Sandy's storm surge a killer

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2013 photo, a beach front home that was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy rests in the sand in Bay Head, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Sandy reached the New Jersey coast with hurricane-force winds, but technically it was not a hurricane.

That was one of the conclusions in the government's 150-plus page post-mortem on a storm that has taken its place among the most-destructive and costliest on record.

The full report is available here.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which compiled the report, said it stood to become the second-costliest "hurricane" on record in raw numbers, with a $50 million price tag. Katrina remains No. 1.

Normalized for inflation and development, it would rank No. 6, but we should include an asterisk, since not all the damage resulted from Sandy's career as a hurricane.

When Sandy made landfall near Brigantine, the report said its peak sustained winds were 77 m.p.h., or 3 better than the minimum required for hurricane strength.

By then, however, NOAA said Sandy had lost its tropical characteristics and had become "post tropical."

The National Hurricane Center continued to issue advisories, but no "tropical storm" or "hurricane" watches or warnings for the Mid-Atlantic, a decision that became controversial.

NOAA acknowledged that the decision created confusion and said it would consider keeping things simpler should anything like this happen again.

And one would hope it won't.

In all, the storm was blamed for 72 deaths in the United States, 41 of those storm-surge related.

In addition, 87 indirect deaths were attributed to Sandy.