NWS Changes Hurricane Warning Policy

The National Hurricane Center, in the aftermath of Super-storm Sandy, drew heavy criticism for not issuing a warning in the northeastern United States ahead of the storm.  In response, the NHC announced yesterday that it is changing its policy for how post tropical storm warnings are delivered to the public.

According to the National Weather Service, Sandy was a category-1 hurricane that merged with a cold front and transitioned to a post tropical storm just prior to coming ashore.  Simply put, this means the storm’s energy source changed.  Nonetheless, it still delivered hurricane-strength winds and a devastating storm surge.  While the NWS explanation was technically correct, the change in nomenclature proved to be a source of confusion and led many people to under estimate the threat posed by the historic storm.

Until now, the NHC was only allowed to publish warnings for narrowly defined hurricanes and tropical storms.  With the implementation of the new policies, however, the hurricane center will be able to keep warnings and advisories in place for storms that threaten people and property, even if they lose their tropical characteristics. The new procedures go into effect on June 1st, the official start of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Hopefully, this new approach will avoid any misperceptions in future.

Event: The Science Behind Sandy

On Thursday, April 4th, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will be hosting a public lecture, “The Science Behind Sandy”.

Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist and professor at Columbia, is expected to address many of the meteorological questions raised by the historic storm.  Some of these include: What kind of storm was Sandy?  How rare was it?  Can we expect more storms like it in the future?

In light of the catastrophic damage that Super-storm Sandy caused in the New York City area, and the current debates on how to re-build, this talk should be very informative.  For more details, please visit the LDEO website.


Weather and Art: Laser Rainbow

A public art project brought a rainbow to the night skies of New York City last week. Yvette Mattern’s, “Global Rainbow, After the Storm”, was a tribute to those affected by Super-storm Sandy.

Composed of a spectrum of high-powered lasers, this temporary installation was situated on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel in Manhattan.  Its lights beamed out thirty-five miles over Brooklyn, toward the Rockaways in Queens – areas hard hit by Sandy.

While this project was not created specifically for New York, the rainbow was a timely visual symbol of hope as the city continues to recover from a devastating storm.

“Global Rainbow, After the Storm” by Yvette Mattern

Image Credit: Art Production Fund

Mapping Sandy’s Floodwaters in NYC

Forecasters predicted Sandy would be a serious storm – and it was.  Its storm surge, however, was higher and even more catastrophic than had been anticipated.

The New York Times, earlier this week, published an interactive map of the flooding caused by the super-storm in New York City.  It is an incredibly detailed visualization of how high the floodwaters actually reached in different parts of the city.

AMS Event: Assessing Storm Surge Risk in NYC

The New York City/Long Island chapter of the American Meteorological Society will be hosting a seminar this Thursday, November 15th, at Columbia University.  Dr Kerry Emanuel, a professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, is scheduled to present a lecture on “Assessing Storm Surge Risk in NYC.”

In light of the catastrophic impact that Super-Storm Sandy’s record high storm surge caused in and around New York City, this timely talk promises to be very informative.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information and directions, please review this announcement –  AMS: Assessing Storm Surge Risk in NYC

Super-Storm Sandy: Recovery NYC

Two weeks ago, Super-Storm Sandy blasted New York City with high winds and a devastating storm surge.  Since then, many parts of the Big Apple have been slowly returning to normal.  Some of the city’s hardest hit neighborhoods, however, are still in recovery mode.

In an effort to help my fellow New Yorkers, I recently delivered donations to the storm ravaged communities of Staten Island, NY.  Seeing the destruction caused by Sandy first hand was overwhelming.  So many homes were damaged or destroyed, huge amounts of debris were piled up in front yards, and some areas were still without power.

For anyone wishing to help in the ongoing storm recovery process, please visit these websites for more information:  NYC Service,  Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC,  American Red Cross.

A boat and debris washed ashore in Lemon Creek Park on Staten Island, NY by        Super-Storm Sandy.

