Why did Hurricane Sandy take such an unusual track into New Jersey?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:33 PM GMT on October 31, 2012

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We're used to seeing hurricane-battered beaches and flooded cities in Florida, North Carolina, and the Gulf Coast. But to see these images from the Jersey Shore and New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is a shocking experience. New Jersey only rarely gets hit by hurricanes because it lies in a portion of the coast that doesn't stick out much, and is too far north. How did this happen? How was a hurricane able to move from southeast to northwest at landfall, so far north, and so late in hurricane season? We expect hurricanes to move from east to west in the tropics, where the prevailing trade winds blow that direction. But the prevailing wind direction reverses at mid-latitudes, flowing predominately west-to-east, due to the spin of the Earth. Hurricanes that penetrate to about Florida's latitude usually get caught up in these westerly winds, and are whisked northeastwards, out to sea. However, the jet stream, that powerful band of upper-atmosphere west-to-east flowing air, has many dips and bulges. These troughs of low pressure and ridges of high pressure allow winds at mid-latitudes to flow more to the north or to the south. Every so often, a trough in the jet stream bends back on itself when encountering a ridge of high pressure stuck in place ahead of it. These "negatively tilted" troughs have winds that flow from southeast to northwest. It is this sort of negatively tilted trough that sucked in Sandy and allowed the hurricane to take such an unusual path into New Jersey.


Figure 1. Inlet section of Atlantic City, N.J., after Hurricane Sandy. Image credit: 6 ABC Action News.

The 1903 Vagabond Hurricane
The only other hurricane to hit New Jersey since 1851 besides Sandy was the 1903 Category 1 Vagabond Hurricane. According to Wikipedia, the Vagabond Hurricane caused heavy damage along the New Jersey coast ($180 million in 2006 dollars.) The hurricane killed 57 people, and endangered the life of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was sailing on a yacht near Long Island, NY, when the hurricane hit. However, the Vagabond Hurricane hit in September, when the jet stream is typically weaker and farther to the north. It is quite extraordinary that Sandy was able to hit New Jersey in late October, when the jet stream is typically stronger and farther south, making recurvature to the northeast much more likely than in September.


Figure 2. The path of the 1903 Vagabond Hurricane, the only other hurricane to hit New Jersey since 1851.

The blocking ridge that steered Sandy into New Jersey
A strong ridge of high pressure parked itself over Greenland beginning on October 20, creating a "blocking ridge" that prevented the normal west-to-east flow of winds over Eastern North America. Think of the blocking ridge like a big truck parked over Greenland. Storms approaching from the west (like the fall low pressure system that moved across the U.S. from California to Pennsylvania last week) or from the south (Hurricane Sandy) were blocked from heading to the northeast. Caught in the equivalent of an atmospheric traffic jam, the two storms collided over the Northeast U.S., combined into one, and are now waiting for the truck parked over Greenland to move. The strength of the blocking ridge, as measured by the strength of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), was quite high--about two standard deviations from average, something that occurs approximately 5% of the time. When the NAO is in a strong negative phase, we tend to have blocking ridges over Greenland.


Figure 3. Jet stream winds at a pressure of 300 mb on October 29, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy approached the coast of New Jersey. Note that the wind direction over New Jersey (black arrows) was from the southeast, due to a negatively tilted trough of low pressure over the Eastern U.S. caused by a strong blocking ridge of high pressure over Greenland. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

Arctic sea ice loss can cause blocking ridges
Blocking ridges occur naturally, but are uncommon over Greenland this time of year. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, blocking near the longitude of Greenland (50°W) only occurs about 2% of the time in the fall. These odds rise to about 6% in winter and spring. As I discussed in an April post, Arctic sea ice loss tied to unusual jet stream patterns, three studies published in the past year have found that the jet stream has been getting stuck in unusually strong blocking patterns in recent years. These studies found that the recent record decline in Arctic sea ice could be responsible, since this heats up the pole, altering the Equator-to-pole temperature difference, forcing the jet stream to slow down, meander, and get stuck in large loops. The 2012 Arctic sea ice melt season was extreme, with sea ice extent hitting a record lows. Could sea ice loss have contributed to the blocking ridge that steered Sandy into New Jersey? It is possible, but we will need to much more research on the subject before we make such a link, as the studies of sea ice loss on jet stream patterns are so new. The author of one of the new studies, Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers, had this say in a recent post by Andy Revkin in his Dot Earth blog: "While it’s impossible to say how this scenario might have unfolded if sea-ice had been as extensive as it was in the 1980s, the situation at hand is completely consistent with what I’d expect to see happen more often as a result of unabated warming and especially the amplification of that warming in the Arctic."

Jeff Masters

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#231

Finally got to give you a like! 8-)
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) — "This," said Harry Typaldos, who owns the Grenville Inn in Mantoloking, "I just can't comprehend."

