Price Tag For Damage From Sandy Will Be Even More Staggering
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Northern Gulf coast with a ferocity that devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the price tag of that storm was $108 billion dollars. It stands as the costliest natural disaster in United States History surpassing that of Hurricane Andrew, which cost South Florida some $27 billion dollars in damage. Hurricane Ike became the second costliest storm on record with $29.5 billion dollars in damage to the Houston and Galveston area of Texas in 2008. However, the damage produced Superstorm Sandy will generate a price tag that will dwarf them all. For those, who don’t think that the cost of this storm will surpass Katrina, think again.
It’s very early in the game. The aftermath of Sandy is just two days old, and the recovery process is in its infancy, but the scenes of damage along the Jersey Shore, New York City, Long Island, and Coastal Connecticut alone has been overwhelming. The storm produced record storm surges at Battery Park in New York City (13.88 feet) and Sandy Hook (13.3 feet). Here in South Plainfield, New Jersey which is far inland in the Northwestern corner of Middlesex County, there is significant wind damage. The scope of Superstorm Sandy’s impacts are so vast with blizzard conditions in West Virginia, and as far south as the mountains of Eastern Tennessee (Mount Leconte had 34 inches at last count), waves of 20.3 feet on the south shores of Lake Michigan near Chicago, and severe thunderstorms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Earlier this year, Hurricane Irene was ranked as the seventh costliest storm ever after the devastation it produced across the Northeast in late August of 2011. The price tag for that storm was $10 billion, and the storm only produced a storm surge of 4 to 5 feet in New York City, and along the Jersey Shore. Irene was no Sandy either. While Irene was a storm that was fading as it came through New Jersey and New York last year, Sandy was a much more energized storm. I was in South Amboy’s Waterfront Park for both storms, and Sandy’s surge was already at the same level that Irene was when it was coming up the Jersey coast last year, and Sandy was still a number of hours from landfall. Furthermore, Sandy was a much stronger and larger storm with size that was almost twice that as Irene, and a barometric pressure that was 946 millibars at landfall, a good 14 millibars lower than Irene was when it came up through Jersey. Sandy’s path also resulted in a more direct impact to the Jersey Shore and New York City.
By making its landfall in South Jersey, Sandy was able to deliver the brunt of its power to the very expensive properties that lie along the Jersey Shore in places such as Long Beach Island, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Sea Bright, and Rumson as well as the financial capital of the world in New York City, and the casinos and entertainment hot bed of Atlantic City. Very expensive homes also lie along the coast in both Long Island and Coastal Connecticut, which were hit hard by the surge coming in from the Atlantic and Long Island Sound. These places were also hit in the post-Katrina era where insurance premiums have skyrocketed in the wake of that monumental storm. In 2001, the site also discussed the studies by insurance companies that indicated that a major hurricane hitting the Jersey Shore would cause some $50 billion dollars in damage, and this was almost five years before Katrina. Back in 2006, Hurricaneville had written an article that discussed another article by the Newark Star-Ledger that pointed out the building of multi-million dollar homes along the Jersey Shore in spite of the changing weather patterns and insurance climate.
This storm’s effects were also felt well inland. Entering the third day of the aftermath of this storm, and there were still numerous traffic lights down around South Plainfield, and many adjacent municipalities in Middlesex County. Many secondary and tertiary roads in New Jersey are still closed, especially in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County. Many trees have been uprooted, telephone poles snapped, and cell phone towers have been damaged. Power is still out for many in the Garden State, and cell phone communication has been spotty at best. Add to all of this the other events that have occurred as a result of the storm such as the 130 homes that were destroyed by fire spread by the winds from Sandy in the coastal community of Breezy Point, New York, and you have a very staggering price to pay for this storm.
