Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weather Whys Wednesday: Before & After Sandy

Not a really in depth Weather Whys this week, but I want to continue our discussion of Sandy. By now, most of you have seen various before and after imagery from Hurricane Sandy on the New Jersey Shore. Most of those have been satellite imagery. The USGS just unveiled some additional before/after imagery the other day which offers a unique perspective on the disaster. There is the obvious horrific images from Mantoloking, which show the utter devastation that occurred (clicking an image will take you to the USGS site linked to above):
Mantoloking, NJ before/after images from USGS

Mantoloking, NJ before/after images from USGS

The raw fury of the ocean can be depicted from that of course, but what stands out to me are a couple of things. 

Ocean City, NJ after Nor'Ida in 2009
One thing I often noticed on the Jersey Shore were "cliffs" that would form in the wake of some of these stronger nor'easters. In some instances they would be too steep to even jump off of onto the remaining beach. The image at the left is just that actually, taken in Ocean City after the nor'easters of 2009. Most of these (such as the photo) are due to sand dunes being eroded. But in cases like the Deal, NJ pics from USGS, you can see basically that the land was overwashed, rocks exposed, and new cliffs formed from basically the land itself.

The images of the roller coaster in the ocean in Seaside Heights are haunting, but the more powerful imagery can be seen where houses were tossed around like toys in that area.

On a more local note, there are a couple before/afters from South Jersey as well that illustrate the erosion problems that now exist in the wake of Sandy. Much of the beach in Brigantine and a good chunk in Stone Harbor are now gone, meaning that subsequent coastal storms this winter will likely keep residents of the Shore on edge until adequate dune reconstruction and beach replenishment can occur.

A side note on Sandy: It was announced yesterday that the National Weather Service will conduct a service assessment and review to look back on their work and see where they had issues in the forecast, communication, etc. leading into the storm. While the forecast was spot on good, there were clearly severe issues in communicating the hazards appropriately. From the storm not producing Hurricane Warnings because of the expected extratropical transition to NYC Mayor Bloomberg's errant comparison to Irene over the weekend before it hit, this assessment is set to be chock full of extremely interesting information that will likely bring the focus of the watch/warning process back into the forefront of debate. One very unique aspect about this service assessment is that Mike Smith, who runs WeatherData in Wichita, KS (an affiliate company of AccuWeather) was asked to serve as a lead in this assessment. Very rarely do those outside NOAA/NWS get to do this. Smith literally wrote the book on the development of the warning process in America and is no stranger to critiquing (and praising) the NWS in a bluntly honest manner. This should add some further intrigue to this process. Don't get too excited just yet though: We likely won't see or hear the results about this for several months, if not until next summer.