A view of the changed coastline in New Jersey. Photo: NASA Goddard
Instead of gathering a widespread assortment of the week's best articles, videos, and photos, I've included the most thought-provoking and eye-opening articles on Sandy and her aftermath. Some are snapshots of people and places, others take a look at the science of the storm, and some take a look at the political effects of a storm that has caused tens of billions of dollars in damage and more than 150 deaths internationally. The articles begin with a blog posted on October 24.
Please share the best articles you've read about Sandy in the comments section.
The deterministic runs from the various global models continue to
diverge, with some still showing a track out to sea (GFS and CMC) and
some showing a more northerly track into the northeast U.S. coast (ECMWF
and NOGAPS). It’s unclear yet which will verify, if any, but the
ensembles have been trending westward, with more members now showing a
very powerful cyclone (probably not completely tropical) slamming into
the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states.
The ominous forecast by last night’s ECMWF deterministic run places
an incredibly strong cyclone off the New Jersey coast on Monday
evening ... with tropical storm to hurricane force winds covering every
state between Virginia and Maine (note that the wind speeds on this map
are at 5,000’ altitude, not the surface). A scenario such as this would
be devastating: a huge area with destructive winds, extensive inland
flooding, possibly heavy snow on the west side, and severe coastal
flooding and erosion.
While there is still inherent uncertainty in the forecast, especially
considering we are at least five days away from the phase, the majority of
the numerical guidance has now come into agreement that a phasing event
will occur precisely on the 21st anniversary of the Perfect Storm
somewhere between the mid-Atlantic states through Maine or potentially
the Nova Scotia region. Most of the models now indicate even stronger
jet dynamics will occur next week than occurred during for the Perfect
Storm, and that today’s storm could potentially deepen to well below 960mb or even below 950mb. The fact that the Gulf Stream is anomalously
warm for this time of year means that Sandy will weaken less as a
tropical system than it otherwise would have prior to the phase. Also, a
very strong blocking scenario (very negative NAO) has developed over
the north Atlantic means that the cyclone will be very slow moving, and
is likely to retrograde westward into the northeastern U.S. rather than
continue out to sea like most recurving extratropical cyclones do.
While it is too early to pin-down exact impacts from the system at this
time, it is likely that portions of the coastal Northeast will
experience a damaging storm surge, significant beach erosion, and a
prolonged severe wind and heavy rain event. Meanwhile, interior regions
of western Pennsylvania into Ohio may simultaneously be experiencing
heavy snowfall. Stay tuned!
Here is a view of Sandy's life from above. It was recorded by NASA's GOES-13 Satellite. It begins on October 23, when Tropical Depression 18 morphed into Tropical Storm Sandy. Before that, on October 22, at roughly 11:00 a.m., about 320 miles southwest of Kingston, Jamaica, a hot towering rain cloud that rose roughly nine miles above the ocean formed into a more organized Tropical Depression 18, which generated winds of 30mph. Just six hours later, it became a tropical storm and picked up the name Sandy as it moved toward Jamaica at 3mph while generating winds of 45mph. The next day, Sandy's winds picked up to 80mph and she started growing.
By October 25, Sandy had become a Category II hurricane that blew sustained winds of 105mph—tropical force winds extended more than 205 miles from her center. As she moved over the Caribbean, she caused more than 70 deaths, and left more than 18,000 people homeless in Haiti. On October 25, NASA noted that high pressure moving clockwise over New England might push Sandy into the Mid-Atlantic as a cold front moved in from the west. By October 26, as she passed over the Bahamas, the tone became more serious as her potential to become a gigantic freak superstorm became more obvious. She was dubbed the "Bride of Frankenstorm."
The loss of life and property damage from Superstorm Sandy
is still being tallied, but the catastrophe is pointing a spotlight on the need
for cities to adapt to more frequent, severe storms (also referred to, in many
scientific circles, as "climate change").
"Anyone who says that
there's not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying
reality," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday.
Bill Ulfelder, the New York director of The Nature
Conservancy, has only lived in New York City for three years, but during that
time the city has seen its two most costly storms (Irene and Sandy) over just 14
months. "You're going to see more and more of this," he told me on
Fortunately for all of us who like being outside, one way to make cities more resilient to these storms is to foster large, healthy urban forests.
Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy as seen from space Photo: NOAA GOES-13
When Hurricane Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey, around 8 p.m. last night, it lived up to the deadly reputation forecasters feared, and the death toll from the storm has continued to rise today. NOAA's GOES-13 satellite captured this picture of Sandy as a post tropical cyclone swirling over the eastern half of the United States at 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning. In the image, the extratropical cyclone's center is about 90 miles west of Philadelphia. Strong winds, heavy precipitation, and cold weather will continue to cause problems as the superstorm moves west. Here's a breakdown of some of Sandy's devastating effects in the past 24 hours, by the numbers.
38: Deaths in the U.S. tied to the storm. When those fatalities are added to the 66 deaths recorded in the Caribbean, the total is 104. "Total Death Toll at 38" The New York Times
946MB: Central pressure reading as the storm made landfall. It's the second lowest reading recorded for a storm that hit the Northeastern United States. The record is held by the 1938 Great New England Hurricane, which had a reading of 941mb. "Superstorm Sandy Managed to Live Up to the Hype," University of Miami Rosenstiehl School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
As scientists feared late last week, Hurricane Sandy has morphed into a deadly "Frankenstorm." A warmer than average Gulf Stream allowed the hurricane to move up the coast without weakening as much as it might have with cooler sea temperatures, conditions over the North Atlantic blocked the superstorm from moving north or east and dissipating, and a cold front over the mainland is now helping to draw the storm inland. The rare combination of conditions has led the superstorm to become big and powerful. Experts fear fatalities over a large stretch of the East Coast as the storm continues to morph from a tropical hurricane into a nor'easter-hurricane hybrid. The behemoth is now moving northwest at a speed of roughly 20mph and creating tropical force winds roughly 485 miles from its center. Here's a quick look at the superstorm, by the numbers.
8,000: People who lost their lives when a hurricane hit Galveston, Texas, on
September 8, 1900, the deadliest hurricane yet to hit the United States. "Top 10 Worst Weather Disasters," Discovery News
12: People who lost their lives in the Halloween nor-easter of 1991, made famous in Sebastian Junger’s book "The Perfect Storm." That storm formed during a similar time of year when multiple weather conditions came together.
50 FEET: Wave height predicted in parts of the open ocean for the top third of all waves
produced by Sandy. That means some waves may be higher.
Buoys between North Carolina and Bermuda measured waves of roughly 40 feet on
Sunday. “Hurricane Sand an Unprecedented Force, Waves 50+ Forecast,”