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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Quoting MrMixon:


To me, the term "high wind warning" implies that winds are going to be high enough to damage some structures, at least a few trees will fall, some branches are definitely going to come down, and we may lose power. For me in Colorado it also means "high fire danger"... even if they don't say it. I don't need to be told EVERYTHING. Some things I figure out for myself by paying attention.

There were also numerous flood warnings and storm surge warnings for the to-be-affected areas. When I see "high wind warning" combined with "flood warning" and headlines like "Superstorm Sandy" I know that it's not just "wear a jacket" weather. But yes, that's just me. I'm a weather nerd and I like to be prepared.

To some extent we must accept that some folks simply won't heed ANY warning. Everybody is harping on the use of the word "hurricane", but come on, every single time there is a hurricane warning there are plenty of people who stay behind anyway. It's not like that word will magically make all humans responsible.

That said, it's definitely all part of a grand conspiracy. Of course, I'm part of the conspiracy, so it doesn't bother me too much.


I don't care who evacuates or not. Those who choose to face nature also face Darwin; and neither nature nor Darwin care if the word 'hurricane' is used or not.

HOWEVER! Lawyers Do care if the word 'hurricane' is used. Can you tell us all what impact the omission of the word 'hurricane' has on wind/flood/homeowners insurance policies? Can you tell us all whose interests are served by that?
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865. yoboi
Quoting sar2401:

Because constitutional rights apply to all states. You must have probable cause to arrest someone. If they say "I'm not leaving" when they've been given a direct, lawful order, that's enough probable cause to make an arrest (or issue a citation, which is an arrest, but you promise to appear in court). If they say "OK, I'm leaving" then don't, you can arrest them if they are caught inside an evacuation zone, but you can't just bust into a house looking for people when the violation is only a misdemeanor. If they are out wandering the streets in an evacuation zone, you can arrest them. The basic issue remains, however. There are only so many cops to go around. do you want us out rescuing people in immediate peril or hunting down citizens and writing citations?

You link didn't work for me but, assuming it's about NYC public housing, conditions are so bad that a lot of tenants wouldn't even notice if their utilities were out, since they are out so frequently. These are the poorest of the poor, and they know the police will be unable to protect what little they have from the thugs who will view evacuations as a shopping opportunity. They stay because they have very little choice. There are always exceptions to every rule, but turning off utilities will work for the vast majority of citizens, and a lot less would be dead now if they knew there would be any power for sure if they stayed.


your not telling the whole story they can only enforce it if they tape off the area and secure the area.....like they do in a hazmat scene.....
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ncstorm, true Sar doesn't live in NC, but I do. IF you are in Wilmington I am just 15 miles south of you--Carolina Beach.

Can you link me with this 'law' so I can read it. I have heard of same--but I think it says---you COULD be arrested for staying---instead of---you WILL be arrested.

IF there is a mand evac--we all know we are to stay on our OWN property. AND be able to take care of our needs for the duration. It comes down to it being a personal choice. Like it or not--

AND yes, I know--beating the ppor horse now, but I really did try to just let it go;-)
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Quoting Matthias1967:


Turning of utilities also means: no fire, no explosions, and avoiding most damages on the utility net.

Correct. I believe, although I have no direct knowledge, that many of the fires were caused by a combination of hot wires and leaking natural gas. I remember at least one woman who was electrocuted by a hot line while she was wandering the neighborhood taking pictures. This doesn't even take into account the serious dangers faced by first responders going into flooded areas with lines still energized.
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Quoting Fluid:


C'mon! Lookit, kid! Ya got lucky and Darwin's Law spared ya this one time. To flaunt the fact is really pushing it!



Note that I'm not a kid (hint: there's a number in my account name for some reason). Darwin's law so far spared me because I am using my head (and because many other reasons: from unified warning codes through all of Europe to better building codes)...

It is also interesting, that in Cuba the Sandy death toll is much lesser than in the U.S. (though there had been destroyed some 35.000 buildings, certainly much more than in the NJ and NY). It's ironic that the death toll in the U.S. is similar to that in Haiti. Appearantly something is wrong if Sandy can kill more preople in a grown up country like the U.S. than in the poorest country in the world.
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Wrong.
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Quoting Matthias1967:


They posted "high wind warnings". For most people, the term "high wind warning" implies: nothing serious going on, just "bad weather". Take a rain coat and you're fine.


