So, yesterday I wrote a diary about Sandy that many of you were kind enough to recommend. It included a HUGE list of tips, and I hope many of you were able to follow them. Sandy has not only met expectations in terms of it becoming a monster, but it has exceeded them. I plan to put this diary in three parts, just like yesterdays diary. The first part will cover exactly what makes Sandy so bad (and how it has developed since yesterday's diary), the second part will cover what you should expect (now refined because we know much better where it will hit), and the third part will be a revised version of what you should do now.
I want to make this very clear: this is a dangerous, historic, unprecedented storm. This has never happened before. If you are warned by officials to take action, don't delay. If you are warned to evacuate, get out. It may be too late, but my advice is to seek shelter in a place that does not have lots of trees around it, and if you live in New York City... just make sure you are prepared. As a Katrina survivor, things can get very bad in a city that gets shut down by a storm. Please, stock up on as much food, no matter what kind, as possible right now.
Part 1 - What makes this storm so bad?
A long time ago, you may have seen the movie "The Perfect Storm." It's pretty much exactly what is happening here, except that the clash between the storm and the cold front trough with a high pressure system behind it occurred far out to sea. that storm had a central pressure of 971. That was supposed to be unprecedented... historic... a once in a lifetime event. Turns out it is not. Here is a picture of that interaction:
Here is a picture of Sandy:
That picture alone should send goosebumps. To put it mildly, the storm would eat "the perfect storm" of 1991 alive. The strongest effects of this interaction and this storm are forecast right now to go straight in the worst place possible for New York City... a slightly southern hit into New Jersey, with the strongest wave and surge action right into the Hudson and the city.
Currently, this storm is one of the lowest pressures ever, and it is lowering. Remember how I said that the pressure was 971 for the perfect storm? This one is 951 and falling.
What makes this storm so tremendous is size. Look at that picture of Sandy again. The tropical storm force windfield is... unheard of.
That orange is the extent at which tropical storm force or greater winds are felt right now... and it is expected to EXPAND. This may wind up being the largest storm in recorded history.
Waves: The wave height is... once again, unheard of. Unprecedented. This map shows the wave height in meters, right now. This is expected to EXPAND, once it interacts more with the cold front. The green contours are 15 feet. The purple in the middle is 45 foot waves.
These waves would, quite simply, destroy anything that floats. I want to say that these are open-ocean waves. Don't expect 45 foot waves on shore. However, with this kind of wave action, it will mean that the storm surge will have intense wave activity on top of it, making the storm surge more destructive.
Wind: Look at that wind map. Whenever it makes landfall, it is expected to give you sustained winds of tropical storm force or greater speeds for literally days. The size of this storm means you will be feeling its effects for a long time before it even makes landfall. One of the issues that we don't currently fully understand is what happens to the wind when it interacts with a high-pressure system and frontal system that it is about to interact with. the couple times something like this has happened, it resulted in higher wind gusts. Wind is going to be a major issue.
Surge: More on this later in the "effects" section. Jeff Masters, a meteorologist, points out some of the problems with this storm. It is hitting at high tide, and its size means that its surge is not as related to its windspeed as it is to its sheer mass of water in motion that it is carrying with it.
Last night's 9:30 pm EDT H*Wind analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Sandy's winds at a modest 2.6 on a scale of 0 to 6. However, the destructive potential of the storm surge was exceptionally high: 5.7 on a scale of 0 to 6. This is a higher destructive potential than any hurricane observed between 1969 - 2005, including Category 5 storms like Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Camille, and Andrew. The previous highest destructive potential for storm surge was 5.6 on a scale of 0 to 6, set during Hurricane Isabel of 2003. Sandy is now forecast to bring a near-record storm surge of 6 - 11 feet to Northern New Jersey and Long Island Sound, including the New York City Harbor.Rain and Snow: The rain is going to be tremendous with this storm. Flooding is expected to be a major factor. Strangely enough, I am not used to talking about snow during a hurricane, but this is not a normal event. Snow will pound eastern Ohio, West Virginia, and the western portions of North Carolina and Virginia. There is talk of as much as 5 feet of snow in these areas.
