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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756. Skyepony (Mod)
Fresh TERRA pass of Nilam.
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755. Skyepony (Mod)
Six days of Sandy on Water Vapor.
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754. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #18
CYCLONIC STORM NILAM (BOB02-2012)
8:30 AM IST October 31 2012
=========================================

Cyclone Warning For North Tamil Nadu, Puducherry And Adjoining South Andhra Pradesh Coasts

Red Message


At 3:00 AM UTC, Cyclonic Storm Nilam moved northwestward and now lays centered near 11.0N 81.0E or about 260 km south southeast of Chennai, India and 300 km north of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. The system is likely to strengthen into a severe cyclonic storm and move northwestward while crossing northern Tamil Nadu and adjoining southern Andhra Pradesh coast between Puducherry and Nellore, close to Chennai by afternoon/evening of October 31st.

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
9 HRS: 12.5N 80.3E - 50 knots (Severe Cyclonic Storm)
15 HRS: 13.5N 79.5E - 40 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
33 HRS: 15.5N 77.5E - Low Pressure Area
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753. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting sar2401:

I guess so. Satellites are much better at seeing things I can't while looking up in the sky. Satellites are all scientific and geeky, so their cameras are always to be trusted. :)


That's why there is several satellites. The passes & info are compared at every chance to make sure what the satellites show aren't illusions.

Could you imagine dealing with Sandy with only radar? How surprising the size would have been then..
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Quoting sar2401:

I guess so. Satellites are much better at seeing things I can't while looking up in the sky. Satellites are all scientific and geeky, so their cameras are always to be trusted. :)


See comment 749. No one is doubting what you see in your area. I'm not questioning what you saw. I don't know why everything has to contradict everything...
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751. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Slamguitar:
Remember, these sat images can be nearly an hour old, and our world is a lot larger than these tiny images make them out to be.

Clouds can form and dissipate fast and we look up at a very small section of sky.



Also a good point..

Many times though the lightest shades of IR can be picking up on nothing more than higher moisture.


Awesome satellite view of the life of Sandy..
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Are satellite images more reliable than in situ observations?

I guess so. Satellites are much better at seeing things I can't while looking up in the sky. Satellites are all scientific and geeky, so their cameras are always to be trusted. :)
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Remember, these sat images can be nearly an hour old, and our world is a lot larger than these tiny images make them out to be.

Clouds can form and dissipate fast and we look up at a very small section of sky.

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748. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting sar2401:
Nope, just looked out the windows again, and the sky is still clear in central Alabama, right where those storm clouds are shown on the rainbow IR.

Defend it all you want, Skye, but I'm located directly under that alleged cloud mass and nothing is there. I've seen this over and over again with rainbow images. The rainbow images are not good indicators of where clouds are located, let alone precipitation and intensity of storms.


Those aren't storm clouds...every little shade of color on rainbow isn't rain or even a cloud. There is a lot of subtle info you are missing there. It's returning moisture in the air. I'd bet the humidity is higher in that area then central GA..The lack of clutter return on the radar in GA you posted kinda confirms this. But I couldn't track that bit of moisture on radar like I could on rainbow. Click the pic to loop. If that can get at all over the GOM before it gets drawn over FL tomorrow, someone may see sprinkles.. You can't get that from the radar alone.
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Quoting Slamguitar:
Sorry sar2401, but I'm taking Skyepony's side on this one.


OK, I apparently have suffered a complete loss of vision and can't see high clouds, even when the moon is up. They must be some kind of magic clouds. Maybe WXMOD can explain them. :)

Edit: Apparently every weather station in Alabama has suddenly developed the same disorder! This has to be a sign that they must be...yes....chemtrails. :)

Every station in Alabama currently reporting clear skies
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Quoting Slamguitar:
Sorry sar2401, but I'm taking Skyepony's side on this one.



Are satellite images more reliable than in situ observations?
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Quoting wxmod:
When they said 17000 flights had been canceled because of Sandy, I breathed a sigh of relief. These are ships producing these clouds, in the Pacific. MODIS


There are times when I wish satellite photography had never been developed.....
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Sorry sar2401, but I'm taking Skyepony's side on this one.

