Freak factors made Sandy a Frankenstorm

Hurricanes are nasty customers any way you spin it. But as we’ve seen in the past with storms like Katrina, some are much more devastating than others.

But it’s more than a great patch of warm ocean water that made Sandy such a monster. A series of natural phenomena that all happened to occur on the same day helped grow Sandy to gargantuan proportions.

First of all, Sandy proves that monsters and weirdos do come out when the moon is full. Last night’s full moon was in perfect alignment with the Earth and the sun. When that happens, pull on the Earth and its tides are the greatest. Sandy’s storm surge – the welling up of water that precedes the storm – was expected to be about 12 feet, while the moon would add another foot. A total of 13 feet proved disastrous for those along the New Jersey coast, Manhattan and Brooklyn. Right now, much of the New York subway system is completely shut down from flooding.

Added to that is a massive high-pressure system currently squatting over Canada. Where Sandy would have continued to move north, it encountered this barometric wall and abruptly turned west onto New York’s shoreline.

Finally, the jet stream may have caused even more havoc. Ordinarily, the stream moves from west to east, but occasionally it changes directions. This was one of those occasions, with the stream was moving southeast to northwest. The National Weather Service Forecast Office says the stream may have been sucking air away from Sandy from above, which would actually help fuel her activity.

It wouldn’t be hard to believe that all of these factors were at work last night. The New York Times has a series of photos detailing the destruction.

Photo: NASA


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