So here is where I will discuss where the specific impacts are expected to be:
Red - Highest impact. Widespread to extensive loss of power expected along with major coastal flooding, and many trees and power lines down possibly blocking areas. Structural damage is also possible in some cases, especially in vulnerable areas (i.e. higher terrain, near the ocean/lakes in onshore flows and in areas prone to funneling). Possible sustained winds 35 to 55 mph with gusts 60 to 80 mph, except sustained over 60 mph with gusts up to 100 mph in the most vulnerable areas.
Orange - Significant impact. Scattered to widespread loss of power, with numerous to many trees and power lines down. Slight structural damage possible in vulnerable areas (i.e. higher terrain, near the ocean/lakes in onshore flows and in areas prone to funneling). Possible sustained winds 30 to 45 mph with gusts 50 to 65 mph, except up to 80 mph in the most vulnerable areas.
Yellow - Modest impact. Isolated to scattered loss of power. A few trees and power lines possibly down. Possible sustained winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts 35 to 50 mph, except up to 60 mph in the most vulnerable areas.
Blue - High impact due to heavy snow. This area overlaps with other colored zones, and indicates where heavy, wet snow could take down many trees and power lines and caused major problems in themselves.
Specifically, one of the biggest, most terrifying issues to me, is surge in New York City:
Zone A is already ordered to be evacuated. However, not much is known about the potential of this storm surge. Storms like this can carry category 3-like storm surge with them. If you live in New York City, please, please take heed and if I were you, I'd find a friend that you can stay with in an area that is devoid of color on this map. As someone who was here for Katrina, wading through hurricane water is just not fun, and dangerous.
Here is why I say this... the CERA storm surge model has this as water depths over land:
All in all, anyone who lives in any area in red or orange, and those in the blue blizzard zones, should be prepared for potentially devastating weather conditions and plan accordingly.
What do you do now?
Well, first, I will quote my old diary. Some of these may be outdated, but many of you will probably be able to take some of these tips before it hits:
1) You need about a gallon of water per person per day. Figure you're on your own for at least three days before the Salvation Army, FEMA, Red Cross and/or National Guard gets there. So fill up what ever containers you have or can buy. Don't forget your critters.If you have already done all of these, good on you. Just make sure you've got it all checked off.
2) Do you have a manual can opener? You'll need one.
3) Medications should be refilled now.
4) If you need meds refrigerated, call/visit the closest fire department. Explain the issue. They may know of a service within your town that offers ice for medical reasons after the storm arrives.
5) If you have a spare tub, fill that with water to flush the toilet. Though if the water levels get too high, the septic systems may not work. If the water gets really high, the sewer systems won't work. If the power is out long enough, the lift stations for the sewers won't work.
6) Contact family/friends/redditors out of the storm area now so you have one spot to call if your family becomes separated.
7) Even if cell phones are mainly down or the circuits are busy, text messages can get through.
8) Cash is king when there's no power. Debit and credit cards don't work without power.
9) If you are on a wooded lot, check your chain saw. Do you have bar oil? What about treated gas? Gas that's been sitting, particularly with the ethanol levels, makes for crappy two-stroke fuel. Check that what you have is OK and works.
10) Fill up your fuel tanks and extra gas tanks now. Again, without power, the gas pumps don't work.
11) Do you have a car charger for your phone? Now would be a good time to make sure it works, particularly for those folks that just got a new iphone 5 with the new lightning adapter.
12) Use up your refrigerated food first. Cook the meat and eat the dairy within the first couple of days on the grill. There is no saving it without power.
13) Do you have enough propane and/or charcoal to fuel the barbeque?
14) When cooking with the grill, use it away from the house. Make sure a flare-up can't catch the soffitt on fire. Don't grill in the garage.
15) Rake the yard now. With the amount of rain expected, you need the drains open and running freely. A drain clogged with leaves does not flow and all the water may end up in your basement.
