Hurricane Sandy was not an extreme Black Swan hurricane

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:47 PM GMT on December 10, 2012

I was in San Francisco last week for the annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the world's largest gathering of Earth Scientists. Over twenty thousand scientists from all over the world, including many of the world's top climate scientists and hurricane scientists, were in town to exchange ideas to advance the cause of Earth Science. One of the more intriguing talks was given by Ning Lin, a professor at Princeton University. She and Dr. Kerry Emanuel of MIT are studying "Black Swans"--tropical cyclones that are a surprise to the observer, and cannot be anticipated based on the 162-year historical record. Very rare extreme hurricanes that one might expect to occur naturally once every 10,000 years are possible, and “climate change has increased the probability of such storms,” Emanuel said at a press conference last week. In terms of storm surge, Sandy was not a black swan, since the 1821 hurricane that hit New York City had a higher storm surge. Historical records recount that the water rose thirteen feet in one hour at The Battery on Manhattan during the 1821 hurricane. The water level did not rise as high as during Sandy, though, since the 1821 hurricane hit at low tide.

Lin and Emanuel used a climate model in combination with a detailed hurricane model to generate a large number of hypothetical hurricanes in the future climate, and generated 10,000 years worth of storm surge events. They then used a detailed storm surge model (ADCIRC) to evaluate the storm surge risk these storms posed. Their three case studies:

1) The Persian Gulf. No tropical cyclones have ever been observed in the Persian Gulf, due to the Gulf's low humidity and high wind shear. However, the Gulf has some of the warmest water temperatures on the planet, and could theoretically support a strong tropical cyclone. The researchers' modeling predicted a 1-in-248,000 probability that a strong tropical cyclone originating in the western Persian Gulf could move eastwards and bring a 7 meter (16 foot) storm surge to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Obviously, such an event would be extremely disruptive to the global energy economy, which relies heavily on the infrastructure in the Persian Gulf.

2) Darwin, Australia. In 1974, tiny but powerful Tropical Cyclone Tracy brought a 1.6 meter (5.2') storm surge to the city. Lin and Emanuel's research showed that a black swam tropical cyclone with a probability of 1-in-70,000 is capable of bringing a devastating 11.5 meter (38') storm surge to the city.

3) Tampa Bay, Florida. Only two major Category 3 hurricanes have hit Tampa: an 1848 hurricane that raised waters levels by 4.6 meters (15'), and a 1921 storm with a storm surge of 3.2 meters (10.5'.) A black swan storm moving from south to north just offshore could set up a resonance in Tampa Bay and generate a 13 meter (43') storm surge. Such a storm has a 1-in-14,500 chance of occurring in a given year. This would likely do over $250 billion in damage, I expect.


Figure 1. Damage to Bayshore Boulevard after the 1921 Tampa Bay hurricane. The road leads to the Tampa Bay Convention Center from the south.


Figure 2. Track of the Tampa Bay Hurricane of 1921, one of only two major hurricanes ever to hit the city. This Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds brought a storm surge of 10.5 feet to Tampa Bay. A "Black Swan" hurricane capable of generating a 43' storm surge would not take a track like this, and instead would move from south to north just offshore.

Jeff Masters

Freak black swan? (Derek1)
All the other swans are on Lake Annecy are white - as far as I know - so where did this black one come from?
Freak black swan?

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Lots of outflow boundaries appear to be forming now over the GOM, will be an interestin evening here
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Link
...Lets try that again, sorry
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Here it Comes!!!
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T-storms through the night, stay safe C Florida.
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"3) Tampa Bay, Florida. Only two major Category 3 hurricanes have hit Tampa: an 1848 hurricane that raised waters levels by 4.6 meters (10.3'), and a 1921 storm that raised water levels by 4.7 meters (10.5'.) A black swan storm moving from south to north just offshore could set up a resonance in Tampa Bay and generate a 13 meter (29') storm surge. Such a storm has a 1-in-14,500 chance of occurring in a given year. This would likely do over $250 billion in damage, I expect."

