Superstorm Sandy delivers a devastating blow to the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:23 PM GMT on October 30, 2012

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In a stunning spectacle of atmospheric violence, Superstorm Sandy roared ashore in New Jersey last night with sustained winds of 90 mph and a devastating storm surge that crippled coastal New Jersey and New York. Sandy's record size allowed the historic storm to bring extreme weather to over 100 million Americans, from Chicago to Maine and from Michigan to Florida. Sandy's barometric pressure at landfall was 946 mb, tying the Great Long Island Express Hurricane of 1938 as the most powerful storm ever to hit the Northeast U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, NC. New York City experienced its worst hurricane since its founding in 1624, as Sandy's 9-foot storm surge rode in on top of a high tide to bring water levels to 13.88' at The Battery, smashing the record 11.2' water level recorded during the great hurricane of 1821. Damage from Superstorm Sandy will likely be in the tens of billions, making the storm one of the five most expensive disasters in U.S. history.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Superstorm Sandy taken at 10 am EDT Tuesday, October 30, 2012. Image credit: NASA GSFC.


Figure 2. Sandy's storm surge (green line) at New York City hit 9' near 9 pm EDT, right when water levels due to high tide (blue line.) The total storm tide (red line) reached 13.88 above Mean Lower Low Water, an all-time record for NYC. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.


Figure 3. Storm surge forced the Delaware River in Philadelphia to a crest of 10.62 feet at 4 a.m. EDT this morning, breaking the previous record of 10.50 feet set Apr. 17, 2011 and Nov. 25, 1950. Image credit: NOAA.

Sandy sets all-time low pressure records
Sandy's impact has been so severe over such a wide area that it is difficult to adequately document the event. I'll start with some of the major cities that set all-time low pressure records during Sandy, with the new record followed by the old record and date of occurrence (thanks go to wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt for putting this list together):

Atlantic City, NJ: 28.01"/948mb 28.37"/961mb 3/6/1932

Philadelphia, PA: 28.12"/953mb 28.43"/963mb 3/13/1993

Harrisburg, PA: 28.46"/964mb 28.62"/969mb 1/3/1913

Scranton, PA: 28.69"/971mb 28.72"/973mb 2/25/1965

Trenton, NJ: 28.31"/958mb 28.43"/963mb 3/13/1993

Baltimore, MD: 28.49"/965mb 28.68"/971mb 3/3/1932

Harrisburg, PA: 28.46"/964mb 28.62"/969mb 1/3/1913

Cities that came close to setting their all-time low pressure record:

Newark, NJ: 28.51"/965mb 28.45"/963 3/13/1993

New York, NY: 28.53"/966mb 28.38"/961mb 3/1/1914

Washington D.C. 28.63"/969mb 28.54/966mb 3/13/1993

Lynchburg, VA: 29.12"/986mb 28.84"/977mb 3/6/1932

Elkins, WV: 29.22"/989mb 28.85"/977mb 2/25/1965

Sandy's snows
Sandy's snows have clobbered the town of Davis, WV with an estimated 26 - 28" of snow. Most of the town is without power, and winds are blowing 20 - 30 mph with 40 mph gusts. Sandy brought the snowiest October day on record to both Elkins, WV (7" of snow) and Bluefield, WV (4.7".)


Video 1. Multiple trees fall during powerful gusts during Superstorm Sandy's landfall in New Jersey Monday evening (warming: foul language.)

There's so much more to say about Sandy--including how the storm may have been influenced by climate change--but I'll save this for later posts, as it's time to get something posted.

Angela Fritz has a 2:30 pm EDT post that discusses the latest on Sandy's impact and forecast.

Jeff Masters

Hurricane Sandy (Biskitten)
Amazing waves at high tide and the storm is just beginning here in Seacoast NH!
Hurricane Sandy
Downed Sycamore (deltabird)
Weehawken NJ
Downed Sycamore
Davis, West Virginia - 4 PM (beaudodson)
Snow increasing in intensity.
Davis, West Virginia - 4 PM
Corn Neck Road, Block Island, RI (JudyGray)
Corn Neck Road, Block Island, RI
Harlem, NYC (ArsenalNYC)
Part of the roof of my building ripped off during Hurricane Sandy and landed on two cars across the street
Harlem, NYC

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Quoting sar2401:


Yes, it clearly Irene, although photoshopped up a little to make it look more like a "perfect Fibonacci sequence". This is the real photo of Irene:



I have never seen so many fake pictures so fast as I have with this storm. I guess we have this kind of garbage to look forward to, along with rising sea levels. :(

