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: 232 - 182

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 DavidHOUTX:


ಠ_ಠ
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Water level at the Battery, NYC. Looks like storm tide a little over 7 feet and storm surge a little over 4 feet. Low tide this afternoon.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting guygee:
No. See Unnamed Hurricane of 1991.


Huh? That wasn't even declared a cyclone until post-season even, this is an active cyclone and has no relevance. Warning people that the winds have increased is the NHC's job, they're not going to give into hype. Besides, it's already been stated that further strengthening wouldn't be unexpected.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Cnn money said possibly 88 billion in loses.I had to look real close at the screen.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Getting error screens on and off trying to post. Looks like the server is handling all it can and then some at times.


Yea, that's why I had a double post somewhere in there
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Damage and human suffering will be high by modern standards with some economic models showing damage estimates potentially rivaling Hurricane Katrina.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Getting error screens on and off trying to post. Looks like the server is handling all it can and then some at times.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Even Bridgeport Connecticut is experiencing a 11' surge. That is just unreal, Almost a 100 mile stretch of coastline is forecasted or experiencing a 12' surge ranging from Bridgeport Connecticut to Sandy Hook New Jersey



Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1526

Quoting LesBonsTemps:
Memo to self: Don't buy any used car that was registered in a northeastern state on October 2012.
they'll be gathering all these cars and shipping them all around the country, so everybody needs to be wary.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chucktown:


Being in the media business, there is a point where you gotta stop the hype. I don't mean that in a bad way, this is a dangereous storm for sure, but there is only so much more you can say about this situation. Everyone knows about Sandy, hopefully everyone has already taken the proper precaution by now, based on their situation. This is the time where TWC, CNN, FOX, etc, to just kind of "sit back" and let it happen. Of course, you still need live shots and constant updates on Sandy with radar, surge, winds, but the hype factor has to end now. No matter what happens, there are going to be some in the path of Sanday that don't get "hammered" and conditions never get all that bad.


wow we still are using the word "hype" here. Incredible! The storm is strengthening! Atlantic City is already under water, people have probably already died in the storm, those told to evacuate in Delaware are having to be rescued, all along the coast the water rise is significant and very disturbing with high tide coming. The battery is already at its Irene 2011 height and high tide is still coming. Power is already going out and flood warnings are everywhere. Now that is all BEFORE the storm has gotten there.

Hype no, Reality YES!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Based on the latest data, the storm surge values for New York City have been increased into the 12-14 foot level! Previous storm surge records will be exceeded by 1-4 feet over the entire region
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:


If data supports it, they will upgrade it. That is their job, regardless of 'hype', a prime example of this is Hurricane Dolly in 2008. That was upgraded to a Category 2 as it was about to make landfall in Texas.
No. See Unnamed Hurricane of 1991.
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3171
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hampton Roads

People..please do NOT drive through water





Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Based on the latest data, the storm surge values for New York City have been increased into the 12-14 foot level! Previous storm surge records will be exceeded by 1-4 feet over the entire region
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Jeff gave a telephone interview on FOX a few minutes ago. "Could be the most water to enter Long Island Sound in recorded history..."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ThatGuyAgain:


Spotted in my area... Stay classy, DC.


And, yet, that horsehead-wearing gentleman has more common sense than most of Congress.

Just saying.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looking from the trajectory on the most recent sat and radar loops that Atlantic City and parts around there might be getting the core of the strongest winds at landfall unless we get a few jogs.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9266
Virginian Pilot Newspaper in Norfolk, VA









Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Perfectly quiet here at McGuire AFB in Central Jersey. Light rain and wind.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DavidHOUTX:
Just amazing how huge Sandy is.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Excellent!! Our first catch of the day!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nassau County Long Island here. Winds are around 35-40mph sustained. Gust to around 50 mph. Conditions are deteriorating quick.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ThatGuyAgain:


Spotted in my area... Stay classy, DC.


LOL, I love DC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Check out this amazing picture of Hurricane Sandy shot at 2:42 a.m. this morning ... and here's the link to the Flickr photostream from NASA where you can see more (and get a super high-resolution image).
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting guygee:
NHC has to walk a fine line between properly warning people and causing undue panic. Their primary mission is public safety, the science does not enter into the calculation until later.

I am guessing the last thing they want is for people to panic and try to flee in the middle of the storm, so they will not upgrade until maybe post-season.


If data supports it, they will upgrade it. That is their job, regardless of 'hype', a prime example of this is Hurricane Dolly in 2008. That was upgraded to a Category 2 as it was about to make landfall in Texas.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Coastal structures less than 15 feet above sea level will be destroyed and likely carried to sea! This is going to obliterate the New Jersey coastline and portions of Long Island.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Trucks have been banned from the roadways in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delmarva.

All highways will close in Connecticut in 1 hour. All highways over the Delaware Canal are currently closed to non-emergency vehicles.

Many other bridges already have major speed restrictions and plans to close.