Image credit: The Weather Gamut

Post-Sandy Nor’easter

A nor’easter blasted the eastern seaboard yesterday from the mid-Atlantic states to New England.  This type of storm is not unusual in the area, but its timing left a lot to be desired.

Arriving only nine days after Super-Storm Sandy devastated the region, this winter storm slammed the area with high winds and heavy, wet snow.  In New York City, 4.7 inches of snow was reported in Central Park – a new daily snowfall record.

The weight of the snow on the region’s already storm damaged trees caused many branches to break and fall.  This, in turn, resulted in even more power outages in communities still struggling to recover from Sandy, adding insult to injury for tens of thousands of people.

The local forecast is calling for a significant warm-up over the next few days, so the snow will not be sticking around for long.

Super-Storm Sandy

Sandy, the 18th named storm of this Atlantic Hurricane Season, made landfall near Atlantic City, NJ late Monday. Measuring nearly 1000 miles in diameter, the effects of this massive storm were felt up and down the Eastern Seaboard and as far inland as the Great Lakes. The brunt of the storm, however, was focused in the northeast.

According to the National Weather Service, Sandy was a category-1 hurricane that transitioned to a post-tropical storm just prior to coming ashore.  Despite this technical downgrade in status, the storm maintained hurricane force winds and packed a devastating punch.  It toppled trees and produced a record storm surge of 13.88 feet that caused significant property damage, extensive power outages, and a mounting death toll throughout the region. The hardest hit areas include the densely populated shoreline communities of New Jersey and nearby New York City.

Hurricanes in the northeastern United States are not unheard of, but are generally few and far between.  They typically dissipate over the cool waters of the mid-Atlantic and move out to sea.  Sandy, however, was an exceptional event. Energized by unseasonably warm ocean temperatures, this storm traveled north from the Caribbean, parallel to the US coastline. A large area of high pressure over Greenland, however, soon forced it to make a hard left turn. This shift inland put Sandy on track to meet a cold front moving in from the west. Merging together to form a hybrid nor’easter-hurricane, this colossal and catastrophic weather event earned the title, Super-Storm.

The damage caused by Sandy is currently estimated at $50-billion.

Track of Hurricane Sandy

Image Credit: NOAA

View of Hurricane Sandy from Space

Image Credit: NASA

Sandy Wallops New York City

Barreling through New York City late last night, post-tropical storm Sandy caused widespread damage and power outages.  Eighteen storm-related deaths – so far – have also been reported across the city’s five boroughs.

Powerful winds – with gusts reaching 79 mph – toppled countless trees and helped create a record storm surge of 13.88 feet in lower Manhattan.  As a result, streets flooded and the subway tunnels were inundated with water.  In addition, the encroaching seawater shorted out power substations, leaving a large part of southern Manhattan in the dark.

The city’s outer boroughs were also seriously battered in this storm.  Many homes and businesses in the low lying coastal areas of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx were damaged or destroyed by unprecedented flooding.

The extensive damage from Sandy is still being assessed, but officials say this storm may be the worst in New York City’s history.

Preparing for Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy, the 18th named storm of this Atlantic hurricane season, battered the Caribbean earlier this week.  Now, it is on course to make landfall along the northeastern coast of the United States within the next few days.

Forecasters, at this point, are uncertain of the exact track the storm will take, but expect it to be a long duration and high impact event. They anticipate that Sandy will bring high winds, heavy rain, coastal storm surges, and flooding to this country’s most densely populated region.  These weather hazards are, in turn, likely to cause widespread power outages.

To prepare, emergency officials suggests:

  • Monitor the news for the latest storm information and any evacuation orders
  • Prepare a storm emergency kit with:
    • Water
    • Non-perishable food
    • Flashlights
    • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
    • First aid kit
    • Cash
    • Filled prescriptions
    • Extra batteries

For more details on storm preparedness, visit the websites of FEMA and the American Red Cross.