Hurricane Sandy

It has once again strengthened to hurricane force. Expected landfall is New Jersey.

Forewarned is forearmed.

13 responses to “Hurricane Sandy

  1. Seemingly of relevance here …

    New research from the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark clearly shows that there is an increasing tendency for tropical cyclones when the climate warms, as it has in recent decades, at least in the Atlantic basin.

    “Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923”


    Detection and attribution of past changes in cyclone activity are hampered by biased cyclone records due to changes in observational capabilities. Here we construct an independent record of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity on the basis of storm surge statistics from tide gauges. We demonstrate that the major events in our surge index record can be attributed to landfalling tropical cyclones; these events also correspond with the most economically damaging Atlantic cyclones. We find that warm years in general were more active in all cyclone size ranges than cold years. The largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and we detect a statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923. In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years (P < 0.02).

    Authors: Grinsted, Moore & Jevrejeva
    Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, DK

  2. Maybe North Carolina can quick-pass-a-law and save themselves any potential hardship.

  3. Climate Central has a very nice tool showing effects of storm surge + tides + SLR. With spring tide, for New Jersey this looks like a bad trifecta:

    Surging Seas: NJ

  4. Here’s where I meant to post this…not under Unlevel…All the usual caveats…you can’t blame Climate Change for any one specific weather event, drought, flood, blah, blah, blah…. BUT as you’ve noted in the past…come hell or high water, expect both. It certainly looks like the mix present for Sandy does include some elements that can definitely be linked to Climate Change…the warmer waters off the east coast, the persistent blocking patterns. As Jeff Masters has noted at his blog in past……it is getting to the point where it is hard to avoid the increasingly obvious…..this is not your daddy’s climate. See Jeff’s current blog for an update!

  5. What makes the storm so dangerous and unusual is that it is coming at the tail end of hurricane season and the beginning of winter storm season, “so it’s kind of taking something from both,” said Jeff Masters, director of the private service Weather Underground.

  6. Tamino,
    I really learn a lot from your blog. Thanks for all your good discussion.

    I have seen several articles in the mainstream media discussing if any of the damage from Sandy can be attributed to Global Warming. Generally scientists say it is difficult to separate the global warming damage from the weather noise. My question: if the subway system in New York gets overtopped by say 10 inches, and the sea level rise in the past 100 years was 12 inches, could all the damage from the overtopping be attributed to AGW?

    Likewise if you looked at flood damage everywhere along the coast could all the damage from the highest 12 inches of the flood tide be attributed to AGW? For example if there is 6 feet of tide could you compare the damage you would have gotten from 5 feet of rise to the actual damage and say the additional damage is caused by AGW since that is the cause of the starting sea level being 12 inches higher than it would have been?

    • Since sea level rise has been slow and relatively steady ( for example), a 10 inch overtopping is due to not engineering and accounting for sea level rise and could be attributed to SLR-denialists. If a nest of skeptics say the tides go in and the tides go out, water level goes up and water goes down, and mandate use some static model with storms from 70 years ago as a touchstone of extreme engineering events, they are going to underestimate the extremes that do not account for the trends.

      So far, any AGW-attributable changes in observed SLR trends are slow and small that they are barely detectable & hard to extrapolate. Damage attributable to them is insignificant compared to the secular trend and the uncertainty of the weather. If you build your levee or site your house within 10 inches of the wrack line of a 100 year old storm, the 0.91 foot of rise since then would make your plan for a maybe ~6ft 100 year extreme event into less unusual/more frequent ~5ft event. NOAA adjusts its sea level datums every 5-19 years or so, depending on known sea level changes, some up, but some consistently down.

      Tiger Woods’ scores might change and be affected by lots of things, but it is difficult to attribute it to one factor versus another. Age? Practice? Recent professional tournaments? Publicity? If worn shoes can cut 4 yards off a drive, how much of a loss is due to the shoes?

  7. Michael Sweet

    Sea level rise has only been slow and steady for the past 150 years. At the current rate of sea level rise it would be 4 meters since Roman times. In that time period sea level declined until recently. The current rise is due entirely to AGW. see this skeptical science review

  8. Your link seems broken. Maybe you mean ?

    I’m not saying that there isn’t a curvature effect, I’m saying that its small compared to the ~100year trend. Take the Chruch & White 2006 grapgh from that link, lay a straightedge on it & estimate the chord height. I get less than 50mm over 140 years, which is small compared to the uncertainty of individual tide gauge measurements, the 100 year trend, storm surge signals, etc.. If your risk threshold is dependent on a 50mm error, change, or mis-estimation.

    The acceleration is real and positive, but we’re better served by the physics based models than by statistical extrapolations of a linear or quadratic trends for predictions much outside time extent of the observations. (What’s that Twain quote about extrapolating the Mississippi delta?)

    I live in a region with higher than average sea level rise, with folks proud of their 1-2m high waterfront homes, and they are using a risk model based on Z-hat ~ constant. That they don’t plan for even the trend is worse than the AGW acceleration effect.

  9. michael sweet

    I meant this one :

    It is my understanding that sea level was level or declining for the past 4,000 years. Over the past 150 years sea level has increased. The recent increase is all caused by AGW. The 50 mm you measure is all due to AGW.

    People near the ocean here in Florida are planning on not much sea level rise.

    • Durn. I hadn’t read that. If even pre-industrial Anthropogenic activities were enough to cause a GW hockeystick in sea level change rates, we’ve no hope.