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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906. atris
Quoting mikatnight:
Climate Change & Global Warming = same thing



Actually not quite ... Climate Change covers any type of change in climate ..whereas Gobal warming is just about the earth warming...
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Quoting mikatnight:
Climate Change & Global Warming = same thing

No. The climate is changing; warming is both part of that change, and driver for other facets of it. But not all climate changes are due to warming, nor is warming the only sign of change.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
But of course you realize I called neither you nor anyone else ignorant; I specifically referred to an ignorant way of thinking. Here, allow me to be boring and repetitious:

"The only thing perhaps more ignorant than claiming Sandy was 'caused' solely by global warming would be claiming global warming had nothing to do with Sandy.".

Maybe you should go take a class on how to be a better reader? ;-)
Perhaps,to be more precise,if one were to begin eating quarter pounders with cheese,beginning at age 16, and then to begin having more frequent episodes of angina,one could possibly attribute that symptom to dietary intake.If,at age 60 one were to have an MI,perhaps there could be a corollary with progressive quarter pounder with cheese intake.I believe we just saw an environmental MI(myocardial infarction)Global warming is real and when nature is done self correcting,there will be a significant body count.Historians will look back to this era and will have difficulty understanding why we could not identify the process.
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The "A" in AGW stands for "Anthropogenic."
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Climate Change & Global Warming = same thing

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Quoting mikatnight:
I've already heard quotes as high as 45 & 50 billion. The Doc's post the other day said a study predicted losses of $55B. I won't be surprised if total US cost adds up to 65-70 billion dollars.
and then we have to add in the damage in haiti, DR, bahamas, ect
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sandy could have been a lot strong like a cat 3-5 if it was in july or AUG damg would have been a lot wores then what you are seeing on TV right now


so it gos too show what a cat 1 storm can do
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FoxNews is now reporting 50 billion in combined economic and damage costs is that accurate
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Quoting WXMichael:


I agree. I think the climate has always been changing. The pace is what needs to be focused on.

I have two questions for whomever. As a novice and completely unbiased on-looker, I found myself wondering what AGW stands for: A_______ Global Warming? And what is the difference between that and Climate Change? Thanks!


Anthropogenic (man-made)
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I've already heard quotes as high as 45 & 50 billion. The Doc's post the other day said a study predicted losses of $55B. I won't be surprised if total US cost adds up to 65-70 billion dollars.
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Quoting KarenRei:
To reiterate the point (concerning the "hotter in the Cretaceous" comment). The issue is not *that* the climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The issue is the *rate* at which the climate is changing.


I agree. I think the climate has always been changing. The pace is what needs to be focused on.

I have two questions for whomever. As a novice and completely unbiased on-looker, I found myself wondering what AGW stands for: A_______ Global Warming? And what is the difference between that and Climate Change? Thanks!
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We have evidence that this same seafront location has received lots of water in the past most likely caused by Tsunami waves. So knowing that is another possibility that could be faced again and needs to be addressed.
Quoting LargoFl:
well i was born there and I never saw anything even close to this there..my guess is..its the worst ever to hit NYC

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Off Topic but interesting triva..
After a Nor'easter in 1911 Niagra falls froze completely over..
In a year of weather wierdness as we are having,I'm courious to see if this will occur again..


Edit..Image won't come through..(
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from what I can tell from this damg is at so far
$25 billion I think that will likey go up

Link
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BBC weather blooper: watch this version of the Sandy storm...Link
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Hurricane Donna was in September of 1960.....thats the 4th storm that year? Really..?
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Cretaceous thermal max, you say? You think that is the climate we are cycling back to?

It would be interesting to return to a climate before any of the flowering plants we use for food existed, and most the insects they use for pollination were matched with them. The first flowering plants began back then possibly from seed ferns. Personally, I don’t want to change back to any climate before humans existed. I prefer a climate that our domesticated plants and animals have lived through too. Just because the earth had a climate like it before, doesn’t mean it is a climate we can survive.

Fortunately, I do like fiddlehead soup.
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Quoting ncstorm:
I hate to interrupt the world about to end talk but in present day..

From CNN:

The storm killed 67 people in the Caribbean. Then it slammed into the U.S. East Coast, where it left at least 40 dead. And one woman in Canada died after debris from the storm struck her.
and im afraid as they go house to house in the rubble, they will find more
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I hate to interrupt the world about to end talk but in present day..

