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: 182 - 132

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 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:
181. redux
i understand they mean well by having someone do the sign language of what bloomberg is saying, but it almost looks like an snl skit.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DoctorDave1:
DEMO2 bouy at 10am EST:

Wind at 98 mph gusting to 134 mph.

Historical trace provides no reason to believe that these wind speeds are not legitimate.


Be cautious with that buoy... it is a type that is not QCed by NOAA NDBC scientists.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
say it with me....

RE-CURVE

RE-CURVE

RE-CURVE

(not happening, I know)

Thoughts and prayers for the Northeast U.S.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SyriboTigereyes:
Some images a friend took here on the south shore of Long Island in Bay Park/East Rockaway.





At least the water looks relatively calm, for now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
For those interested in some very telling data - go to NOAA - Tides and follow the trail to tide gauges with internet links - you want the raw data and not the polished - the gauges at Lewes, DE - Atlantic City, NJ and The Battery in NYC are chilling - the rough plot indicates the predicted tide curves, the actual water level and the difference between the two. Look at the tide gauge data and then come back to Dr. Masters' modeling predictions in his blogs. In some locations the actual low tide is higher than the predicted high tide. The storm surges continue to grow. The concerns everywhere are real.To those in the impact zones - please be safe and prepared. I can't help other than to think positive thoughts for everyone.

Please also give your thoughts to the members of the Bounty that are reported missing from the foundering ship.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Jeff Masters on Fox news now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sandy breaching New Jersey beaches; AC under water
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
173. Skyepony (Mod)
Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 29th day of the month at 15:35Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 302)
Storm Number & Year: 18L in 2012
Storm Name: Sandy (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 23
Observation Number: 33
A. Time of Center Fix: 29th day of the month at 15:02:10Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 37°39'N 71°50'W (37.65N 71.8333W)
B. Center Fix Location: 184 miles (297 km) to the SE (130°) from Atlantic City, NJ, USA.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 2,561m (8,402ft) at 700mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 47kts (~ 54.1mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 19 nautical miles (22 statute miles) to the E (92°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 188° at 56kts (From the S at ~ 64.4mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 19 nautical miles (22 statute miles) to the E (92°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 946mb (27.94 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 14°C (57°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,049m (10,003ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 15°C (59°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,049m (10,003ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 12°C (54°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, Wind and Pressure
N. Fix Level: 700mb
O. Navigational Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 3 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 94kts (~ 108.2mph) in the southeast quadrant at 10:14:00Z
Maximum Flight Level Temp: 17°C (63°F) which was observed 14 nautical miles (16 statute miles) to the E (93°) from the flight level center
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.

Nice to see you orca.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
still no Hurricane Warnings?
NOPE!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Trixie1984:


In Toms River too, that's what I am hoping for!!!!


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!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yep, the mid Atlantic and NE gonna be in a rude awakening apparently
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.


Defiantly still a hurricane, at least the core of it is.
962mb 255° (from the WSW) 86 knots (99 mph)

2pm may very well have an upgrade to Category 2 status.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RussianWinter:


what flood zone is the NYSE located at?

Last I checked, only zone A was predicted to get some water.


If zone A is the only place to get some flooding, I will be very suprised. Given that those sandbags can't be any higher than a foot, rains alone could top them.
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.


Agreed - the transition in happening right now - as has been expected.

Sandy is picking up speed rapidly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting islander101010:
insurance business pays good until something like this happens l


Well, there are a lot of Katrina victims with houses blown down that were told it was flood damage and they didn't have flood insurance.

Insurance companies will be just fine after this.
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.


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.
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.


Might see a special full advisory at 1pm EDT.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Memo to self: Don't buy any used car that was registered in a northeastern state on October 2012. And they would have a tendency to wind up down here in Florida.
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.


what flood zone is the NYSE located at?

Last I checked, only zone A was predicted to get some water.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TomballTXPride:

Yes. Exactly!! That is my biggest concern. And the consistency is the more frightening. Thanks for posting that model. I've been pulling out my hair trying to search for it.

For what it's worth, Ryan Maue has made the entirety of the WeatherBell models open to public access for the duration of Hurricane Sandy.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11569
156. HCW
DirectTV is streaming coverage from CBS NY on CH 349
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Some images a friend took here on the south shore of Long Island in Bay Park/East Rockaway.