I guess Harry never pays attention when a strong hurricane makes landfall in the southern US or elsewhere in the world for that matter.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5907
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
2nd GFS run in a row showing long range Caribbean development:



Would probably be similar to Ida or Paloma. We'll see what happens, as much as the horrors that have unfolded in the North-east after Hurricane Sandy continues to dawn on us, the season continues..
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23487


MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey's delicate barrier islands, long and slender strips of land cherished by generations of sunbathing vacationers and full-time residents alike, are a hazardous wasteland of badly eroded shore, ruined beachfront homes, flooded streets and damaged utilities.

The full extent of the devastation on the island that hosts MTV's "Jersey Shore" came into sharper focus Wednesday, and it wasn't a pretty sight. Signs of the good life that had defined wealthy enclaves like Bayhead and Mantoloking lie scattered and broken: $3,000 barbecue grills buried beneath the sand and hot tubs cracked and filled with seawater.

Nearly all the homes were seriously damaged, and many were destroyed — no trace of them left.

"This," said Harry Typaldos, who owns the Grenville Inn in Mantoloking, "I just can't comprehend."
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262. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #23
DEEP DEPRESSION, FORMER NILAM (BOB02-2012)
23:30 PM IST October 31 2012
=============================================

At 18:00 PM UTC, the cyclonic storm moved northwestward and weakened into a deep depression. Deep Depression, Former Nilam now lays over northern Tamil Nadu and adjoining areas of Rayalaseema and interior Karnataka or near 13.5N 78.5E. The system is likely to move west northwestward and weaken further into a depression during the next 12 hours
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GRIDLOCK... leads to:

Mayor to mandate car passenger minimums in Manhattan

By JENNIFER FERMINO and SALLY GOLDENBERG
Last Updated: 5:57 PM, October 31, 2012
Posted: 2:09 PM, October 31, 2012

Cars with less than three passengers will be virtually barred from entering Manhattan, Mayor Bloomberg announced today, in a desperate bid to relief gridlocked city streets.

This post-Hurricane Sandy rule will be enforced from 6 a.m. to midnight tomorrow and Friday.

"To reduce the number of cars coming into Manhattan, however, we have to take some steps. The streets just cannot handle the number of cars that have tried to come in," the mayor said today.

"I know it is inconvenient for a lot of people. But the bottom line is the streets can only handle so much."

The restrictions will be enforced on all Manhattan -bound bridges and tunnels --
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Anyone have news about Mantoloking - on the Jersey shore? Saw bad reports about there last night. Old acquaintences there and fond memories - I fear all that will be left are the fond memories, looking at earlier reports.
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A lot of deciduous trees evolved in a forest setting where the trees protected each other and never developed deep tap roots. The roots spread out to compete for nutrition. Like a rain forest has little wind resistance. Once the ground gets wet, the movement of the roots liquifies the soils, which usually have some clay present, they no longer provide friction..grip, the stress localizes and causes failures that allow toppling.

There other specialized root systems, such as mangrove, Australian pine (it is actually an oak/hickory) and cypress that have shallow roots because they evolved where there is no oxygen below the surface.
Member Since: September 23, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 2503
Hurricane Sandy was forecast pretty accurately 15 years ago. Same name, same track. The intensity and dates were a bit off.

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Happy Samhain everyone!!



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Quoting islander101010:
merritt island florida is invested with rats big ones too. i hate hurricanes but rats even more


So is Wall Street .
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Quoting Neapolitan:
I haven't seen the following video posted here; if it has been, pardon the duplicate. It's a pretty large tree with an inadequately-anchored roof system succumbing to Sandy's winds:

Thanks for that. Sometimes a shallow root system is a characteristic of the species, but many times shallow roots result from over-watering or over-irrigating.
Besides people's lush over-watered lawns, a lot of trees along rivers, streams and ponds come down for the same reason.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
2nd GFS run in a row showing long range Caribbean development:


If the GFS start to get consistency, then it could very well happen. The season is not over yet.
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2nd GFS run in a row showing long range Caribbean development:

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Quoting SyriboTigereyes:
Hey bloggers. This is my first update since Monday night when we lost power at about 8pm and wifi at about 11pm.

This has been an unbelievable week so far. I. Glad for the NHC, the blog, and the models who predicted this right and allowed us ample time to prepare. Too bad a lot of people I know didn't heed my warnings and listen to me. But we are doing well so far.


GREAT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Hang in there...
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I asked the gardening hubby about apples- some varieties are pollen sterile, and need another variety of apples around to pollinate and fruit. Others are just fine on their own. But they all need a cold, dormant period to produce fruit. Florida's climate doesn't allow for that.
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Hey bloggers. This is my first update since Monday night when we lost power at about 8pm and wifi at about 11pm. Long Island looks so awful.. We really got hit hard, especially the coast. Boats at out marina are blocks away piled up on top of each other,in houses. Our boat is actually fine since it was in the water on the dock, thank goodness.