To me, the term "high wind warning" implies that winds are going to be high enough to damage some structures, at least a few trees will fall, some branches are definitely going to come down, and we may lose power. For me in Colorado it also means "high fire danger"... even if they don't say it. I don't need to be told EVERYTHING. Some things I figure out for myself by paying attention.

There were also numerous flood warnings and storm surge warnings for the to-be-affected areas. When I see "high wind warning" combined with "flood warning" and headlines like "Superstorm Sandy" I know that it's not just "wear a jacket" weather. But yes, that's just me. I'm a weather nerd and I like to be prepared.

To some extent we must accept that some folks simply won't heed ANY warning. Everybody is harping on the use of the word "hurricane", but come on, every single time there is a hurricane warning there are plenty of people who stay behind anyway. It's not like that word will magically make all humans responsible.

That said, it's definitely all part of a grand conspiracy. Of course, I'm part of the conspiracy, so it doesn't bother me too much.
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
Quoting sar2401:

Because constitutional rights apply to all states. You must have probable cause to arrest someone. If they say "I'm not leaving" when they've been given a direct, lawful order, that's enough probable cause to make an arrest (or issue a citation, which is an arrest, but you promise to appear in court). If they say "OK, I'm leaving" then don't, you can arrest them if they are caught inside an evacuation zone, but you can't just bust into a house looking for people when the violation is only a misdemeanor. If they are out wandering the streets in an evacuation zone, you can arrest them. The basic issue remains, however. There are only so many cops to go around. do you want us out rescuing people in immediate peril or hunting down citizens and writing citations?

You link didn't work for me but, assuming it's about NYC public housing, conditions are so bad that a lot of tenants wouldn't even notice if their utilities were out, since they are out so frequently. These are the poorest of the poor, and they know the police will be unable to protect what little they have from the thugs who will view evacuations as a shopping opportunity. They stay because they have very little choice. There are always exceptions to every rule, but turning off utilities will work for the vast majority of citizens, and a lot less would be dead now if they knew there would be any power for sure if they stayed.
Your on the ball today Sar..:)
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WINTER WEATHER UPDATE


Possible NE storm...



click on the pick for a 4x bigger resolution risk-free

ignore it says SANDY in the upper left corner
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
There is also a blog and discussion of the NHC warning decision at Bryan Norcross' wu blog.

Thanks much, MrMixon, for posting the first hand account of what is happening in Manhattan.

Nice chatting with you all. Time for me to turn into a pumpkin.

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Quoting ncstorm:


You dont live in NC so how would you know how it works?

Not so easy as you think..

Hundreds of public housing tenants defy evacuation orders, choosing to wait out Hurricane Sandy in buildings without elevators, heat or hot water


Because constitutional rights apply to all states. You must have probable cause to arrest someone. If they say "I'm not leaving" when they've been given a direct, lawful order, that's enough probable cause to make an arrest (or issue a citation, which is an arrest, but you promise to appear in court). If they say "OK, I'm leaving" then don't, you can arrest them if they are caught inside an evacuation zone, but you can't just bust into a house looking for people when the violation is only a misdemeanor. If they are out wandering the streets in an evacuation zone, you can arrest them. The basic issue remains, however. There are only so many cops to go around. do you want us out rescuing people in immediate peril or hunting down citizens and writing citations?

You link didn't work for me but, assuming it's about NYC public housing, conditions are so bad that a lot of tenants wouldn't even notice if their utilities were out, since they are out so frequently. These are the poorest of the poor, and they know the police will be unable to protect what little they have from the thugs who will view evacuations as a shopping opportunity. They stay because they have very little choice. There are always exceptions to every rule, but turning off utilities will work for the vast majority of citizens, and a lot less would be dead now if they knew there would be any power for sure if they stayed.
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Quoting FunnelVortex:


Gustav.
Statistically it was a cat-2. Although people that survived it probably thought it was stronger..United States

On August 31, the NHC predicted with 45% probability that Gustav would remain at Category 3 or above on September 1. This influenced preparations, although in fact Gustav had dropped just below the Category 3 threshold to Category 2 by landfall, and Category 1 shortly afterwards...WIKI
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854. yoboi
Quoting FunnelVortex:


Gustav.




wrong wilma....
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

Let it go, PBW. Seriously.
Tomball, I find it quite amusing that you of all people are trying to keep me quiet after I defended you in your "re-appearance" and your on going battles with Nea... Just a thought
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Quoting yoboi:


after the 2005 season people were saying due to climate change to expect majors to hitt the USA more often.....when was the last time the USA got hitt by a major???


