I wonder why Manhattan got it so easy when all around there was such damage? Could the tall buildings have weakened the storm a bit?
Probably just dumb luck.
Also let’s be clear: there wasn’t really an enormous amount of damage.
Yes, I agree, keep the scale of the damage in mind. For the few that are directly affected, this storm was a disaster. For some who are indirectly affected, this storm was a serious inconvenience, not a disaster. Most NYers weren’t really affected by more than just rain. But… for the city overall this was record setting, freakish, destroying thousands of trees (some large trunks were snapped in half!), and damaging more trees; I saw pictures of a large roof peeled off and landed on some cars; many cars were crushed by trees; and one woman was also. That it was so unusual for the city, that’s why it is big news, tornadoes are not just for Tornado Alley.
Compared to Tornado Alley, I’ve seen pictures of the 20 or maybe 100 foot wide paths that the tornadoes carve out there, wooden houses sliced in two, a path extending for perhaps a few hundred feet or a few miles. That I haven’t heard of in NYC. But in rural areas (remember most of the USA is rural), it directly affects only a few people, in small towns (there are more small towns than cities in the USA) it only affects a few people, and cities of Tornado Alley are only occasionally directly affected because they occupy such little land. There’s lots of wooden construction out in the Mid-West, so the advice is to get to the strongest portions of the house, doorways and rooms with plumbing pipes, although I doubt that PVC plumbing would add much strength. In NYC the advice was to use basements. There are some differences between NYC area geography/construction when compared to Tornado Alley, but a storm is still a storm.
The meteorologist from the article put the scale of the storms well, “...a tornado can be a mile wide and the thunderstorm can go up 40,000 feet into the atmosphere, so the buildings are small in magnitude compared to the weather,” says Henry Margusity, senior meteorologist and severe weather expert at AccuWeather.com in State College, Pa. So even when I see the Empire State Building get swallowed by the stormclouds, it is only penetrating the bottom surface of the storm.