Unfortunately, because of how many stupid people exist on Twitter this is something that will likely never get better. You see that picture of the supercell photoshopped behind the statue of liberty and think "well, that's retarded, that isn't at all what a hurricane looks like and is definitely a supercell" but others see it and think "wow, how beautiful this storm is, I should share this with my million followers" neither knowing what a supercell nor a hurricane looks like. Then they look at the other supercell picture from NYC (the real one, taken last year, during the huge tornado outbreak in the area) and think "this must be the same storm in a different place" because they both look like mothership clouds. That is why I didn't spend a second of this storm on Twitter, much more intelligent people here.
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Quoting sar2401:

Those pictures make no sense. That isolated structure in the middle is also isolated in the
"pre-storm" photos. There is no view of the supposedly destroyed homes on either side. What is the source of these pictures?

I edited the post to clarify. The top picture is actually two photos to show the before and after. The bottom is an after shot from a closer angle.

They are from the Normandy Beach Facebook page.
Member Since: March 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 316
Now this is ironic...

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Quoting whitewabit:
Does anyone know how Belmar, NJ made out ???






Please do not come into Belmar. The roads are closed and is highly dangerous. If you need assistance please call 732-681-3700.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
Quoting JeffMasters:
From very unofficial sources, I put together this list of largest Weather-related power outages in U.S. history:

1. "Superstorm" Blizzard 1993 10,000,000 customers
2. Hurricane Ike 2008 7,500,000
3. "Superstorm" Sandy 2012 7,400,000
4. Hurricane Isabel 2003 6,000,000
5. Hurricane Frances 2004 6,000,000

If anyone has a better source of info on this, I'd like to hear about it.

Jeff Masters
jmasters@wunderground.com
Incredible. And since Sandy is still spinning though the Northeast, further outages are sure to occur, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Sandy safely slide into 2nd.

For now...

(Of course, by comparison to this past summer's India outages, even the 1993 storm was a piker; 620 million were without for several hours.)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13526
Quoting dogsgomoo:




Mantolocking Bridge in New Jersey (CR 528/Herbert St.) View is looking at the ocean. All empty space was 3 to 5 rows of houses/trees, some actually rather old.

Those pictures make no sense. That isolated structure in the middle is also isolated in the
"pre-storm" photos. There is no view of the supposedly destroyed homes on either side. What is the source of these pictures?
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 15021
450. JeffMasters (Admin)
From very unofficial sources, I put together this list of largest Weather-related power outages in U.S. history:

1. "Superstorm" Blizzard 1993 10,000,000 customers
2. Hurricane Ike 2008 7,500,000
3. "Superstorm" Sandy 2012 7,400,000
4. Hurricane Isabel 2003 6,000,000
5. Hurricane Frances 2004 6,000,000

If anyone has a better source of info on this, I'd like to hear about it.

Jeff Masters
jmasters@wunderground.com
Here is a really gorgeous picture my friend took from the stairs at Bayshore bus station in Ottawa, ON's west end. It's of Sandy's remains in the distance, allowing the sun to peak through.

Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 593
Quoting sar2401:

Depending on how the damage is attributed and totaled, it may be way more than $20 billion. Estimates I've read of economic losses from the stock market being closed two days range from $1 billion to $2 billion alone, and that's just direct costs, not losses to shareholders who are going to be caught in upside down trades when the market opens tomorrow.
right now i dont think anyone can put a figure out, damage estimators need to go block to block..over 15 states..it may take Years before a true figure comes out..right now its all guesswork
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Quoting sar2401:

It's actually not the entire crane, just the boom that snapped. It's well secured by safety cables and, although it looks scary, it's unlikely to fall. They will jack up another crane next to it and dismantle the damaged boom when weather conditions are favorable. Looks like they will have a window of fair weather from Thursday through at least Sunday night, whcih should give them the time they need to get the boom down and make sure the crane itself is secure.

I'm guessing you've never seen one of those cranes being built, it will take much more than a few days to build a new 1000 foot tall crane. Generally it takes months to build the pieces, and then they have to ship said pieces in. Not sure how fast they can move vertically because they generally don't ever do more than one floor a day, but probably faster than that when they are just jacking up and not using the crane for anything until it is already up, but either way you are not looking at something fixed by next week.
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Quoting HurrikanEB:
Someone posted this a while ago about how "during landfall, Sandy made a perfect Fibonacci sequence following the golden ratio." And it got a bunch of thumbs up. But the more I look at this image, the less I think that this is actually Sandy. This is Irene, is it not? I'm convinced that it's Irene and not sandy.



Edit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spiritedstormywgj925 4/6086582477/
lol I dont recall Sandy making landfall in Virginia, do you?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
I'm about to kill this guy on other forum who is claiming that this storm was overhyped.
well a few in here were saying we were hyping also..
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
I'm about to kill this guy on other forum who is claiming that this storm was overhyped.