Gustav.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
C&P

Among the smaller but still important casualties of Hurricane Sandy were thousands of laboratory rodents, genetically altered for use in the study of heart disease, cancer and mental disorders like autism and schizophrenia, that drowned in basement rooms at a New York University research center in Kips Bay

The collection of carefully-bred rodents was considered one of the largest and most valuable of its kind in the country. The animals lived in colonies in the cellar of the Smilow Research Center, on 1st Avenue near 30th Street.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2935
849. yoboi
Quoting Jedkins01:


On the other hand, those who are using Sandy to "rally' people to understand the issue of Climate Change, could also be causing a problem. My experience with most people, is that they are weary of how often these disasters are being blamed on Climate Change. While most may not understand the science, people do have enough intuition to know that, we really do not know if these events are the result, only that they could be and that in general, more of them could arrive. Therefore, people can't help but then feel like an agenda is being forced on them. When I was younger, before I actually knew and understood the science, I threw out Climate Change as even being possible by man at all because there are many who take the science and add over-the-top claims of fact to it.

Could Sandy be the result of Climate Change? Sure, do we know for sure, no, we don't. We shouldn't then worry that people won't take it seriously enough based on that, and thus add to what is true.


We must get back the basics, and remind ourselves just how much of the world is based entirely around fossil fuels and other forms of pollution. One cannot just make it all disappear within a few years, unless of course you want to collapse the modern world as we know it, throwing it into chaos. Personally though, I find those results to be worse than any benefits of immediately changing everything. People must not be forced, but must be encouraged to be more environmentally conscious. I have already changed some people I know regarding recycling and using more efficient renewable sources.


after the 2005 season people were saying due to climate change to expect majors to hitt the USA more often.....when was the last time the USA got hitt by a major???
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Quoting sar2401:

No, that's not how it works. Just by saying you're not leaving when the officer is at the door, you're not going to get cited. There's a little issue called probable cause, and you can't cite someone who's just not out the door yet. You can cite them if you catch them in an evacuation area after a certain time, but almost no one is going to say "I'm not leaving" and stand around waiting for you to write out a citation. They lie and then stay anyway. When it comes to disasters, we were way too busy (and generally wet) to write out citations. The easiest thing to do is just turn off the utilities. No one has to enforce anything, but everyone understands no light, heat, cooling, refrigeration and, most important, no TV, and they will leave of their own accord.


Turning of utilities also means: no fire, no explosions, and avoiding most damages on the utility net.
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846. CJ5
Had a hurricane warning stayed in place, it may have motivated people more but that is arm-chair quarterbacking. They followed normal protocol.

All of that being said, ample warning was issued. There was plenty of time for people to act and anyone caught in the storm unprepared have only themselves to blame. You can only do so much to warn people.
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845. Fluid
Quoting Matthias1967:


They posted "high wind warnings". For most people, the term "high wind warning" implies: nothing serious going on, just "bad weather". Take a rain coat and you're fine.


C'mon! Lookit, kid! Ya got lucky and Darwin's Law spared ya this one time. To flaunt the fact is really pushing it!

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Quoting Matthias1967:


They posted "high wind warnings". For most people, the term "high wind warning" implies: nothing serious going on, just "bad weather". Take a rain coat and you're fine.
People on the Atlantic Seaboard are quite familiar with storms. I believe that the people who did not follow the warnings that were given ( regardless of how the advisories were worded ) knew the risks.HURRICANE SANDY FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 30
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL182012
2100 UTC MON OCT 29 2012

CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY...

ALL TROPICAL STORM WARNINGS FOR EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA HAVE BEEN
DISCONTINUED.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

THERE ARE NO COASTAL TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNINGS IN EFFECT.

HOWEVER...THERE ARE NON-TROPICAL HIGH-WIND WARNINGS IN EFFECT FOR
PORTIONS OF THE MID-ATLANTIC AND NEW ENGLAND STATES. PLEASE SEE
STATEMENTS FROM LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICES.

HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS ARE EXPECTED ALONG PORTIONS OF THE COAST
BETWEEN CHINCOTEAGUE VIRGINIA AND CHATHAM MASSACHUSETTS. THIS
INCLUDES THE TIDAL POTOMAC FROM COBB ISLAND TO SMITH POINT... THE
MIDDLE AND UPPER CHESAPEAKE BAY...DELAWARE BAY...AND THE COASTS OF
THE NORTHERN DELMARVA PENINSULA...NEW JERSEY...THE NEW YORK CITY
AREA...LONG ISLAND...CONNECTICUT...AND RHODE ISLAND.

TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS ARE EXPECTED NORTH OF CHATHAM TO
MERRIMACK RIVER MASSACHUSETTS...THE LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY...AND
SOUTH OF CHINCOTEAGUE TO EXTREME NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA.

HURRICANE CENTER LOCATED NEAR 38.8N 74.4W AT 29/2100Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 20 NM

PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST OR 300 DEGREES AT 24 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 940 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 80 KT WITH GUSTS TO 100 KT.
64 KT....... 0NE 80SE 150SW 0NW.
50 KT.......170NE 150SE 200SW 150NW.
34 KT.......420NE 370SE 400SW 200NW.
12 FT SEAS..660NE 995SE 660SW 180NW.
WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL
MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT.

REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 38.8N 74.4W AT 29/2100Z
AT 29/1800Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 38.3N 73.1W

FORECAST VALID 30/0600Z 39.8N 76.6W...POST-TROP/EXTRATROP
MAX WIND 65 KT...GUSTS 80 KT.
64 KT... 0NE 60SE 60SW 0NW.
50 KT...150NE 150SE 100SW 80NW.
34 KT...400NE 370SE 200SW 160NW.

FORECAST VALID 30/1800Z 40.4N 78.3W...POST-TROP/EXTRATROP
MAX WIND 50 KT...GUSTS 60 KT.
50 KT... 0NE 40SE 0SW 0NW.
34 KT...400NE 370SE 150SW 100NW.

FORECAST VALID 31/0600Z 41.3N 78.2W...POST-TROP/EXTRATROP
MAX WIND 40 KT...GUSTS 50 KT.
34 KT...360NE 360SE 100SW 60NW.
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Quoting MechEngMet:


Thanks for the reply.
Well that does make some kind of sense as a hind sight cover-up kind of position. But the way most normal warnings read: (I paraphrase) "...area can expect hurricane conditions within 24 hours...". She was still an undisputed hurricane 24 hours out, so the warning should have been issued as such. If she were undisputed cold core or extra tropical more than 24 hours out then I could understand and accept the omission of the word 'hurricane' from the warnings.

Thanks again for the reply.

We have beat this to death.
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Quoting ARiot:


It's not a small data set. It's probably larger than any other modern, developed theory with empirical evidence. None of that science suggests man is the only cause.


Actually, that's not quite accurate. Current estimates are that humans are likely causing from roughly 75-125% of the observed warming. That ranges from "most of the warming" to "causing virtually all of the warming and also completely overwhelming a natural cooling trend." There is scientific evidence to suggest that when only natural factors are taken into account, the climate would be slowly changing in a cooling direction since about 1950.
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Quoting sar2401:

No, that's not how it works. Just by saying you're not leaving when the officer is at the door, you're not going to get cited. There's a little issue called probable cause, and you can't cite someone who's just not out the door yet. You can cite them if you catch them in an evacuation area after a certain time, but almost no one is going to say "I'm not leaving" and stand around waiting for you to write out a citation. They lie and then stay anyway. When it comes to disasters, we were way too busy (and generally wet) to write out citations. The easiest thing to do is just turn off the utilities. No one has to enforce anything, but everyone understands no light, heat, cooling, refrigeration and, most important, no TV, and they will leave of their own accord.


You dont live in NC so how would you know how it works?

Not so easy as you think..

Hundreds of public housing tenants defy evacuation orders, choosing to wait out Hurricane Sandy in buildings without elevators, heat or hot water

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15750
Quoting MechEngMet:


Well... I'm simply asking if anyone knows why Hurr Warnings were not issued for the east coast. If you don't know the answer to a question just don't answer the post. Sorry you wasted your time. I'd appreciate if you'd stop wasting mine (and others) by providing argumentative non-answers.

