Hurricane Sandy Strikes the Mid-Atlantic and New England

Hurricane Sandy MODIS
MODIS Imagery of Hurricane Sandy hours before landfall October 29th 2012. You can really see how massive the storm is from this view. At this time, Hurricane Sandy was a 90mph 943mb storm.

Although the effects of Sandy have all but passed Bermuda, leaving only the damage from the tornado, Hurricane Sandy dealt a devastating blow to coastal cities in the Mid-Atlantic and New England where winds gusted 60-90mph, heavy rain of 6-12″ fell and a record breaking storm surge swamped and washed away low-lying coastal areas. Below is a list of select storm tide (surge) values along Sandy’s path where these figures represent the height above mean low water level:
Ocean City,MD – 6.06ft (4.14ft)
Atlantic City,NJ – 8.90ft (5.81ft)
Philadelphia,PA – 10.62ft (5.83ft)
The Battery (New York Harbor),NY – 13.88ft (9.23ft)
King’s Point (Long Island Sound),NY – 14.31ft (12.65ft)
Boston,MA – 12.92ft (3.58ft)
Portland,ME – 11.90ft (3.26ft)

Tidal gauge at The Battery showing the storm surge (green) lining up perfectly with the high tide (blue) to produce a massive storm tide (red) – National Data Buoy Center, NOAA. Also note that pressure bottomed out just above 960mb. A site at Sandy Hook, NJ stopped reporting before the peak storm surge/tide.

Heavy rain combined with the storm tide on the Chesapeake and Delaware bays caused flooding in Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. The storm tide travelled up the Hudson river leading to record levels at Poughkeepsie. Rivers are still rising in response to the heavy rains from the storm still flowing into them. Heavy snow and (near) blizzard conditions are occurring the central Appalachian mountains and Ohio. Storm conditions are still occurring on the Great Lakes leading to very rough lake conditions and coastal flooding where onshore winds are producing 1-3ft water level rises.

Damages from this hurricane will likely be astronomical in expense, mainly from the coastal flooding and power outages. In these coastal areas, many trees still had their leaves and so tree damage, power outages, and damage to homes from falling trees was the primary form of wind damage. Tree damage, power line damage, and roof damage from the weight of the snow, which was of a high water content, were the most common form of damage where feet of snow have fallen in the mountains.


Meteorologically, this storm was significant because of its rare form of interaction with an extra-tropical system, its trajectory, its record breaking low landfall pressure of 946mb, and its size. A storm like this has immense potential to cause death and destruction and that it has indeed lived up to its potential. The name Sandy will likely be retired.

Let the recovery begin, hurricane season end November 30th.


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