Can he explain how you overhype 20 billion dollars in damage?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
I'm about to kill this guy on other forum who is claiming that this storm was overhyped.
I'm not an attorney, but "I killed him because he disagreed with me" isn't considered an adequate defense in any jurisdiction of which I'm aware.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13526
Quoting HurrikanEB:
Someone posted this a while ago about how "during landfall, Sandy made a perfect Fibonacci sequence following the golden ratio." But the more I look at this image, the less I think that this is actually sandy. This is Irene, is it not? I'm about convinced that it's Irene and not sandy.



Yes, it clearly Irene, although photoshopped up a little to make it look more like a "perfect Fibonacci sequence". This is the real photo of Irene:



I have never seen so many fake pictures so fast as I have with this storm. I guess we have this kind of garbage to look forward to, along with rising sea levels. :(
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 15021
441. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting icmoore:


I hope they are okay..


I am sure they left for their other home just wondering how bad the one house could be ..
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390 biff4ugo: Is there a sticky foam retardant for the sides of buildings?

Yep, based on the same ingredient that makes diapers ultra-absorbent.
Just mix with water and spray. They also make soak&apply pads.
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Quoting whitewabit:


Thanks .. have friends there a half of a block from the boardwalk ..


I hope they are okay..
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This is two photos. Top is before Sandy. Bottom is after Sandy.


This is one photo, closer view. After Sandy.

Mantolocking Bridge in New Jersey (CR 528/Herbert St.) View is looking at the ocean. All empty space was 3 to 5 rows of houses/trees, some actually rather old.

/edited to clarify photos
Member Since: March 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 316
I'm about to kill this guy on other forum who is claiming that this storm was overhyped.
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Quoting AztecCe:
I remember seeing Ike's damage in Galveston. If Sandy's passes him, it must have been really horrible
cnn just said sandy hit 15 states,what an amazing HUGE storm she was last night, just looking at the videos and comments on cnn from the people my god.....how could you stop that from happening again..put a 20 foot high sea wall everywhere?....i can just hear the Howls..dont you Dare...block my beautiful view of the ocean!!
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Quoting sonofagunn:
Here is a great video of the surge coming in like a tsunami. This is why you shouldn't stand at the edge of a seawall watching the waves nearly get you...

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_t1#/video/us/201 2/10/30/vo-nj-sandy-waves-hitting-shore.cnn

First, those certainly aren't "massive" waves, it's just typical storm surge. Second, I wish they would stop showing videos like that. It encourages people to stay behind and get their "15 minutes of fame" by shooting videos from places they shouldn't be. The less attention given to these folks, the more likely they will be to evacuate when the order is given. I realize that will never happen however.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 15021
Someone posted this a while ago about how "during landfall, Sandy made a perfect Fibonacci sequence following the golden ratio." And it got a bunch of thumbs up. But the more I look at this image, the less I think that this is actually Sandy. This is Irene, is it not? I'm convinced that it's Irene and not sandy.



Edit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spiritedstormywgj925 4/6086582477/
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433. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The Weather Channel showed some pictures and video from there. Looks bad.


Thanks .. have friends there a half of a block from the boardwalk ..
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Good afternoon everyone, I see clean up has begun in Sandy's wake. I just talked to my cousin, finally, and she is doing fine but she doesn't have power or transportation.
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Assessing the flooding at WTC site
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430. Skyepony (Mod)
Uploaded by: mike47 %u2014 Tuesday October 30, 2012 %u2014 Sturgeon Bay, WI
Waves hit the Lighthouse & breakwall as things get worse as the wind picks up.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It'll probably pass Ike's to be honest. I'm thinking somewhere between $60-75 billion.
I remember seeing Ike's damage in Galveston. If Sandy's passes him, it must have been really horrible
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Quoting whitewabit:
Does anyone know how Belmar, NJ made out ???

The Weather Channel showed some pictures and video from there. Looks bad.
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Quoting AztecCe:
Does anyone know anything about that crane that was dangling in NYC? Have they taken it down yet? It looks dangerous and could cause a lot of damage

It's actually not the entire crane, just the boom that snapped. It's well secured by safety cables and, although it looks scary, it's unlikely to fall. They will jack up another crane next to it and dismantle the damaged boom when weather conditions are favorable. Looks like they will have a window of fair weather from Thursday through at least Sunday night, whcih should give them the time they need to get the boom down and make sure the crane itself is secure.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 15021
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Hearing on the news that they're expecting Sandy's damage totals to pass 20 billion, and will probably be on pair with Ike.

