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Superstorm Sandy becomes historical storm

Posted by David Epstein  October 30, 2012 02:40 PM

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Meteorologists have long known that eventually a major coastal storm would strike New York City and the surrounding area with incredible ferocity. The past twenty-four hours has proven Sandy to be that storm. If you add up all the people in the country who got affected by the storm in some way, even small, nearly 78% of the population of the United States has had their weather influenced the storm. Heavy rain, thunder, wind, snow and cold were all a part of the meteorology of Sandy. The storm will continue to move through New York State and into Canada before dying out and dissipating later this week. The after affects of the storm will be felt for days, weeks and for some individuals the rest of their lives. I use Twitter as a way to get out the forecast not only for storms but general weather as well. Please follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom I love your comments and questions.

New England
If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I expected power to be the big issue here in New England from the storm. With just under 300,000 people without power in Massachusetts that prediction has come true. Trees are great things but when you combine them with wind and power lines, not so much. Over the past 100 years as we have moved into the suburbs and farms have become neighborhoods, trees have taken the place of fields. Many of the trees you see are actually quite young and haven't been exposed to hurricane force winds much, if at all. Most of the wind gusts were in the 50 mile per hour to 60 mile per hour range in Southern New England. If a strong category 1 hurricane tracked from Providence to Worcester you could add significant strength to the winds you saw yesterday. Here in New England it's just a matter of time before that happens. From 1953 to 1963 eight hurricanes hit New England. During that decade, just like now, the Atlantic ocean was warmer than normal and the Pacific colder.IMG_0946.JPG IMG_0945.JPG Since we are in the same type of global pattern now hurricanes in our area should continue to be common. Eventually, we will return to a calmer period when hurricanes will again be less frequent. I had about three inches of rain at my house and did have one very large 60 foot maple go down. Luckily, it fell between two other plants and back away from the rest of my gardens.

Mid-Atlantic region
Sandy storm surge.jpg
Obviously New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of this storm. Although the storm had very strong winds 400 miles from its center, the strongest winds and greatest storm surge still were felt closer to landfall. Winds gusting to over 90 miles per hour, a storm surge of nearly 14 feet, close to a foot of rain and an astronomically high tide all came together to create devastation for some parts of that area. Lower Manhattan is still without power and the mass transit as well as tunnel system has been breached with sea water. Millions of commuters, homeowners and apartment dwellers will feel the affects of Sandy for weeks if not months. That said, we are incredibly resilient and life will return to normal for most in a few days.

Evacuations, warnings and reporters
evacuation.jpg
I hate to opine too much at the risk of sounding preachy, so feel free to disagree. I believe we need to get to a place where evacuate means evacuate. I wouldn't want to leave my house either if they told me to go. My home feels safe and it's where all my stuff is located. I have dogs, special foods, my bed, my pillow and all my face creams in my house. However, if you live in an area that can flood or burn down you need to get out when told. It's selfish to expect someone else to put themselves into harms way because you decided to stay and disobey orders. I am a small government guy and hate to be told what to do, but if there is a risk to your life and others who would have to save your butt then leave. I was so impressed with Governor Christie of New Jersey when he refused to send in first responders to bail people out who hadn't listened until it was safe for the rescuers themselves. That thought leads me to field reporters during storms. Why is that reporters are putting themselves at risk standing on sea walls, under docks, in the ocean at the very places no one is suppose to be to show us sea foam? What message are TV stations sending showing reporters in the very areas that no one is suppose to be lingering? Finally, my last critique of the storm coverage and warning. I don't want to criticize the forecast of this storm or my colleagues in the community. I have been wrong scores of times with my own forecast. I forecasted flurries to occur on Thanksgiving 1989 in Connecticut and people were shoveling 3-6" of my flurries. Actually, I think this storm was incredibly well forecast by the meteorological community. We knew days in advance this would be a "superstorm" and knew it had the potential to cause major if not catastrophic damage. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is responsible for putting out warnings of tropical systems. We saw that Sandy would merge with the jet stream and eventually become a very intense nor'easter. Exactly when the storm went from tropical to non-tropical is open for debate and discussion. However, the NHC decided to not put out hurricane warnings for the coast north of the Carolina region. No matter how much forecasters tried to say this was no ordinary nor'easter, people hear the words nor'easter and hurricane very differently. While the technical manuals and official procedures might have told NHC to not issue a hurricane watch or eventual warning I think that issuing those types of warning for New York and New Jersey was warranted. I believe those terms raise the seriousness of the storm for residents and perhaps more would have evacuated. Of course the results would have been exactly the same. What we as humans call the storm doesn't matter, but words count and I think the words "hurricane warning" should have been used.

Halloween forecast
It will be mild this Halloween with clouds and a few breaks of moonlight. The sun will set around 5:40 and while there is an ever so small risk of a shower I expect it to be dry most of the evening. Temperatures will around 58F sunset falling to about 52F by 10PM.

Into the weekend
The weather looks dry and seasonable as we head into the first weekend of November. Temperatures will be in the 50s during the afternoon with sunshine and 30s and 40s at night. I expect even colder weather much of next week. Remember, we switch the clocks back Saturday night and return to standard time Sunday. The sun will rise Sunday morning around 6:30 but set Sunday night at an early 4:33PM, welcome to winter.

Gardening this week
Some of you might be reading the blog for the first time. I have nearly all of my plants inside the house for the winter. Perhaps you had yours outside and moved them in recently. Did you prepare them properly? There are still several things you can do to keep them healthy. In this video I show you what I do to get my plants ready for winter.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this blog or any others. Please follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at GrowingWisdom.com

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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