Skip to main content

This is my take on Hurricane Sandy. I know it's the 12,000th diary on the storm today. If you've got a problem with it, your browser has a back button, haters to the left.

This storm will focus on the meteorological side of Sandy. For safety and preparation tips (as well as a more in-depth look at certain aspects of the storm), see terrypinder's awesome mothership diary.

There really isn't a delicate way to put it anymore: Hurricane Sandy is the equivalent of Mother Nature typing in ALL-CAPS. There will be damage, there will be injuries, and there likely will be more fatalities (in addition to the dozens already killed in the Caribbean).

The surge with Hurricane Sandy is expected to be upwards of 11 feet ABOVE GROUND LEVEL above mean low sea level (thanks to terrypinder for the correction) in places along the coast. The countless evacuation orders are there for a reason. If you receive an evacuation order and ignore it, write your Social Security Number on yourself in permanent marker so rescue crews can identify your body if they find it.

There are only three times in my life I remember well-respected, seasoned meteorologists issuing such dire warnings about an impending storm:

1) The 1999 Oklahoma City, OK tornado, where Gary England said "you will die if you are not underground during this tornado."

2) "The Bulletin," issued by NWS New Orleans during Katrina.

3) This morning's personal plea by NWS Mount Holly meteorologist Gary Szatkowski:



The storm surge will range from 1 to 12 feet depending on where you live. I've illustrated by hand a map of the NHC's surge forecast as of 200PM EDT today. This is nothing to mess around with. This will cause unbelievable damage and, for those who either couldn't or wouldn't evacuate, fatalities.

The extremely large wind field, long duration of the high winds, and the surge occurring during the full moon's high tide will cause this to be unlike the region has experienced in recent memory. The hype around this storm is warranted, for once.


The wind from Sandy will be very strong -- tropical-storm- to hurricane-force winds will occur over hundreds of miles for several days before, during, and after landfall. This kind of wind will stress to the point of failure trees and structures that are typically fine during shorter storms. There will be immeasurable amounts of trees down, and unfortunately many of them will fall on power lines, structures, and vehicles.

Be prepared for millions of power outages -- one engineer speculates that there might be 10 million power outages because of this storm -- that will last for days, and maybe weeks.

Remember the derecho that hit in June? Take the wind damage from that and extend it. That's what we're dealing with here.

For an idea of how big a 550 mile wide wind field is, everything in the orange shading can (and likely will) experience winds between 45-75 MPH, with higher gusts:


Rainfall from Sandy will exceed a foot in some places, and will exacerbate flooding caused by wind and surge. NWS Mount Holly, in the above-linked PDF, says that some areas in the Mid-Atlantic will experience record flooding from this system.

Here's the HPC's rainfall forecast for the next 5 days:


In addition to everything else, the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania to North Carolina can expect a record-breaking blizzard from this storm. Cold Arctic air is meeting moisture from the system right over the mountains, which will lead to snowfall totals in excess of 2 feet in some spots. The sweet spot will be in eastern West Virginia. This is the 12z NAM run's forecast snow depth by Wednesday night, shown in inches:


Given that Sandy will not be a tropical system at landfall, the tornado threat is very low.


No, this storm is not being hyped. Trust me. This really is "The Perfect Storm" in that everything came together just perfectly to screw millions of people in the most heavily populated stretch of land in the United States. This is what we learn in meteorology classes as the worst possible thing that could happen in this area -- instead of a compact tropical cyclone that only impacts a small portion of the area, a large extra-tropical hybrid storm rakes half a thousand miles with hurricane-force winds and a storm surge taller than two houses stacked on top of each other.

It's that bad. You need to take this seriously.


Don't worry about the fact that it won't be called "Hurricane Sandy" in a day or so. It's transitioning from tropical to extratropical, meaning that instead of being warm throughout the storm, it'll have temperature advection (cold and warm fronts, essentially) and undergo a structural change.

It's all technical mumbo jumbo. Its effects will be just as bad as a hurricane. A flower by any other name would smell as sweet. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security by the meteorological jargon.


As much as I try to avoid politics in weather diaries, the presidential election in about a week is an 800 pound gorilla in the room when talking about this storm. I honestly have no idea how it will impact the results of the election. Power outages, damage to polling places, flooded roads, and evacuated persons will obviously affect turnout and perhaps the results.

The results will be impacted by what areas are impacted. If heavily Democratic areas are flooded out, that will obviously help any Republicans. The same goes for lower turnout in heavily Republican areas. When the storms clears out, politicos will have a better idea of how Sandy will have impacted the election.

