Last week, Hurricane Sandy blasted through Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas, killing 22 people in Cuba and causing heavy rain and flooding.
In the past few days, there has been a lot of concern about a monster storm visiting the US East Coast. Why is there so much concern about Sandy?
Isn’t Sandy a Small Hurricane?
Sandy is only a Category One hurricane, so why is there so much concern about the storm? Although Sandy was a Category Two hurricane for a little while, by the end of the week Sandy was a Category One hurricane, which is the lowest hurricane power on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
On Saturday, October 27th, Sandy even moved downward to Tropical Storm status briefly.
Concern About The Merging of Two Storms
While any hurricane can create conditions that lead to property damage through flooding, high winds, and dangerous ocean conditions, the current concern is less about the strength of Hurricane Sandy and more focused around its intersection with a cold front that is sitting near the US East Coast.
Sandy is starting to become extra-tropical, and storms at the end of their lives tend to expand as they diminish. Hurricane Sandy is merging with this cold front, and the merged storm is very wide, covering thousands of miles. The area that consists of tropical storm-force winds is hundreds of miles wide. It is the extent of the storm that is of concern, given that it is moving into a highly populated area.
When and Where Will Sandy Hit?
Currently, the projected center of the merged storm is in Washington, DC. Washington is also projected to experience the worst effects first. Beginning late Sunday, October 28th, the storm (called Bride of Frankenstorm by NASA) will bring heavy rain and winds up to 73 mph to the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States.
On Monday, Hurricane Sandy is forecast to move parallel to the eastern coast of the US, and it will likely move toward the coast of the mid-Atlantic states by Monday night. Easterly winds will also move ocean waters toward the shore, and the storm coincides with a period of particularly high tides. Depending on whether the storm hits while the tide is high, storm surges could move into areas above the high tide line.
Find recommendations for hurricane preparedness at the National Hurricane Center.
NASA. Hurricane Sandy. (2012). Accessed on October 28, 2012.
National Hurricane Center. Track Hurricane Sandy. (2012). Accessed on October 28, 2012.