16) Buy a tarp or two. I get the medium and about a 10 mil just to protect the roof if I've got a tree down. If you don't need them, you can always return them.
17) Batteries for everything. You need batteries for flashlights and everyone in the family should have their own flashlight.
18) Canned food is fine. Packaged tuna, canned spaghetti, peanut butter and crackers, peanut butter and jelly,
19) Make certain you have one long (50 foot) heavy duty extension cord. I was without power for 20+ days after Hurricane Charlie in 2004, but my neighbors, on a different circuit, were without power for 40+ days. We ran their refrigerator and fans on an extension cord for the 20+ days I had power and they didn't.
20) After the storm is over, don't go sloshing through the puddles. Power lines will be down all over the place and that water may be hiding that live wire.
21) Collect the phone numbers of the power, phone and cable companies. If there is an issue like a downed wire, or junction box destroyed by a fallen tree, they want to know.
22) If there is someone in the house with medical issues that must have power, call the local Red Cross. There will be a medical shelter that will have back up power. Make sure you have a spot there.
23) If you're being told to evacuate, get out. I'm in a southern suburb of Orlando and about 280 miles west of Sandy. We've had gusts of 47 at my house tonight and winds of about 20 all day. This storm is huge, slow moving and full of moisture. Whoever gets this storm is going to get the crap kicked out of them.
I wish you well because someone's going to need it.
24) If you have pets, make sure they have name tags on. If the pet gets lost, you want someone to call. Make sure it's a phone number you can answer. If you only have a landline, now would be a good time to get a google voice number. If the worst happens and your house isn't there any more, how will someone reach you?
25) If you have pets, call the vet for proof of rabies and shots. If you need to evacuate, your pet may not be welcome at a shelter without these records.
26) Right now, find your paperwork for all your insurance policies. Home, renters, car, business. If your house is damaged, the paperwork may not be available or may have been destroyed.
27) If you are even sorta kinda near this storm and you're near a body of water or the coast, do you know at least two ways to leave your neighborhood? Plan it out. Write it down. If things get hairy, your mind may not be working all that clearly and things you thought you'd never forget, you don't know.
28) If you need to evacuate, where are you going to go? Does everyone in your family know? Even the ones not in the area?
29) Every person in the family should have the phone numbers and addresses of family written down. Everything is in our phones, but when that battery dies, you can't access those phone numbers.
Flashlights and candles - best candles I find are tealights, they're pretty tight and you can just drop one in a lowball glass and it's pretty much safe.
Fridge and Freezer - Keep the fridge closed unless you know what you are taking out to eat. Everytime you open it, you're seriously decreasing the temperature and how long you food will last. If you can, get your deep freeze/freezer stocked tight with ice, it'll last longer in the event of a prolonged power outage.
BBQs - Great way to have hot food thoughout, but it should go without saying, the running BBQ stays outside.
Boredom - Books, cards, boardgames and booze. If all you're doing is waiting, might as well have a buzz going.
Portable electronics - Might as well keep them off as long as you can. You may need the battery life in an emergency. You can save a lot of battery life on your devices by disabling the mobile radio, so it stops searching and bluetooth, wifi, nfc since you won't be using it anyways. Set you brightness to the lowest level, most devices are set high and they really don't need to be.
Communcation - If it looks bad in your area, have a plan with friends or family beforehand so you parents aren't worrying and if someone needs to leave, everyone knows whats up.
PLEASE don't leave generators running inside.
Useful resources for you to use:
The National Hurricane Center:
Storm surge overview:
NWS - Taking over this storm soon:
New Jersey's Website:
They have lots of good info on current evacuations and such.
Anyone on the coast, keep track of this site:
It is a live update of coastal surge risk that will show how the surge changes with the changing forecasts.
12:31 PM PT: Important info from cbastian
NJ Transit shuts down at 4 PM.
MTA bus, subway and Commuter Rail shuts down starting at 7 PM
PATH shuts dow at midnight.
Most flights tomorrow are being cencelled
NYC and other regional shelters are open if you're in an evacuation zone.