Top Meteorologist: Hurricane Sandy now largest ever recorded — Highest destructive potential for storm surge in history, rated 5.7 out of 6.0 — May be lowest pressure measured in Northeastern US

Published: October 28th, 2012 at 11:46 am ET


Title: Massive Hurricane Sandy building a huge and destructive storm surge
Source: Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog
Date: 2:34 PM GMT on October 28, 2012

High resolution MODIS visible satellite image of Hurricane Sandy on October 27, 2012 (h/t Angela Fritz)

Massive and dangerous Hurricane Sandy has grown to record size as it barrels northeastwards along the North Carolina coast at 10 mph. […] Since records of storm size began in 1988, no tropical storm or hurricane has been larger […]

Sandy’s central pressure is expected to drop from its current 951 mb to 945 – 950 mb at landfall Monday night. A pressure this low is extremely rare; according to wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt, the lowest pressure ever measured anywhere in the U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, NC, is 946 mb (27.94″) measured at the Bellport Coast Guard Station on Long Island, NY on September 21, 1938 during the great “Long Island Express” hurricane.

National Hurricane Center, 11a ET Oct. 28

[…] the destructive potential of the storm surge was exceptionally high: 5.7 on a scale of 0 to 6. This is a higher destructive potential than any hurricane observed between 1969 – 2005, including Category 5 storms like Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Camille, and Andrew. The previous highest destructive potential for storm surge was 5.6 on a scale of 0 to 6, set during Hurricane Isabel of 2003. Sandy is now forecast to bring a near-record storm surge of 6 – 11 feet to Northern New Jersey and Long Island Sound, including the New York City Harbor. While Sandy’s storm surge will be nowhere near as destructive as Katrina’s, the storm surge does have the potential to cause many billions of dollars in damage if it hits near high tide at 9 pm EDT on Monday. The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical high tide will be about 5% higher than the average high tide for the month. This will add another 2 – 3″ to water levels. Fortunately, Sandy is now predicted to make a fairly rapid approach to the coast, meaning that the peak storm surge will not affect the coast for multiple high tide cycles. Sandy’s storm surge will be capable of overtopping the flood walls in Manhattan, which are only five feet above mean sea level. […] I give a 50% chance that Sandy’s storm surge will end up flooding a portion of the New York City subway system. […]

Watch the most current satellite loop from NOAA here

Published: October 28th, 2012 at 11:46 am ET


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60 comments to Top Meteorologist: Hurricane Sandy now largest ever recorded — Highest destructive potential for storm surge in history, rated 5.7 out of 6.0 — May be lowest pressure measured in Northeastern US

  • gr81 gr81

    Never heard so much ruckus about a level 1 (one) hurricane.

    Why all the hype and fear mongering from MSM?

    Could it be they are just laying the groundwork to be able to blame "mother nature" for any NPP failures (meltdowns) during this rather broad but lame powered storm??

    • CBuck CBuck

      What I'm trying to figure out is, is how does the media choose what to make a big deal out of?
      Yes this is a huge storm and will most likely cause a lot of damage…then again, Fuku, which I view as a lot more catastrophic is pretty much ignored by them.

      • mick

        The corporately owned media reports on exactly what they're told to report on. Fuku wasn't talked about much because failing nuclear plant stories tend to get people asking questions about our own nuclear plants. Connect the dots and follow the money, when you do it will all make sense.

        • CBuck CBuck

          Yes I know they are told what to report on, it explains a lot of things these days. And it reeks of distraction to me.
          You'd think that someone would forge a new path and tell the truth for once, if they really took their jobs seriously.
          I have always had too much faith in people though, so that is my own problem.

          • mick

            When you realize that all powerful politicians are given their jobs, not voted in, you are on the right track.

            By the time anyone takes office of president, he knows what his orders are, who to appoint, and who his masters are.

            The president is a puppet and nothing more. He serves the money and power interests and should he do otherwise, he will meet kennedy's fate in a hurry.

            Not only him, heads of media like Krim of CNBC who dare step out of line pay a heavy price, like he did. All major power has been consolidated and is in the hands of a few.

            The game is over and we've lost, our only hope now will cost us blood and tears.

            • gr81 gr81

              We can and must, begin at our local levels with a sort of "War On Politicians"(as they are paid by us to lie and steal from us). Instead of politicians we must elect intelligent, ethical, honest people who know and respond to those who elect them, and most importantly understand the U.S. Constitution as well as their OATHS to uphold and protect it as well as protecting We The People.

              Politicians we don't need! We should have learned this already!