The devastation along the coast in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut as well as significant damage to inland areas to those states and others from Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy will generate a price tag that will ultimately dwarf that of Hurricane Katrina when it hit the Northern Gulf Coast in 2005. In a climate where weather patterns have made places such as the New York City Metropolitan area, the Jersey Shore, Long Island, and Connecticut more vulnerable, and insurance premiums in these areas as well as New England have risen significantly in a post-Katrina world, the cost could easily be billions of dollars alone. Add to that the cost of damage further inland to communities far away from the coast and as far south and west as West Virginia, Illinois, and Tennessee, and we could have our first 100 billion dollar storm.
Over the past week, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Caribbean, and then took an unprecedented path of devastation through the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Great Lakes before moving into Canada. The storm was an historic storm that rivaled memorable storms such as The Perfect Storm, Superstorm ‘93, The Long Island Express of 1938, The Great Hurricane of 1821, and Hurricane Donna. Below are some of the facts that I have collected on the storm.
Facts compiled from CNN, New York Times, USA Today, Huffington Post, WB11 (PIX11), WABC, WNBC, WCBS, and FOX5.
- Storm made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey.
- Minimum central pressure was 940 millibars, the lowest ever recorded north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
- The storm had tropical storm force winds over 1,000 miles wide. The entire system encompassed 2,000 miles.
- The storm combined with a cold front, blocking high pressure, and a strong dip in the jet stream to become a superstorm that brought all kinds of weather including high winds, rain, waves, storm surge, tornadoes, and even blizzards.
- A record storm surge occurred in New York Harbor at 13.88 feet in Battery Park. King’s Point had a surge of 13.3 feet. Sandy Hook, New Jersey also reported a surge of 13.3 feet.
- At least 33 people dead nationwide from the storm. Add that to 69 deaths in the Caribbean for a death toll of 102.
- 18 People Dead New York State including 10 in New York City.
- Six People Dead In New Jersey.
- Four Dead in Pennsylvania
- Some 60 million people were affected by this storm, or about one in every six Americans.
- Originally, some 8.2 million people without power. Still about 5 million people remain without power.
- Power failures in 17 states.
- Waves rose to 20.3 feet in the southern part of Lake Michigan.
- New York City’s mass transit system from the Subways, Buses, Metro North and Long Island Railroad trains were left out of service due to the storm.
- Initial estimates of $5 to $10 billion in damage, and that is expected to be much higher.
- Predicted losses of $20 billion in damage and another $10 to 30 billion in lost business from the storm by IHS Global Insight.
- Wall Street closed for two days, which is the longest it has been closed besides the days after 9/11. First time the NYSE has been closed for two straight days due to weather.
- Schools will be closed throughout New York City for a third straight day.
- Between 80 and 110 homes destroyed by fires fanned by the winds from Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point.
- Hackensack River in New Jersey went over its banks and flooded portions of Hackensack, South Hackensack, Little Ferry, and Moonachie.
- Con Edison Substation on 14th street suffered An Explosion knocking out power to some 250,000 NYC residents.
- Critically ill patients had to be evacuated from NYU’s Langone Medical Center in NYC.
- About 50 percent of Hoboken, New Jersey remains under water.
- Trees down throughout much of New Jersey.
- New Jersey secondary roads such as Routes 34, 35, 36, and 37 remain closed in Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. Portions of Route 22 closed in Hunterdon County.
- Jersey Shore coastal communities such as Belmar, Bradley Beach, Avon By The Sea, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Seaside Heights, Lavallette, Ortley Beach, and Ocean City were left devastated by the storm surge from Sandy. Belmar’s famous boardwalk was destroyed as well as the one in Spring Lake. Famous rides in Seaside Heights were wiped out.
- Atlantic City’s boardwalk lost several blocks.
Hurricane/Nor’easter Makes Mark Comparable To Superstorm ‘93
Hurricane Sandy is done as a tropical cyclone, but it will be a storm long remembered by many, especially in the Mid-Atlantic States of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and even Pennsylvania. Of all the storms that I have lived through including Irene last year, this was the worst. Not just the worst tropical storm or hurricane, but the worst storm period. The legacy of Sandy here in New Jersey, New York, and Long Island will be the wind and surge.
