corridors often causes a sudden drop in air pressure, which can literally "suck" the windows out of the upper floors of high rise buildings.
The wind tunnel effect is often compounded when glass is broken on one side of a building and then the air rushes in toward the other side, pushing the glass out there as well, again largely due to the rapid change in air pressure within the space.
Both of these "wind tunnel" factors will be in place across the impact zone associated with Sandy, as noted by the orange shaded area on the image below:
If you live above the 30th floor of a high rise building across this region, I would suggest moving to a lower floor or staying with friends or family elsewhere on Monday and Tuesday.
Unfortunately, if widespread glass breakage does occur, it would severely hamper the efforts of those attempting to restore power and other services across the region. Debris removal would have to take place first out of safety concerns, and I'm not only talking about glass on the ground, but the potential for shards of glass continuing to fall from great heights for hours or even days after the initial event. This is another reason that I'm afraid power outages may be particularly long term in association with Sandy in parts of this region:
Windows blowing out of high rise structures is just another of the many reasons that Sandy is a very dangerous storm that should be taken very seriously...
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