Couldn't believe 90 percent of LI had no power.. There are still 830,000 left without power. Is looking bad. Could b two weeks.. It just looks bad. So many huge downed trees, crushed cars, houses destroyed. Unreal. I'm disabled, have no cell phone or car. So when my dad is home, it's the only contact I have with the world. I have a lot of books. We have our antique wood stove giving us heat, canned food, instant coffee, cases of bottled water. Using the stove to heat up water for coffee. A cooler with ice my dad fills up everyday to preserve our milk and utter items. It's just weird being cut off from the world while my father is working during the day.

Right ow I'm at a friends a apartment in queens to finally shower, charge my iPad, put some more movies and shows on it, and contact family.

This has been an unbelievable week so far. I. Glad for the NHC, the blog, and the models who predicted this right and allowed us ample time to prepare. Too bad a lot of people I know didn't heed my warnings and listen to me. But we are doing well so far.
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Quoting clamshell:
I can't help wondering about the underwater contours in that area of the US. If the continental shelf has a really gentle rise to it, that might explain some of the huge water action.




For the greatest part, not anywhere near as shallow as the U.S. GOM coast.

Link: Ecology of the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf(NOAA)
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I haven't seen the following video posted here; if it has been, pardon the duplicate. It's a pretty large tree with an inadequately-anchored roof system succumbing to Sandy's winds:

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One of my local TV mets wrote an excellent blog entry tonight explaining how climate change helped contribute to Sandy's destruction.

Link
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Quoting westFLtropics:
I wonder if New Jersey will adopt Florida's hurricane codes for rebuilding in light of Sandy's damage. Needless to say Sandy will be a retired name after this season.


. These studies found that the recent record decline in Arctic sea ice could be responsible, since this heats up the pole, altering the Equator-to-pole temperature difference, forcing the jet stream to slow down, meander, and get stuck in large loops. The 2012 Arctic sea ice melt season was extreme, with sea ice extent hitting a record lows. Could sea ice loss have contributed to the blocking ridge that steered Sandy into New Jersey? It is possible, but we will need to much more research on the subject before we make such a link, as the studies of sea ice loss on jet stream patterns are so new

Dr. Masters'


if that verifies,the future doesn't look too well
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Quoting BADHYPEAGAIN:
the rats are taking over new york city by the thousands

real rats or the looters??
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Quoting westFLtropics:
I wonder if New Jersey will adopt Florida's hurricane codes for rebuilding in light of Sandy's damage. Needless to say Sandy will be a retired name after this season.


I can't help wondering about the underwater contours in that area of the US. If the continental shelf has a really gentle rise to it, that might explain some of the huge water action.

Any expert out there with comments?


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I wonder if New Jersey will adopt Florida's hurricane codes for rebuilding in light of Sandy's damage. Needless to say Sandy will be a retired name after this season.
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Remarkeable facts. My friend in Hopewell New Jersey is without power and described such a howling, violent wind. Her grove of 90+ year old oak trees have been taken down over her 8 acre spread while her driveway is blocked so no in or out access. When all this shakes out I think the amount of known damage to NJ is going be even more startling.
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uh oh here we go again!
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Quoting Bielle:


I expected to see water rising. Did I miss it?


Keep an eye on those docks close to the camera. The water does rise and overtake them.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Watching for the next named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season...


We could even use all of the names if the GFS is correct as it developed a Caribbean storm late in the run.
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Quoting clamshell:


Whats the best way to cook plantains?

I was taught to cook them in olive oil and then cover them in brown sugar and put them back in the skillet to brown it.

What about you?




they make nice, spicy chips too! dunno if they were fried or baked though, were really nice though. had gotten them in the Caribbean food section at the store
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Quoting Slamguitar:
Check out this time lapse of NYC:



I expected to see water rising. Did I miss it?
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Check out this time lapse of NYC:

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.
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Quoting Ossqss:


I do.

It seems you take the words used in the posted info and translate could into did first off. Theory only, period.

Then, it seems the sea ice loss item is totally misrepresented. You try your hardest to make it seem the ice melted in place like a snow cone in the summer sun. That is false.

You see, a persistent weather pattern since the early 2000's has consistently pushed fringe ice into warmer water where it subsequently melted. It did not melt in place.

The root cause of this years low is directly attributable to an early August storm which pushed a huge amount of ice into warmer waters and subsequently set a record that is only comparable to the last 30 years of Sat measurement. That type of storm occurs every 8 years on average, but was amplified by the prior years weather pattern impact.

Let alone the agencies admission that their measuring efforts are not so good and they are planning a better more accurate way of measuring things with new equipment.

Now at least some with no agenda will have a better and more rounded view of the information being spun here.