This large and powerful storm produced tremendous winds by Jersey standards with winds whipping frantically for several hours on Monday night. The winds had been picking up during the afternoon, but then around the 5:00 PM hour, they appeared to abate in Atlantic City and New York City. About a hour later though they dramatically picked up again, and increased to as high as 100 miles per hour. Here at the hotel that I am staying at, the winds have been relentless, and it felt like they were going to bust through the window in my room.
By the way, the winds aren’t going to slacken for a while either. The slow moving storm will cause the high winds to linger for at least another 24 hours. Along the coast, there was the surge. A record surge was set in New York Harbor at King’s Point (13.3 feet) and Battery Park (13.7 feet). Sandy Hook also was hit with a record surge of 13.3 feet. The previous record for surge in New York Harbor was from the 1821 hurricane. The barometric pressure fell to 940 millibars, or 27.76 inches of Hg before the storm turned post-tropical and came ashore. At GWC, the barometric pressure fell to 28.42 inches of Hg (Mercury) or 962 millibars, which shattered the record of 970 millibars set in Hurricane Irene last year.
The storm has left New York City as well as many locales around New Jersey reeling. Flooding has occurred in many parts of the area, especially near the coast. Trees have fallen on people. A crane has partially collapsed in Midtown Manhattan. Water poured into the PATH station in Hoboken. Fires have broken out. Transformers have blown all across the region. Almost 5 million people have been left without power around the region. Trees were down across Route 18 near Sayreville. Power was out throughout much of Sayreville, Old Bridge, South Amboy, and Colts Neck. This storm could end up making Hurricane Katrina look like a walk in a park.
It was a very well predicted storm. Much like Superstorm ‘93 was almost 20 years ago, Sandy was picked up quite well in the models, and even in terms of its intensity and conversion from a tropical to post-tropical system. The storm lived up to the hype and was well behaved from a forecast standpoint. The similarities between Sandy and Superstorm ‘93 didn’t stop there. Sandy was a storm that had winds stretch across some 1,000 plus miles at peak size. It covered not only the Mid-Atlantic, but also New England, and the Great Lakes States. Approximately 60 million people were affected. Similarly, Superstorm ‘93 affected some 26 states when it was all said and done. Like Superstorm ‘93, Sandy brought a variety of weather including a record storm surge, tornadoes, and blizzard conditions to some of the affected areas.
Keep in mind that we are still scratching the surface of this weather event. The true scope of the devastation from this storm will begin to be revealed with daylight on Wednesday. Many things will not sort themselves out until later in the week. Nevertheless, if we are just talking the shear meteorological numbers, Hurricane Sandy, or Superstorm Sandy has truly been a historic storm. Something I as well as all of you will long remember.
Hurricane Sandy Highlights Big Month In Atlantic
Statistically speaking, the Atlantic Hurricane Season usually begins to ramp down in late October, but not this year. Over just the past few days, there have been two named storms with one of them becoming a strong hurricane. The development of Sandy and Tony have capped what has been quite an active October for the Tropical Atlantic. With six days left in the month, there have been five named storms and two hurricanes.
While October does have a second peak in tropical activity towards the middle of the month, the chances of storms and hurricanes does diminish. The peak of the season usually occurs in August and September, and perhaps the first week or so of October. The 2012 season has been an unusual one though with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes, but only one major hurricane. Looking deeper into the numbers, August had 8 named storms and 5 hurricanes. September only had two named storms and hurricanes with one of them being the only major storm of the year in Michael.
This October was more active than September was with Rafael and Sandy being the month’s hurricanes. Most of the storms this month have been benign such as Oscar, Patty, and Tony. Rafael did go through the Windward Islands with a blow, and came close to Bermuda. Sandy could make this a memorable October by tropical standards if she lives up to her potential. Not since the Perfect Storm in 1991, has there been such a powerful storm to threaten the Northeast. Keep in mind that the Perfect Storm also didn’t make landfall anywhere. Accompanied by astronomical high tides, an approaching cold front, and a strong dip in the jet stream, what is left of Sandy could make an indelible mark on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast for years to come. The 2012 season has been unusual throughout with October only being the latest example.
