Superstorm Sandy intensifying, bringing record storm surges

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

Share this Blog
63
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 732 - 682

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31Blog Index

Quoting weblackey:


Didn't Grothar post a graphic last night showing a wave coming from Africa?

I remember thinking WTF...


I even looked at the GFS and it shows a disturbance in the carrabean next week.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sar2401:

Never mind. Bad time to try to teach economics. If you think Apple has $100 billion in cash only because they sold a lot of iPhones, there's not much more I can say.


Don't need a lesson thank you, just finished up a course in Economics this week in fact in College, I understand quite well how the market works, and it's not all because of investors. However, this is hardly the time/place to have this discussion so I won't respond to anything else along these lines. Right now Sandy bearing down on NJ and the NE is what's important, and the impact its having on the lives of those there.

That crane picture is scary, I wonder if it'll break off and fall?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting K8eCane:


ARROGANT much?? You sound like a snob. Why not try some concern for humans in the next few hours rather than MONEY

A lot of the money I make goes to help humans. Charities like Portlight depend on some of us having enough surplus money to donate to those in need. If that makes me arrogant, so be it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26110


All I can say is HOLY CRAP!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DontNeedNoHandle:
NOW is hurricane season over? I know it's not the end of November but have conditions finally changed to suppress 'cane formation?


Didn't Grothar post a graphic last night showing a wave coming from Africa?

I remember thinking WTF...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think it might go into the Delaware Bay.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
All times in GMT. Derived from NHC_ATCF data for HurricaneSandy @ 29Oct.6pm

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


Click this link to the GreatCircleMapper for a larger map with more info
And the previous mapping for comparison
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hope everyone stays safe from Sandy. She is sure turning into a historic storm. Sandy will be a storm that many will remember.

WunderGirl12
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Lonewulf:


They aren't. Profits keep a company afloat, traders trade by betting on those margins. More profitable a company is, the more it's stock goes up, less profitable it goes down. The price of the stock has no bearing on how profitable a company is, rather the exact opposite. Apple ans MS are 2 perfect examples, look at both of their stock prices in 1998, then look at them today.

Never mind. Bad time to try to teach economics. If you think Apple has $100 billion in cash only because they sold a lot of iPhones, there's not much more I can say.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunnelVortex:
The Intellicast wind map is showing hurricane winds far from the center and a calm eye.

I think it is more powerful than expected.


Definitely More powerful; also increasing in speed, Local News station WCAU just said that Sandy could make landfall in and around Atlantic City as early as 5 PM today
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
718. Skyepony (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting plutorising:

i find it hard to believe companies are kept afloat solely by stock purchases.
"

Except for the ones we all wish would go under, like Bank of America.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
All I have to say is kudos to the models.

Especially the ECMWF. That model had Sandy nailed from the beginning when many others had it going out to sea.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting biff4ugo:
I don't think rainfall is going to be the big threat with Sandy. Snow is a different story, but now the wind and waves are the big threats.

It doesn't look like the southern dry quadrant is going to make it around soon.

I seem to recall a typo that threw the exchange and finances in a tizzy. It is important to have people there.
What is stopping you from moving through foreign stock exchanges too? Your computer, and cell phone obviously still work.

It's not quite that easy. If you were a serious investor, you'd understand that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
My father went to the boat dock again in East Rockaway Long Island. He said the water is at high tide levels, even though it's low tide. He is almost 100% sure our boat and every other boat at the dock is not going to make it, because it looks that bad down there.

Also, LIPA reports 100,000 without power on Long Island already.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
crane from a building under construction in NYC has collapsed.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunnelVortex:
I think it is more powerful than we expected.

On the wind maps, hurricane winds are reaching quite a way from the center and is showing a calm eye.


I think we will have a definitive answer to this within the next 5 - 6 hours. Whatever the worst of this is going to be will be seen shortly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NOW is hurricane season over? I know it's not the end of November but have conditions finally changed to suppress 'cane formation?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting plutorising:

i find it hard to believe companies are kept afloat solely by stock purchases.


They aren't. Profits keep a company afloat, traders trade by betting on those margins. More profitable a company is, the more it's stock goes up, less profitable it goes down. The price of the stock has no bearing on how profitable a company is, rather the exact opposite. Apple ans MS are 2 perfect examples, look at both of their stock prices in 1998, then look at them today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting plutorising:

i find it hard to believe companies are kept afloat solely by stock purchases.

Really? Where do you think companies get money from, a money fairy? If it's publicly traded, yes, the majority of the operating capital comes from people buying their stock. If enough people sell the stock instead of buying, the company goes bankrupt. Simple concept, but one that seems be lost since we stopped teaching economics in school.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
All I have to say is kudos to the models.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14243
This will be pulling in rain long after landfall.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I don't think rainfall is going to be the big threat with Sandy. Snow is a different story, but now the wind and waves are the big threats.

It doesn't look like the southern dry quadrant is going to make it around soon.

