“Hurricanes: Their Nature And Impacts On Society” Published In 1997 By Pielke Jr. and Pielke Sr. Available As A PDF

Our book

Pielke, R.A., Jr. and R.A. Pielke, Sr., 1997: Hurricanes: Their nature and impacts  on society. John Wiley and Sons, England, 279 pp.

is available as a pdf. The material is not updated for more recent storms (since 1997) but the recommendations and information on tropical cyclones may useful in the discussion of the impacts of Sandy. Of particular interest related to such late season hurricanes is the text on Hurricane Hazel (1954) where we wrote that

Hazel joined with another storm system to devastate inland communities from Virginia to Ontario, Canada. Washington, DC experienced its strongest winds ever recorded……..In 1954, Hurricane Hazel…..underwent a similar rapid acceleration to a speed of 60 mph (27 meters per second), as strong south to southwesterly winds developed to the west of the storm. Hazel crossed the North Carolina coastline at 9:25 am on 15 October, and reached Toronto, Canada only 14 hours later where it resulted in 80 deaths (Joe et al. 1995). At that time, it was the most destructive hurricane to reach the North Carolina coast. Every fishing pier was destroyed over a distance of 170 miles (270 km) from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Cedar Island, North Carolina. All traces of civilization were practically annihilated at the immediate waterfront between Cape Fear and the South Carolina state line.

We reported that

“….tropical cyclones can become absorbed into developing mid-latitude storms thereby infusing added moisture and wind energy from the tropical cyclone and resulting in a more intense mid-latitude storm than otherwise would occur.

Clearly, this later behavior is what made Sandy a much stronger storm than either a mid-latitude or hurricane would have been separately. In contrast to Hazel, however, Sandy was not as strong a hurricane. It also tracked towards the west as it interacted with the developing mid-latitude storm rather than accelerating northward as Hazel did.  This resulted in the large fetch of easterly and southeasterly winds into northern New Jersey, Long Island and New Your City which produced the large storm surge.

Our book also discusses the impacts of tropical cyclones which includes extreme winds, storm surge, tornadoes, flash flooding and riverine (i.e. large river) flooding. The analysis has yet to be completed, but I suspect that storm surge will attributed, by far, to  largest economic damage.

Also, with a storm of this magnitude, the National Hurricane Center, the National Center for Environmental Prediction, the media and public officials must be recognized and commended for their early warming. This has resulted in a much lower loss of life than would have otherwise occurred.

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