Thursday, November 1, 2012

The timeline of a monster.

With everyone starting to wake up from the nightmare that was Sandy. I thought I would do a blog post that covered her timeline. Do to her incredible scope, I can only hit what I think are the high lights of her passage. I apologize for the length; I tried to be concise, but also include as much detail as I could, to catch what was going on. I hope I found a balance.

Oct. 19: A tropical wave  was moving westward through the eastern  Caribbean Sea. 

Oct. 20: The wave was becoming better organized. The National Hurricane Center  (NHC) assessed the disturbance a high potential for it to become a tropical cyclone within 48 hours.

Oct. 21: The ECMWF model noticed the storms potential.

Oct. 22: At 11:00 AM EDT, Tropical Depression 18 forms over the southwestern Caribbean, about 320 miles south-southwest of Kingston, Jamaica. Tropical Storm Sandy is born six hours later, when hurricane hunter aircraft observed winds of 40 mph. NHC noted that "remaining nearly stationary over the warm waters of southwestern Caribbean Sea is never a good sign for this time of year" Over the days that would follow this will become one of the greatest understatements of all time.

Oct. 23: Sandy continues to strengthen. The people of Jamaica and Cuba begin making preparations for Sandy's arrival.

Oct. 24: At 11 a.m. EDT, Sandy becomes a hurricane with winds of 80 mph At the time, Sandy was about 65 mi south of Kingston, Jamaica. At about 3 p.m. EDT she makes landfall on the island of Jamaica west of the capital, Kingston. Sandy clears the island in less than five hours. But not before, killing one person and cutting power to half the country. meteorologist begin to worry about Sandy merging with two other weather fronts in the U.S. Forecasters start warning of Sandy becoming a powerful hybrid super storm. A hybrid has characteristics of tropical cyclones that get their energy from the warm ocean surface, but also of winter cyclones that get their energy from temperature contrasts in the atmosphere.

Oct. 25: Sandy intensifies into a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 110 mph. At 1:25 a.m. EDT She makes landfall on eastern Cuba, just west of Santiago de Cuba. During her passage over the island she killed 11 people , destroys thousands of homes. But it's even worse in nearby Haiti where sandy takes the lives of at least 26. During the afternoon she starts to impact the Bahamas and begins to weaken as her winds fall to 90 mph. Other Weather Models are coming on-board with the Euro

 Oct. 26: Sandy's center reemerges back over the Caribbean from the Bahamas, after killing at least one person and causing widespread power outages. Most of the convection was sheared to the north of the center, and the size of the storm increased greatly. Sandy weakens to a minimal hurricane with winds of 75 mph Forecasters are talking about the likelihood of Sandy hitting the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. Sandy brought tropical-storm force winds and rain to South Florida. New York declared a state of emergency ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

Oct. 27: The NHC remarked that Sandy was "showing characteristics of a hybrid cyclone... like an occluded frontal low (A link to my post on air masses)." However, the system maintained a warm core, and despite a strong 60 mph wind shear, the hurricane continued to develop convection due to good divergence from a nearby trough. This same trough turned Sandy toward the northeast. A little later, Sandy briefly weakened to a tropical storm, after dry air became fully ingested into the mid- and upper-level parts of the storm. However, later during the overnight, she overcame this inconvenience, wind reports from the Hurricane Hunters indicated that Sandy had re-intensified back into a hurricane. A State of Emergency is declared in New Jersey, with fears it could bear the brunt of the hurricane. The models have a consensus that Sandy will make a landfall on the US Eastern Seaboard, most likely on the northern Mid Atlantic or northeastern states.

Oct. 28: President Obama allows several states expected to be impacted by Sandy, to request federal aid and make additional preparations in advance of the storm. At 8 pm the NHC has Sandy's winds at 75 mph.....we can thank the Shear and dry air that she hasn't strengthened more. Her central pressure is down to 950 and she's moving northeast at 15 mph. Evacuations are ordered in parts of lower Manhattan, sections of Brooklyn, Staten Island, New Jersey and Atlantic City.  