Thank you, Dr Master's very informative as always but.....this could be information overload :) If this were to occur the barrier island I live on as well as many north and south of me would probably be gone. Where I live in Madeira Beach is 1-3ft max elevation and the island is less than a mile wide.
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Sorry, that did not come out in the nice, zoomed-in version I can see on my screen... My apologies. Here is the link:Link
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Clearing line approaching the TX coast, currently in the 40s
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a href="Photobucket" target="_blank">

Look at that clear line at the leading edge in the GOM. Cool looking :)
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AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 1653Z 10 DEC 2012
COORDINATES - 6.8 SOUTH 129.8 EAST
DEPTH - 155 KM
LOCATION - BANDA SEA
MAGNITUDE - 7.2

EVALUATION

A DESTRUCTIVE TSUNAMI WAS NOT GENERATED BASED ON EARTHQUAKE AND
HISTORICAL TSUNAMI DATA. THIS EARTHQUAKE IS LOCATED TOO DEEP
INSIDE THE EARTH TO GENERATE A TSUNAMI IN THE INDIAN OCEAN.



Link
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Quoting ScottLincoln:

Technically, it is less about the high tide vs. low tide as it is the magnitude of the surge. If the surge caused a rise of 13ft in the 1821 storm, that is almost twice the surge that occurred during Sandy.

The surge at Battery Park was not 13ft, nor is that even storm tide, because that gauge is referenced to MLLW datum rather than mean sea level or NAVD88. Storm tide was about 8-9ft, with storm surge about 6-7ft. That's a substantial difference!


I imagine that the man made coastline would help the storm surge stack up even higher today than in 1821 when there were mostly natural tidal marshes in N.J.
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Largo, our little blob in the GOM now has a marking on the map as a low of 1013 mb...
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Quoting Tazmanian:
boy its cold in ND and some of the other states but why is there no Hard Freeze Warning


Because those warnings are only issued during the growing season


Hard Freeze Warning - Widespread temperatures at or below 28F during the growing season. A hard freeze freeze may occur with or without frost.

Freeze Warning - Widespread temperatures at or below during the growing season. A freeze may occur with or without frost.

Frost Advisory - Widespread frost during the growing season. Frost generally occurs with fair skies and light winds at temperatures at or below 36F

Wikipedia
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Quoting ScottLincoln:

Technically, it is less about the high tide vs. low tide as it is the magnitude of the surge. If the surge caused a rise of 13ft in the 1821 storm, that is almost twice the surge that occurred during Sandy.

The surge at Battery Park was not 13ft, nor is that even storm tide, because that gauge is referenced to MLLW datum rather than mean sea level or NAVD88. Storm tide was about 8-9ft, with storm surge about 6-7ft. That's a substantial difference!
Technically.... it IS about high and low tide. It makes a whole lotta difference. Surge is based on this. Had Sandy came in slower as originally anticipated, it would have been more devastating to NY, and not only their, but to me in PA. Sandy came in at low tide... double that with the full moon and high tide on that date and she whould have done a lot more damage.
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Aussie, did you wright this???

Climate change disproved!
http://www.geekologie.com/2012/03/ahahaha-dayligh t-savings-time-to-blame-f.php

So THAT explains all the droughts! It isn't climate change after all.
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College of DuPage Meteorology
Severe Weather and Flash Flood Warnings


Note: This page will reload every 2 minutes. Warnings are listed with the most recent first.

Click on the station ID to bring up list of recent severe weather statements.

SVR T-STORM WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 1218 PM CST MON DEC 10 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 1209 PM CST MON DEC 10 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 1136 AM CST MON DEC 10 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 1132 AM CST MON DEC 10 2012
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I know my friend in Atlanta is happy. He hasn't seen a lightning bolt since September.. and i'm sure he saw something out of that line.
Meanwhile in Nassau today: 
Temp: 80Wind: SE 10mph
Absolutely awesome day, despite me having school.
Alright that's it for me, till then! :o)
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Quoting FtMyersgal:


Our local mets are saying that our better rain chance is tomorrow. I would say that's probably right. We are getting our winds out of the south a 13 mph with gusts around 20-22 mph. All that moisture and warmth will definately make our atmosphere unstable. How unstable is yet to be determined. It will be wise to keep an eye on your local severe weather reports for the next few days.
Quoting FtMyersgal:


Our local mets are saying that our better rain chance is tomorrow. I would say that's probably right. We are getting our winds out of the south a 13 mph with gusts around 20-22 mph. All that moisture and warmth will definately make our atmosphere unstable. How unstable is yet to be determined. It will be wise to keep an eye on your local severe weather reports for the next few days.
yes local mets are saying tomorrow is our rough day too
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Quoting Dr. Jeff Masters:
In terms of storm surge, Sandy was not a black swan, since the 1821 hurricane that hit New York City had a higher storm surge. Historical records recount that the water rose thirteen feet in one hour at The Battery on Manhattan during the 1821 hurricane. The water level did not rise as high as during Sandy, though, since the 1821 hurricane hit at low tide.