Despite being an unusually quiet month by Atlantic tropical standards, September did produce Hurricane Nadine, which was one of the longest lasting storms on record at 23 days. In that same month, Michael became the strongest storm of the season at minimal Category Three intensity with 115 mile per hour winds, the weakest major hurricane in a season since 1994. Among those eight storms and five hurricanes in August was Hurricane Isaac, the first landfalling hurricane in the United States since Hurricane Ike in 2010. Isaac was also unique in the sense that it was a powerful Category One storm with a minimum central pressure on the order of a strong Category Two system. Isaac ended up hitting the extreme southern parishes of Louisiana harder than the devastating Hurricane Katrina did. The 2012 season was supposed to be average to below average. Instead, it has defied the odds, and provided some interesting trivia.
The season began prematurely with two storms in late May, and two more in the first month of the season for four by the end of June. Things appeared to return to normal with none in July, which was still unusual in the sense that during this active stretch from 1995 until now, there always has been some sort of storm to develop in July. However, by the end of August, there was the second fastest J and L storms. Then, there was a quiet September followed by a busy October. For a while, the 2012 season challenged the historic 2005 season in terms of the number of named storms. It has equaled the mark for named storms, and almost has the same number of hurricanes as the 1995 season did.
There is still a bit more than a month left in this unusual season. Could more surprises be on the way? With how this season has gone so far, I wouldn’t be startled in the least if more were to occur.
Storm Lasts 23 Days And Becomes Hurricane Three Times
In a season that has been a bit on the unusual side, Hurricane Nadine fit in perfectly. After the first three months of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season has seen a record pace for the number of storms, things quieted down significantly in September. Following an August that had 8 named storms and 5 hurricanes, there were only two named storms in September, which is normally the most active month of the season. However, they were both hurricanes including one that was a major storm, the only one of the season to date.
Hurricane Michael had wound up to be the strongest storm of the 2012 season with 115 mile per hour winds making it a Category Three storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Then, there was Nadine. The storm wasn’t the strongest one of the season. As a matter of fact, it was a storm that was on par with Hurricane Isaac, a strong Category One storm at peak intensity. However, the real story was Nadine’s resiliency. The storm lasted for 23 days in the Central and Northeastern Atlantic. A total of 88 advisories were issued on the storm.
Nadine became a hurricane on three separate occasions: September 14th, September 28th, and September 29th. The storm also weakened to a post-tropical cyclone on one occasions. Besides being a tropical storm, the storm also lost tropical characteristics and became a subtropical storm for a while. Its longevity put it in the record books as one of the longest lasting storms ever on record in the Atlantic. The storm ends up tied for fourth on the all time list with five other storms including Alberto (2000), Kyle (2002), and Ivan (2004).
The longest lasting storm ever on record was an unnamed storm back in 1899, which lasted 33 days. The longest lasting named storm on record was Hurricane Ginger, which lasted 30 days back in 1971. During the busy season of 1969, Inga lasted some 26 days to place third on the list. The storm made two passes at the Azores island chain prompting Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings issued for them from the Portuguese government. The first pass at the Azores occurred over the days of September 20th and 21st. The second pass came within the past few days.
Nadine was a very vast storm at times with tropical storm force winds extending some 275 miles from the center of circulation. At peak intensity, the storm had hurricane force winds extending 35 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reached out some 125 miles. With the development of Oscar over the past couple days, there are now 15 named storms that have developed this year with 8 hurricanes, and one major hurricane in the Atlantic in 2012.
Storm Also Ranked As Tenth Costliest Weather Disaster
Hurricane Irene was not among the most powerful storms of all time in the Atlantic. However, the storm still packed a wallop, and it was felt over the most populated region of the United States. The storm could have been a lot worse, but it still ends up as one of the most costliest hurricanes and weather disasters of all time.