Oct. 29:

Sandy sinks the Bounty:

At 5 a.m., the huge storm was producing sustained winds of 85 miles an hour after turning due north, according to the NHC.

The ship had left Connecticut and was heading for Florida. The 180 feet, three-mast tall ship was attempting to head east, away from the hurricane, when the ship began taking on water. Soon after the storm crippled the ship. The Bounty's crew put up a magnificent fight as the wounded Ship was being engulfed by Atlantic waters roiled by Hurricane Sandy. But the crew and ship were no match for the 40-mph winds and 18-foot waves. At 5 AM the Captain give the order to abandon ship. While trying to get in the life rafts, captain Robin Walbridge and deckhand Claudene Christian were sweep into the pitching Atlantic. Coast Guard helicopters reached the scene around 6:30 a.m., about 90 minutes after the crew abandoned ship, one hoisted five people aboard. The second chopper plucked nine people from a second life raft. Sadly, Christian was later found and pronounced dead. The search for the Captain is still ongoing.

As, Sandy was moving past the North Carolina coast, a state of emergency was extended to 24 counties in western North Carolina, with up to a foot of snow attributed to Sandy anticipated in higher elevations.

8 a.m., Sandy was 265 miles southeast of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and about 310 miles south-southeast of New York City, Maximum sustained winds were at 85 mph.

Sandy Started her ill fated left hook that would steer her toward the northern Mid-Atlantic and southern Northeast states at approximately 9 am EDT.

Why didn't she go out to sea, like all the other storms have done?

There were a lot of factors in play that caused the turn. There was a “blocking” area of high pressure west of Greenland (Rex Block) and Tony to her east worked together to prevent a cold front coming from the west that would've pushed Sandy out to sea. Plus we had the Trough of Arctic air and a highly energized jet stream to help pull her toward The northern Mid Atlantic coast.

As Hurricane Sandy   continued to barrel northwest , forecasters predicted the worst of the storm would begin battering New Jersey and the city of New York Monday afternoon, and warned of "life-threatening" conditions. National Weather Service (NWS)  meteorologists said winds ranging from 70 to 90 miles per hour were expected by late afternoon Monday, especially along coastal areas.

Sandy is strengthening. Because of cooler waters, tropical systems that approach New Jersey typically weaken as they near the state. However, Sandy was a hybrid of a tropical system and a nor’easter. Nor’easters feed off of a different kind of energy, the interplay between warm and cold air masses, to strengthen. Because Sandy had the characteristics of a nor’easter, she was strengthening rapidly as she approached

By late morning, the authorities were moving to shut down the tunnels that connect Manhattan to Brooklyn and New Jersey. Subways, buses, trains and schools were shut, as well as the New York stock exchange, and Mayor Bloomberg warned normal services should not be expected before Wednesday.

11:00 am EDT: Sandy is moving north - northwest at 18 mph, her winds are now 90 mph and her pressure is 943 mb. Sandy is transitioning into a hybrid storm.

By 2:00 pm EDT: Sandy's winds are still 90 mph and the pressure is down to 940 mb. She has a full head of steam, moving Northwest at 28 mph.

At 2:30 pm EDT: wind gust from Sandy damaged a construction crane in Midtown Manhattan which is left dangling 70 stories above the street.

Sandy is growing ever larger. The most striking and destructive aspect of Sandy was the breadth of the tropical-storm force winds, the winds  reached a radius of 520 miles, covering an area of two million square miles.

In the late afternoon: NWS Doppler Radar is indicating wind gusts of 110 mph 1500-3000 feet aloft above NYC and Long Island. The storm is pushing an enormous wall of water in front of it. New York City would soon find out that bigger storms drive bigger storm surges and damage larger areas when they make landfall.

6:00 pm. EDT: Sandy is getting close to the Jersey shore,. with 90 mph winds

7:00 pm EDT: The NHC has Sandy with winds of 85 mph and a pressure of 946 mb. Moving west northwest at 28 mph.

