There are some weather events that come along that really go to show the incredible power and complexity of our atmosphere. Hurricane Sandy epitomizes this. It was a hybrid super-storm created by the merger of three weather systems. A situation like this is very rare, and it has led to historic and devastating damage to the Northeast United States.
Sandy made landfall Monday evening at 6:45pm ET and would impact about a third of this country’s population due to its record size. Sandy’s central pressure at landfall was 956 mb, which tied the Great Long Island Express Hurricane of 1938 for the strongest storm to ever hit the Northeast U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, NC. Sustained winds at landfall were at 90 mph, but the big story was the storm surge. A 9-foot surge on top of high tide in New York City brought water levels at the Battery to 13.88’, smashing the record of 11.2’ during the great hurricane of 1821. You can see the tide level in the red line of the image below. The water flooded lower Manhattan putting 7 subway tunnels under water. Subway service will likely take 4 to 5 days to get back up and running.
New York City was hit hard. A massive fire in Queens destroyed at least 50 homes. New York University Medical Center had to be evacuated because its backup generator went out. Homes were destroyed on Fire Island due to the storm surge. Over the way in New Jersey, 4 towns were under water due to the storm surge. More than 15,000 flights have been cancelled in the area and over 8.1 million people are without power in the Northeast.
The death toll is unfortunately climbing in the aftermath of the storm. Over 30 people are now dead. Damage from the storm will likely cost tens of billions of dollars making it one of the top five most expensive disasters in U.S. history.
Sandy set all-time low pressure records throughout much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. In the Appalachians, the big concern was heavy snow and blizzard conditions. Davis, WV picked up an estimated 26-28” of snow. Winds gusted up to 40 mph. This was just truly and incredible storm with just so much we could say about it. This will be a long cleanup process that will take months. Below are a collection of pictures from NBC of the aftermath of Sandy.