Friday, September 09, 2005

Projecting Katrina's Damage on the Midwest and Northeast

The flood maps on did a good job at showing what the New Orleans flooding would look like in other cities. But what if Katrina's damage zone had happened in the midwest or northeast? I decided to find out.

There are various estimates as to how many square miles have been devastated by Katrina; I've seen 90,000 square miles quoted in various wire reports, so I decided to start with that. Of course, 90,000 square miles equals 300 miles square. So I downloaded a couple of online maps along with their map legend, which happened to be based on a range of 150 miles. That made it easy for me to go into Photoshop and draw a square, 300 miles on each side. It's a rough approximation, but it'll give you an idea of what it would look like if Katrina-sized devastation took place in the midwest and northeast.

First, the midwest:

midwest flood projection

Essentially, a Katrina-sized swath of damage would stretch from Chicago to Detroit. It would cover Toledo, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, as well as Lexington and Louisville. Nearly all of Indiana would be in the disaster zone.

Now, let's compare it to the northeast corridor. It's not a pretty picture.

northeast flood projection

Here, we find cities like Boston, New York, Newark and Philadelphia in the disaster zone. Damage would stretch all the way to the Canadian border, cover half of Vermont and New Hampshire, and affect all of Massachusetts (except some lucky folks in Cape Cod), Connecticut and Rhode Island.

If you've never been there, the Gulf Coast may be hard to picture in terms of sheer size. But plotting the swath of destruction on other parts of the US makes it clear how horrific the situation is. -andy