From CNN:

Sandy's wallop leaves Northeast reeling

The storm killed 67 people in the Caribbean. Then it slammed into the U.S. East Coast, where it left at least 40 dead. And one woman in Canada died after debris from the storm struck her.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15286
02B.NILAM looking disorganized this am..




96A.INVEST looking quite good..Indian Basin


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Quoting hurricane23:


Will get head chopped of just about anywere right now. That about does it for this very busy season.
Yep..Might get one more named system.
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Quoting LargoFl:
well wether we today believe it or not, its our kids and their kids who are going to find out IF its true or not and will have to deal with the changing weather and storms etc, my hope is, they will be as strong as we are, to deal with it all
Good post. We are an intelligent race. Too bad some people do not use that very intellect to protect the very source of our existence. No matter how much or little damage humans may have caused already...It is only my opinion that humans and there methods for advancement have polluted the Earth to an unacceptable level, but I am not alone.
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Quoting hydrus:
Caribbean blob looks interesting. If it moves close to the gulf it will get its head chopped off tho.


Will get head chopped of just about anywere right now. That about does it for this very busy season.
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Quoting luvtogolf:


God did not grant me with a very high IQ. I take offense to being called ignorant. Maybe you should go take a class on how to be a better person.
But of course you realize I called neither you nor anyone else ignorant; I specifically referred to an ignorant way of thinking. Here, allow me to be boring and repetitious:

"The only thing perhaps more ignorant than claiming Sandy was 'caused' solely by global warming would be claiming global warming had nothing to do with Sandy.".

Maybe you should go take a class on how to be a better reader? ;-)
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Quoting Wiebel:


unprecedented in history records of modern mankind.

I'm sure New York has seen worse floods.

The damage is unprecedented though, tends to happen when you build in the floodplain.
well i was born there and I never saw anything even close to this there..my guess is..its the worst ever to hit NYC
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Quoting medicroc:
To all over you who "overhyped" this storm... A since thank you. I really mean it.
Im just glad, some took it to heart and did prepare, it was an amazing storm to watch and to those suffering right now< I hope you can get thru this and repairs go smoothly for you..so many suffering right now, it hit 15 states geez, what a monster she was
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Quoting greenengineer:


Water level in NY Harbor is a foot higher than it was 100 years ago. Flooding was unprecedented.

Also to say that nothing is unprecedented except its size is kind of silly. That's the whole point - the size is unprecedented that far north.



unprecedented in history records of modern mankind.

I'm sure New York has seen worse floods.

The damage is unprecedented though, tends to happen when you build in the floodplain.
Member Since: August 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 34
Quoting KarenRei:
To reiterate the point (concerning the "hotter in the Cretaceous" comment). The issue is not *that* the climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The issue is the *rate* at which the climate is changing.


...well, and also the cause of the warming, which is relevant to the questions 1) is it inevitable or can it be stopped, and if so, 2) how?
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Quoting hydrus:
Caribbean blob looks interesting. If it moves close to the gulf it will get its head chopped off tho.
yes NHC had it as a purple watch area..isnt there today
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Quoting KarenRei:
The issue is not *that* the climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The issue is the *rate* at which the climate is changing.
x 100,000.
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Quoting HopquickSteve:
Since everyone is talking AGW, I just want to throw my two cents in. Lol.
Saturn just had a northern-hemisphere "storm of the century" which spiked the upper atmospheric temperatures on Saturn.
Link
Does this mean it is completely SOLAR? No. Greenhouse gasses increase our sensitivity to SOLAR events.

Although interesting, it's rather irrelevant to Earth as the atmospheric dynamics of Saturn are not that of Earth. it's not really a matter of "solar events" - it's more that greenhouse gases decrease the amount of heat that can leave Earth. This is a constant, gradual process and I do not recall any research showing that it is sensitive to solar "events."
Quoting HopquickSteve:
As the interior of a greenhouse warms up more quickly on a sunny day than the exterior there is global warming. We are nearing the end of a cold period.

A "cold period" as defined by...?
Quoting HopquickSteve:
We are nowhere near the average temperatures of the Cretaceous Thermal Maximum.

That temperature reconstrcution shows how sensitive the earth's climate is to natural forcings, which has helped climate scientists understand how sensitive climate may be to human induced forcings. Higher amplification of warm/cold periods in the past actually suggests stronger warming due to today's anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
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Quoting KarenRei:
To reiterate the point (concerning the "hotter in the Cretaceous" comment). The issue is not *that* the climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The issue is the *rate* at which the climate is changing.
thats a good point, and dont forget folks..the continents ARE moving, which is why we get the earthquakes, north america IS moving towards europe etc
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Fear-mongering on the left.



yaawwwnnnn.....


