Thursday, January 29, 2015

New analysis: Hurricane Sandy trajectory 'once every 700 years' rare

This satellite image taken Oct. 28, 2012 shows the massive size of Hurricane Sandy as it moved northward on a course that resulted in devastation, especially in New Jersey and New York. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)
This satellite image taken Oct. 28, 2012 shows the massive size of Hurricane Sandy as it moved northward on a course that resulted in devastation, especially in New Jersey and New York. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

No one who lives at or around the Jersey Shore needs to be told about the epic magnitude of Hurricane Sandy.

Everyone lived it last year — and many are still dealing with the ramifications of its devastating power.

But a new study of Sandy's trajectory that dealt a direct blow to New Jersey and New York shows Sandy was as rare a storm as it was a destructive one.

So rare in fact, the analysis found it to be a 1-in-700 year meteorological occurrence, according to a LiveScience report published Friday.

"The particular shape of Sandy's trajectory is very peculiar, and that's very rare, on the order of once every 700 years," Timothy Hall, a senior scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies who co-authored the study, told LiveScience.

In percentage-speak, Hall said a storm taking Sandy's trajectory in any given year has a 0.0014 percent chance of happening. One of the most recent studies of the storm found it to be the second costliest in American history, behind only Hurricane Katrina.

Last October, Sandy slammed directly into the coast from the southwest, which combined with a couple other factors including a full moon and the storm's ability to remain potent during the time it worked up the Atlantic coast, made for an epic weather event.

Still, warned Hall, who first published his initial findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters May 28, the miniscule percent chance given to Sandy and the "700 year" label doesn't mean it can't happen again well before the year 2712.

"We don't want to lead with the misimpression that we don't have to worry, [that] it's going to be 700 years until we have another surge. That's not true," Hall told LiveScience.


Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

Brian X. McCrone PHILLY.COM
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