Technically, it is less about the high tide vs. low tide as it is the magnitude of the surge. If the surge caused a rise of 13ft in the 1821 storm, that is almost twice the surge that occurred during Sandy.

The surge at Battery Park was not 13ft, nor is that even storm tide, because that gauge is referenced to MLLW datum rather than mean sea level or NAVD88. Storm tide was about 8-9ft, with storm surge about 6-7ft. That's a substantial difference!
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Quoting LargoFl:
hi, yes its cloudy here also..hope you get some rain from this..


Our local mets are saying that our better rain chance is tomorrow. I would say that's probably right. We are getting our winds out of the south a 13 mph with gusts around 20-22 mph. All that moisture and warmth will definately make our atmosphere unstable. How unstable is yet to be determined. It will be wise to keep an eye on your local severe weather reports for the next few days.
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Read Taleb's book on the Black Swan. It's a good 'un.

Some would say, as a matter of public/government reaction, Sandy was a "Black Swan" on a smaller scale than the "Black Swan" of Katrina, or the failures during and post Katrina. Informally, Black Swan has become "something you should have expected, but screwed up and didn't prepare for," at least that's how the term is bandied about. (Thanks in part to #3 below in the theory)

From the wiki:

The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that is a surprise (to the observer), has a major effect, and after the fact is often inappropriately rationalized with the benefit of hindsight.

The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain:

1.The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology

2.The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities)

3.The psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs

Unlike the earlier philosophical "black swan problem," the "black swan theory" refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. Such events, considered extreme outliers, collectively play vastly larger roles than regular occurrences.[1]

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Yeah they get snow in other states...meanwhile in soggy mild D.C...
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SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MOBILE AL
1203 PM CST MON DEC 10 2012

ALC129-101830-
/O.CON.KMOB.SV.W.0214.000000T0000Z-121210T1830Z/
WASHINGTON AL-
1203 PM CST MON DEC 10 2012

...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1230 PM CST
FOR SOUTHEASTERN WASHINGTON COUNTY...

AT 1202 PM CST...A LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING
DAMAGING WINDS OVER 60 MPH WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM 4
MILES WEST OF JACKSON TO 9 MILES NORTH OF CREOLA...MOVING EAST AT 40
MPH.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
WAGARVILLE... MCINTOSH... MALCOLM...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 300 PM CST MONDAY AFTERNOON
FOR SOUTHWESTERN ALABAMA.

&&
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China today. MODIS

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Severe thunderstorms are possible across portions of the southeastern United States through Monday afternoon, particularly from southeast Louisiana to east central Alabama and west central Georgia. The primary risks from these storms include damaging winds in excess of 60 mph and isolated tornadoes.
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Derek1: Freak black swan? All the other swans are on Lake Annecy [France] are white -- as far as I know -- so where did this black one come from?

An escapee from a population originally imported from Australia.
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THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HANFORD HAS ISSUED A

SIGNIFICANT WEATHER ADVISORY FOR...
SOUTHWESTERN TULARE COUNTY IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
EXTREME NORTH CENTRAL KERN COUNTY IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
CENTRAL FRESNO COUNTY IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
EASTERN KINGS COUNTY IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

UNTIL 1115 AM PST

AREAS OF FOG WERE PERSISTING IN PARTS OF THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY.

LOCATIONS THAT COULD BE AFFECTED INCLUDE...
VISALIA...TULARE...STRATFORD...KERMAN...REEDLEY... HANFORD...
LEMOORE...PORTERVILLE AND SELMA. HIGHWAYS AFFECTED INCLUDE STATE
ROUTES 41...43...99...180 AND 198.

