Sandy Surge

Steve's picture

I read that Hurricane Sandy inflicted 50 billion dollars of property damage. I don’t know what fraction of the 50 billion was purely wind-sourced versus the fraction caused by storm surge. Certainly, the most graphic pictures of the damage in my mind are the homes tossed helter-skelter by the latter. A close second are images of businesses and houses sitting 6 or 8 feet deep in muddy water.

Yuck. Anyone who has experienced a burst water pipe, a surprise roof leak, or a careless teenager who left the shower curtain open, knows the horror of water coming through the ceiling or across the floor. Now magnify that dread a thousand fold.

“Dry wall don’t take kindly to water.” to misquote Sean Connery from The Hunt for Red October.


In hurricanes, generally circular wind patterns tend to drag ocean water along. Where land gets in the way, the flow has no choice but to “bank up” against the coast. The angle of the bank up is incredibly slight, maybe one-thousandth of one degree. Still, if you start walking up a slope of one-thousandth of one degree, after 100 miles you'll find yourself at a height of nine feet. That’s what storm surge is all about, a 100 mile bank up offshore and terrible consequences onshore.    

We are accustomed to the ocean staying pretty much in place. Here is the sea and here is the land. When that demarcation decides to move a few miles inland during a hurricane, things are a mess -- a 50 billion dollar mess in this case.

I put together this movie explaining the science of storm surge and it’s application to Sandy.

It’s curious that Sandy happened in the tenth month. I’m thinking that a screenwriter could use the misquote above in a new action movie, The Hunt for Wet October.

Naw, maybe not.

Steven N Ward     Santa Cruz


GarlandCGarland's picture

This is very bad news that sandy inflicted 50 billion dollars of property damage. I read about this from which provide me complete detail about this in depth.

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