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Quoting sar2401:

I really wish people who keep posting these rainbow loops would understand that much of what is shown on them has no relation to ground truth. By looking at that graphic, one would think that Alabama had some kind of weather happening. Here's what the regional radar looks like right now:



The scattered green is ground clutter. It's clear as a bell over Alabama. Stick to normal IR loops. I have no clue why rainbows keep getting posted, since they always show things that aren't real.


Infrared/Rainbow satellite image depicts high clouds over Alabama that isn't producing rain. Of course, satellite images show cloud temperature not the rain. The amount of rain can be found by using the doppler radar like you posted.



Later all.
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Nope, just looked out the windows again, and the sky is still clear in central Alabama, right where those storm clouds are shown on the rainbow IR.

Defend it all you want, Skye, but I'm located directly under that alleged cloud mass and nothing is there. I've seen this over and over again with rainbow images. The rainbow images are not good indicators of where clouds are located, let alone precipitation and intensity of storms.
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Quoting Skyepony:

Nope, just looked ut the windows again, and the sky is still clear in central Alabama, right where those storm clouds are shown on the rainbow IR. {sigh}
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740. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting sar2401:

I really wish people who keep posting these rainbow loops would understand that much of what is shown on them has no relation to ground truth. By looking at that graphic, one would think that Alabama had some kind of weather happening. Here's what the regional radar looks like right now:



The scattered green is ground clutter. It's clear as a bell over Alabama. Stick to normal IR loops. I have no clue why rainbows keep getting posted, since they always show things that aren't real.


Radar doesn't show clouds that aren't producing rain like rainbow does. Those clouds over AL may & it's an outside chance..bring me rain tomorrow. So I'm cheering for them.

High clouds can be fairly red on Rainbow & still not be producing rain. It can help locate circulations at night if you know what color lower clouds are. The trick is being able to decipher them.
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Quoting wildheron:
what about all the homeless people in NYC (and other cities) where do they go? how do they know about evacuations? haven't heard any mention of this issue in the ongoing coverage. back to lurking.....

In most places, walking 10 or 15 blocks put you out of the flood zones. The homeless went to shelters or back on their grates, just like every day. The homeless wil be better off for the next week or, since the Red Cross and Salvation Army will have more shelters than usual, and more food will be available. After that, life for the homeless resumes as normal. For them, every day is a disaster, and Sandy didn't make it much worse.
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Blog update on Rosa.
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737. Skyepony (Mod)
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736. Skyepony (Mod)
The scariest thing I've noticed this summer has been the lack of sea ice reducing the variation of where the polar high was. Instead of moving around it parked over the cold of Greenland causing a steady ring of twirling lows around it & then drier south of that. Hope everyone enjoyed their weather this summer. Will be interesting to see how much ENSO can affect this.
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Quoting Civicane49:

I really wish people who keep posting these rainbow loops would understand that much of what is shown on them has no relation to ground truth. By looking at that graphic, one would think that Alabama had some kind of weather happening. Here's what the regional radar looks like right now:



The scattered green is ground clutter. It's clear as a bell over Alabama. Stick to normal IR loops. I have no clue why rainbows keep getting posted, since they always show things that aren't real.
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Quoting CaneWolf:
48 hr water vapor loop. Takes a while to load, but totally worth it.


Shows the incredible power of Sandy's circulation... she is the reason the Gulf isn't nearly as dry as it once was.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

I'm as big as a global warming advocate as they come, but it's just ridiculous to say that greenhouse gas emissions are directly responsible for Sandy. Nothing that occurred with this storm was unprecedented, except perhaps its size. New York City isn't a stranger to hurricanes. I'm solidly with Dr. Gray when I insinuate, quite confidently, that Atlantic hurricanes are not becoming more frequent or intense due to global warming. That may eventually be the case decades from now when the planetary warming becomes immense and the oceans consequently warm (even moreso than they have now). The reason I say no to global warming causing an increasing number of tropical cyclones and intense hurricanes is rather rudimentary: as far as we can tell, the only real net increase in tropical cyclone activity has been in the Atlantic, which leads me to believe it is largely due to natural causes and the inherent variability in large-scale weather patterns, and also due to our improved ability to detect tropical cyclones in general, namely satellite and scatterometer data.
That being said, I agree with your assertion that the prognosis of the climate models are likely conservative. In fact, I believe there's evidence of change in jet stream patterns now, but I cannot definitively link that to global warming.
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Quoting plebe:
Longtime lurker, first time poster. Just wanted to say thanks to Dr. Masters for hosting what may be the best forum on the web, and to all the posters who provide the analysis, the updates, the insights, and the fantastic graphics found here. Quite a community.


