November 2, 2012

Measured in terms of Integrated Kinetic Energy at landfall, Sandy was bigger than Katrina...

... and second only in modern records to Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Sandy only had Category 1 winds — while Katrina was Category 3 — but it was very large and thus had more IKE, which relates more strongly to the size of the storm surge.
[T]he storm surge is the increased water level along the coast caused by winds continuously bulldozing the ocean onto the land. It builds long before a storm makes landfall. It simply raises the mean sea level from its normal level by a few to over 25 feet.
Sandy also hit at high tide, making the surge higher. The damage from a surge also has to do with coastal topography and bathymetry.
Hurricane Katrina was “only” a Category 3 storm at landfall, yet ended up being the most costly natural disaster in our nation’s history due its impact on a vulnerable, highly populated low lying city. Sandy had Category 1 winds at landfall yet was able to create very significant storm surge over hundreds of miles of highly populated coastline.
I found that article because I was trying to figure out what "category" Sandy was. I wasn't sure it was even Category 1, and I wondered what would happen if a Category 3 (or 4 or 5) storm hit NYC.  I also found this article in Popular Mechanics, describing a study of the consequences of a Category 4 hurricane hitting NYC. The estimate was $500 billion in damage. A study released last September said a "Category 1 hurricane or winter nor'easter could inundate the city's subway and cause $58 billion in losses"... which sounds like what happened.

54 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

So, this means that all free economic markets must immediately be suppressed so that central government on the intenational, national, state and local level can plan all economic activity in line with our enlightened experts' opinions!

What could be clearer? Do it for the children!

Levi Starks said...
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Levi Starks said...

So translated into the working man's terms we could safely say that it was even worse than the free falling economic disaster that Bush left Obama? I think I'm starting to understand.
I hope it doesn't take NY 4+4 years to recover.

tim in vermont said...

"The hurricane (of 1821) produced a storm surge of 13 feet (4 m) in only one hour at Battery Park. Manhattan Island was completely flooded to Canal Street; one hurricane researcher remarked that the storm surge flooding would have been much worse, had the hurricane not struck at low tide."

The Long Island hurricane of '38 produced a 20 ft storm surge.

This is business as usual for the north east, if you have a long enough perspective.

Paul said...

And Bloomberg and co. were fat, dumb, and happy right before it hit.

So, if Bush was to blame for Katrina is Obama to blame for Sandy? Bloomberg?

You know pitty all that 'stimulus' money was pissed away on stupid green stuff. Sure could use a trillon or so dollars now.

bagoh20 said...

One big problem with Katrina that thankfully is not here was that there was nowhere for the water to go afterward. It just stayed there. There is good drange where most of Sandy hit, so the recovery should progress much faster.

Lem said...

I remember the weather reports putting it at category 1 while it was way out in the ocean... thats why I didnt think it would amount to much.

It was a weird storm.

Shouting Thomas said...

This is business as usual for the north east, if you have a long enough perspective.

OK, wise guy! How much did Big Oil pay you to write that?

tim in vermont said...

Sorry, link to the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane

ricpic said...

I like IKE when the bathymetry's right,
IKE's a fright when the bathymetry's tight.

rhhardin said...

The integrated kinetic energy over a large area is as big as you want to make it (just integrate over a bigger area), even without a storm, so it fails as an explanation, but sounds important, I guess.

Weather people talk through their hats most of the time.

tim in vermont said...

"it[Great Gale of 1821] produced a storm surge of over 29 feet (9 m) along several portions of the New Jersey coastline, causing significant overwash"

DADvocate said...

This is conclusive proof that the end of the world, via climage change, is upon us and that anyone disagreeing is a complete dumb ass denying idiot.

bagoh20 said...

Bloomberg is a big global warming adherent, apparently convinced that storms and inundation are to be expected more and more, yet he thought big gulps were his top priority. I hope people remind him of that loud and often in the future. As I always tell people at work, if you are busy doing someone elses job, who's doing yours?

mariner said...

