Superstorm Sandy intensifying, bringing record storm surges

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:54 PM GMT on October 29, 2012

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The final countdown to Hurricane Sandy's arrival has begun, and this extraordinary and historic storm is already causing havoc all along the U.S. coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts. The scale of this massive storm truly earns Sandy the title of "superstorm". Sandy's tropical storm-force winds span an area of ocean 940 miles in diameter, and both North Carolina and the island of Bermuda, 700 miles to the east, are under tropical storm warnings. The region of ocean covered by 12-foot high seas spans an area of ocean an incredible 1560 miles in diameter. Winds near hurricane force are expected to affect waters from Virginia to Massachusetts today. Record storm surge flooding has already occurred in regions along the New Jersey coast this morning, and the highest water levels recorded in over a century of record keeping are expected over much of the New Jersey and New York coasts this evening during the 8 - 9 pm EDT high tide cycle. Sandy brought sustained winds of 60 mph and waves 30 feet high early this morning to the buoy east of Cape Hatteras, NC. A wind gust of 58 mph occurred at New York City's La Guardia Airport at 9:51 am EDT, and a buoy at Robins Reef, NJ recorded sustained winds of 42 mph, gusting to 55 mph. As of 8 am EDT, Sandy has dumped heavy rains of 7.87" at Cape Hatteras, NC; 4.01" at Ocean City, MD; 3.12" at Dover, DE; and 3.22" at Virginia Beach, VA. As of 9 am EDT, peak storm surge values of 5" were observed at Lewes, Delaware, 4.2' at Cape May, NJ, 4' at Atlantic City, NJ, 2.9' at Philadelphia, and 3.9' at New York City.

Latest data from the Hurricane Hunters shows that Sandy is intensifying as its core traverses the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. At 8 am EDT, an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found top winds of 98 mph in the heavy thunderstorms to the southwest of Sandy's center, at a point about 150 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, NC. A dropsonde released in the eye measured a central pressure of 945 mb, but observed winds of 19 knots at the surface, so Sandy is probably a 943 mb hurricane that is very close to Category 2 strength. The Hurricane Hunters did not observe an eyewall, and saw very little temperature difference from inside to outside the eye, so Sandy is not going to be able to undergo rapid intensification. The storm could still see an increase of 5 mph in its winds before landfall tonight between 6 pm - 10 pm EDT, due, in part, to interaction with the low pressure system to its west that is pulling the hurricane towards the coast. The new, higher winds of Sandy don't have a lot of time to pile up additional storm surge water, so the NHC storm surge forecasts will probably not change today. But it is clear that Sandy is not going to pull its punch, and this superstorm is going to deliver a punishing multi-billion dollar blow to a huge area of the Eastern U.S.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Hurricane Sandy.

Sandy already producing a record storm surge
The National Weather Service in Atlantic City, NJ said that isolated record storm surge flooding already occurred along portions of the New Jersey coast with this morning's 7:30 am EDT high tide cycle. As the tide goes out late this morning and this afternoon, water levels will fall, since the difference in water levels between low tide and high tide is about 5'. However, this evening, as the core of Sandy moves ashore, the storm will carry with it a gigantic bulge of water that will raise waters levels to the highest storm tides ever seen in over a century of record keeping, along much of the coastline of New Jersey and New York. The peak danger will be between 7 pm - 10 pm, when storm surge rides in on top of the high tide. The full moon is today, which means astronomical high tide will be about 5% higher than the average high tide for the month, adding another 2 - 3" to water levels. This morning's 9:30 am EDT H*Wind analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Sandy's winds at a modest 2.9 on a scale of 0 to 6. However, the destructive potential of the storm surge was record high: 5.8 on a scale of 0 to 6. This is a higher destructive potential than any hurricane observed since 1969, including Category 5 storms like Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Camille, and Andrew. The previous highest destructive potential for storm surge was 5.6 on a scale of 0 to 6, set during Hurricane Isabel of 2003. Sandy's storm surge will be capable of overtopping the flood walls in Manhattan, which are only five feet above mean sea level. On August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene brought a storm surge of 4.13' and a storm tide of 9.5' above MLLW to Battery Park on the south side of Manhattan. The waters poured over the flood walls into Lower Manhattan, but came 8 - 12" shy of being able to flood the New York City subway system. According to the latest storm surge forecast for NYC from NHC, Sandy's storm surge is expected to be 10 - 12' above MLLW. Since a storm tide of 10.5' is needed to flood the subway system, it appears likely that portions of the NYC subway system will flood. The record highest storm tide at The Battery was 10.5', set on September 15, 1960, during Hurricane Donna.