Does anyone know the answer? What's the blog concensus? Why were storm warnings not issued for the east coast?
Mech.Honestly.Did I really waste your time.I think not...... You were here anyway.
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Quoting Fluid:
Warnings...?

The media were FULL of warnings! There were a substantial number of people out there saying that it was being overblown.... too much hype!

The only conceivable way that anyone in the area did not hear of them is that they were living in the subway system's abandoned tunnels... but even then it is hard to imagine.

What more warning could you possibly ask for...? The next level would be an Old Testament Prophet subtending 15 degrees of sky, saturating the region with 100+ decibels.

Tss!~


The media? Feh! The media was creating terms like superstorm and megastorm and drew comparisons to other events like snowmageddon and snowtember. That's not taking warning seriously. And they're hyping it, rather saying, they underhyped it by showing that "Day after tomorrow" clip all the time which everyone understood it would not happen so many assumed nothing would happen. Including Mr. Bloomberg.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Media is bi-polar sometimes. For the last few years they rarely talk about climate change. Then an event happens and they freak out, talking about climate change too much. That provides the perception that scientists/media/whomever believe that a single event was somehow caused by climate change. This is not true. It is also not true to say that today's weather is not related to climate change.

We need to put the breaks on this sensationalist "Was Sandy caused by climate change?" talk and focus on what the science of climate actually tells us: Sandy-like disasters may increase in severity and frequency, and flood/drought disasters are expected to increase in severity and frequency. This increase will cost money and lives that would not have been lost were the climate change not to occur.

On the other hand, we need to really think twice about criticizing the timing for addressing this issue. When else will it be addressed? We've had years - if not - decades of knowing what was in store before it started becoming part of the observations instead of just the forecasts, and did little-to-nothing. Unfortunately, that's the way it works sometimes... takes a big event to motivate people to do the thing they wouldn't be pro-active about in the first place.


On the other hand, those who are using Sandy to "rally' people to understand the issue of Climate Change, could also be causing a problem. My experience with most people, is that they are weary of how often these disasters are being blamed on Climate Change. While most may not understand the science, people do have enough intuition to know that, we really do not know if these events are the result, only that they could be and that in general, more of them could arrive. Therefore, people can't help but then feel like an agenda is being forced on them. When I was younger, before I actually knew and understood the science, I threw out Climate Change as even being possible by man at all because there are many who take the science and add over-the-top claims of fact to it.

Could Sandy be the result of Climate Change? Sure, do we know for sure, no, we don't. We shouldn't then worry that people won't take it seriously enough based on that, and thus add to what is true.


We must get back the basics, and remind ourselves just how much of the world is based entirely around fossil fuels and other forms of pollution. One cannot just make it all disappear within a few years, unless of course you want to collapse the modern world as we know it, throwing it into chaos. Personally though, I find those results to be worse than any benefits of immediately changing everything. People must not be forced, but must be encouraged to be more environmentally conscious. I have already changed some people I know regarding recycling and using more efficient renewable sources.



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Quoting StormPro:




Excellent. I am not a denier but I think with the small data set we have it is impossible to point to man as the biggest or only cause. I wish the energy wasted on arguing ones side was placed into efforts to slow or stop the change


Of course we cannot slow or stop the change if we do not know why it is happening or the mechanisms behind it. Because we know that it mostly (if not completely) due to human activities, we know the steps we must take to mitigate the problem.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

NP. I look at it this way. The majority of that surge that inundated and destroyed Manhattan and the coast of NJ was the result of the storm generating this energy when it was tropical and especially during it's intensification period that brought it up to 90 MPH. Those were tropical forces at work.


I wholeheartedly agree. Some are now posting answers that show the NHC intent early. They expected it to go extra tropical well before landfall, and so to avoid confusion (during their forecast transition) stated they would issue future warnings without the word 'hurricane'. Yet she was arguably tropical well after landfall.

Thanks to those posters, too many to list individually at this point.

Hmmm... Eliminate the word 'hurricane' from the official warnings... eh? I know some insurance adjusters watch this site. Say y'all, What does that do to/for wind/flood/property insurance policies? ...and whose interests does that serve?
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Quoting MrMixon:


The warnings I saw for the east coast were numerous, specific, and (in retrospect) accurate.