And Bloomberg and co. were fat, dumb, and happy right before it hit.

Bloomberg is still fat and dumb, but I don't think he's very happy with the negative publicity about using available generators for the marathon instead of relief for NYC residents.

DADvocate said...

This is business as usual for the north east, if you have a long enough perspective.

So now you want us to use accurate historical data?! Denier!!

Elle said...

"The Long Island hurricane of '38 produced a 20 ft storm surge.

This is business as usual for the north east, if you have a long enough perspective."

Thank you Tim.

My grandfather barely survived the '38 Long Island hurricane. He actually cried the day my parents announced they were moving to the Gulf Coast because of his experience.

I'm glad he's not here to see how this one is turning out.

KLDAVIS said...

What I'm seeing here is that the intensity of the storm doesn't seem to be as important in the overall damage numbers as the concentration of the population. It's simply not a good idea to get that many people in such a small area. Eventually, a stout wind will cause problems as shanty towns topple.

Bob Ellison said...

The important and unusual things about Sandy are:

1) She hit at high strength in one of the most populated, most famous areas in America.

2) She drowned parts of NYC.

She probably damaged things in Ohio and Michigan, even. She closed the New York Stock Exchange for two days-- first time in a b'jillion years.

Usually the media monsters make more of what happens in their neighborhood (NYC) than elsewhere, but in this case, I think they're being too careful. This was a monster storm.

Dave said...

I think the 5 categories are based on binned wind speed

Levi Starks said...

Barstow, or Bakersfield are starting to look pretty good to me right now.

gadfly said...

The reference to Popular Mechanics reminds me of the study that they did immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Contrary to popular belief (as spawned by the Democrats and their media friends), the aid provided by government (Coast Guard, National Guard, FEMA, et al) was far more impressive than Obama-led rescue efforts presently proceeding with the aftermath of Sandy.

Obama immediately interfered in New Jerseys clean-up efforts with his visit, while Dubya waited five days before imposing himself.

PatHMV said...

After Hurricane Isaac earlier this year, several scientists were discussing the need for a new scale for measuring hurricanes. The current "Category" scale looks only at wind speed. The flooding effects, however, are only partly determined by wind speed, and are significantly affected by the speed with which the hurricane is moving (slow moving storms obviously dump more water), overall size of the storm, and other factors. Is "Integrated Kinetic Energy" the new scale being proposed?

tim in vermont said...

It was a monster storm, just not the only monster storm that ever hit NYC. It may be due to AGW, but big hurricanes hitting NYC are not due to AGW and it is historically ignorant to pretend that absent burning coal, NYC would be safe from these kinds of storms.

The biggest hurricane known to hit NYC area hit in pre-industrial times, per the climate boffins who study this stuff.

edutcher said...

Heckuva job, Barry.

Talk about a "perfect" storm.

Browndog said...

"Sandy" may lose it's name--become a number.

This is all I can find on it at the moment-

The storm lost its status as hurricane because it no longer has a warm core center nor the convection — the upwards air movement in the eye — that traditional hurricanes have, but it is still as dangerous as it was when it was considered a hurricane, according to National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen. It tipped into the post-tropical category because it has become "devoid of thunderstorms near the center," said Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the NHC.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/sandy-losing-tropical-nature-gaining-girth-17591849

Original Mike said...
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Original Mike said...

Integrated over what? Space? Time? Both?

RobertW said...

I would like to see comparisons with Hurricane Ike. It had a larger surge than the category number indicated. I don't remember any celebs coming to help, either.

I'm not trying to understate the impact this had on many people, but just saying.

Robert in texas

SteveR said...

The first hydrogen bomb was 100 times more powerful than the bomb that hit Hiroshima.

Drago said...

Levi Starks: "Barstow, or Bakersfield are starting to look pretty good to me right now."

Not if you enjoy being employed and taxed appropriately.

See Victor David Hanson.

bagoh20 said...

How can Sandy be due to global warming if the warming stopped 16 years ago?

Rockport Conservative said...

I lived in Louisiana long enough to know a Katrina was just waiting to happen in the New Orleans ares. If you've ever been in a sailboat in a New Orleans canal looking UP at an adjacent street you will know what I mean. I am appalled to think all the brains at work in NYC never thought to put waterproof locks for the subways or had no giant pumps in place to overcome a rise in waters.
It may be impossible. Too many people in one place depending on water, electricity and sewers run on electricity are just a disaster waiting to happen, and it has.

Peter said...

It's that "integrated" part that'll kill ya.

If you could integrate the energy released by a thermonuclear bomb over a year or so, it probably wouldn't even cause a sunburn. Just as a hard punch would be transformed into a gentle shove if you spread its energy over time.

Sometimes it's not so much "integrated energy" (integrated over space as well as time?) that counts, but just the raw instantaneous peak power that causes the damage.

The Drill SGT said...

Sandy also hit at high tide, making the surge higher.

fULL MOON WAS THE 29TH, SO THE HIGH TIDE WAS HIGHER THAN AVERAGE

virgil xenophon said...

Gadfly, above, is correct. Local organizations that had all the key player's phone numbers and knew their organizational opposites faces were most effective, e.g. the US CG which is regionally-based and whose personnel spent long stints in the same location, and thus were able to mesh/coordinate effectively with local fire, police, and key emergency personnel at State and local level. Also local managers of private organizations like Walmart, Home Depot and Loews who were given the authority (or took it upon themselves in the case of one Miss. Walmart mgr who personally took a fork-lift to pry open a storage container to release needed drugs and medical supplies) to utilize their on-site resources. And companies like Walmart, Home Depot, etc were invaluable in that they had up & running 24/7 national logistics that were able to turn on dime and shift needed supplies (ice, timber, generators, food, medicine) to the disaster area.

FEMA, by contrast is a back-fill support organization, not an operational line one. Worse, the "red-tape" Obama decried and urged FEMA to "cut through" is a product of Congress' attempt to insure accountability for expenditure of public funds and while needed and laudable, is by dint of this unfortunately at logger-heads with the need for speedy help and the "paper-work war" can become an end in itself if FEMA bureaucrats lose sight of their prime objective--as they did during Katrina when they held a 747 full of Drs flown in to help at the airport for over two full days until they could examine their "credentials." Likewise when FEMA turned away hundreds of private citizens volunteering their flat-boats for water rescue in the city citing doubts about their being "officially" sanctioned/trained rescue personnel.

chickelit said...

Can't we link hydrocarbon usage to moon phases? Come on you engineers.

The Drill SGT said...

Levi Starks: "Barstow, or Bakersfield are starting to look pretty good to me right now."


avoid Death Valley. When the Wave comes over the coastal range, Death Valley will be a bth tub :)


Unknown said...

I visited Death Valley a few years ago, one of the exhibits there stated that the Valley has often been a lake, most recent incidence was about 1,000 AD. (can I say that here?)

Firehand said...

I remember seeing 'Disaster: New York!"-type shows on History or Discovery channel years ago; all of them pointed to the past hits, and just what a similar strike would do now. So the possibilities have been known for decades. And one of the usual ending lines was "It's only a matter of time."

As I recall, the standard on FEMA since it was created is 'You should be able to make it on your own for three days, because it can take that long for outside help to get in.' Which, especially considering the idiocies such as "You can't save people until you have taken the mandated sexual-harassment training" crap, is a remarkably good recommendation.

Clyde said...

The "category" number only refers to the wind speed. Storm surge is a whole different animal. As Sandy was coming in, I read on the Wunderground site that the storm surge threat was a 5.8 on a scale of 6. That's bad. Even though the wind speed for Sandy was only a strong Category 1, the destruction from the water was far worse, as we're seeing from the pictures of large swathes of devastated beach real estate, where house were just washed away.

chickelit said...

avoid Death Valley. When the Wave comes over the coastal range, Death Valley will be a bth tub :)

It would be a bathtub right now if the Federal Government hadn't intervened to correct the unintended course change of the Colorado River in 1906. The biggest corporation at the time, Union Pacific, was unable to stem the flow. As is was, the disaster created the Salton Sea which been dry for hundreds of years prior. Death Valley, further north, would have eventually filled and the whole inland sea reunited with the Gulf of Baja.

The intervention of the Feds eventually led to the building of the Boulder Dam which was rightfully renamed Hoover Dam (after FDR died and the Dems lost congress).

virgil xenophon said...

Of course there is no little savage irony, that outfits capable of moving emergency supplies into the affected Metro areas on a moments notice with their own logistics chain like Walmart are kept out of big city Metro areas by Donkey politicians like Dracula avoids the cross..

n.n said...

Peter:

I was thinking along the same line. The total energy is less interesting than energy density and direction. It's similar to the metric of global warming, which is irrelevant unless the distribution of energy and its effects are uniform.

Michael said...

The reason Katrina was so devastating was that the levees gave way. Between Corps of Engineers incompetence and local political corruption on the various Levee Boards, the system was not maintained to standard. Without that there would have been damage but no catastrophe.

Separately, storms like this are how the barrier islands got to be there in the first place - great heaps of sand driven dumped on or near shore by storms. This has been going on for millennia. Even before SUV's.

Phil 3:14 said...

After watching the scenes from Staten Island I await Toby Keith to declare

" Barack Obama hates white people"

chickelit said...

This has been going on for millennia. Even before SUV's.

I don't think you follow. The SUV bone's connected to the CO2 bone; the CO2 bone's connected to the fossil fuel bone; the fossil fuel bone's connected to the carbon tax bone; the carbon tax bone's connected to the Gore bone; the Gore bone's connected to the...(never mind)...election bone; the election bone's connected to the Obama bone, etc.

MadisonMan said...

Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Four things made the surge higher than usual for a Cat 1 storm. The large reach of the storm's circulation, Full Moon, high Tide, and the left turn into a large concave embayment.

This link has plenty of satellite imagery of Sandy.

MadisonMan said...

It is nearly impossible for a Cat 5 storm to hit NYC. Storms do not maintain Cat 5 intensity for any long length of time (do a google search on 'eyewall replacement cycle'), and such intensity always occurs over the warmest of warm waters. Even a Cat 4 storm would be a stretch...it would have to be rocketing northwestward -- following a similar path that Sandy followed -- but the atmospheric circulation to promote that quick motion is pretty unlikely when the water south of the Gulf Stream is warm enough to sustain a cat 4 storm.

BDNYC said...

Not the first to say it, but it reminds me of kinetic military action. Except in this case, Sandy was not leading from behind.

Wally Kalbacken said...

Integrated Kinetic Energy at Landfall can fuck you up!

I stood in line to vote early in Palm Beach County today, for about 2 1/2 hours. Got it done. I have good vibes about Florida and the rest of the nation. Well, minus MN, CA, WA, OR, NY, etc., and like that.

freeus said...

Sandy was a once in a lifetime storm because she was both a hurricane, with tropical characteristics, and then she encountered colder forces which turned her into a nor'easter. It is as if she hit twice. As others said, she also hit at high tide, along with a full moon. One thing to also observe is the around 940 mb, lowest ever to hit the East Coast. I think Sandy was around 954-957, and well inland still with high wind gusts, and mega snow storms.

The issue, if you listen to Joe Bastardi, which most should, is the low 940 mb, (meaning she had a lot of power), wind gusts, (FYI-90 mph is just 5-6 mph shy of a Cat 2), the wave action, (in NC they were reporting 50 foot high wave action), and storm surge possibilities. Far too many people only look at wind speeds, not the gusts, landfall areas, not the surge forecasted, or the size of the storm.

