What happened during Sandy and why?

Hurricane Sandy was relatively unusual. For example, its wind field was almost three times that of Katrina.

Sandy's path also included a rare "westward hook," rather than a more traditional eastward track.

Sandy took a "westward hook"

Cause of the Westward Hook: Hurricane Sandy was steered between the blocking high pressure in Northern Canada and the low pressure trough over the Southeast U.S.
Source: Bostinno.com, NOAA, AGU Blogosphere, National Weather Service, Slate.com  


Several factors contributed to Sandy’s historic impact on coastal regions of the City, including:

  1. Sandy arrived during a full moon (when the sun, Earth, and moon were aligned causing a so-called “Spring Tide”).
  2. The precise hour at which Sandy’s surge arrived and the region’s normal tidal cycle exacerbated the storm’s impact on certain areas.
  3. Finally, a shift in wind direction as the surge reached its peak aggravated the storm’s impact in some areas.

Sandy had major impacts on the people, services, infrastructure and economy of the whole city:

  • People and public safety
    • 44 people died in storm-related incidents
    • 200+ homes and business were destroyed by fire
  • Buildings
    • Nearly 20,000 buildings remained damaged 2 weeks after the storm (structural damage or experienced power outage)
    • Nearly 7,000 people occupied city shelters at peak occupancy
  • Energy
    • 800,000+ customers lost power overall because of Sandy – 650,000+ customers were without power at the peak of the storm
       
  • Transportation
    • Sandy caused $900 million in damage to City-owned transportation infrastructure and much more damage to non-City owned assets
  • Telecommunications
    • Over 2 million telecom customers lost service after Sandy for varying lengths of time, due to outages across the telecom infrastructure
    • About 25,000 buildings in Sandy-inundation areas experienced flooding to depths that likely impacted telecom equipment
  • Waterfront and coastal protection
    • Over 2 million cubic yards of sand were lost from New York beaches, including 1.5 million cubic yards on the Rockaway peninsula alone
  • Public services
    • More than 1,100 patients were evacuated from local hospitals
    • 1.1 million children were affected when all City schools closed for a week
  • Business and economic impact
    • Direct and indirect losses amounted to $19 billion in damages
    • 94,000 businesses were inundated, lost power, or both
    • 890,000 employees worked at impacted businesses

[Source: SIRR]

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