Member Since: August 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 198
Quoting Chucktown:


Being in the media business, there is a point where you gotta stop the hype. I don't mean that in a bad way, this is a dangereous storm for sure, but there is only so much more you can say about this situation. Everyone knows about Sandy, hopefully everyone has already taken the proper precaution by now, based on their situation. This is the time where TWC, CNN, FOX, etc, to just kind of "sit back" and let it happen. Of course, you still need live shots and constant updates on Sandy with radar, surge, winds, but the hype factor has to end now. No matter what happens, there are going to be some in the path of Sanday that don't get "hammered" and conditions never get all that bad.
If there is one thing my forecasters aren't for the hype.The "morning crew" which is Tony,Allison,and Tucker can't be taken serious most of the time.They stay goofing off.
Quoting ThatGuyAgain:


Spotted in my area... Stay classy, DC.
They interviewed one guy in old town Arlington with a skull mask on in front of the water front..some residents looking at this as a big joke of a storm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FlyingScotsman:
Dropsonde reading 99 mph at surface, 80 miles SW of center. NHC will have to up this to a Cat. 2 on the basis of that.
NHC has to walk a fine line between properly warning people and causing undue panic. Their primary mission is public safety, the science does not enter into the calculation until later.

I am guessing the last thing they want is for people to panic and try to flee in the middle of the storm, so they will not upgrade to a CAT2 until maybe post-season.
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3171
Sandy Hook, New Jersey



Bergen Point, New York



Battery, New York



Most places are currently at 8' and dropping but those are expected to re-crest later tonight between 11 and 12 feet. Kings Point, New York is currently experiencing over a 12' surge as we speak. Unreal.

Kings Point, New York


Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1526
Quoting Chucktown:


Being in the media business, there is a point where you gotta stop the hype. I don't mean that in a bad way, this is a dangereous storm for sure, but there is only so much more you can say about this situation. Everyone knows about Sandy, hopefully everyone has already taken the proper precaution by now, based on their situation. This is the time where TWC, CNN, FOX, etc, to just kind of "sit back" and let it happen. Of course, you still need live shots and constant updates on Sandy with radar, surge, winds, but the hype factor has to end now. No matter what happens, there are going to be some in the path of Sanday that don't get "hammered" and conditions never get all that bad.


Too late unfortunately..ABC was showing scenes from the day after tomorrow..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting zicoille:
Lucky people, New York citizens... I would like to have Sandy down here in the leewards...


Here at the windwards-leewards border, I say, no thanks, I don't want anything like Sandy hitting my island.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NICycloneChaser:
Sandbagging efforts at the New York Stock Exchange.



Can't see two sandbags high stopping what New York has on its doorstep.


Pathetic token - 2 high, 2 wide and not even well formed - but I suppose at least something! That said I am surprised that somewhere so vital to the World, in many respects, does not have professional Flood Barrier systems which are readily available, very effective and relatively quickly erected.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Buoy data + dropsonde recorded 98-99mph winds, we may have a 100mph Category 2 hurricane here shortly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


I could be wrong.. god knows it won't be the first time... but I don't think its actually a Hurricane as per say anymore. Its some kind of Hybrid thingie now.


I'd say... It's a monster!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
New York City and coastal New Jersey are going to face historic flooding from Hurricane Sandy. Here's what it may be like later on today and tonight (keep in mind Sandy is just a Cat 1 hurricane): How a Major Category 3 Hurricane Would Affect New York City Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"Despite a four-state buffer between Chicago and the Atlantic Ocean, Sandy will affect weather patterns in Chicago. The National Weather Service issued a lakeshore flood warning for Lake Michigan that will be in effect from 1 a.m. Tuesday until 4 p.m. Wednesday. Waves fueled by Sandy’s winds could increase in size quickly by Monday night, National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Castro warned.

The Cook County coastline will likely see waves of 16 to 22 feet. A typical windy day in Chicago might bring waves of 4 to 6 feet, Castro said.

Waterfront high-rise residents should secure items on their balconies, Castro advised, and exercisers should avoid the lake shore. With gusts of 60 mph possible, Castro said some wind damage could occur."
Chicago Tribune

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ThatGuyAgain:


Spotted in my area... Stay classy, DC.

LOL!
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2467
Winds and very heavy rain starting to pick up here in Baltimore City.
Streets downtown flooded already.
Gov has ordered everyone off the roads starting at 2pm.

Pressure down to 987.4mb here
Member Since: May 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 484
Greetings everyone: When you are posting conditions where you are, please name the place. "Here" is not helpful even if you just said where "here" was 10 posts ago. That's gone now.

Things are happening so fast that we may not remember where even all the regulars are posting from. Thanks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting oracle28:
say it with me....

RE-CURVE

RE-CURVE

RE-CURVE

(not happening, I know)

Thoughts and prayers for the Northeast U.S.

RECURVE
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2467
If it's up dated to a cat 2 I unfortunately see those gust/winds coming up in the D.C area.Fortunately for the coast the surge doesn't have time to get higher than forecasted by the NHC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
On fox 5 Allison and Tony un-professionally express their opinion about how tiresome they are of talking about Sandy earlier.When you have a life threatening situation in your area what do you expect?.Retarded I tell ya.


Being in the media business, there is a point where you gotta stop the hype. I don't mean that in a bad way, this is a dangerous storm for sure, but there is only so much more you can say about this situation. Everyone knows about Sandy, hopefully everyone has already taken the proper precaution by now, based on their situation. This is the time where TWC, CNN, FOX, etc, to just kind of "sit back" and let it happen. Of course, you still need live shots and constant updates on Sandy with radar, surge, winds, but the hype factor has to end now. No matter what happens, there are going to be some in the path of Sanday that don't get "hammered" and conditions never get all that bad.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Spotted in my area... Stay classy, DC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mfaria101:


Are the winds picking up by you, WU weather stations reporting 5-10 mph but it sure feels like 25 to 30 out there. Stay safe!


Definitely more like 25-30, with higher gusts in No. Dover..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 232 - 182

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.