    • mick

      It's being called frankenstorm due to the fact that it will meet a few cold fronts head on, creating blizzards, and tornados as well. Add to that its barometric pressure, sheer size, and landfall smack dab in the most populated area of the country and it's possible to see why this is more than just "category 1 storm."

    • NukeisShit

      Are you joking?
      This is the largest hurricane ever measured and it still has to merge with a cold front that will boost its power just prior to landfall.
      The potential havoc wreaked by a storm surge is proportional to its radius…so it's gonna being a true monster barrelling to one of the most populated areas in the States!
      The hurrican level is based only on wind speed measurements, but most of damage comes from rain and storm surge, plus battering waves.
      Add that this storm is a bloody slow movoing one anc you'll have all the ingredients for a bloody mess.
      Just hope that the nuke plants on its path are safe…
      If you stick just to the "level 1" it means you should learn a bit more about Sandy…

    • PurpleRain PurpleRain

      I've noticed over the last couple of years they seem to be taking storms along the east -northeast coast region more seriously then they ever have before. I think that's proof of sea level rise and climate change being much more acknowledged – even if people are not talking about it so much in political circles. Remember the Gore movie – Inconvenient Truth and the footage showing New York City going underwater — They know that the danger is a real-life possibility more and more.

    • NukeisShit

      It seems you were sooo right, Gr81!
      A petty storm. Just a cat.1 and absolutely over-hyped…

      No comment.

  • Geiger Counter Interpretation Simplified
    This pretty much kicks some serious butt, this little chart that I made. Chart in Japanese is at the Bottom

    A super condensed table on how to interpret Geiger Readings

    And seriously, if you take this radiation stuff at all seriously, then get a Geiger. All the rest is guesswork.

    • CBuck CBuck

      Stock, what is your recommendation for a geiger counter that won't break the bank?

    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

      10000 Plus..

      NO ONE out there is protecting you…

      If you don't have a Geiger Counter, you are the mercy of the nukes… and they are pretty ruthless and brutal, as well as seemingly ignorant of the important facts in life, like protecting the lives of people, kids, and communities.

      Odds are you will be sent right into the worst radiation, rather than out of harms way, in case something bad happens.

      A Geiger Counter may very well save your life someday.

  • WindorSolarPlease

    People have already died because of Sandy, I hope no one else will.

    • 16Penny 16Penny

      What's the death toll at FUku? I think Sandy still has a lot of ground to cover (pun intended) before it is even a single percent as destructive as the 3/11 Japan disaster.

      When the water recedes from New England at least people will be able to go outside and withstanding the sewers backing up, be able to clear debris.

      Now, if one of the dozen nuclear plants has an unusual incident and melts down then I will put Sandy up there with FUku on the "why can't we figure out how to build these things better, like on another planet that we don't like" scale.

      • WindorSolarPlease

        Hi 16Penny

        They aren't even talking about the death toll from Fukushima, and it will continue to rise. Personally, I feel like a dead walking, but then I'm old.

        I don't know how this storm will impact the US and beyond. I just know some have died from it already, and in my book that makes it bad already.

        I agree they are not covering Fukushima, and they are covering this storm, both should be talked about in the media.

  • Grampybone Grampybone

    3pm Boston MA, some scattered showers and clouds. Still preparing for rain and tide havoc. I 20 yards from the bay. Wish me luck this one could get a little storm surge.

    • 16Penny 16Penny

      What made you decide to stay behind so close to the coast? Oh well, hope you can get some great footage of this beast of a storm. I've said several prayers for everyone in the path and will keep it up. Grampybone, godbless and hope at least you are not on a ground level. If you are then you may want to start asking Katrina survivors what is the easiest way to get out and on to your roof.

  • dosdos dosdos

    The only reason it has such potential for destruction is if it rolled in with a direct storm surge at NYC. Its physical size means very little. It pales in true power compared to historic Atlantic/Gulf storms. And compared to record Pacific typhoons, it's nothing really worth noting.

    Gilbert, a Cat 5 which stuck the Yucatan, measured 921 mb, which is the lowest pressure ever recorded on Earth.

    The most deadly hurricane was the 1900 storm that struck and submerged Galveston, Tx, killing over 6,000.

    The most expensive was Katrina, costing $80 billion.

    And if you want to look at winter storms, there are a lot of nor'easters that were worse than Sandy. I don't want to downplay the need to prepare for the approach of a hurricane, but Sandy is not as bad as many news outlets are saying.

    • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication

      I have a lot of experience with hurricanes. Storm surges kill. This one comes with the full moon (higher tide than usual) and high tide mixed with the surge plus the moon. I do recall the storm of the century. I was on the lower west coast of Florida and stayed behind to finish some work until 5:00 o'clock. I drove out our unpaved rock road from work with 6 inches of salt water lapping at my new truck. That same night, my brother was asking a neighbor if he intended to leave when they looked down the road several miles from the coast in Crystal River and saw the water advancing. He had to leave in his motor home at once. the water went several feet in his house.

      Also, that same night further north on the coast of Florida, many people who didn't leave in time spent the night hanging to the trees which were whipped by wind and a similar storm surge. If all conditions are simultaneous surge, tide and moon even a category 1 can be impressive.

      I remember Andrew as well since I was still on Marco Island at the time. You wouldn't believe the steady bumper to bumper traffic on I-75. If one's car died, one caught a ride with someone else and left it. I personally loaded the Reserve's financial records and drove to Orlando. Boats were taken to the lagoon and carefully anchored. All computers had to be bagged with heavy duty garbage bags and of necessity left the area as well.

      Natives of Florida always take hurricanes seriously. It's the northerners who…

  • jec jec

    Sandy is projected to have a 947 mb if not the lowest on record since 138. Since that relates directly to wind speed…its not a nice storm. NYC will be getting over 11 ft storm surge at Battery Park..over a foot higher than Hurricane Donna..a record amount. So..wait until its over before saying how bad or how to compare with other storms….

    We are 9 miles from a nuke power plant on a major river and in the ACTION or red zone for winds/flood/rains. Our worry is flooding..high water. Understand the government is supposed to have agents at each plant with satellite phones..I just wonder what can be done..other than CALLING a total flood/storm emergency if the site is not already set up to weather the same. In flooding..roads are not passible..trees are down from winds..lines are down…

    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

      What is a guy with a cellphone going to do, if a Mama Nature decides it is time to take down a nuke puke plant?

      Holler; HELP! and run for his life?

    • dosdos dosdos

      Sandy is expected to max out at 80 MPH, a low Cat1. A hurricane does not become seriously destructive on a mass scale until it reaches Cat 3, around 120 MPH. Any state with Atlantic/Gulf shoreline has laws in place that any new building within at least ten miles of the ocean must be able to withstand 120 MPH winds.

      Pressure gradient controls wind speed, not the pressure value itself. If a storm is very wide, it can get to very low pressure without having strong winds, because the gradient is shallow. The really strong storms change pressure in a short distance. That is what powers the cyclonic engine, how quickly the pressure drops over distance.

      As I said, the biggest problem is if the hurricane sends the storm surge up the Hudson. From what I see of the steering currents, the surge will strike south of NYC. Southern New Jersey is about as far north as the surge will strike at dangerous levels. As far as cold front meeting hurricane, there have been many nor'easters that were far more powerful and more destructive from snow and ice.

      I have lived with the threat of hurricanes all my life. I have been in the eye of five hurricanes. I'm not abdicating taking any hurricane lightly, but at the same time, I'm not in favor of overreacting to them either. Calling a minimal Cat 1 a monster storm or one of the worst ever is overreacting.

      • amberlight amberlight

        Dosdos, the media shills have to make a big stink about this storm so that their global masters can point to climate change as the driver. They aren't very concerned about deteriorating nuclear plants, however.

        Like you, I don't make light of the damage the combined elements of wind and tidal surges can wreak, but this is simply a variation on a theme played by mother nature throughout time!

    • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication

      and that's the other thing. Notice how carefully the media did not mention nuclear power plants and all the nuclear waste stored on site. Power out for three or four days? Think of it.

  • or-well

    Hurricane Sandy –
    Ham-fisted dandy or grandstanding pansy?
    Packing a whammy or namby-pamby?
    Tide-slinging humdinger or ho-hum rain-flinger?
    Head-for-the-hills or stand and say "Bring 'er!"
    Round up the usual suspected results
    and ask who or whatever you ask for help
    that no NPPs in the "nuclear belt"
    get Fukurated and start to melt.

    • 16Penny 16Penny

      B E A utiful!

    • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

      @or-well; LOLOL!!~you just made my day with that little jingle that inspires me to have morphed it into my own version of it that's sure to annoy my wife-"Sandy"!!!LMAO!!(I may end up getting a "ham-fisted" smack upside my melon before my own "Howling(mad)Hurricane Sandy" lets me get through my rendition of it a 2nd time?!!LOL Nah,it's all good though!-we laugh at one another & our antics since it sure beats the other emotions that beat the hell outta us during her battle against cancer that's winding down finally and deemed "successful" ๐Ÿ™‚ with so far(so good!!)I hope all the people in the path of this storm and ANY HAZMAT issues that may also happen as a result of this record-breaking storm and "abnormalities" and/or "weaknesses" in "at-risk" facilities & locations in harm's way>Thanks for the laugh & for the great input & participation levels I've come to expect from the ENE News discussion groups & frequent contributors who call it how we see it and still manage to provide a bit of light-hearted humor here despite the prevalence of "dark" moods & bad news we choose to acknowledge and adapt ourselves to. I hope we're all laughing our asses off having a good old time when the sky finally does fall!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • or-well

        Hi Johnny Blade!
        So good to hear the positive treatment news!
        THAT makes my day better…
        (by the way, love the avatar, I've always maintained little Pluto-kun got a bum rap and his revolt at the end was covered up, but that's another and very long story that vastly exceeds the character limit here.)
        Wherever you are, all the best to you and yours.

        • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

          @or-well & CBuck; Thanks for the kind words and response to my post! or-well-you are the very first person who not only commented on my avatar,but also knew the story behind it and then some! ๐Ÿ™‚ I've been hard-pressed to find anything left that TEPCO didn't have removed from the internet related to Pluto-kun and the pro-nuke culture "programming" anime series that must really irk them when they see my avatar,the clip of Pluto-kun offering the Japanese schoolkid a glass of plutonium-laced beverage with the caption "go ahead & drink it,it won't hurt you,after all Plutonium passes harmlessly through the body when ingested anyway"!! I'd really like to learn the rest of the story you mentioned that I didn't get to see thanks to the "infowars" that led to it being removed or "filtered" into obscurity. It's worth mentioning since it's a prime example of WHY the people of Japan STILL don't seem to accept the true scope of the Fukushima event and how bad it really is to be drinking,eating,breathing,absorbing & accumulating the radionuclides that entire generations were "programmed" to believe are harmless and even "naturally" present in the environment!They started pro-nuclear "indoctrination" at an early age and achieved the level of public apathy seen presently via "cute" little examples such as this & other sneaky tactics that work better at their intended purpose than their "antique" NPP's or their operator's do!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • CBuck CBuck

        Wow, Johnny…nice post. That last line really got to me.

    • PurpleRain PurpleRain

      Or-well. I hope you don't mind, but I'm sharing your post on Facebook!~ It's just too good !

  • Radio VicFromOregon

    I think distraction is when the media reports about Hollywood stars. When they report about a fast approaching potentially monstrous natural event that will effect the lives of millions, it's hard for me to see this as distracting the public so that they can under report about another story. They don't need to distract us about Fukushima, they can simply not report anything about it. Yet, the whole existence of enenews is built upon media stories reporting about Fukushima, so obviously someone in the media is reporting. I think they leave out a lot, and some of that is ignorance, some of it greed, and lots of it because the basic premise of journalism – if you don't think that you can prove it, then you don't print it. The media, contrary to popular assumptions, is not a watchdog, not investigative. They report what is given to them.That is the government and public's role, not the medias. That is both a strength and a weakness in journalism. As findings at Fukushima become more provable, we see more reporting of the actual facts. People believe that it is TEPCO slipping out a little bit more information, and in some instances that may be true, but, the timing and depth of articles are effected by verifiable data, public interest, other more present time events, the political or social bent of the media, etc. That Fuskuhima will spew radiation for decades to come is a story that has already been told to some degree. Experts don't agree on the effects. The media will…

  • Jebus Jebus

    Oh boy, lets hope they can keep the power on.
    At least for their nuclear plants…

    Preparing Pepco for a storm

    โ€œDear Pepco: I wanted to draw your attention to a storm developing in the Atlantic Ocean that threatens our region early next week. Given that your excuse for our lights going out for days nearly every time it rains is that you canโ€™t predict severe weather events, [I] just wanted to make sure you got a heads up on this storm."

    โ€œYour service record in our neighborhood is atrocious. Please do a better job in the future.โ€

    Mike Meenan, Chevy Chase

    • CBuck CBuck

      Jebus, when I lived in PA, I worked for First Energy, (MetEd), in Reading. There was always madatory OT because even the smallest wind storm would bring lines down. I don't know if it was because of all the tree branches bringing the lines down or if the lines are/were just that old and easily broken. Most likely a combination of both.
      I really hate to think what this storm could do, and it is so large in size, it could take a lot of power out to millions of people.
      If the nuke plants are already having probs, this storm isn't going to help obviously…I can't stand to think of what could happen potentially.

