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Monday, October 29, 2012

HURRICANE SANDY, IS, INDEED, A MONSTER


On October 25 I cautioned that Hurricane Sandy would be an unusual mixture of snow and wind over the Northeast portion of the country.  Mathematical models already had her making landfall, and the following day, the consensus was projected to be over New Jersey.  I further speculated that if you drew a line between D.C. and New York City, the eye would pass just about in the middle.  As this distance is just a tad over 200 miles, both would face the full effects because a large cyclone as Sandy can have hurricane force winds out to 175 miles.

Well, give those modelers a lot of credit, for their predictive track has been eerily accurate.  One unexpected development, though, is that while most meteorologists thought Sandy would slightly weaken from 75 MPH before striking the coastline as cooler waters are encountered, they are now calling this an extra-tropical storm, where the power is driven by temperature contrasts in the atmosphere, for the sustained wind speed is now up to 90 MPH.  The middle of the eye could well cross right over Atlantic City, which is 96 miles from New York City.

In comparison, Hurricane Irene (left) in August of last year crossed North Carolina as a Category 1, turned back into the Atlantic, then, the next day, as a tropical storm, crossed back into New Jersey, then out, and, finally, over Brooklyn, New York.  At close to $16 billion, this was the fifth most expensive hurricane.

Hurricane Grace and The Perfect Storm also on Halloween in 1991 never made landfall in the USA.  The total damage was $200 million.

Sandy is expected to cause more grief and damage than Irene.  Major east coast cities have largely shut down.  This is a day off in D.C., New York City and Boston.  Tomorrow could well continue this "holiday."  You don't want to fly through these areas for the next few days as airports are shut down, and so are all subways.  This not well-mentioned, but 16 nuclear power plants are in the path of Sandy.  While the cause was an earthquake and tsunami, remember Fukushima?  Whew, but the oldest nuclear facility in the country at Oyster Creek, New Jersey closed down for maintenance last week.

New York City could well face a 12 feet tidal surge at high tide tonight.  The greatest danger will be in the period from 10PM to midnight when the tide peaks.  Remember that the noon-3PM quadrant of any counter clockwise turning hurricane moving west is the region that is most affected.  This would be Long Island and Manhattan.  According to one source:

But now New York City is really flooding and, unless a miracle happens in the next few hours, NOAA says this will be "widespread damaging storm, possibly of historic proportions." Perhaps the biggest ever in the region. This could be the storm that kills the New York subway system.

Another factor about NYC is that the wind speed is 30% higher from floors 80-100.  The force on the windows is a squared effect, so therefore, the effect will be 170% that at street level.  I live at the 30 story level, and this force is just under 1.5 compared to the ground.  In my lifetime, though, no hurricane has reached Honolulu.  That photo to the left is a dangling crane (at 1000 feet) of the future tallest residential building in the NYC.

Hurricane Sandy has already killed 65 in the Caribbean and  60 million more people will feel the consequences.  (Edge of Sandy a few days ago.). Rainfall might reach a foot and snowfall maybe a yard (most probably in West Virginia).  The anticipation is that electricity could be out for some as long as ten days.  States from Virginia to Illinois to Maine and others between will suffer.

Of all the things, Sandy could become that crucial factor towards the re-election of Barack Obama, for even 1% will make a difference in those determining states, and this national disaster provides a leadership podium for the President, while Romney can only wait.  I have already received a personal e-mail about this crisis from him, as no doubt did a hundred million or so others.

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