In the winter of 1992, a nor'easter sent a storm surge over the floodwall guarding the southern tip of Manhattan. Seawater quickly overwhelmed major roadways and New York City's subway system, shutting down the entire subway for nearly 10 days
"If Hurricane Irene had hit an hour differently or 10 percent stronger or moved 10 percent slower, it would have caused a repeat of that event," Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with the leading forecasting service Weather Underground, told The Huffington Post.
Masters and other experts warn that the city may not be as lucky next time. As the warming climate brings higher rainfall and raises the sea level, they say, ever more pressure will fall on America's aging infrastructure.
Nationwide, dilapidated infrastructure leads to a variety of other problems. Some 240,000 water main breaks are documented annually, at a loss of approximately 6 billion gallons of water per day, according to the Urban Land Institute's Infrastructure 2010 report.
Hurricane Irene Exposes Creaky American Infrastructure
"Rising temperatures may trigger weather extremes and surprises, such as more rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice than projected," Schwartz said. "The highways that currently serve as evacuation routes and endure periodic flooding could be compromised with strong hurricanes and more intense precipitation, making some of these routes impassable." Transportation providers will need to focus on evacuation planning and work more closely with weather forecasters and emergency planners.
Climate Change Will Have a Significant Impact on Transportation Infrastructure and Operations; Research, Tools, Action Needed to Pinpoint Vulnerabilities
Communities Cut Off - Vermont
More than 200 roads and bridges are damaged or destroyed in Vermont
At least 27 people from nine states are dead
Swaths of the Northeast still submerged under water face a grueling recovery as hundreds of homes remain clogged with mud and crushed roads isolate deluged communities
More than a day after Irene left the United States, floodwaters were still cresting late Monday night in Vermont.