No, no, not fear. Knowledge. Understanding. (gasp) Science!

I always try to be respectful. So considering that, let me ask you- knowing Dr. Masters' stand on climate change, why do you even read this blog? Isn't that an act of hypocrisy itself? If you can't believe the provable science behind CO2 and changing climate, how can you believe anything he writes at all?

Please consider I did not name-call or belittle, and hope for a similar respectful answer.

And no, I am not a follower or a syncophant. A respected professor in college, Dr. Howard Quigley. introduced me to the thoery of AGW in 1989 and I have been learning and studying since then. That is probably the main reason I read this blog. I just can't understand why someone who is skeptical would bother to read it as well.
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1230
Quoting hydrus:
I wonder just how many people deny that the Earth is warming because they simply like to argue. One would think that folks who do make comments that global warming doesnt exist would have the I.Q. to realize that it is. They should argue how much humans may or may not be affecting the Earths climate, not whether or not that warming is happening as of now.
well wether we today believe it or not, its our kids and their kids who are going to find out IF its true or not and will have to deal with the changing weather and storms etc, my hope is, they will be as strong as we are, to deal with it all
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To reiterate the point (concerning the "hotter in the Cretaceous" comment). The issue is not *that* the climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The issue is the *rate* at which the climate is changing.
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Rosa is not going anywhere..

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Atlantic becoming more hostile..
only Carribean and ITZ calm enough for any development..

Credit Intellicast..
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Quoting StormPro:


Love it! I am not a believer nor denier....I don't like falling into "camps". But I recognize contempt when I read it
I wonder just how many people deny that the Earth is warming because they simply like to argue. One would think folks who do make comments that global warming doesnt exist would have the I.Q. to realize that it does. They should argue how much humans may or may not be affecting the Earths climate, not whether or not that warming is happening as of now.
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Quoting clamshell:
The AGW gang says it, I believe them and that is all there is to it.


"The AGW gang" - an interesting new moniker for climate scientists using science to make scientific conclusions. A scarier and easier-to-attack noun than "scientists" or "experts."

Quoting clamshell:

One thing you could do is to change your word usage and cadence because they both are getting a wee bit repetitious and boring as a result.


If it's worded slightly differently by different scientists, we get told that there is no consensus and scientists' opinions differ. If it's the same factually-based, accurate statement over and over, it's "repetitious" and "boring." Guess scientists just can't win?
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Since everyone is talking AGW, I just want to throw my two cents in. Lol.

Saturn just had a northern-hemisphere "storm of the century" which spiked the upper atmospheric temperatures on Saturn.

Link

Does this mean it is completely SOLAR? No. Greenhouse gasses increase our sensitivity to SOLAR events. As the interior of a greenhouse warms up more quickly on a sunny day than the exterior there is global warming. We are nearing the end of a cold period. We are nowhere near the average temperatures of the Cretaceous Thermal Maximum. Link

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All of us watching noticed Sandy strengthening until landfall. She was traveling over a very toasty gulf stream that let the growth continue in northern latitudes.
I'm not saying the gulf stream is a product of climate change, but sligtly warmer ocean temperatures in the gulf stream are.
My inexpert interpretation is the cold cloud tops building on the morning before landfall was a product of the warm ocean temperatures that Sandy was over.
The exact difference in caloric energy available over a slightly cooler sea surface gulf stream compared to the one we have now, I haven't done.
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Caribbean blob looks interesting. If it moves close to the gulf it will get its head chopped off tho.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_York_hurri canes
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Quoting luvtogolf:


God did not grant me with a very high IQ. I take offense to being called ignorant. Maybe you should go take a class on how to be a better person.


Love it! I am not a believer nor denier....I don't like falling into "camps". But I recognize contempt when I read it
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856. MahFL
Quoting biff4ugo:
Hurricane season has measurably lenthened, leading to more late October storms, is what I heard Dr. Master say. And increased ocean temperatures leads to more distructive hurricane winds. (increased ocean temperatures and lenthened hurricane seasons are a change in climate for those keeping score)

I didn't know the weather channel purchased WU! I must have missed that blog day.

Does that mean Jim C will be on here? Would that mean we would have more hurricanes on this blog? grin.


Lol we spent weeks complaining about the sale.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3492

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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.