Causing just under $16 billion in damage, Irene now ranks in the top ten among hurricane and weather disasters. The only landfalling U.S. hurricane in 2011 now ranks as the seventh costliest hurricane of all time. Only Katrina (2005), Andrew (1992), Ike (2008), Wilma (2005), Ivan (2004), and Category One Hurricane of all time. The storm dumped over 5 inches of rain here in South Plainfield. Coupled with the 10 inches that fell prior to the storm, parts of Northwestern Middlesex County had the worst flooding in 40 years.
Some of the hardest hit states by the hurricane were North Carolina, New Jersey, and Vermont. Thanks to the devastation and deaths caused by the storm (48), Irene became the 76th storm to be retired since 1954.
Hurricane Fades Into Extratropical Storm, But Not Before Becoming Largest Atlantic Storm Ever And Hammering Newfoundland
The tropics are going through a bit of a transition period right now. A very strong dip in the jet stream in the Eastern Atlantic is hindering development off Africa as perhaps we’ve seen an end of the Cape Verde season. However, we still do have Tropical Storm Lisa as well as a disturbance that is trying to get organized in the Caribbean. The Caribbean feature will be one worth watching in the coming days. In the meantime though, we would like to give a wrap up on Hurricane Igor, which finally left the scene within the past 24 hours.
Igor, the most powerful system to date in the Atlantic this season, became the largest hurricane of all time with a diameter of 1,040 miles wide. The previous mark was set by Hurricane Olga back in 2001 with 863 miles. The largest tropical cyclone ever in the world was Typhoon Tip with 1,380 miles. Tip is also the strongest storm ever recorded with 870 millibars, or 25.69 inches of Hg (Mercury) for a minimum central pressure and winds sustained at 190 miles per hour back in October 1979. At the time of the last advisory, hurricane force winds extended some 85 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds extended some 520 miles. Igor passed just to the west of Bermuda lashing the tiny resort island in the Western Atlantic with 75 mile per hour winds late Sunday night.
The vast system kept going, and actually gained strength on Monday with maximum sustained winds climbing back to 80 miles per hour while barometric pressure dipped to 950 millibars, or 28.05 inches of Hg. The transition to an extratropical system provided additional energy that helped made the storm more powerful. Gusts up to hurricane force were reported over portions of the Canadian Maritime province of Newfoundland, which was hit quite hard by the storm. Winds gusted to 96 miles per hour with flooding rains. Some roads were completely washed out. Trees were uprooted. Small buildings such as sheds were blown down while traffic lights swayed in the wind.
Good evening everyone. Sorry that I didn’t post much over the past few days, but I had to work. However, I was still following things in the Tropical Atlantic. Looks like we may have another depression or storm soon. The disturbance in the Eastern Atlantic that we discussed at the end of the week has a probability of 80 percent to become a tropical cyclone. Julia has weakened, and is barely hanging on to tropical storm status, and Karl has since dissipated after moving inland over Southeastern Mexico on Friday afternoon.
The story now is Hurricane Igor. Once a powerful hurricane with winds just below the threshold for a Category Five Hurricane at 155 miles per hour, has gradually weakened to a Category One system with minimal hurricane force winds of 75 miles per hour. It is still making a beeline for Bermuda, which recently experienced a wind gust of 93 miles per hour as of the 11:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Pressure has gone up to 955 millibars, or 28.20 inches of Hg (Mercury), but it has been rising. The center of Igor is just passing to the west of Bermuda, which is not good news since that means that the island is experiencing the full fury of the storm’s strongest part.