IMHO, I think the links between climate change (i.e. record low Arctic sea ice extents and atmospheric circulation patterns, abnormally warm coastal waters, length of the hurricane season) and Sandy's enormous size and behaviour are impossible to ignore. I worry that the climate models are in fact too conservative, and that an ice-free Arctic will mean huge changes for northern Hemisphere weather patterns - these 'unknown unknowns' may hold even bigger and nastier surprises than Sandy.


Back to lurking...

A good explanation on why your reasoning is wrong.
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Quoting plebe:
Longtime lurker, first time poster. Just wanted to say thanks to Dr. Masters for hosting what may be the best forum on the web, and to all the posters who provide the analysis, the updates, the insights, and the fantastic graphics found here. Quite a community.


IMHO, I think the links between climate change (i.e. record low Arctic sea ice extents and atmospheric circulation patterns, abnormally warm coastal waters, length of the hurricane season) and Sandy's enormous size and behaviour are impossible to ignore. I worry that the climate models are in fact too conservative, and that an ice-free Arctic will mean huge changes for northern Hemisphere weather patterns - these 'unknown unknowns' may hold even bigger and nastier surprises than Sandy.


Back to lurking...
I'm as big as a global warming advocate as they come, but it's just ridiculous to say that greenhouse gas emissions are directly responsible for Sandy. Nothing that occurred with this storm was unprecedented, except perhaps its size. New York City isn't a stranger to hurricanes. I'm solidly with Dr. Gray when I insinuate, quite confidently, that Atlantic hurricanes are not becoming more frequent or intense due to global warming. That may eventually be the case decades from now when the planetary warming becomes immense and the oceans consequently warm (even moreso than they have now). The reason I say no to global warming causing an increasing number of tropical cyclones and intense hurricanes is rather rudimentary: as far as we can tell, the only real net increase in tropical cyclone activity has been in the Atlantic, which leads me to believe it is largely due to natural causes and the inherent variability in large-scale weather patterns, and also due to our improved ability to detect tropical cyclones in general, namely satellite and scatterometer data.
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730. vanwx
Quoting KoritheMan:

I'm aware of that. I was just saying that it sounded like you were saying that the jet stream had completely vanished, when pretty much all weather is driven by jet stream amplification.


Nice boring summer in the CONUS and nice boring weather at the Pole, except that rare polar storm when it had to dump too much air to do it and had to go Polar cane. (I know, air down and not up at the eye).
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729. plebe
Longtime lurker, first time poster. Just wanted to say thanks to Dr. Masters for hosting what may be the best forum on the web, and to all the posters who provide the analysis, the updates, the insights, and the fantastic graphics found here. Quite a community.


IMHO, I think the links between climate change (i.e. record low Arctic sea ice extents and atmospheric circulation patterns, abnormally warm coastal waters, length of the hurricane season) and Sandy's enormous size and behaviour are impossible to ignore. I worry that the climate models are in fact too conservative, and that an ice-free Arctic will mean huge changes for northern Hemisphere weather patterns - these 'unknown unknowns' may hold even bigger and nastier surprises than Sandy.


Back to lurking...
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728. vanwx
My apologies for 'tpyos'!
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Quoting vanwx:


Yeah, it seemed tome the north bound air just went all the wayto the pole. The jet stream rides in the convergence zone.
I'm aware of that. I was just saying that it sounded like you were saying that the jet stream had completely vanished, when pretty much all weather is driven by jet stream amplification.
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726. vanwx
Quoting KoritheMan:

It left?