      • Jebus Jebus

        I feel sorry for all who are in the path of this with their lives and livelyhoods dependant on our "glorious technological achievements". We have become slaves to our own success.
        I'm sure the utility companies are doing everything that their bottom lines will allow them to keep everyone powered up.
        I'm feeling kinda lucky as I check in here periodicaly while enjoying just a rainy day in my shop restoring an early bronco. Super storms, sinkholes, earthquakes, threats of nuke poisoning and signs of war, are making this 2012 fall season seem a little surreal when you apply the theme of the times. I hope you and everyone are enjoying your lives to the best of your abilities. Peace to everyone and stay safe.

      • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication

        I worry about the Outer Banks of NC as well. Hatteras and Ocracoke are 22 miles out to sea on a sandbar. The road often has "overwashes" which means one can't leave on the ferry. Although they have not had high wind, the surge could wash away a part of Ocracoke. Hatteras has had as much as 8 feet of water in the street…. It's the surge.

    • PurpleRain PurpleRain

      Great letter to the editor…. couldn't help reading the other comment and feel badly for the guy needing surgery and not getting any refunds back from Travelocity…


    <B>Sandy is NOT the largest hurricane ever recorded. There have been others in the past that greatly exceeded Sandy.
    The fact of the matter is that Sandy is the largest recorded so far using the new scale implemented in 1988. That is all!!
    Alleging it is the largest ever is simply hysterical ravings.

  • amberlight amberlight

    Largest ever recorded? Hahahahahaha. These "experts" crack me up. Their "top meteorologist" obviously flunked the history course in meteorology school. For example, ever hear of the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935? In addition to many buildings and trees, that storm wiped out Henry Flagler's railroad in the Florida Keys. They found bloated bodies stuck in the branches of the trees.

    I grew up on the east coast and my mother grew up on a Caribbean island, so we know a thing or two about hurricanes. I wasn't there when Katrina hit, but for all the hysteria over that storm the damage it is best known for—destroying the 9th Ward of New Orleans—occurred when the levies broke AFTER the worst of Katrina had passed over.

    I was on the gulf coast when Andrew hit. The "authorities" KNEW it was headed for Homestead and areas south of Miami, but they were putting up warnings for the Palm Beach area, where the wealth is. Here's a tidbit about that storm that many don't know about: The official death toll for Andrew is about 40, but the true toll will never be known, because there was a huge encampment of migrant workers that was utterly wiped out but unacknowledged. [Whistling, looking up at the sky] Migrant workers? We don't know anything about any migrant workers dying…

    And if that's not enough to make one suspicious, they named hurricane "Ike" BEFORE it became a full-blown Integrated Kinetic Energy storm. Just coincidence…

  • kalidances

    Amberlight if you cannot afford to take the trip you should notify the admin. We can probably get together enough money to put you on a bus. You can be under the eye in a few hours. Would you like to go there to the brunt of the storm and report back? We'd really appreciate having a first-hand account so you can prove the MSM wrong.

    • amberlight amberlight

      Umm, I'm not trying to make light of the problems this storm is creating, just how the MSM chooses to portray the situation. Hysteria never solves problems.

      Besides, I don't need to go there. I have a brother living in our family summer home near Lake Hopatcong right in the path of the storm. I'll report back here after I talk to him if I can get through to him tomorrow.

      Sarcasm not appreciated when you don't know the circumstances. Sheesh…

    • amberlight amberlight

      Oh, and I'm sorry that all the relevant information (I think it is, anyway) seemed to go over your head and all you could read in my comment was indifference to the plight of residents in the northeast

    • moonshellblue moonshellblue

      The forecast is for the eye to pass over our area so I"l keep you inform, if I still have power and you would think when your lines are underground you wouldn't have a problem but that's a misnomer

      • rotnpumpkin rotnpumpkin

        you're in harrisburg if i remember correctly? just outside of philly here – be safe.

  • WindorSolarPlease

    This might not be the strongest hurricane or it might, I don't know?
    The question is, can those States with it's large buildings and nuclear plants handle any hurricane? Time will tell.

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    Aging Reactors, Lies, Deceptions, Profits And Earthquakes; via A Green Road

    The Diablo You Don't Know; via A Green Road

  • arclight arclight

    Nuclear industry prepared for hurricane, is confident of safety

    ny tmes article.. but dont worry entwhistle aint there yet!!

  • jec jec

    Sure hope they remeber what the "false experts" found out in Italy. Six years in jail for manslaughter charge..Any "experts" called out in the article…..making statements…hmmmmm??

    • arclight arclight

      we could do with less of these experts but i noticed certain media stop putting their names to articles.. that speaks in volumes too! ๐Ÿ™‚