Figure 2. Observed storm tide (red line) and predicted storm surge for Hurricane Sandy at The Battery on the south shore of Manhattan, New York City, from the experimental Extratropical Storm Surge model, run by NOAA"s Meteorological Development Laboratory (green line) and the NYHOPS model from the Stevens Institute of Technology (pink curve), which uses a highly detailed 3D ocean model and even includes rainfall and tributary inflows. These models have a storm surge of 5 - 6', which brings the maximum storm tide--the water level reached as a result of the combined action of the tide and the storm surge--to 11' above MLLW (Mean Lower Low Water.) Irene brought a storm tide of 9.5' above MLLW to The Battery in 2011. At a storm tide of 10.5', water will likely pour into the Lower Manhattan subway system, unless efforts to sandbag the entrances are successful. The NWS in NYC is predicting a 10 - 12' storm tide at The Battery during tonight's 9 pm high tide cycle.


Figure 3. Observed storm tide (red line) and predicted storm surge for Hurricane Sandy at Atlantic City, New Jersey, from the experimental Extratropical Storm Surge model, run by NOAA"s Meteorological Development Laboratory (green line) and the NYHOPS model from the Stevens Institute of Technology (pink curve), which uses a highly detailed 3D ocean model and even includes rainfall and tributary inflows. These models predict a maximum storm tide--the water level reached as a result of the combined action of the tide and the storm surge--of ' above MLLW (Mean Lower Low Water.) Irene brought a storm tide of 9.5' above MLLW to The Battery in 2011. At a storm tide of 10.5', water will likely pour into the Lower Manhattan subway system, unless efforts to sandbag the entrances are successful. The NWS in Atlantic City is predicting a 9.5' storm tide for the city during tonight's 8 pm high tide cycle, which would be the highest water levels ever observed in Atlantic City.

Links for Sandy
To find out if you need to evacuate, please contact your local emergency management office. They will have the latest information. People living in New York City can find their evacuation zone here or use this map. FEMA has information on preparing for hurricanes.

People with disabilities and caregivers seeking information on accessible shelter and transportation can contact portlight.org

Atlantic City beach cam

Ocean City, MD webcam

Statue of Liberty cam

An impressive 1-minute resolution satellite loop of Sandy today is at the CSU RAMMB website.

Our Weather Historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an excellent post on Late Season Tropical Storms that have affected the U.S. north of Hatteras. He also has a post, Historic Hurricanes from New Jersey to New England.

Hurricane Sandy info from NASA.

Joe Romm at climateprogress.org has a thoughtful piece called, How Does Global Warming Make Hurricanes Like Irene More Destructive?

For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Storm Surge prediction model from the Stevens Institute of Technology, which use a highly detailed 3D ocean model and even includes rainfall and tributary inflows.

Research storm surge model run by SUNY Stonybrook for New York City.

Climate Central has a nice satellite image showing which parts of New York Harbor are below five feet in elevation.

I'll have an update this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

Hurricane Sandy 1 (gwegret)
Post-Hurricane Sandy waves pound the Deerfield Beach, FL fishing pier!
Hurricane Sandy 1
Hurricane Sandy Long Neck Delaware (mal247)
On Rehoboth Bay
Hurricane Sandy Long Neck Delaware

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Quoting Hurricane12:


Yeah, I haven't seen any reports from him, either. I meant Battery Park, by the way. Totally missed my mistake, lol. :p
It was funnier before.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
I think new York got vary lucky cant say for that DC


When did Sandy end?
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According to the NationalHurricaneCenter's IntermediateAdvisory...
8:00 PM EDT Mon Oct 29
Location: 39.4*N 74.5*W
Moving: WNW at 23 mph
Min pressure: 946 mb
Max sustained: 80 mph

31E-EagleswoodTownship :: AIY-AtlanticCity :: WAL-WallopsIsland

....PostTropicalHurricaneSandy made landfall on AtlanticCity

Click this link to the GreatCircleMapper for a larger map with more info
And the previous mapping for comparison
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Quoting charlottefl:


He was supposed to be haven't seen any post though. I do know the East river is over it's banks now..


Yeah, I haven't seen any reports from him, either. I meant Battery Park, by the way. Totally missed my mistake, lol. :p
Member Since: August 26, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 142
1528. MZT
Finally heading to the new blog... :-P
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11.69' now, basically a third of a foot in 15 minutes.
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1525. MZT
Quoting Bluestorm5:
It was raining in my area of Raleigh (SE side) earlier, but it haven't done so since about 8 am in the morning. One thing for sure is that the weather felt COLD today and the heavy winds isn't helping.
It's a breezy, chilly mist here in Charlotte. Feels like a winter storm. I bet the mountains will get socked with snow tonight.
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11.35' in Sandy Hook as of 30 mimutes ago, keeps climbing it seems. Surely this storm was overhyped right? Record was 10.1 ft. Hope everyone on the coast is being safe tonight, good luck all.
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1523. 2ifbyC

Maybe someday you'll be on vacation in a country whose language you don't speak, in the middle of a climate crisis, like a super-hurricane, and you'll see what's it like to try and set up a survival scenario.
(Sorry, I'll be in the doghouse now for ranting...)


