Hurricane Sandy (2012) facts for kids

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Hurricane Sandy
Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Sandy Oct 25 2012 0320Z.png
Hurricane Sandy on October 25, 2012
Formed October 22, 2012
Dissipated October 31, 2012
(Extratropical after October 29)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 115 mph (185 km/h)
Lowest pressure 940 mbar (hPa); 27.76 inHg
Fatalities 151 total
Damage $65 billion (2012 USD)
Areas affected Greater Antilles, Bahamas, most of eastern North America (especially the coastal Mid-Atlantic States), Bermuda
Part of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Sandy was an Atlantic tropical cyclone which affected parts of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States in late October 2012, and became the largest Atlantic hurricane in diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km). It made landfall in the East Coast of the United States and Eastern Canada (Nova Scotia). Sandy is the eighteenth tropical cyclone, eighteenth named storm, and tenth hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm developed from a tropical wave in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22. It quickly got bigger and stronger after becoming a tropical depression. It was then upgraded to a tropical storm six hours later. Sandy moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and got stronger. On October 24, Sandy made landfall in Jamaica and was upgraded to a hurricane. Sandy made a second landfall in Cuba where it became a Category 3 hurricane.

At least 43 people were killed: 40 in the Caribbean and three in the Bahamas. On October 25, Sandy got weaker and became a Category 1 hurricane. On October 27, Sandy became a tropical storm for a few hours. It then became a Category 1 hurricane again that morning. On October 26, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray declared a state of emergency for the nation's capital. That same day the governors of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia also declared a state of emergency. Landfall in New Jersey came on October 29. Damage was extensive there and in New York. It was the 2nd costliest hurricane behind Hurricane Katrina (2005).

Sandy's tracking history

Sandy 2012 track
Hurricane Sandy's path.

On October 19, a tropical wave was moving westward through the eastern Caribbean Sea. It had an extended low pressure area. It was expected to become better organized. On October 20, the system became better organized as expected. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that it had a high potential for it to become a tropical cyclone within 48 hours. The next day, thunderstorms were small. Although, barometric pressure in the area remained low. Because of this, the system had potential for development. The thunderstorms got bigger, while the system slowed and eventually stopped moving. At 1500 UTC on October 22, the NHC gave out advisories on Tropical Depression Eighteen. The NHC reported that the storm was 320 mi (515 km) south of Kingston, Jamaica.

When the tropical depression formed, it was in an area of weak steering currents. This was located south of a ridge extending eastward from the Gulf of Mexico. The system was in an area favorable for strengthening. Late on October 22, a Hurricane Hunters flight found winds of 40 mph (64 km/h) in a rainband. This made NHC to upgrade the depression to Tropical Storm Sandy. Because of the moist atmosphere, the storm got better organized. Early on October 24, an eye began to develop. By that time, Sandy was moving slowly northward. At 11:00 am EDT (1500 UTC) on October 24, the NHC upgraded Sandy to hurricane status. This was because the Hurricane Hunters found winds of 99 mph (159 km/h). At the time, Sandy was located about 65 mi (105 km) south of Kingston, Jamaica.

Sandy Oct 24 2012 1845Z
Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy near Jamaica landfall

Sandy made landfall near Kingston at 3:00 p.m EDT (1900 UTC) on October 24. It had winds of about 80 mph (130 km/h). Before making its second landfall, Sandy got stronger and became a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale with 110 mph (175 km/h). At 1:25 am EDT (0525 UTC), Sandy made landfall in Cuba just west of Santiago de Cuba. When it made landfall in Cuba, Sandy had a visible eye of over 23 mi (37 km) in diameter. At the time, winds reached 135 mph (216 km/h). While over land, the storm weakened and the eye was no longer visible. After Sandy left Cuba, dry air and increasing shear caused the storm to be disorganized. A mid-level low over Florida turned the hurricane toward the north-northwest. By early on October 26, most of the storm was to the north of the center. This caused the storm to get larger. By the next day, the NHC reported that Sandy was starting to become more of a hybrid cyclone. On October 27, Sandy weakened to a tropical storm. A few hours later, it got stronger and became a Category 1 hurricane again.

