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SF State Professor Weighs in on Superstorm Sandy’s Effects

October 30, 2012

Category: A Closer Look

Hurricane Sandy battering the U.S. East coast. Photo courtesy of NASA.

On Monday, states all along the eastern seaboard felt the wrath of Hurricane Sandy as she left eight million people without power, submerged parts of New York City under 13 feet of water, grounded more than 15,000 flights around the world, and left at least 30 victims in the United States dead. The eastern states are still experiencing the devastating effects of this storm today.

The first high tide cycle struck southern New Jersey Monday morning, inundating numerous locations with significant coastal flooding. During the second high tide later that evening, storm surge flooding swamped portions of New York City. Sandy was officially categorized as a post-tropical cyclone when she landed in New Jersey near Atlantic City at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, with top sustained winds of 80 mph.

“This is not just a normal hurricane,” said Jan Null, a lecturer of meteorology at San Francisco State University. “This happened at the tail end of hurricane season, at the time of year when the air has been drawn in from the cold front in Canada. This is a hybrid storm.”

Due to the strong surge of damaging winds, uncontrollable coastal flooding, and heavy snow and blizzard conditions, Sandy is no longer considered a hurricane. She has lost her tropical hurricane characteristics and the National Hurricane Center and The Weather Channel is now classifying the system as “post tropical” and a “superstorm.”
“This is not an unprecedented event, but it has had an unprecedented impact,” said Null. “The Perfect Storm in 1991 was similar to this storm, but it stayed off shore. This storm hit areas from DC to New York and affected the most populated stretch of the U.S.”

Superstorm Sandy is not expected to sweep out to sea quickly, but will slowly wind down over the next few days. Sandy will enter the history books as one of the most monstrous storms to hit the Northeast in modern history.

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