Good day>

BTW, remember the GW these folks talk of is 1.4 degrees F in the last 160 years with quite shaky global assumptions from that many years ago as a starting point. Let alone he fact the earths global temp has not risen in almost 17 years now as was disclosed a couple weeks ago.
Going to show that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him think. Sigh...
Quoting clamshell:
Please..please...keep your promise and put me on ignore. That way you wont see my comments any more.
You got it, dude...
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Quoting Neapolitan:
That was slightly amusing the first 90 or so times you posted it. But now it's grown tiresome; do you have anything original to add, or may I just safely place you on ignore now, knowing that this is the best you can come up with? ;-)


Ah yes...huff and puff and blow my house down.

Whimper...:-(

BTW I've told you a million times not to exaggerate.

Please..please...instead of talking about it simply put me on ignore. That way you wont see my comments any more.


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Quoting SunriseSteeda:


Most of the banana trees planted in South Florida are actually plantains. I have usually 1-2 dozen growing in various places on my property. They do cause damage and grow like weeds but I like them anyway!

Giant plantain:
Link

My own biggest fruiting trees were all broken as Sandy passed:
Link


Whats the best way to cook plantains?

I was taught to cook them in olive oil and then cover them in brown sugar and put them back in the skillet to brown it.

What about you?


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Rapid scan of Sandy. 6 days total.

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Quoting washingtonian115:
I'm doing just fine.The kids costumes look adorable and just finished taking pictures.Trees are down but we'll avoid them by taking the car.
Glad you made it through the storm okay. Have fun with the little ones tonight.
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...........just what they need up there..rain geez
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
Watching for the next named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season...

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Quoting tazmaniad:


Incorrect. Apple trees are hermaphroditic. The difficulty of growing apples in Florida has to do with the lack of cool winter temperatures, which are needed for blossoms to form.
The University of Florida has been doing a great job of taking northern fruit varieties that require a lot of chill hours and creating low-chill varieties. I have a whole hedge of low-chill blueberries in my backyard, and they have some new low-chill apples now too:
Deciduous Fruit for the Home Garden in Central Florida
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Wow the TCHP is still rocket fuel in the carribean! Hopely that next wave doesnt go over that thing!
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merritt island florida is invested with rats big ones too. i hate hurricanes but rats even more
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I know its impossible but..I just sat thru a half hour of seeing the pics of the utter destruction up in NYC and NJ etc..and I cannot imagine, what it would look like up there..had Sandy went to a cat-3 or cat-4..omg......remember she almost went to a cat-2 there for awhile.....and IF the gulf stream does move north in years to come..it could happen
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36630
Quoting washingtonian115:
Hello the kids will be going trick or treating.But we'll have to find neighborhoods with power in them to do it.One thing that I don't like is that global warmist will now use this opportunity to the fullest extent to to possibly shove this down our damn throats.Anyway have a nice day and a safe holloween.


Oh hey!!! Nice to see you on!! Glad you guys are fine
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Quoting Neapolitan:
That was slightly amusing the first 90 or so times you posted it. But now it's grown tiresome; do you have anything original to add, or may I just safely place you on ignore now, knowing that this is the best you can come up with? ;-)


I do.

It seems you take the words used in the posted info and translate could into did first off. Theory only, period.

Then, it seems the sea ice loss item is totally misrepresented. You try your hardest to make it seem the ice melted in place like a snow cone in the summer sun. That is false.

You see, a persistent weather pattern since the early 2000's has consistently pushed fringe ice into warmer water where it subsequently melted. It did not melt in place.

The root cause of this years low is directly attributable to an early August storm which pushed a huge amount of ice into warmer waters and subsequently set a record that is only comparable to the last 30 years of Sat measurement. That type of storm occurs every 8 years on average, but was amplified by the prior years weather pattern impact.

Let alone the agencies admission that their measuring efforts are not so good and they are planning a better more accurate way of measuring things with new equipment.

Now at least some with no agenda will have a better and more rounded view of the information being spun here.

Good day>

BTW, remember the GW these folks talk of is 1.4 degrees F in the last 160 years with quite shaky global assumptions from that many years ago as a starting point. Let alone he fact the earths global temp has not risen in almost 17 years now as was disclosed a couple weeks ago.
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Quoting tazmaniad:


Incorrect. Apple trees are hermaphroditic. The difficulty of growing apples in Florida has to do with the lack of cool winter temperatures, which are needed for blossoms to form.


Yep...they grow like mad here in the UK, and even young trees will have loads of fruit on them. They were all over the place around Seattle when I loved there too.

I grew up in the desert with loads of citrus trees in the yard and date palms, though couldn't try to harvest them as too tall.

I would love mango, banana and avocado trees though! But I hate humid hot weather...so apples it is :P Blackberries grow like weeds here too, can pick them all over the place this time of year
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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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