Member Since: September 12, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 140
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.
omg this is awful
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MT HOLLY, NEW JERSEY
1134 AM EDT MON OCT 29 2012

...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MOUNT HOLLY NJ HAS ISSUED A FLOOD WARNING FOR
THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN PENNSYLVANIA...

NESHAMINY CREEK AT LANGHORNE AFFECTING BUCKS COUNTY
PERKIOMEN CREEK AT GRATERFORD AFFECTING MONTGOMERY COUNTY

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

SAFETY MESSAGE...DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE THROUGH FLOODED AREAS. THE WATER MAY BE
DEEPER THAN YOU THINK.

&&

PAC017-292134-
/O.NEW.KPHI.FL.W.0012.121030T0955Z-121030T2327Z/
/LNGP1.2.ER.121030T0955Z.121030T1200Z.121030T1727 Z.NO/
1134 AM EDT MON OCT 29 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MOUNT HOLLY NJ HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WARNING FOR
THE NESHAMINY CREEK AT LANGHORNE.
* FROM LATE TONIGHT TO TUESDAY EVENING...OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS CANCELLED.
* AT 11:15 AM MONDAY THE STAGE WAS 1.1 FEET.
* FLOOD STAGE IS 9.0 FEET.
* MODERATE FLOODING IS FORECAST.
* FORECAST...RISE ABOVE FLOOD STAGE BY EARLY TOMORROW AND CONTINUE TO RISE TO
NEAR 10.0 FEET BY TOMORROW MORNING. THE RIVER WILL FALL BELOW FLOOD STAGE BY
EARLY TOMORROW AFTERNOON.
* IMPACT...AT 10.0 FEET...AT THIS LEVEL SOME HOMES IN THE AREA OF THE LANGHORNE
GAGE ARE EVACUATED

$$
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Mayor Bloomberg is putting me to sleep..monotone!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Rapid Trolling Intensity FLAG ON

Lmao.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
149. redux
ugh. abc news channel 2 in baltimore falling into the unprofessional trap of focusing on themselves.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
incredible tail there to the east of the system
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting yoboi:


elnino yet????


No stop asking
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Lucky people, New York citizens... I would like to have Sandy down here in the leewards...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sandbagging efforts at the New York Stock Exchange.



Can't see two sandbags high stopping what New York has on its doorstep.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Rapid Trolling Intensity FLAG ON
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
you just have to love new yorkers..just spent some time looking at the traffic cams in manhattan, taxi cabs and cars driving around like its just another rainy day, work must go on i guess..but wait til those 90mph winds get there..very foolish I think
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mfaria101:
One bright note from Toms River NJ, The rains have been very light even for a nor easter, Im hoping the ground wont be too saturated and perhaps less trees will fall?
Thanks to everyone for the updates and minute to minute info. Good luck to everyone in the path of Sandy over the next few days


In Toms River too, that's what I am hoping for!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Even if Sandy is Border line for Category 2, NHC should make it at 2:00 so it would increase awareness and prove to people that this is not a "wimpy" category 1 hurricane.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Sandy's large size is most impressive.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Non-Stop winds now...... guts up to 45 mph and its pouring here... I have a feeling i wont use power for much longer
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NOLALawyer:


You are out of your mind with this garbage.


Yup. Where do people get stuff like that????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrMixon:
The Ocean City pier is being taken apart:


Told u :p
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
still no Hurricane Warnings?

As noted at the tag of the past few NHC forecast discussions, they are letting the NWS offices issue Hurricane Warning approximates in the event of extratropical transition.

AS NOTED IN PREVIOUS ADVISORIES...TO AVOID A HIGHLY DISRUPTIVE
CHANGE FROM TROPICAL TO NON-TROPICAL WARNINGS WHEN SANDY BECOMES
POST-TROPICAL...THE WIND HAZARD NORTH OF THE TROPICAL STORM WARNING
AREA WILL CONTINUE TO BE CONVEYED THROUGH HIGH WIND WATCHES AND
WARNINGS ISSUED BY LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICES.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11569
Quoting islander101010:
insurance business pays good until something like this happens l

As long as it is the consumer that is paying. Collecting is not as easy.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 182 - 132

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.