Superstorm Sandy Hammers U.S East Coast

November 23, 2012

Superstorm Sandy, one of the largest and most destructive storm systems to strike the U.S, hammered parts of the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, leaving in its wake dozens of fatalities, millions without power and widespread damage along a swath stretching from North Carolina up into New England.

(Photo via NASA)

Making landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey just after 8:00pm on October 29th, Sandy brought sustained winds of up to 80 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center, along with record breaking storm surge, measuring 13 feet in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. All along the Jersey Shore, the combination of fierce winds and storm surge wreaked havoc.  Seaside Heights, which lost dozens of homes due to natural gas fires, also lost its iconic Fun Point Pier as the majority of the boardwalk and amusement rides were destroyed. The State’s barrier islands, including Long Beach Island, were hit the hardest, with extensive damage done to homes and businesses.

Before making landfall in New Jersey, Sandy combined with another low pressure system, transforming into a post-tropical cyclone. At one point, the storm system had a wind field diameter of almost 1000 miles while its minimum central pressure dropped to 940mb, making it one of the most potent storms to strike the U.S Northeast, according to KSPR meteorologist Kevin Lighty.

In New York City, the combination of storm surge and high tides resulted in record surge values of just over 13 feet in Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan. Stations and rail lines in portions of the City’s subway system were flooded along with the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The storm also prompted a two day shutdown of the New York Stock Exchange in the first unplanned closure since 9/11 and only the second time in history that the Stock Exchange had been closed due to bad weather.  New York’s 3 major airports, LaGuardia, Newark and JFK, all had to be closed, with some 19 000 flights cancelled in anticipation of the storm.

Elsewhere, damage and power outages were reported in parts of Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Sandy hammered parts of West Virginia with more than two feet of snow and intense blizzard-like conditions.

Off the North Carolina coast, a tall ship built as a replica of the HMS Bounty, took on water and went down as its sixteen member crew attempted to avoid the storm on route to Florida. Fourteen crewmembers were rescued by U.S Coast Guard, but the body of another crew member was later recovered. The captain was never located.

In Canada, while weaker, Sandy claimed two lives. A woman was killed by part of a falling sign in Toronto, near the Keele and St. Clair area. In Sarnia, a Hydro worker was killed while trying to repair damaged power lines.

The storm, originally a hurricane, had developed in the Caribbean Sea, and made its first landfall in Jamaica, walloping the island nation with 80mph winds and heavy rains. Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic were also hard hit. Before leaving the Caribbean, Sandy claimed almost 80 lives, with about 60 in Haiti alone.

The storm was responsible for at one point leaving an estimated 8.6 million customers throughout the U.S Northeast without power. In The United States, Sandy claimed 121 lives across at least 11 states. Damages are estimated to be between $20 billion to $50 billion dollars, making this the second costliest Atlantic hurricane in U.S history after Hurricane Katrina.