• May 23, 2015

Iowa State Daily

Hurricane Sandy breaks records: death toll and amount of damage unknown

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Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 12:15 am

Hurricane Sandy will claim her fame as possibly one of the widest hurricanes on record. She made landfall on the East Coast early Tuesday morning where the eye of the hurricane hit landed just north of Atlantic City, N.J.

Because of the large width of the storm, more than 1,000 miles of the coast experienced stormlike winds reaching well more than 40 mph.

Due to the size of this storm, all five locations for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey airports closed at midnight Sunday.

This will be the second hurricane on the East Coast in the last two years, with Hurricane Irene making landfall in North Carolina on Aug. 27. Though both Irene and Sandy were Category 1 storms, damage for Sandy is expected to be worse.

William Gallus, professor of geological and atmospheric sciences at Iowa State, said Sandy’s storm path is heading straight toward New Jersey from the east, making her storm surge potentially far more destructive than Irene’s surge.

“Irene did produce heavier rain amounts over bigger areas and thus more inland flooding, but Sandy caused much worse flooding right at the coast,” Gallus said.

Gallus also said Sandy tied with the famous 1938 New England hurricane for the most intense storm to ever hit any part of the United States north of Cape Hatteras, N.C. However, Sandy set an all-time record when she came ashore for lowest pressure inland, and highest surge of ocean water and possibly most water energy in any storm, Gallus said.

“The highest ocean water surge record is a spectacular record set at Battery Park on the tip of Manhattan, which was 3 feet higher than any ocean water [level] ever [seen] since New York City was first settled over 400 years ago,” Gallus said.

Sandy also merged with a normal winter storm system, which Gallus reported as very unusual. Because these two storms merged, Sandy was cold enough in some areas to even cause snow. Parts of West Virginia report more than 3 feet of snow, which Gallus said is unheard of in October. Weather.com reported a blizzard of 26 inches in parts of Maryland. It also reported whiteout conditions on I-68 in West Virginia.

Gallus also said Iowa was far too Sandy to create any precipitation in the state. However, due to her width, she brought strong north winds into eastern Iowa.

“Sandy also has slowed down the movement of weather systems in the atmosphere, so Iowa will end up with a fairly calm weather week with every day being about the same as the day before,” Gallus said.

According to the website of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, four of the five airports under its jurisdiction, including John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia and Teterboro are still closed today. The website also stated in context that more than 100 million passengers traveled these five airports in 2011.

Travel and Transport, a travel management company headquartered in Omaha, Neb., and has offices here in Ames, reports they have advised their clients of these airports being temporarily closed.

Shelia Spellman, representative of Travel and Transport, said they have received no information on when the airports will be open due to severe flooding.

“We advise all of our clients to stay away from hurricane cities, especially New York City,” Spellman said.

Spellman also said all major airlines are offering changes in flights at no fee or even full refunds for those whose flights were canceled due to the hurricane. This includes 500 flights to the East Coast from Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Most of New York City is still closed, but the New York Stock Exchange will resume trading today, meaning the U.S. market will be open after being closed Monday and Tuesday.

The official U.S. death toll so far is at 39 people.  Early numbers, according to Weather.com and CNN.com, show 8 million are without power.

The White House reports President Barack Obama will tour the damage in New Jersey today with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. 

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