8:00 pm EDT: Sandy makes landfall south of Atlantic City, NJ, Near Cape May. The winds slowing slightly to 80 miles an hour, the NHC said. The NHC had just downgraded Sandy from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone, as is typical when such weather systems hit land, but warned that the storm still poses a grave danger for the U.S. East Coast.

Sandy marches slowly inland, causing massive destruction and knocks out numerous power grids, sending millions into the dark.

Locally in northern and central New York State and western New England, winds are not as bad as they could have been. There was an inversion layer over head that was preventing the stronger winds from mixing down to the surface, As this layer broke down we started to see stronger gust. Another reason why some saw higher winds that others is the topography of New York State and New England is quite varied. Many of us saw winds gust of 20-35 mph. However some saw gust that were much higher. Bristol in Litchfield County as a wind gust of 70 mph and Torrington had a 57 mph gust. In Berkshire County Hancock had a peak gust of 77 mph. Across Ulster and Herkimer Counties wind gust were between 50 and 60 mph. Winds gust were 60-70 mph across the Tug Hill as well. The Mohawk Valley saw wind gust around 50 mph. Around Rochester, NY saw wind gust between 55 and 60 mph.

 150%20bat%2010As Sandy moves ashore, the winds along the Jersey Coast north toward New York City shifted direction, and blow more from the south. This pushed the storm surge into New York Harbor just as the full moon was causing astronomical high tide. This resulted in a record storm surge of 13.88 feet at the NYC Battery park. The high water shorted out the cities electrical grid plunging millions into the dark. and flooded out the subway system.  

Heavy wet snow and winds at 20 to 40 miles per hour, with some gust at the top of peaks at 60 mph, was causing blizzard conditions over parts of West Virginia and neighboring Appalachian states

One of the units at Indian Point, a nuclear power plant about 45 miles north of New York City, was shut down around 10:45 pm EDT. The reason given by Entergy Corp was external electrical grid issues The company said there was no risk to employees or the public.

Fire destroys at least 80 to 100 homes and other buildings in a flooded neighborhood in the Breezy Point section of the borough of Queens, where the Rockaway peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean. Firefighters arrived at 11 pm. EDT to find water chest-high in the streets, and used a boat to make rescues as orange flames engulfed home after home.. About 25 people were trapped in one home, with two injuries reported.

Oct. 30:

The snow storm in Appalachia is continuing, roadways are closed and power is out across the region. Roofs are buckling and collapsing due to the heavy snow load.

The HPC advisory for Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy. Shows her max sustained winds are 45 mph the pressure is 983 mb and she's moving west at 10 mph.  

150%20seiche-thumb-480x195As Sandy moves west Tuesday 50 to 60 mph winds over the Great lakes caused huge waves, Lake Michigan had waves as high as 22 feet. Lake Erie had waves of around 28 feet. The strong wind pushed water created a sieche on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie. A sieche is a situation where lake water ahead of a storm is piled up on the downstream shore and then sloches back and forth for a few hours. The high waves brought cargo shipping to a standstill on the Great Lakes. Freighters as long as 1,000 feet took refuge in safe harbors, bays, and anchored in the Saint Lawrence River to escape the storm's wrath.    

5:00 pm EDT: Sandy is located about 40 miles north-northwest of Pittsburgh . Her sustained winds are 45 mph. and the pressure is 988 mb. She has started her turn to the north, she is moving WNW at 10 mph.  

Oct. 31:

At 11 a.m. EDT Oct. 31, the NWS reported that the storm was diminishing, with "multiple remnants" circulating across the lower Great Lakes region. Gale warnings and small craft advisories were in effect for portions of the Great Lakes. Small craft advisories were in effect along much of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts.

At around 6 pm EDT Sandy moves into Canada.  

Here's a snapshot of what was happening, state by state, compiled by the Associated Press:

Connecticut — Widespread damage to homes on Long Island Sound. Deaths: 3. Power outages: 482,000, down from a peak of more than 620,000.

Delaware — Some southern coastal areas remain underwater, but officials say the damage is far less than anticipated. Power outages: 7,400, down from more than 45,000.