Preparation

Caribbean

After Sandy developed into a tropical cyclone on October 22, the Government of Jamaica issued a tropical storm watch. Early on October 23, the watch became a tropical storm warning. That same day, a hurricane watch was issued for Jamaica. On that same day at 1500 UTC, the hurricane watch was upgraded to a hurricane warning.

The Government of Haiti issued a tropical storm watch for Haiti. By late October 23, it was upgraded to a tropical storm warning. There was a hurricane watch issued for the Cuban Provinces of Camagüey, Granma, Guantánamo, Holguín, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba at 1500 UTC on October 23. Only three hours later, the hurricane watch was switched to a hurricane warning. Only three hours later, the hurricane watch was switched to a hurricane warning.

The Bahamas

The Government of the Bahamas issued a tropical storm watch for the Acklins, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Exuma, Inagua, Long Cay, Long Island, Mayaguana, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador Island. Later that day, another tropical storm watch was issued for Abaco Islands, Andros Island, the Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama, and New Providence. By early on October 24, the tropical storm watch for Cat Island, Exuma, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador was upgraded to a tropical storm warning.

Bermuda

At 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 UTC) on October 26, the Bermuda Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch for Bermuda. This was because of the size of the storm and its possible effect on the island.

United States

Hurricane Sandy NYC Jordan Balderas DSC 1632
A crane in Manhattan, dangling dangerously
Hurricane Sandy East River Manhattan 1
The East River, shown from Manhattan's East River Park, had already swollen to its bank by 11:00 a.m. on October 29th
Hurricane Sandy on 101st St
Blown down trees causing damage and blocking streets (101st Street, UWS)
Times Square subway station shutdown during hurricane Sandy
Times Square subway station shutdown during hurricane Sandy

Many public schools on the Treasure Coast and in Palm Beach County, Florida were closed for Friday October 26. FEMA announced that they will monitor Sandy and help those in need.

Government weather forecasters said there is a 90% chance that the East Coast of the United States get "slammed". Utilities and governments along the East Coast prepared for long-term power failures. In New Jersey, where the storm was expected to come ashore, utilities told employees to be prepared for longer shifts.

On October 26, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency for 38 counties. The emergency took effect on October 27. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney cancelled a campaign in Virginia Beach because of Sandy. Joe Biden also cancelled his campaign because of Sandy. The US Navy sent more than two dozen ships to sea from Norfolk Naval Base, for their protection. On October 26, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray declared a state of emergency for the nation's capital. That same day the governors of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia also declared a state of emergency.

In Cape May County, New Jersey, officials ordered residents on barrier islands to evacuate

Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter asked residents in low lying areas to leave their home by 2 p.m October 28.

In New York City, officials activated the city's coastal emergency plan. The subways closed. There were also evacuations for residents in areas where Hurricane Irene made landfall in August 2011. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that some residents should prepare to evacuate. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for every county in the state. On Long Island, Suffolk County officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of Fire Island residents. Cuomo went on to declared that Hurricane Sandy had been “more impactful” than Hurricane Katrina.

Connecticut's Governor Dan Malloy opened the state's Emergency Operations Center on October 26. Malloy signed an Declaration of Emergency the next day.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency.

Canada

The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued its first statement of Sandy on October 25. One model suggested that Sandy would make a landfall in the East Coast of the United States, possibly affecting Southern Ontario.

Impact

Casualties and damages by country
Country Fatalities Missing Damage (in USD) Sources
 United States 131 0 $63 billion (estimated)
 Haiti 104 15 >$100 million (estimated)
 Cuba 11 0 $2 billion (estimated)
 Bahamas 2 0 $300 million (estimated)
 Canada 2 0 $100 million (estimated)
 Dominican Republic 2 0 $30 million (estimated)
 Jamaica 1 0 $55.23 million (estimated)
Total 253 15 >$65.6 billion (estimated)

At least 253 people were confirmed killed across the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, and the Bahamas, as a result of the storm. The New York City Subway was shut down for days, and parts of it for months. Large areas lost electric power distribution for days. Thousands of houses were damaged by wind and flood, and hundreds burned because firefighters could not reach them.

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