First off, I'd be there legally! Second, if I didn't have the personality to garner local help, then I wouldn't go back there, given I survived.

If they didn't have 'dial 2 for English' could I go to their Supreme Court with a gripe?

(Ya got room for me in your doghouse?)




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1522. Greyelf
Yeesh ....94 mph in NYC? I sure hope that busted crane hangs on.

And, Msdrown, NBC Nightly News just had a story on the sunk ship. It was a replica ship called Bounty last used in the last Pirates of the Carribean movie. It lost all power and started to take on water, ultimately sinking. No clue why it was even out on the water.
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Quoting stormchaser19:
Oh mother of ....Lynn, Massachussetts



Looks like Shore Dr, Winthrop MA to me, lived there several years. Great photo.
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Transformer explosions being heard from South Ferry subway station here in lower Manhattan.
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11.09' at sandy hook now, this is a terrifying storm and doesn't look to be letting up surge wise.

Wind here in Binghamton, NY now getting more sustained and heavier, my educated guess is 10-20 sustained with gusts in the 40s locally, but i do not have an anenometer.
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South Street is under water. Transformers are blowing at the South st sea port...
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NEW BLOG!!!!!!!!!!?!!!!


NEW BLOG!!!!!!!!!!?!!!!


Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6064
Quoting Hurricane12:


Isn't Jim Cantore in Batty Park?


He was supposed to be haven't seen any post though. I do know the East river is over it's banks now..
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Looks like it stalled out right at the coast according to radar, anyone else seeing this? Maybe in the midst of a little loop or something
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Quoting charlottefl:
Battery now at 10.69'


Isn't Jim Cantore in Batty Park?
Member Since: August 26, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 142
Evening everyone.

Bush was an angel. The storms are the devil...

.... but SERiously...

This is looking pretty bad for the east coast from VA to MA, at least in terms of storm surge damage if nothing else. The wind reports near the centre also suggest a lot of damage from downed trees can be expected.

Not very happy-making at all...
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Battery now at 10.69'
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1510. vanwx
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I have no idea why she would say that.


The ideais that the longer it parks off shore the larger the surge.
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If this barometer is accurate, its 945.5 mb reading means that the Long Island Express's record for lowest pressure north of Cape Hatteras has been broken. That one was 946 mb.

Link

*Edited to add the link
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Since you were there, I'm sure you're aware of the hospital ship that followed Katrina in and did rescues, right? And you're aware that some of the roads and bridges to NO were cut, right? Or that an early federal response required the idiot Governor to do something, right? And that Bush called said idiot Governor several times pleading with her to invoke federal aid in advance, right? As did the other Governors in the area. There's a multi state mutual aid pact, but the afore mentioned idiot Governor couldn't manage to join in. But go ahead and whine about Bush all you like.

Quoting DataNerd:



Scuse me but I recognize large amounts of the problem were local officials. I live in Texas and was in NO for Katrina so believe me I know.

However, there were federal problems. The Fema head was a moron and Bush delayed sending in federal troops by two days, that was a bad decision.



But I am not going to start politics on here, lets pay attention to the crisis at hand instead of one long past.
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moved to new blog
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Quoting charlottefl:
Stu Ostro ‏@StuOstro
Extreme, rapid rise in surge level at Kings Point NY gauge on western end of LI Sound #Sandy pic.twitter.com/90mc2yg9

Kings point now at 11.73ft
Link
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Quoting Dakster:


Yes a movie ship sunk and it looks like two people could have drowned.
The Name of the ship is the Boubty. It was made for the movie. It has been converted to a comercial fishing vessal. The 15th person was found and is a neice of a friend of mine. Wonder what "unresposive" means
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Quoting NoloContendere:
The incompetence in Katrina was the Governor, the New Orleans Mayor, and a boat load of other corrupt local officials in Louisiana. Katrina hit Mississippi far worse than New Orleans, but the elected officials there did a far better job. Amazing how some of you chuckleheads are still bleating on about the "incompetence" you fantasized was happening at the federal level. I'll bet you still believe there was cannibalism going on in the Dome. Snicker.



I was there and you are wrong. Are you a Bush apologist? FEMA's response was late and weak. On the upside, however, I do think they have learned from their mistakes, based on their response to storms in the last six years
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10.55' at the battery now
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Quoting leftlink:


10.81 feet at 6:06pm at Sandy Hook, the time of the measurement is available at the hydrologic prediction page.