You can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter if you'd like.

2:27 PM PT: Follow the Capital Weather Gang on Facebook and on the Washington Post's site if you live in the DC area. I swore by them when I lived in NoVA. From their Facebook page just now:

National Weather Service says wind gusts up to 70 mph poss in DC area, up from 60-65 in earlier update

2:52 PM PT: OPM: Federal Government is CLOSED on Monday.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

skybluewater, deminva, Pat K California, Lisa, JekyllnHyde, Sylv, Donna Z, vicki, Alma, Kascade Kat, filkertom, Odysseus, hester, copymark, Sparhawk, Timaeus, askew, glitterscale, Geenius at Wrok, Gooserock, NYmom, PeterHug, wytcld, greenbird, Avila, karlpk, tommurphy, Shockwave, Psyche, Wintermute, billlaurelMD, tacet, cotterperson, oysterface, mslat27, akeitz, eeff, Mnemosyne, Sabarte, elfling, TarheelDem, frisco, sobermom, beholderseye, SallyCat, MarkInSanFran, Caneel, Creosote, Doctor Who, Gutterboy, auapplemac, RubDMC, eyeswideopen, cfm, concernedamerican, Silverleaf, wonkydonkey, nyceve, teresahill, ask, Caban, farmerhunt, roses, khloemi, Frederick Clarkson, Ignacio Magaloni, Jeau, jennifree2bme, bwren, jalbert, mollyd, Terre, thea lake, sidnora, delphil, wader, revsue, SneakySnu, tidalwave1, edrie, Nag, Moody Loner, annan, TexDem, pat bunny, zootfloggin, brainwave, solliges, johanus, delphine, hoolia, exiledfromTN, DSC on the Plateau, lizah, defluxion10, RebeccaG, riverlover, BlogDog, lulu57, barbwires, outragedinSF, blonde moment, Diana in NoVa, zett, zerelda, ybruti, side pocket, lonespark, KayCeSF, jcrit, poemworld, Thestral, realalaskan, Jen Hayden, Sassy, oortdust, machiado, sb, vcmvo2, Skennet Boch, davidincleveland, mrmango, ExStr8, jabney, sandblaster, radarlady, escapee, Tinfoil Hat, DianeNYS, greycat, Ckntfld, UFOH1, el dorado gal, subtropolis, SherwoodB, liberalcheesehead, offred, Alice Venturi, triciawyse, ZappoDave, MT Spaces, juliesie, stagemom, Dobber, owlbear1, Beetwasher, Annalize5, farmerchuck, cfk, SaraBeth, Pam from Calif, nailmaker, where4art, aaraujo, ladybug53, sofia, Ice Blue, Phil S 33, blue jersey mom, markdd, Ozymandius, jane123, jeff in nyc, PinHole, Savvy813, Blu Gal in DE, Shotput8, Anna M, Floja Roja, coolbreeze, LivesInAShoe, Lisa Lockwood, sillia, jj24, peacestpete, JanL, Ekaterin, JanF, littlewren, kathny, noweasels, xaxnar, Jim R, maryru, begone, SSMir, Born in NOLA, kishik, martini, BachFan, Debbie in ME, rcbowman, vigilant meerkat, 417els, dharmafarmer, Russgirl, tonyahky, Gorette, cookseytalbott, martyc35, technomage, Audri, KenBee, deha, ceriboo, Im with Rosey, fou, raincrow, SherriG, StrayCat, 4Freedom, NCJan, Crashing Vor, SadieSue, paul2port, tapestry, mithra, plf515, CTLiberal, boatsie, sceptical observer, middleagedhousewife, BlueMississippi, foxsmartchicago, IL clb, CA Nana, Persiflage, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, suspiciousmind, Stripe, blueoregon, Bernie68, Hedwig, ms badger, bmcphail, Pandoras Box, cpresley, DBunn, Sapere aude, pgm 01, john07801, fabucat, zipn, asilomar, donnamarie, Cronesense, Cat Whisperer, bigjacbigjacbigjac, moodyinsavannah, Debs2, ColoTim, edsbrooklyn, LillithMc, Mary Mike, jeanette0605, Via Chicago, Jimdotz, terabytes, Dave in Northridge, certainot, deepeco, sfbob, newpioneer, bnasley, Kentucky Kid, HCKAD, jayden, rivamer, klnb1019, gfre, mdcalifornia, SeaTurtle, jhop7, gchaucer2, fbiots, Wreck