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Sandy: Post Mortem of The 5 Atomic Bomb Storm

November 14, 2012 • Climate Change & Mitigation, United States, News

Below is a fairly comprehensive, at least in layman’s terms, post-mortem of the renowned hurricane Sandy. The summary, which follows Sandy from her birth in the Central Caribbean to her New Jersey landfall, has some interesting tid-bits embedded in its thumbnail history. For example, we learn that Sandy’s peak wind energy was 329 terajoules– 2.7 times higher than Katrina’s peak energy, and the equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. The author also states, in refreshing simplicity that “we’ve seen significant and unprecedented changes to our atmosphere in recent decades, due to our emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. The laws of physics demand that the atmosphere must respond.” (Emphasis added.)

Hurricane Sandy’s huge size: freak of nature or climate change?

Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has. Sandy’s area of ocean with twelve-foot seas peaked at 1.4 million square miles–nearly one-half the area of the contiguous United States, or 1% of Earth’s total ocean area.

Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 30), the total energy of Sandy’s winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules–the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina’s peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been wider; the previous record holder was Hurricane Igor of 2010, which was 863 miles in diameter. Sandy’s huge size prompted high wind warnings to be posted from Chicago to Eastern Maine, and from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Florida’s Lake Okeechobee–an area home to 120 million people. Sandy’s winds simultaneously caused damage to buildings on the shores of Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and toppled power lines in Nova Scotia, Canada–locations 1200 miles apart!

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