The Worst Storm in History? Hurricane Sandy looms over the East Coast, but just how bad could the 'Frankenstorm' be?

 

Hurricane Sandy, or Frankenstorm, or indeed Superstorm Sandy - whatever you call it - this massive storm looks set on a course to wreak spectacular havoc across the US East Coast when it makes landfall sometime this evening.

But why, in particular, is this storm expected to cause such chaos, and are the American authorities over-hyping it?

Here are some reasons why forecasters, emergency services and residents are so worried about what Sandy might do:

Hurricane Sandy is enormous.

Sandy is thought to be the second largest Atlantic tropical cyclone since 1988 - only bettered by Olga, a 2001 storm.

The storm has 175 miles of hurricane force winds stretching out from its centre, combined with tropical storm force winds extending 520 miles.

Because of its enormity the numbers of people who could be impacted by the storm is mind-boggling with somewhere in the region of 60 million Americans likely to experience some of the weather associated with Sandy - this is some 20% of the population of the US.

Its direction...

Normally hurricanes head off into the Atlantic as they move north.

This time Sandy is being forced by a high-pressure zone to head inland, where it will fuse with a cold front bearing down from Canada and could intensify.

This morning the storm appeared to be gaining in strength, recording winds of 85mph as it veered north.

The storm is expected to change direction later, moving towards the north-west, and putting the New Jersey coastline directly in its path.

The storm is predicted to pass possibly within 100 miles of New York.

The biggest storm in history?

Sandy has been compared to the Perfect Storm that slammed into the American northeast in 1991.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has also compared Hurricane Sandy to Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and the Great Gale of 1878.

The Great Gale of 1878 hit regions from New England to Cuba. Hurricane Hazel killed over a thousand people.

Hurricane Sandy could be particularly devastating because of the possibility it may merge with cold weather fronts from the west and north, creating a superstorm and meaning that as well as rain and high winds there could be up to two feet of snow in some areas.

Some experts say the storm could even be bigger than the 1938 New England hurricane known as the Long Island Express, which killed nearly 800 people.

Others have predicted it would be significantly more disastrous than last year's Hurricane Irene, which caused $15 billion in damage.

Storm surge of up to 12ft

Possibly the most worrying aspect of Hurricane Sandy is the forecast of a 12ft storm surge in the New York City area.

The highest ever storm surge in modern history at Battery Park was 10.5 feet in 1960.

Hurricane Irene saw a surge of just over four feet.

Officials have warned that the surge combined with rain means flooding would be “life-threatening.”

Experts from the hurricane centre have said the surges could reach 11 feet in New York Harbor, Long Island Sound and Raritan Bay in New Jersey.

High winds mean power cuts and damage

Hurricane strength winds are expected to do significant damage, causing power cuts across a huge area.

Ominously just after dawn this morning Sandy appeared to be gaining in strength, recording winds of up to 85mph.

Winds of 40-50mph are expected across a significant area across the East Coast.

It'll stick around...

The low pressure associated with this particular storm means it is likely to be long lasting.

Forecasters have predicted low pressure of 951 millibars, the lowest ever recorded in New Jersey was 961 millibars.

The tropical storm winds are unlikely to start to abate until well into Wednesday.

Up to 9 inches of rain.

Along with the high-winds, and the possible snow, some forecasters are suggesting there could be as much as nine inches of rain in some areas, leading to significant flooding.

Travel chaos

Hurricane Sandy has already been responsible for the grounding of flights across the US and from the UK.

Around 3,000 flights have been cancelled because of airports shutting down. Yesterday evening, in anticipation of the arrival of Sandy the New York transportation system closed at 7pm.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Planner

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen withi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£13676.46 - £15864.28 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Re...

Recruitment Genius: Existing Customer Telephone Consultants

£13000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Every day they get another 1000...

Recruitment Genius: Contract Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor