Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Monday 10/28/13

Superstorm Sandy One Year Later

The central U.S. agricultural community was mostly out of the line of fire from Superstorm Sandy when it blasted the East Coast in late October 2012. But on the 1-year anniversary of this event, the sheer power, size and devastating effect of this huge system have details that are worth noting. The following twelve Sandy-related details of "incredible-ness" are provided by the Associated Press.--Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

SIZE-- With tropical storm-force winds that extended for 1,000 miles, Sandy was the largest Atlantic system on record. It needs to be noted that this measurement's logging only began in 1988.

STORM SURGE--- Historical maximum recorded water levels due to Sandy wree set at the Battery in New York; Kings Point, NY; Bergen Point, NY; Sandy Hook, NJ; Bridgeport, CT; and New Haven, CT, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

FUEL--- For a while Sandy was getting much of its fuel and power from the top of the system, which is more typical of a winter storm. Hurricanes tend to get their power from the warm water below.

FORECAST--- Computer models and forecasters saw Sandy coming for more than a week, even talking of a New York area landfall--an unusually accurate forecast.

TURN WEST--- It was the first time in modern recorded history that a storm took a sharp turn to the west and hit New Jersey. A scientific study said it was a once-in-700-year track.

GREAT LAKES-- It is unusual for 20-foot waves, large surges and tropical force winds to be recorded in the Great Lakes for a coastal tropical storm, but it happened with Sandy. (BA note--heavy rain in the Great Lakes area also helped to re-charge soil moisture after the summer 2012 drought.)

ENERGY--- NOAA's Hurricane Research Division has a program that measures integrated energy of a storm's surge and waves on a 0 to 6.0 scale. Sandy reached 5.8, passing Katrina as the highest recorded so far. (BA note--more energy in storm systems is one of the predictions for global warming impact on climate.)

PRESSURE--- A more established measurement of storm strength is the barometric pressure, with the lower the pressure the stronger the storm. Sandy hit a low pressure of 945.5 millibars in Atlantic City, which some federal agencies called the lowest pressure recorded north of the Mason-Dixon Line in the United States.

SNOW--- This is the first time the National Hurricane Center ever listed snow or blizzard in their warnings. Three feet of snow fell in West Virginia.

NOTABLE NAME--- This is only the second tropical system starting with the letter "S" to have its name retired, an indication of how unusual it is to have potent late-season storms and how busy 2012 was for Atlantic storms.

LANDFALL REPEAT--- Sandy hit land in the very same town, Brigantine, New Jersey, as Irene did the year before (but Irene came from the south, a more common direction).

WEIRD WINDS--- Sandy's strongest winds at one point were not in the eye of the storm, but instead 100 miles farther out.

Sandy may not be the last such event, either. A September NOAA study found that sea level rises triggered by global warming are making Sandy-type flooding more likely. For example, the flooding that swamped Sandy Hook, NJ last year would have been considered a once-in-435-years event in 1950, but is now a once-in-295-years event. By 2100 it could become a once-in-20-years event, according to the study. Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer has reviewed sea level rises, and writes that in the past century, the New York area's sea level has risen about a foot, two-thirds caused by man-made climate change.


Posted at 7:26AM CDT 10/28/13 by Bryce Anderson
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