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Adventure : Nature

Superstorm Sandy's Destruction, By the Numbers

8138330170_b60c7b18a8_bPost-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

$20,000,000,000: Expected minimum cost of damage inflicted by the storm. "Hurricane Sandy Threatens $20 Billion in Economic Damage" Bloomberg News

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

80MPH: Maximum sustained wind speed as Sandy made landfall. "Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy," National Hurricane Center

32.5: Maximum wave height, in feet, measured by the buoys at the entrance of New York Harbor. "Superstorm Sandy Managed to Live Up to the Hype," University of Miami Rosenstiehl School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

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Hurricane Sandy, by the Numbers

Goes-13ImageofHurricaneSandy10289estHurricane Sandy expands, taken Sunday, October 28, at 9:00 a.m. Photo: NOAA GOES-13 Satellite

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.

66: People already killed by the storm in Caribbean. "Evacuations and Market Shutdowns as U.S. Braces for Storm," The Associated Press

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,” Surfer’s Village

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Patagonia National Park Comes Into Focus

Pata_natl_prk_Eli_SteltenpohlPatagonia National Park, under construction. Photo: Eli Steltenpohl

"Buying the land was the easy part," Kristine Tompkins told a packed house during a presentation at the San Francisco Patagonia retail store last week. She was referring to the 2.2 million acres that she and her husband Doug Tompkins have acquired in Chile and Argentina over the past 20 years as part of their Herculean efforts to conserve and rehabilitate the grasslands, forests, wetlands, rivers, high alpine, and biodiversity of the Patagonia region.

The slideshow the audience watched offered an update on the Tompkins' current project, Patagonia National Park, a 200,000-acre tract that includes the Chacabuco Valley and was formerly a major sheep and cattle ranching area.

The Tompkinses are outdoor recreation industry legends and environmental firebrands. She is a founder and former CEO of Patagonia—the company—and he started both The North Face and the clothing company Esprit. Doug Tompkins started acquiring land in Chile in the early 1990s, adding adjacent parcels until he had amassed more than 700,000 acres to form Pumalin Park, which he donated to the Chilean government. But this initial foray into private wildlands philanthropy was not a smooth process, as Doug Tompkins was met with much suspicion and a fair amount of hostility over the scheme. Some Chileans and Argentineans asked: How can this foreigner waltz in, buy up the land, and tell us what we can and cannot do with it?

"It was a difficult time for me, personally," said Kris Tompkins, referring to the Pumalin Park development. As we noted in this 2001 story about the couple, the shift to Kris at the helm was an effort to put a more diplomatic foot forward, for ongoing deal-making with the Chilean and Argentinean governments.

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A New Spray That Detects Exposure to Poison Ivy

Shutterstock_107912900Leaves of three, leave it be. Photo: Shutterstock

When I was in seventh grade, my parents took my six siblings and I out of school for a late spring vacation to the East Coast. We camped along the way and eventually landed in a Virginia campground that had great trees for climbing, thanks in part to the vines winding up their bases that made ascending easy. Climbing was a blast, until I fell head first off a branch, about 15 feet to the ground. I put out my right arm for protection and broke my humerus just beneath the ball when I hit. An ambulance showed up and a paramedic asked if I had moved since I fell. I hadn't. Then he pointed to the vines at the base of the tree and asked if I was allergic to poison ivy.

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An Amazing Black and White Image of the Northern Lights

8076943401_b2a65bb2fe_cAurora Borealis as seen from Space. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory/Flickr

On October 4 and 5, a coronal mass ejection from the sun sent an explosion of particles speeding toward earth. Three days later, those particles hit the earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field funneled the particles into the atmosphere near the poles, where they collided with gases in the upper atmosphere to release dramatic waves of colorful light over Canada's Quebec and Ontario provinces. You don't get to see the green and purple colors in the photo above—taken early on the morning of October 8, 2012, by a NASA satellite—but you do get a pretty good idea for the size and scope of the massive swell of light.

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