Igor, which became the strongest storm of the 2010 season is a huge hurricane. Its hurricane force winds extend some 90 miles from the eye while the tropical storm force winds reach some 345 miles. What that means is that Hurricane Igor has a diameter of approximately 690 miles! Typhoon Tip is the largest and also strongest tropical cyclone on record. The storm, which occurred in the Western Pacific in October 1979, had maximum sustained winds of 190 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 870 millibars, or 25.69 inches of Hg (Mercury). It was also a storm that had a diameter of 1,380 miles, or exactly twice the size of Igor. Returning to the Atlantic, Hurricane Floyd was a vast system with a diameter of 580 miles back in September 1999.
Ten years before that, another large hurricane roamed the tropical waters of the Atlantic. Prior to Hurricane Hugo, there was Hurricane Gabrielle, which turned out to sea without threatening any land areas. However, Gabrielle was a vast storm with a diameter of 690 miles as well. The largest Atlantic Hurricane on record was Hurricane Olga back in 2001. Olga’s diameter was 863 miles. Hurricane Lili (1996) had a diameter of 806 miles. Hurricane Wilma, the strongest Atlantic Hurricane ever, was also a big storm with a diameter of 662 miles. Below is the ten largest storms in terms of diameter measured both in miles and kilometers:
1 Olga 2001 863 1,389
2 Lili 1996 806 1,296
3 Karl 2004 777 1,250
4 Helene 2006 748 1,204
5 Irene 1999 719 1,157
6 Gabrielle 1989 690 1,111
Florence 2006 690 1,111
8 Wilma 2005 662 1,065
Igor 2010 662 1,065
9 Keith 1988 633 1,018
Grace 1991 633 1,018
Hurricane Florence (2006) also impacted Bermuda while Grace (1991) became part of what was known as the Perfect Storm. Hurricane Gilbert (1988) was another huge storm that nearly took up the entire Gulf of Mexico at one point after striking the Yucatan as a Category Five storm. According to Wikipedia, Gilbert was 500 miles wide.
With the formation of Hurricane Jimena and Tropical Storm Kevin over the past several days, the tropics in the Eastern Pacific had seven named storms in the month of August alone. That is the most storms in one month for this region since the 1960s. So far this season, the Eastern Pacific has benefited from the latest El Nino episode with 14 depressions, 11 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.
As the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season is drawing to a close, now is a time to look back on what happened during the season. This season, there was to date 17 tropical depressions, 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. The five major hurricanes: Bertha, Gustav, Ike, Omar, and Paloma occurred in five different months. As a matter of fact, there was a major storm in each of the last five months, which is a record. The previous record was set in 2005 with major hurricanes in four straight months: Dennis and Emily (July), Katrina (August), Rita (September), and Wilma (October).
A major hurricane is a storm that attains winds in excess of 111 miles per hour, or is a minimal Category Three Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The first of the major storms in 2008 occurred in July with Hurricane Bertha. Gustav followed in late August and early September. Hurricane Ike was the big story of the season as it crossed through Cuba, and made an impact directly over Galveston, Texas on September 13th as a very strong Category Two system. Omar directly impacted the Northeastern Leeward Islands in the Caribbean in October. It was the second storm on record to hit the Caribbean from the West. The first since Hurricane Lenny struck there in November 1999.
As you may already know, the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season was a record breaker in so many ways. There were 28 named storms, 15 hurricanes, 7 major hurricanes, and 4 Category Five Hurricanes. It was also a year when the complete list of storm names was exhausted, and storms had to be represented by letters in the Greek Alphabet. It was the first time such a thing had happened. There was also a storm that formed in the far eastern Atlantic in Hurricane Vince that ultimately went into Portugal and Spain as a depression. The first time on record that had happened. So, for the 2008 season to surpass a mark from that historic season was quite impressive.
Initial projections for the season called for 15 named storms, and then in August, those numbers were revised to have 17 named storms. So, the 16 that have actually occurred to this point (with still two weeks to go in the season), is pretty much on the mark. Another possible record is the number of storms and hurricanes that affected Cuba this season: Fay, Gustav, Ike, and Paloma. A couple modest tropical storms affected the Northeast and New England in the form of Hanna and Kyle. Both storms had been hurricanes at one point.