Yeah, it seemed tome the north bound air just went all the wayto the pole. The jet stream rides in the convergence zone.
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725. Skyepony (Mod)
ASCAT of the wave just off Africa.
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48 hr water vapor loop. Takes a while to load, but totally worth it.
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Quoting vanwx:
 That the jet stream is back is wonderful
It left?
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722. vanwx
Before you read your daily weather, a few seconds at the first map at

http://squall.sfsu.edu/crws/jetstream.html

is time well spent. The history of the jet stream for the last five years is the story major climate change. That the jet stream is back is wonderful but it's still in a kind of a 'locked up' phase. Most of last summer it had degraded as the thermal difference between the temporate hadley cell and the polar hadley fell below enough difference.
I think the break through in modeling on computers last year was the inclusion of a 450 mb map.
Somebody here mentioned the last couple of days about weirdness at the ECZ, what was that? How can I see that?
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Wow, that's quite a collection of blather, even for D'Aleo. A real Gish Gallop featuring comments from the debunked and discredited--Pielke, Hoerling, Michaels--interspersed with cherry-picked, out-of-context statements from other scientists, sprinkled with ad hominems, and thoroughly topped with obfuscatory bits of info that have no bearing on reality. That's not the first such diatribe I've seen today; with multiple-recordbreaker Sandy occurring on top of the increasing number and severity of extreme weather events the entire globe is seeing, the denialists doubtless realize their side and POV have been diminished even further, so such manufactured and dishonest rants are understandable, if not forgivable.

Anyone who tries to claim--even discounting Sandy--that the more than 3.4 million metric tons of long-lasting, heat-trapping, fossil fuel-based CO2 we humans pump into the atmosphere each and every hour of each and every day has no effect on the weather or the climate is in absolute denial of reality. Period. The climate is changing far faster than scientists predicted even a few short years ago, and there's no sign of that trend reversing.

+1000
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720. Skyepony (Mod)
Nilam
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719. Skyepony (Mod)
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Sandy still generating wind damage:

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Superstorm Sandy:

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NHC has also released TCR on the East Pacific storms earlier this month: Bud, Daniel, and Emilia.
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The most information I've seen about the NYC subways. Seems there's still a lot of uncertainty about the amount and extent of damage.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6158
Quoting Neapolitan:
For starters, put people on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee who don't believe the earth is only a few thousand years old (Broun), who aren't completely clueless about biology and human reproduction (Akin), who aren't woefully ignorant about climate (Brooks), who aren't at least a little bit familiar with the internet (Hall), and who know at least a little bit about the carbon cycle (Rohrabacher). I realize that's a lot to ask of as anti-science a group of people as have ever darkened Washington, but, well, it would be a start.

+100
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The NHC has released their first TCR of the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Florence.
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Quoting MercForHire:
Have a question which I SHOULD know the answer to, but don't.

Weather just showed the Jet Stream making a perfect half-circle around Sandy's rear-end (That would be her bottom :) ). So did Sandy PULL the Jet Stream into that arc, or did Sandy slip into an arc which was already there, in effect pulling HER in?

Maybe a bit of both.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6158
Quoting MercForHire:
Have a question which I SHOULD know the answer to, but don't.

Weather just showed the Jet Stream making a perfect half-circle around Sandy's rear-end (That would be her bottom :) ). So did Sandy PULL the Jet Stream into that arc, or did Sandy slip into an arc which was already there, in effect pulling HER in?


I think this is an omega block creating a cut-off low and possibly some tropopause folding as the Bermuda-Azores high has been completely displaced and replaced by a high pressure system over the Canadian Arctic and Greenland.
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Good night, y'all.

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Quoting dogsgomoo:
There was an image of a house earlier today with a big chunk missing yet the roof was still perfect on top.


People were saying it was fake. It seems that the house itself looks to be real and is located in Union Bay, NJ and the damage looks legit. Sometimes reality is way weird.



lol how cute
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Quoting Civicane49:


Isn't this the first year that both the Atlantic and the eastern Pacific season has at least 17 tropical storms each?


To my knowledge, yeah.
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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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