DRIVERS SHOULD EXERCISE EXTRA CAUTION WHEN TRAVELING IN THESE AREAS
THIS MORNING. BE ALERT FOR RAPIDLY CHANGING VISIBILITIES IN FOG
PATCHES. IF YOU ENCOUNTER FOG...SLOW DOWN...PUT YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON
LOW BEAM...AND LEAVE EXTRA ROOM BETWEEN YOU AND THE VEHICLE IN
FRONT OF YOU.
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Latest satellite image of Pacific.

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WOW by 5 pm they are forcasting some strong stuff! Drive safe on the evening commute...Link
Hit the future button for the next few hours' forecast...
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SHORT TERM FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAMPA BAY AREA - RUSKIN FL
1229 PM EST MON DEC 10 2012

FLZ039-042-043-048>050-055-060-GMZ830-850-853-870 -873-101900-
LEVY-CITRUS-SUMTER-HERNANDO-PASCO-PINELLAS-MANATE E-SARASOTA-
TAMPA BAY WATERS-TARPON SPRINGS TO SUWANNEE RIVER OUT 20 NM-
ENGLEWOOD TO TARPON SPRINGS OUT 20 NM-
TARPON SPRINGS TO SUWANNEE RIVER OUT 20 TO 60 NM-
ENGLEWOOD TO TARPON SPRINGS OUT 20 TO 60 NM-
1229 PM EST MON DEC 10 2012

.NOW...
THROUGH 2 PM...SCATTERED SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE NORTHEAST
ACROSS THE EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO AND INTO THE NATURE COAST AND
TAMPA BAY AREA THIS AFTERNOON. THESE SHOWERS ARE EXPECTED TO
INCREASE IN COVERAGE THROUGH THE AFTERNOON WITH ISOLATED
THUNDERSTORMS POSSIBLE. EXPECT PERIODS OF RAIN AND GUSTY WINDS AS
THESE SHOWERS PASS BY.

$$

TF
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Quoting LargoFl:
never thought i'd be sooo happy seeing rain, man its been so dry here for so long now.

I know, had a quick shower the other night, besides that, no rain in over a month..... Been waiting for this first big system!
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Interesting! Thanks Dr. Masters! :)
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Quoting thunderbug91:

Between 1'' and 3'' tomorrow!!! YESSS
Quoting thunderbug91:

Between 1'' and 3'' tomorrow!!! YESSS
never thought i'd be sooo happy seeing rain, man its been so dry here for so long now.
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Quoting FtMyersgal:


Hi Largo. Nothing here yet. We are still seeing some some, but is is starting to get a bit more cloudy and the winds are picking up.
hi, yes its cloudy here also..hope you get some rain from this..
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Between 1'' and 3'' tomorrow!!! YESSS
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Quoting LargoFl:
hope my friends in ft meyers get some of this rain...


Hi Largo. Nothing here yet. We are still seeing some sun, but is is starting to get a bit more cloudy and the winds are picking up.
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Quoting thunderbug91:

Lot of moisture being funneled into Bay area now, activity should begin soon
..yeah all the way from mexico to us
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Quoting LargoFl:
looks like north of Tarpon springs is going to see the first showers

Lot of moisture being funneled into Bay area now, activity should begin soon
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Quoting thunderbug91:
. Yeeeeeeees!.Been waiting for this type of cold weather since mid November.
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looks like north of Tarpon springs is going to see the first showers
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Quoting thunderbug91:
Link
Hey Largo, I noticed that there are outflow boundaries trying to set upin the GOM, as can be seen in this animation. Would be interesting to see if they fully develop, if they do it could be a major rain event in TB tomorrow.....
..yes im watching this one closely ..sure can develop into something stronger
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Quoting pottery:

Unless the last event was 239,000 years ago. Or so.
I'm not about to lose sleep over it though.

It seems like they did a lot of work for not much.
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Quoting Patrap:
392.92ppm


Atmospheric CO2 for November 2012

co2now.org

Interesting site. Thanks.)
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Local West Palm Beach Met said a "strong" cold front could be coming through early next week! I hope so! Are any of the models showing this?


Well, this system looks pretty significant at 216 hrs...
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68. MTWX
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Local West Palm Beach Met said a "strong" cold front could be coming through early next week! I hope so! Are any of the models showing this?


Not sure about next week, but this one here is pretty strong. The actuall front is just now passing here and the temp has already dropped 15 degrees in the last couple of hours!!
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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