I seem to recall a typo that threw the exchange and finances in a tizzy. It is important to have people there.
What is stopping you from moving through foreign stock exchanges too? Your computer, and cell phone obviously still work.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SherwoodSpirit:
Dr. Masters is on CNN right now. He just said there'll probably be water in the subways.
That is bad, especially if it is salt water. I imagine the river is fresh water, but I wonder how much of the salt water will make it up the river.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Can someone post some more pictures of the flooding, damage, Etc goin on in the Midatlantic, and Northeast?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
703. Gaara
From my hometown of Milford, CT. Face. Palm.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting heavyweatherwatcher:

You could drive to Quebec or Montreal...

It's a long drive though some bad weather from Alabama it Toronto, where the stock exchange is located. Thanks for the helpful advice though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:



Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6032
It's getting very close:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Boys.. You don't see something like this every day...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6032
I think it is more powerful than we expected.

On the wind maps, hurricane winds are reaching quite a way from the center and is showing a calm eye.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A dry, breezy, classic January-type day in southeast Florida. Low this morning 54, currently 69.8, NW winds around 12 gusting to 20, not a cloud in the sky, relative humidity 34%.

Now back to Sandy.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting sar2401:

You're welcome. I'm just a retired bum, but I live off my money, so it's important to me. If you have a job, it's because people like me are willing to buy your company's stock.
i find it hard to believe companies are kept afloat solely by stock purchases.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 80
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting Waltanater:
Uh did someone not tell them it's raining! Go inside already...geesh.

They don't go inside...ever. You need to look up the Tomb of the Unknowns to understand what they do...and maybe learn some respect.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
From Brigantine (NJ) Police

ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT
YOU CAN NOT LEAVE THE ISLAND
There is NO More Evacuations off the Island.
After 4PM there will be no more Evacuations
STAY IN YOUR HOME
DO NOT GO OUT SIDE.
Move all personal belongings to a second floor.

http://local.nixle.com/alert/4905332/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sandy Clause is coming to town!! ooh Sandy Clause is coming to town! lol, have that tune stuck in my head. Hope everyone is safe out there, by no way is anyone clear.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
689. Skyepony (Mod)
roduct: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 29th day of the month at 18:05Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 308)
Storm Number & Year: 18L in 2012
Storm Name: Sandy (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 24
Observation Number: 04
A. Time of Center Fix: 29th day of the month at 17:45:30Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 38°19'N 73°07'W (38.3167N 73.1167W)
B. Center Fix Location: 102 miles (164 km) to the SE (136°) from Atlantic City, NJ, USA.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 2,570m (8,432ft) at 700mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 72kts (~ 82.9mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 54 nautical miles (62 statute miles) to the S (183°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 274° at 58kts (From the W at ~ 66.7mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 142 nautical miles (163 statute miles) to the SW (216°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 942mb (27.82 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 0°C (32°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,050m (10,007ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 16°C (61°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,051m (10,010ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 7°C (45°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 700mb
O. Navigational Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 1 nautical mile
Remarks Section - Remarks That Were Decoded...
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 58kts (~ 66.7mph) in the southwest quadrant at 16:54:00Z
Maximum Flight Level Temp: 16°C (61°F) which was observed 6 nautical miles to the E/ESE (101°) from the flight level center
Remarks Section - Additional Remarks...
TEMP PROFILE WARMED TO 8C APPROX 60NM SOUTH OF CENTER
CENTER FOUND NEAR TIP OF A SMALL CURVED BAND APPROX 26NM DIAMETER PSBL REMNANT EYEWALL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


but high enough to get past the park?


No clue, will watch live reports tonight
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
The Intellicast wind map is showing hurricane winds far from the center and a calm eye.

I think it is more powerful than expected.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aspectre:
Grothar: I believe New Yorkers have a word for people like that, but I don't think I can post it here.


What's wrong with posting 'New Yorkers'?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricaneman123:
Any thoughts on how this hurricane will impact Edison, New Jersey? its in the Raritain River valley, and Dr.Masters said that the Raritain bay will get the worst storm surge could that water travel up the river?


There is not really any reason to disagree with Dr. Masters' analysis. The shape of the bay, the storm movement, the size of the storm, and the near shore bathymetry together suggest the highest surge along the N New Jersey coast northward toward NYC.
Do you live in that area? Do you know your elevation?

I wouldn't take any chances... If I lived below 20ft NAVD88 or my escape routes were not higher than that, I'd leave, and I would do it now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6032
Quoting clwstmchasr:


I agree on NYC. However, I do think it will be real bad in NJ.

Also, Brian Norcross is saying that this is a "real hurricane" and yet no hurricane warnings.
Maybe the NWS decided to call it a Nor'easter due to the fact the folks it is hitting understand that type of storm, where if they said Hurricane warning, the folks would say, okay, we are safe, we don't get hurricanes. I imagine there are all types of dicussions at NWS and NHC on how to get the word across so people will heed advice of the Emergency management. I am one as well. I did not leave for Wilma. I couldn't prevent the flooding and was glad I stayed so I could clean up. No, it was not life threatening, but it could have been. IF the mahogony tree in front of my house had gone over instead of just shredding, then I probably would not have survived.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 732 - 682

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
67 °F
Overcast