Although Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, killing 157 in the U.S. alone and the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. History, at over 71 billion dollars – early on, it wasn’t treated as the scary destroyer that it turned out to be for several reasons, but one stands out.
After losing the designation of hurricane, for many, Sandy, lost the gravity that went with that classification as a perceived threat and that led many people in the storm’s path to take it less seriously than they should have. The confluence of an ex-hurricane and a Nor’easter, the storm was a monster that made history just a few days after prompting school closings in Florida, slamming the Northeast on the 21st anniversary of the killer hybrid system, dubbed the Perfect Storm.
Sandy was a different kind of storm in several ways. It’s damaging, tropical-storm force wind field was immense; it reached from Maine to South Carolina. And with gusts to 60 miles per hour, Sandy made waves of up to 20 feet in the middle of the Great Lakes, while dumping as much as three feet of snow on the central Appalachian mountains.
In the Northeast, Sandy proved to everybody that tropical systems in the Atlantic are not only dangerous for the Southeast and Gulf Coasts. New Jersey and New York took tremendous poundings from Sandy. From wind that knocked over 100 year old trees, to storm surge that destroyed houses and not only flooded coastal towns but also hammered the biggest city in the nation.
The National Weather Service says that because of Sandy’s destructive nature, they broadened the definitions of hurricane and tropical storm watches & warnings to allow them to be issued or stay in effect after a tropical cyclone becomes post-tropical.
And the National Hurricane Center, may now continue issuing advisories during the post-tropical stage of a storm, when they would have previously turned over communications to local NWS offices.
As for recovery, the work continues to rebuild what was lost during Sandy.
And in the five years since Sandy struck, we’ve added incredible new technology to help us observe, track and get ready for dangerous storms.
As always, a big lesson from this storm is that individual family preparedness can go a long way to lesson impacts from large-scale disasters like Sandy. If we can take care of ourselves for a few days in emergencies, it eases the stresses on society as a whole.
For WeatherNation – John Van Pelt.