Illinois — High waves and flooding are possible on the Lake Michigan shore on Wednesday in Chicago.

Kentucky — As much as a foot of snow fell in higher elevations of Appalachian Kentucky.

Maine — Port of Portland reopened, but ocean conditions remained dangerous with high winds. Power outages: More than 16,000, down from more than 90,000.

Maryland — Eastern Maryland cleaned up from storm surge, while western Maryland dealt with as much as 29 inches of snow. Dueling disasters are straining emergency resources. Deaths: 2. Power outages: Nearly 300,000, down from 290,000.

Massachusetts — Continued cleanup from fallen trees and damage to homes and businesses, but relief that storm wasn't worse. Many schools remained closed. Power outages: 106,000, down from 400,000.  Michigan — Cargo shipping on the Great Lakes was at a standstill because of waves of up to 20 feet. Power outages: 40,600, down from more than 150,000.

New Hampshire — A construction worker checking on a job site in Lincoln was killed in a landslide. Deaths: 1. Power outages: 81,000, down from 210,000.

New Jersey — Fires that destroyed several homes in a shore town rekindled, fueled by natural gas. National Guard arrived to evacuate residents of Hoboken and distribute supplies. Storm renewed debate about whether to rebuild shoreline sand dunes. Deaths: 6. Power outages: 2.1 million, down from 2.7 million.

New York — Traffic choked city streets as residents tried to return to work in a New York City whose subway system remained crippled. Security concerns abound at night in areas without power but the city is promising vigilance. Utilities say it could be days before power is fully restored there and on Long Island. Deaths: 29, including 22 in New York City. Power outages: 1.9 million, down from 2.2 million.

North Carolina — The search continued off the coast for the captain of a tall ship that sank as Sandy headed north. Parts of western North Carolina saw continued snow. Deaths: 2. Power outages: Fewer than 400, down from 126,000.

Ohio — High winds uprooted trees in northern Ohio. Schools closed and major commuter arteries along Lake Erie flooded. Deaths: 2. Power outages: 147,000, down from more than 250,000.

 Pennsylvania — The core of Sandy made its way north through western Pennsylvania into western New York, causing wind and flooding that closed roads. Deaths: 7. Power outages: 850,000, down from 1.2 million.

Rhode Island — Residents may not be able to return to their homes for another day in some coastal communities. Power outages: About 48,000, down from more than 115,000.

Tennessee — A route across the Smoky Mountains closed as heavy, wet snow accumulated to as much as 3 feet.

Vermont — Winds knocked down trees and power lines, and schools were closed, but damage was not as severe as feared in a state still recovering from Tropical Storm Irene. Power outages: 3,550, down from more than 10,000.

Virginia — Utilities brought in crews to help restore power after high winds and snow. Deaths: 2. Power outages: About 40,000, down from more than 180,000.

Washington, D.C. — Federal and local governments asked people to return to work Wednesday, and transit systems planned to resume full service. Power outages: Fewer than 500, down from 25,000.

West Virginia — Some areas were buried under more than a foot of snow. Deaths: 5. Power outages: 235,566, down from about 268,000.

Wisconsin — Dangerously high waves and flooding were expected along Lake Michigan.    

The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 80 mph sustained winds caused incredible damage. She set a record for the lowest pressure of a storm making landfall in the northern Mid Atlantic and Northeast. The storm impacted everyone living east of the Mississippi River. She cut power to more than 8.4 million homes and businesses. caused a raging blizzard that left 2-3 + feet in several states. Estimates of the damage are still being tallied, but right now it looks to be 15-50 billion dollars. Sadly, her worst stat is the 74 who died during her wrath in the U.S alone, this number will most likely go up over the next few days. Sandy will be etched in our living memory. No one as seen a storm like her in their lives. Let's hope we never see her like again.   

Well that’s it. I hope you found this informative.  



  1. very very good read. Do you think they'll retire the use of "Sandy"?

  2. Thank you, as for retiring Sandy....I would very much think so


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