The problem with Sandy is that she was indeed larger than Katrina, and she hit the largest populated area in the United States of America. Katrina nuke 90 square miles of the coast along highway 90, and she impacted a heavy populated area around New Orleans when the levees broke, but Sandy has killed people in ten states, and there has been at one time over 4 million people without power.

freeus said...

As a multiple tornado, and hurricane survivor, may I please make a few suggestions? 1) Do not forget small areas, or pockets of people who will have been impacted. For us, New Orleans sucked all the air out of the room, and you could hardly get any press to come to Waveland, Pass Christian, Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Kiln, and other areas in Mississippi. However, that did not matter because people from every state in the Union came to help us. We had coffins donated from Iowa, power crews from PA, and search and rescue teams from NY and CA. And every state in between. We could have never made it without you America! So, do not forget areas in CT, or DE, or other areas in NJ, or NY where the media is not going, or exposing needing aid. This was a big storm, and impacted a large area, do not forget those not on your tv.

2) If you are giving money, I implore you to find charities who give ALL the money to those in need. In other words, non-profits. The Salvation Army, Samaritan's Purse, etc. are two which come to mind who were great for our state at all times. Local charities in the impacted areas often know of families which need aid, like those who did not have insurance, or elderly people without a family who need help.

3) If you go down to volunteer, make sure you have a tetanus shot, work boots to protect your feet from sharp objects, chemical resistant THICK gloves to protect from the ick, very sturdy work pants to protect your legs, and all your supplies so you are not a drain on the already strained area. This would include all your food, water, and medical needs, and do not assume you will have lodging.

4) Christmas is coming, and please, if you can, set aside some extra money this year for the kids, and families in the impacted areas this year. All their memories are gone. Those Christmas ornaments the kids made, the handed down ornaments from grandma are gone, and little things like a Christmas ornament, etc. things like that mean a ton.

As for the lengthy recovery, based upon what I have seen, this is going to take years, and years. We still have homes being built back. And that is just the physical coming back part, it is not the mental part which goes on, and on. We have had numerous suicides, and I fully expect the same to happen in these areas. If something does not happen soon regarding aid, America, you are going to be shocked at what is going to happen to these people if something is not done, and done quickly. Within 3-5 days after Katrina, we had a military hospital ship off our coast, and we had hover-craft arriving with food, water, and medical supplies on land. We could not get all the way to the coast because houses, and a ton of trees were on the interstate, and roads. The only way in was boat for the first week. I am not seeing the National Guard at all, and hear Bloomberg only wants the NYPD in with guns. News to Nanny, the National Guard comes with a hell of a lot more than guns you freak!

Friends of ours in Moss Point, MS had trouble with tons of flat tires, busted windows, and weird spiders. Construction, and removal of debris leaves tons of sharp objects which puncture the tires. Construction, and debris flying out of vehicles smash up the windshields. Weird ass bugs ended up here as well as on our coast, and most of them were not friendly. Hopefully in NY, and NJ your winter will kill them! LOL! Recovery is a long, long process.

People are truly suffering, and I implore everyone to pray for these people. If you do not want to pray, then do whatever you want, but I beg of you to give money, or donate goods to a charity. And do not forget these people. Please, please do not forget these people this upcoming holiday season. Let them know, let them feel the love from America. It could actually save a life, give much needed hope, and more than brighten someone's day.

jr565 said...

Free us wrote:
Sandy was a once in a lifetime storm because she was both a hurricane, with tropical characteristics, and then she encountered colder forces which turned her into a nor'easter. It is as if she hit twice. As others said, she also hit at high tide, along with a full moon. One thing to also observe is the around 940 mb, lowest ever to hit the East Coast. I think Sandy was around 954-957, and well inland still with high wind gusts, and mega snow storms.

not to mention she turned directly into the path of NYC.
If she hadn't would anyone, other than weatherman, even be discussing her?
If she hadn't turned the way she did, we'd still have a marathon this weekend and it would be business as usual.
We had the bad luck to have a powerful storm made more powerful by the things you cite, turn in such a way as to cause us the most damage.