They posted "high wind warnings". For most people, the term "high wind warning" implies: nothing serious going on, just "bad weather". Take a rain coat and you're fine.
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Quoting WatcherCI:
I agree with you that the storm was tropical but they made their decision on how it would be handled long before. Their forecast was for it to transition long before landfall.[...]
This is the explanation that makes the most sense to me. I completely agree that NOAA and its subsidiaries the NHC and NWS primary goal is the protection of lives and property and that the scientific task is vital but can wait for re-analysis until after the crisis has passed. NHC had to make a very tough and close call at least 36-48 hours in advance, and then stick to it until the worst danger had passed.

I do not agree with the people who are saying that anyone at NOAA did anything wrong in this situation. Both the NHC and the NWS did extremely well in the forecasting and as well as in timeliness and seriousness of warnings that were issued.

more Quoting WatcherCI :
...What if they would have posted those watches and warnings and the storm did transition and follow their forecast? Would they then pull them down? Would that not give people a false sense of being in the clear? They explained their reasoning and made a decision and stuck with it. They also where all over the media explaining the probable impacts of the storm and the fact that that there will be surge and lots of it no matter how the storm will be classified. Seems like a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
Of course they could not pull down the warnings at the last minute. If they had forecast a tropical system up until landfall, then the most prudent action would have been to stick with the warnings until after the danger had passed.

I find it ironic that several people on the blog right now were arguing against me in my belief that the NHC must put the protection of life and property first when some evidence from the reconnaissance raised the possibility that Sandy had indeed strengthened to a CAT 2 as she passed over the Gulf Stream on her way to final landfall. It is only common sense that no large and potentially confusing changes should be made at the peak of the crisis, unless those changes are vital for saving lives. There is plenty of time for the details of the scientific facts to come out later in the re-analysis. In this case what had to be done was done and in my view it was done very well under very trying circumstances.

Now that the immediate crisis is past, I put more credence in the actual measurements made by the Hurricane Hunters and my own observations than I do in FSU's phase space modeling, and I do not falsely conflate the terms "eye" and "core" when I read the final vortex message that was widely dispersed over the internet. I am glad that I find at least one person out of the many people on this blog who are observant, honest, and well aware of the mission of NOAA. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to converse with you, WatcherCI, I hope you have a chance to read this. This is all I have left to say on this matter, at least for several weeks until the passions cool.

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Quoting sunlinepr:

Now that's one fake picture that's actually funny. :)
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I see that many people thought that the weather authorities should have issued a hurricane warning. I agree because it was a hurricane up to 4 hours before landfall and a hurricane warning is the most intimidating weather warning and less people would have stayed at the shore, I think the storm was underestimated by TWC and an extreme warning wasn't given for the shore until the 5 pm advisory which by then those who stayed behind were trapped
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831. Fluid
Quoting washingtonian115:
Snndy's death toll is almost 100.So far it stands at 70 and let's hope that doesn't go up.In total Sandy has already killed 130 people.


Have another drink. Then sign up for remedial arithmetic. Gah~
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9825
Quoting MechEngMet:



Thanks BareFootOTR.
I am well aware that lows especially in the 950 range can cause all kinds of havoc. The low does not care one wit weather or not we mere humans deign to call it a hurricane, typhoon, or whatever.
I am also aware that high wind warnings, high surf/surge warnings, and even blizzard warnings (inland) were issued. I didn't recall ever seeing or hearing the word "Hurricane" used in any of the warnings. I was wondering why that might have been the case, or if I had missed an official statement that did contain the word 'hurricane'. Again, thanks... (I'll go back a few pages and see what I can find.)
YW.

BTW, It's unclear from the way that quote at 817 reads that the only part of my comment directed to you is the paragraph that begins "Storm and surge warnings were issued..."
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827. Fluid
Warnings...?

The media were FULL of warnings! There were a substantial number of people out there saying that it was being overblown.... too much hype!

The only conceivable way that anyone in the area did not hear of them is that they were living in the subway system's abandoned tunnels... but even then it is hard to imagine.

What more warning could you possibly ask for...? The next level would be an Old Testament Prophet subtending 15 degrees of sky, saturating the region with 100+ decibels.

