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Superstorms of History

October 30th, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe · No Comments

Dr. Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at wunderground.com, puts Sandy into historical perspective:

In a stunning spectacle of atmospheric violence, Superstorm Sandy roared ashore in New Jersey last night with sustained winds of 90 mph and a devastating storm surge that crippled coastal New Jersey and New York. Sandy’s record size allowed the historic storm to bring extreme weather to over 100 million Americans, from Chicago to Maine and from Michigan to Florida. Sandy’s barometric pressure at landfall was 946 mb, tying the Great Long Island Express Hurricane of 1938 as the most powerful storm ever to hit the Northeast U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, NC. New York City experienced its worst hurricane since its founding in 1624, as Sandy’s 9-foot storm surge rode in on top of a high tide to bring water levels to 13.88′ at The Battery, smashing the record 11.2′ water level recorded during the great hurricane of 1821. Damage from Superstorm Sandy will likely be in the tens of billions, making the storm one of the five most expensive disasters in U.S. history.

From the Atlantic (appropriately enough) come these vintage newsreels about various hurricanes. The one above documents the September 1938 storm mentioned by Masters. It caused $306 million in damages. Below is the story of Hurricane Camille, which, as our entry notes,

arrived in Virginia on the night of August 19, 1969, one of only three category five storms ever to make landfall in the United States since record-keeping began. One of the worst natural disasters in Virginia’s history, the storm produced what meteorologists at the time guessed might be the most rainfall “theoretically possible.” As it swept through Virginia overnight, it seemed to catch authorities by surprise. Communication networks were not in place or were knocked out, leaving floods and landslides to trap residents as they slept. Hurricane Camille cost Virginia 113 lives lost and $116 million in damages. It also served as a lesson that inland flooding could be as great a danger as coastal flooding during a hurricane.

Tags: Misc. · Virginia History

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