Above is a visible satellite image that shows the enormous size of Superstorm Sandy shortly after landfall in late October of 2012. At this time, two years ago, a blizzard was occurring in the Appalachian Mountains and hurricane conditions were occurring over a large portion of the coastline from the mid-Atlantic states to the New England coastline.
Hurricane Sandy (unofficially known as “Superstorm Sandy”) was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history. Classified as the eighteenth named storm, tenth hurricane and second major hurricane of the year, Sandy was a Category 3 storm at its peak intensity when it made landfall in Cuba. While it was a Category 2 storm off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles. Estimates as of March 2014 assess damage to have been over $68 billion, a total surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina. At least 286 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries.
Sandy developed from a tropical wave in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22, quickly strengthened, and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Sandy six hours later. Sandy moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and gradually intensified. On October 24, Sandy became a hurricane, made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica, re-emerged a few hours later into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. On October 25, Sandy hit Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane, then weakened to a Category 1 hurricane. Early on October 26, Sandy moved through the Bahamas. On October 27, Sandy briefly weakened to a tropical storm and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane. Early on October 29, Sandy curved north-northwest and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.
In Jamaica, winds left 70% of residents without electricity, blew roofs off buildings, killed one, and caused about $100 million in damage. Sandy’s outer bands brought flooding to Haiti, killing at least 54, causing food shortages, and leaving about 200,000 homeless; the hurricane also caused two deaths in the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, one man was swept away by a swollen river. In Cuba, there was extensive coastal flooding and wind damage inland, destroying some 15,000 homes, killing 11, and causing $2 billion in damage. Sandy caused two deaths and damage estimated at $700 million in The Bahamas. In Canada, two were killed in Ontario and an estimated $100 million in damage was caused throughout Ontario and Quebec.
In the United States, Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. Its storm surge hit New York City on October 29, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. Damage in the United States amounted to $65 billion.
Hurricane Sandy began as a low pressure system which developed sufficient organized convection to be classified as Tropical Depression Eighteen on October 22 south of Kingston, Jamaica. It moved slowly at first due to a ridge to the north. Low wind shear and warm waters allowed for strengthening, and the system was named Tropical Storm Sandy late on October 22. Early on October 24, an eye began developing, and it was moving steadily northward due to an approaching trough. Later that day, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded Sandy to hurricane status about 65 mi south of Kingston, Jamaica. At about 1900 that day, Sandy made landfall near Kingston with winds of about 85 mph (140 km/h). Just offshore Cuba, Sandy rapidly intensified to winds of 115 mph, and at that intensity it made landfall just west of Santiago de Cuba at 0525 on October 25.
After Sandy exited Cuba, the structure became disorganized, and it turned to the north-northwest over the Bahamas. By October 27, Sandy was no longer fully tropical, and despite strong shear, it maintained convection due to influence from an approaching trough; the same trough turned the hurricane to the northeast. After briefly weakening to a tropical storm, Sandy re-intensified into a hurricane, and on October 28 an eye began redeveloping. The storm moved around an upper-level low over the eastern United States and also to the southwest of a ridge over Atlantic Canada, turning it to the northwest. Sandy briefly re-intensified to Category 2 intensity on the morning of October 29, around which time it had a wind diameter of over 1,150 miles. The convection diminished while the hurricane accelerated toward the New Jersey coast, and the hurricane was no longer tropical by 2100 on October 29. About 2 1/2 hours later, Sandy made landfall near Brigantine, New Jersey, with winds of 80 mph. During the next two days, Sandy’s remnants drifted northward and then northeastward over Ontario, before merging with another low pressure area over Eastern Canada.
The image above is from the peak of Mt. Leconte near Gatlinburg, TN, after they picked up nearly 40 inches of snow and dealt with blizzard conditions for hours. Here’s a blog post from the worst of the storm from the people who stay in the mountain cabins on the peak of Leconte. This shows how the conditions were for the people on Mt. Leconte:
“Well, we are hanging in there. It was a long night last night, for us and the hikers who came up. We had ten more guests show up between 7 pm and 11 pm. There were a few experienced hikers who love hiking in winter conditions. They said it was extremely difficult for them. It took some of them 10 hours to hike up Rainbow Falls trail. There are a lot of trees down on the trails. The hikers were telling stories of crawling under some of these blow downs. We currently have 34″ of snow. The drifts are up to the roof on the dining hall. Chris and I snowshoed out Alum a little ways to check it out, it was hard with snow shoes. John and Bonnie hiked through waist deep snow to check out Cliff Tops. The temperatures are in the teens. The high yesterday was 20 with a low of 16. We are expecting another 3 inches on top of this snow. Once again, I can not stress enough, please do not attempt to hike up in these conditions.”
It’s amazing how large of an area Sandy impacted with a blizzard in the Appalachian mountains and hurricane conditions along the coastal sections of the US. Hopefully these areas can continue to recover without any additional storm related issues.
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