Tss!~
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Quoting TomballTXPride:
I will say I find it rather convenient that right at the last minute up until landfall when the thing was literally 3 miles from the coast, the NHC declares it extra-tropical.

Perhaps they knew they crapped the bed and were trying at the last minute to absolve themselves of responsibility....


Thanks for the reply.
Well that does make some kind of sense as a hind sight cover-up kind of position. But the way most normal warnings read: (I paraphrase) "...area can expect hurricane conditions within 24 hours...". She was still an undisputed hurricane 24 hours out, so the warning should have been issued as such. If she were undisputed cold core or extra tropical more than 24 hours out then I could understand and accept the omission of the word 'hurricane' from the warnings.

Thanks again for the reply.
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Quoting ncstorm:


Because the police go house to house in those mandatory evacuation zones before the storm hits and when you tell them you are staying, you get handed your fine papers..

No, that's not how it works. Just by saying you're not leaving when the officer is at the door, you're not going to get cited. There's a little issue called probable cause, and you can't cite someone who's just not out the door yet. You can cite them if you catch them in an evacuation area after a certain time, but almost no one is going to say "I'm not leaving" and stand around waiting for you to write out a citation. They lie and then stay anyway. When it comes to disasters, we were way too busy (and generally wet) to write out citations. The easiest thing to do is just turn off the utilities. No one has to enforce anything, but everyone understands no light, heat, cooling, refrigeration and, most important, no TV, and they will leave of their own accord.
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Quoting MrMixon:
My company has a small office in Manhattan. Just got a report this morning from our office manager:

"The entire southern end of Manhattan has no power. All manholes are filled with salt water and massive pumping and evaluation is being done now. The 14th st con Ed substation with an 11 ft high wall to protect it was topped with 12.5 ft of cold salt water. When the water came in it [the substation] was lost. I was in the area yesterday to assist with an emergency building pump out and can only say that the level of damage both now and to the infrastructure moving forward is difficult to describe...

Trains are still mainly off line and almost all subways are still down. Travel by car is next to impossible( I spent over 4 hours getting to southern NYC yesterday). Parking is not yet allowed and there are no traffic lights."


I am very glad to read this real time assessment of conditions in NYC. I hope many more people use this forum to help the rest of us understand what you are facing. Right now, it seems to me that is what is relevant - to focus on the challenges and status for those facing rebuilding after this storm.
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4 dead, 5 missing as cyclone Nilam hits Tamil Nadu, Andhra
Posted on November 1, 2012
November 1, 2012 – CHENNAI, India – Fifteen sailors were today rescued and a search was on for six other missing crew who were on board an oil tanker that drifted and ran aground off the city coast in high velocity winds before the landfall of cyclone ‘Nilam.’ Around 6.30 AM, 15 people who were stranded on board the vessel were safely rescued by the Coast Guard, Chennai Port Trust officials told PTI. A search, involving the Navy and Coast Guard is on for the missing six persons, the officials said. The vessel ‘Pratibha Cauvery,’ with 37 crewmen on board, ran aground near Elliott’s Beach in South Chennai, about 200 metres away from the shore. One crew member drowned after a life boat carrying him and his 21 colleagues capsized in choppy waters while 15 others were rescued with the help of several agencies including Navy and local fishermen yesterday. The ship belonged to Mumbai-based Pratibha Shipping Company. Two persons were killed in Tamil Nadu as Nilam crossed the coast between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh border yesterday without causing much damage. –Times of India
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9825
Quoting bappit:

I agree with both of you. The sea wall did work. It blocked the waves that would have destroyed the structures people were in. Also, yes, Galveston was lucky Ike turned or the death toll would have been far higher since the worst wind and surge went further north. Structures would have been destroyed despite the protection from the sea wall. I think Bolivar Peninsula was toast either way.

Personally, I would have left the island and not taken my chances. The island flooded anyway--seawall or not. A flood like that leaves people helpless against whatever comes on top of it.