Depending on how the damage is attributed and totaled, it may be way more than $20 billion. Estimates I've read of economic losses from the stock market being closed two days range from $1 billion to $2 billion alone, and that's just direct costs, not losses to shareholders who are going to be caught in upside down trades when the market opens tomorrow.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 15021
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Hearing on the news that they're expecting Sandy's damage totals to pass 20 billion, and will probably be on pair with Ike.

It'll probably pass Ike's to be honest. I'm thinking somewhere between $60-75 billion.
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Amazing damage everywhere. I am signing off to go home and watch it on TV. My heart and prayers go out to everyone affected by Sandy. Stay safe everyone.
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Quoting goosegirl1:




I have no idea about photoshopped, but it is unbelievable that the roof is still on.


Glad the TV Dish survived!!
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Quoting AztecCe:
Does anyone know anything about that crane that was dangling in NYC? Have they taken it down yet? It looks dangerous and could cause a lot of damage
Bloomberg's press release stated that the construction company responsible will wait until winds die down and then build a crane on top of the existing one in order to remove it.
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Does anyone know anything about that crane that was dangling in NYC? Have they taken it down yet? It looks dangerous and could cause a lot of damage. Thanks Beremat
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I just read these captions under a picture:
2,000 residents in the towns of Moonachie, Little Ferry, and Carlstadt in New Jersey were forced to climb on top of their houses after they were inundated with up to five feet of water in just 10 minutes.

It is also still unclear what has happened to 500 people who were stranded on the Atlantic City's barrier island. They were unable to escape before Sandy - dubbed the Frankenstorm - rolled in.


Link
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Quoting Trixie1984:
Ground Zero construction site
Powerful photo


Yeah, saw that last night, and it is a real picture. It's going to take a while to pump all that out and get construction moving again.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 15021
Quoting Trixie1984:
Seaside Park, NJ - Funtown Pier


I've been there, a pier about the size of a football field full of rides. Gone.
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Hurricane Sandy was larger and more powerful when she made landfall in New England than Hurricane Irene was in 2011. Hurricane Sandy may rival the strongest East Coast storm on record!

WunderGirl12
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Quoting Articuno:

Looks photoshopped O_o

I agree. Structures don't fail like the one being shown in that picture. According to CNET, there are now over 100 fake pictures circulating around the net purporting to show Sandy's damage. Unless you have an unimpeachable source, I'd wait before posting pictures and using up bandwidth. If it's real, a few more hours won't make it less impressive. In addition, as I have been begging all day, please don't post any picture without a caption at least giving the location. There are still many of us trying to track down relatives, and I hate guessing if that looks like Aunt Rita's house. :(
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 15021
Quoting sonofagunn:
Here is a great video of the surge coming in like a tsunami. This is why you shouldn't stand at the edge of a seawall watching the waves nearly get you...

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_t1#/video/us/201 2/10/30/vo-nj-sandy-waves-hitting-shore.cnn


WOW!! I would not have stayed!!
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Quoting Articuno:

Looks photoshopped O_o




I have no idea about photoshopped, but it is unbelievable that the roof is still on.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Absolute devastation across the coast of NJ, reminds me of right after Ike. Unbelievable, structures just washed away.


It's all very surreal....
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Ground Zero construction site
Powerful photo

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Here is a great video of the surge coming in like a tsunami. This is why you shouldn't stand at the edge of a seawall watching the waves nearly get you...

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_t1#/video/us/201 2/10/30/vo-nj-sandy-waves-hitting-shore.cnn
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Hearing on the news that they're expecting Sandy's damage totals to pass 20 billion, and will probably be on pair with Ike.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Hurricane Sandy will be the highlight of the 2012 season.

Looks photoshopped O_o
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2413


Hurricane Sandy will be the highlight of the 2012 season.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Oct. 30, 2:40 p.m.: A New York University Hospital building on East 32nd St. has lost “years” of scientific research due to the storm, one researcher told the New York Daily News. Thousands of genetically-modified mice drowned in a flood, and the hospital may have lost various special enzymes, antibodies, and DNA strands that were stored at very specific temperatures. The Daily News writes: “In one case, scientists were rolling a big freezer — the size of a big refrigerator — to an area of the hospital with emergency power.”

It sounds like many organizations in the NYC metropolitan area didn't have very good contingency plans, if they had any at all. A storm like Sandy brings into sharp focus how important the area is to science, commerce, industry, and the overall economy. Being such an important center carries important responsibilities. As has been said before, it's not the probability of what might happen, it's the stakes when a major catastrophic event does happen. That should be a major factor in planning.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 15021

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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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