- There was an extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean Islands. The hurricane landed in these islands before reaching New York. Here is a description of the damage caused by the hurricane:
- 69 people died within the Islands (Williams 2012).
- 200 people died in New York (Super-storm New York 2:20).
- The hurricane damaged the communication system. It knocked out telephone network completely (Super-storm New York 14:30). A large portion of the infrastructure of the cable companies was lost.
- The hurricane knocked down power lines and over 8 million residents of New York lost power (Super-storm New York 2:35).
- The storm dumped sea water inland causing an explosion of power substations and further destroying electrical grid (Super-storm New York 11:50).
- Fire was sparked by the power lines that were brought down in Queens. This destroyed 111 homes at the Breezy Point (Super-storm New York 19:35).
- The hurricane destroyed a subway system in New York, more so the substation at South Ferry. The storm left it unusable (Tollefson 2013).
- The storm destroyed coastline houses with some being lifted from the ground and later dumped inland. The storm left some houses structurally unsound forcing owners to demolish them.
- The waters of the storm washed away the tracks of overland railway which necessitated their complete replacement.
- The hurricane damaged road network, more so the bridges which were affected the most. The flood waters dumped debris along the roads
2. Hurricane Sandy growing into a super-storm
Several factors created conditions that facilitated the formation of a “perfect storm” which increased Hurricane Sandy (Masters 2012). This hurricane was formed from a huge wave from the African tropics. The wave interacted with the pressure of the low regions found in Central Caribbean. In general, hurricanes that form as a result of huge tropical disturbances grow to larger sizes and this was the case with Hurricane Sandy. This hurricane formed within Caribbean which is a relatively humid region. It is possible for a hurricane to increase in size when it forms within an area where the atmospheric pressure is high.
This storm’s center point passed through Cuba. Despite the fact that this center point lacked energy of a warm ocean since it passed over a land, it had outlying air that was circulating over a warm ocean which kept drawing ocean’s energy. On re-emerging from the ocean, hurricane Sandy had outer portions with extra energy. These may have enabled it to expand further. From Cuba, it moved to the Bahamas. Here, it had an interaction with a trough of low pressure. The upper-level winds of this trough created a shear of a high wind for this hurricane which destroyed it making it weaker. Nevertheless, because of the storm-force winds from the tropics, this storm was able to cover a larger area which compensated for the lost energy.
As it moved towards North Pole, the storm acquired additional spin because of the rotation of the earth. This Hurricane leveraged extra spin which grew its size further. Ideally, hurricane Sandy ought to have entered the Atlantic Ocean to peter out. Nevertheless, the high pressure area over Greenland made the hurricane not to turn into this ocean. It was compelled to double back and move to the continental U.S.
When it approached the New Jersey land fall, it had a contact with a system of low pressure of the extra-tropical region. Cold air was pumped into the hurricane by this extra-tropical storm. This turned it into a system of extra-tropical low pressure. In most cases, the coverage of extra-tropical storms is wider than that of hurricanes. This can be attributed to the fact that their force is drawn from the frontal boundary which may have a length of many miles. As such, hurricane Sandy created a landfall with its strongest winds being spread over a wide area making people in Indiana and Nova Scotia to feel its effects.
Hurricane Sandy grew to form the ‘super-storm’ because several factors were combined in its formation. This hurricane was an event that occurs once per 500 years. Nevertheless, with the changes in the conditions of the global weather that are causing global warming, events similar to hurricane Sandy can become a common phenomenon.
3. Storm surge
Storm surge refers to an increase in water past the predicted astronomical tide (Introduction to storm surge n.d.). The winds of the storm cause this surge while driving water towards the shoreline.
The surge of super-storm Sandy was very large because of two major reasons. One, it was during the full-moon when it arrived in New York (Super-storm New York 37:25). At this time, the earth and moon gravitational attraction is very strong. The bulging of sea water tends to move to the moon. This causes a rise in tides by up to two feet.
Second, this hurricane was already an extra-tropical storm which had winds that were stronger than those of a hurricane. A storm surge was created by these winds. Their combination with high tide caused a large surge of the Sandy storm.
3. Low Manhattan’s damage
Hurricane Sandy caused severe damage in Lower Manhattan because of where it is located. The land on which Lower Manhattan is built was realized after a sea reclamation process. For many centuries, city boundaries were expanded by the residents through damping of different materials into this sea. This created a land where buildings were erected (Super-storm New York 28.00). With increasing land pressure, wetlands of the city became prime real estate that were encroached by the people. Water was taken back after striking of the hurricane Sandy to the initial high line of water. This inundated the settlements of the low lying areas. There were no wetlands that serve as the storms’ buffer. This made the storm hit the human settlements instantly which led to an extensive damage.
There was also a considerable damage in the coastal cities. This is because there were coastal developments near the line of the high tide.
5. Prevention measures
Several measures may be taken as way of reducing the possibilities of the damage of such a storm in future. They include:
- Constructing large walls along the shore or coastline to provide protection against the surge.
- Restoration of the wetlands that serve as buffers of the storm.
- Relocating people to the higher grounds.
- Enforcing and changing the codes of new building to facilitate the construction of storm-resistant structures
Among these measures, some can be implemented with ease. For instance, new buildings that do not conform to new codes should not be approved. People should be encouraged to relocate to high grounds. Barriers might not be effective and building them is expensive. Restoring wetlands might not work either because some are irreparably damaged.
6. New Normal
A ‘New normal’ is emerging. Over the past century, the global temperature has increased sustainably on average. This has an impact on weather patterns globally in different ways. There is a steady rise in the sea level which is reaching high levels that have not been witnessed before. According to the prediction of climate models, such events might start occurring once in every 500 years and eventually once per every 200 years. As such, in the emerging new normal extraordinary weather conditions might become a common place.
- Masters, J. (2012). Hurricane Sandy’s huge size: freak of nature or climate change? Wunderground.com. Retrieved from http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/hurricane-sandys-huge-size-frea k-of-nature-or-climate-change
Introduction to storm surge (n.d). National Weather Service. Retrieved from http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hurricane/resources/surge_intro.pdf
National Geographic Superstorm New York What Really Happened. Youtube. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bP1EdsiEO8o
Williams, M. (30 October 2012). Superstorm Sandy damage assessment: a round-up. The Guardian. Retrieved from www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/30/superstorm-sandy-damage-round-up
Tollefson, J. (13 February 2013). Natural Hazards: New York City versus the Sea. Scientific American. Retrieved from www.scientificamerican.com/article/natural-hazards-new-york-city-vs-the-sea/