You are correct in that the seawall did its job. Remember, Galveston is an island. The flooding occurred from the back part of the island along the bay towards the seawall. The water basically went around the seawall. If you go back and look at TV reports places like the airport and Harborside Drive were among the first to flood. Those places are along the bay and Offats Bayou - not along the seawall.
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An ambulance is stuck in over a foot of snow off of Highway 33 West, near Belington, W.Va. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Belington, W.Va. Superstorm Sandy buried parts of West Virginia under more than a foot of snow on Tuesday, cutting power to at least 264,000 customers and closing dozens of roads. At least one death was reported. The storm not only hit higher elevations hard as predicted, communities in lower elevations got much more than the dusting of snow forecasters had first thought from a dangerous system that also brought significant rainfall, high wind gusts and small-stream flooding. (AP Photo/Robert Ray)

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9825
Quoting MechEngMet:


Well... I'm simply asking if anyone knows why Hurr Warnings were not issued for the east coast. If you don't know the answer to a question just don't answer the post. Sorry you wasted your time. I'd appreciate if you'd stop wasting mine (and others) by providing argumentative non-answers.

Does anyone know the answer? What's the blog concensus? Why were storm warnings not issued for the east coast?



Because Sandy is expected to make this transition before reaching the coast, the NWS has
been using non-tropical wind watches and warnings, issued by local NWS Weather Forecast
Offices (WFOs), to communicate the wind threat posed by Sandy in the Mid-Atlantic States and
New England. (This is why NHC’s tropical storm warnings extend only into North Carolina.)
The NWS plans to continue using non-tropical watches and warnings issued by local offices in
the Mid-Atlantic States and northward throughout this event. By using non-tropical warnings in
these areas from the start, we avoid or minimize the significant confusion that could occur if the
warning suite changed from tropical to non-tropical in the middle of the event.


Link
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818. yoboi
Quoting Neapolitan:
That would be nice. The problem is that efforts to "slow or stop the change"--especially in the U.S.--are being fought tooth and nail by forces insistent on maintaining the fossil fuel-only paradigm as long as they can. And those forces, via their very deep pockets, have so far managed to convince a large-enough group of policymakers that change isn't happening. And thus we find ourselves at a standstill: science vs. ideology; common sense vs. hundreds of billions in annual profits. Right vs. (very) wrong.
prove what your saying....
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Can't help wondering how many "hurricane-based" weather nerds have no idea that non-tropical, deep, spinning lows cause surge and hurricane force wind on a regular basis across this globe. Yes, Sandy had the aspects of a warm-core system, but even if it had not, the result of a 946mb low coming into the east coast where it did would have been similar to what happened the past couple days. You might want to take a look at some of the Gulf of Alaska lows and east Pacific lows that have made "landfall" in western North America the past 100 years. People prepare for these storms the same way you'd prepare for a hurricane.

And, the main factor in property damage and casualties, as always, is population and infrastructure in the path of weather, earthquake, fire... you name it, Bueller.Storm and surge warnings were issued well in advance of this system. Reading back to earlier comments this morning will give you a good idea what some wu bloggers think about how the warnings were issued.



Thanks BareFootOTR.
I am well aware that lows especially in the 950 range can cause all kinds of havoc. The low does not care one wit weather or not we mere humans deign to call it a hurricane, typhoon, or whatever.
I am also aware that high wind warnings, high surf/surge warnings, and even blizzard warnings (inland) were issued. I didn't recall ever seeing or hearing the word "Hurricane" used in any of the warnings. I was wondering why that might have been the case, or if I had missed an official statement that did contain the word 'hurricane'. Again, thanks... (I'll go back a few pages and see what I can find.)
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Quoting MechEngMet:


Well... I'm simply asking if anyone knows why Hurr Warnings were not issued for the east coast. If you don't know the answer to a question just don't answer the post. Sorry you wasted your time. I'd appreciate if you'd stop wasting mine (and others) by providing argumentative non-answers.

Does anyone know the answer? What's the blog concensus? Why were storm warnings not issued for the east coast?


Forecast discussion states: TO AVOID A HIGHLY DISRUPTIVE CHANGE FROM TROPICAL TO NON-TROPICAL WARNINGS WHEN SANDY BECOMES POST-TROPICAL...THE WIND HAZARD NORTH OF THE TROPICAL STORM WARNING AREA WILL CONTINUE TO BE CONVEYED THROUGH HIGH WIND WATCHES AND
WARNINGS ISSUED BY LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICES.


I doubt many people understood the wording. However, there was yet a PDF on the NHC website explaining it more in detail, see Link (PDF). (edited)
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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.