11.28ft now
Link
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Stu Ostro ‏@StuOstro
Extreme, rapid rise in surge level at Kings Point NY gauge on western end of LI Sound #Sandy pic.twitter.com/90mc2yg9
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The ship was a tall ship replica "The Bounty" as in "Mutiny on the Bounty" and she is believed to have sunk.
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Quoting Dakster:


Yes a movie ship sunk and it looks like two people could have drowned.

the BOUNTY i saw it in Boothbay Harbor a few weeks ago :(
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1498. sar2401
Quoting SyriboTigereyes:
These must be hurricane force. If not.. wow, I can't imagine hurricane force.

I wonder how much longer of this we will go through. I think if we get through the hurricane force gusts, we may make it through the tropical storm gusts with power but.. not if this goes on for hours and hours and hours.

If your power is still on and you're not seeing shingles flying by, it's unlikely that you are feeling sustained hurricane force winds. Anything above 45 mph feels, sounds, and looks stronger than it probably is. Assuming you don't have an accurate anemometer, use something like the Beaufort Scale to estimate actual winds speeds. I was amazed at how much higher I had been estimating winds by eyeball than my anemometer ever showed.
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1497. Dakster
http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/1665339

Try here for HMS Bounty info.
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Quoting Msdrown:


Whats a movie ship?? You mean someone from hollywood or documentery type?? And where is this in the news so I can read about it.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/20124128
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Yeah that is odd. I wonder if that is adjusted for sea level. The airport at Atlantic City is 60ft above ground which could make the difference in a mb.

That's not at the airport, but at a tidal gauge, hence the sea level graph. It is at sea level. It is plausible that the instrument itself isn't 100% accurate though.
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Quoting NoloContendere:
The incompetence in Katrina was the Governor, the New Orleans Mayor, and a boat load of other corrupt local officials in Louisiana. Katrina hit Mississippi far worse than New Orleans, but the elected officials there did a far better job. Amazing how some of you chuckleheads are still bleating on about the "incompetence" you fantasized was happening at the federal level. I'll bet you still believe there was cannibalism going on in the Dome. Snicker.




Scuse me but I recognize large amounts of the problem were local officials. I live in Texas and was in NO for Katrina so believe me I know.

However, there were federal problems. The Fema head was a moron and Bush delayed sending in federal troops by two days, that was a bad decision.



But I am not going to start politics on here, lets pay attention to the crisis at hand instead of one long past.
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1493. Dakster
Quoting Msdrown:


Whats a movie ship?? You mean someone from hollywood or documentery type?? And where is this in the news so I can read about it.


It was used in pirates of the Caribbean - 80 ft sailboat...

I now using my iPhone - but it is all over almost every major news outlet.
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Quoting EricSpittle:
Sandy Hook guage just started climbing again after holding steady for about 30 minutes. 10.63'


10.81 feet at 6:06pm at Sandy Hook, the time of the measurement is available at the hydrologic prediction page.
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Another power update. During Irene, LIPA reported 523,000 people without power on Long Island. The newest number is 496,000 without power from Sandy. I just watched it go over 150,000 more in just an hour, wow!! Gloria was 750,000.
Member Since: September 12, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 141
1490. zawxdsk
Quoting TomTaylor:
Latest Vortex says the storm has weakened slightly

H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 947mb (27.96 inHg)


Uh...they just recorded 946.2 at Atlantic City and the pressure was still dropping. Sorry, the link just died.
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Quoting Msdrown:


Whats a movie ship?? You mean someone from hollywood or documentery type?? And where is this in the news so I can read about it.

Look up the bounty on CNN. They have the story...
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
1487. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Strange, Atlantic City is reporting 946.2.

Link



Appears to be deeper.

I know the VTXD says 947 but they had previously found this:

Time: 22:06:00Z
Coordinates: 38.95N 74.1333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.1 mb (~ 24.90 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 966 meters (~ 3,169 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 943.6 mb (~ 27.86 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 150° at 7 knots (From the SSE at ~ 8.0 mph)
Air Temp: 15.2°C (~ 59.4°F)
Dew Pt: 14.3°C (~ 57.7°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 9 knots (~ 10.3 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 23 knots* (~ 26.4 mph*)
SFMR Rain Rate: 3 mm/hr* (~ 0.12 in/hr*)
(*) Denotes suspect data





I think its rather hard to pinpoint it but we are bouncing around between a low of about 943.3 and and a High of 948.

Surface reports probably going to be a bit more accurate.
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Pressure is now coming up at both The Battery and Kings Point, NY

The Battery 964.4mb
Kings Point 966.3mb

Atlantic City is at 946.2mb
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1483. zawxdsk
Oh no! http://tidesonline.nos.noaa.gov/ is down...and about to record the record low pressure.

If it comes back up, check out Kings Point, NY, which is supposed to be at low tide, but is instead at +12' right now and the tide is about to turn. That's going to be crazy.
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This is the closest sound to what it sounds like outside. I stepped outside and it sounded like this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj_TNnmAlkQ&featur e=fvwrel
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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