Smurfy, christianlsv, uciguy30, GeorgeXVIII, leonard145b, madgranny, M Sullivan, trueblueliberal, Assaf, South Park Democrat, Empower Ink, cville townie, VA Breeze, jwinIL14, MKinTN, TruthFreedomKindness, ChocolateChris, angry hopeful liberal, chakadog, Cordwainer, OleHippieChick, mamamedusa, Sixty Something, Youffraita, Foundmyvoice, Involuntary Exile, bythesea, OutCarolineStreet, Akonitum, VL Baker, lavorare, LucyMO, here4tehbeer, Lujane, tofumagoo, royce, mayim, Cassandra Waites, Jake Williams, carver, glendaw271, petulans, KimD, Parthenia, doppler effect, Troubadour, emidesu, Quilldriver, slathe, palantir, dmhlt 66, shortgirl, oldliberal, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, Louisiana 1976, Ran3dy, rubyclaire, MufsMom, litoralis, nchristine, LinSea, JG in MD, carolyn urban, dharmasyd, welso, Michael James, Carol in San Antonio, CanyonWren, Nebraskablue, tari, Gorilla in the room, janmtairy, FrugalGranny, WakeUpNeo, War on Error, SeaChange, DefendOurConstitution, elziax, asym, COwoman, Denise Oliver Velez, kevinpdx, digitalmuse, avadoria, stevenwag, sfarkash, nancat357, astral66, Livvy5, Leftcandid, collardgreens, susan in sc, tash123, BlueOak, Sarbec, Railfan, Just Bob, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, smileycreek, coppercelt, mamamorgaine, Renie57, confitesprit, flitedocnm, roadbear, Vacationland, politik, blueyescryinintherain, jethrock, SeattleTammy, Prairie Gal, michelewln, on board 47, freeport beach PA, mjbleo, ATFILLINOIS, RJP9999, Eddie L, JoanMar, batchick, CayceP, loveistheanswer, dlemex, cai, addisnana, Texnance, orlbucfan, Otteray Scribe, eclecta, fiercefilms, soaglow, whatever66, not4morewars, Actbriniel, indubitably, Pakalolo, Onomastic, Jane Lew, annieli, MidwestTreeHugger, allenjo, Hill Jill, vintage dem, Lost Left Coaster, bgblcklab1, slowbutsure, afisher, kirbybruno, Wolf Of Aquarius, hooktool, cv lurking gf, freesia, donaurora, Intheknow, asterkitty, KelleyRN2, it really is that important, page394, Word Alchemy, Ebby, molunkusmol, sethtriggs, cyberpuggy, Icarus Diving, thomask, Wheever, tardis10, shaso, Grandma Susie, marshstars, Empty Vessel, corvaire, Liberal Mole, Imhotepsings, randomfacts, Marihilda, Desert Scientist, Mets102, Vatexia, Friendlystranger, SteelerGrrl, Book of Hearts, RLMiller, Mentatmark, Kurt from CMH, Rashaverak, MichaelNY, I C Mainer, deltadoc, BlueDragon, AnnetteK, Sister Inspired Revolver of Freedom, Only Needs a Beat, Pinto Pony, chmood, ridemybike, KiB, OldDragon, anodnhajo, DeadHead, cwsmoke, angry marmot, Invictus88, Siri, molecularlevel, IndieGuy, Hemp Guy, nellgwen, Susan G in MN, tb92, swampyankee, FloridaSNMOM, Trotskyrepublican, congenitalefty, CA ridebalanced, Horace Boothroyd III, This old man, shanesnana, mapamp, peachcreek, belinda ridgewood, readerwriter, Syoho, johnthorpe, MartyM, pittie70, rebereads, New Minas, Brown Thrasher, Margd, wxorknot, redstella, james321, jennyp, Vote4Obamain2012, avsp, arizonablue, Glen The Plumber, Spirit of Life, dotdash2u, mythatsme, GeoffT, Lizabet, BobTheHappyDinosaur, allensl, Lily O Lady, DamselleFly, Dallas L, onceasgt, alpaca farmer, kickthecan, Sean X, dear occupant, broths, weck, entrelac, leeleedee, Aunt Pat, parsonsbeach, evander, howabout, northerntier, QDMacaw, Orcas George, Smoh, Avilyn, Hey338Too, tampaedski, SC Lib, Jim Domenico, Knockbally, NebraskaNative, sparkysgal, OregonWetDog, northcountry21st

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site