9 years since the Hurricane Sandy kerfuffle

Hurricane Sandy will be remembered for decades as a very unusual storm, with its huge size and disputed tropicality all the way back to its passage near the Bahamas. Of course, it cannot be forgotten that the storm also made a hurricane landfall on Jamaica and a major hurricane landfall in Cuba, before it devastated the northeastern United States. It will also be remembered in meteorological circles for the National Hurricane Center’s paralysis in issuing watches and warnings beyond North Carolina, due to the storm’s transition to extratropical status. This pedantry caused much confusion in the wider world, and one could suggest that many at the NHC were desperate to make exceptions, but protocol at the time didn’t allow it.

We know of course that these rules were changed after Sandy, and the National Weather Service had out all the relevant warnings relating to an extratropical cyclone when it made landfall. High Wind Warnings and Flood Warnings littered the Mid-Atlantic and the northeast, but some still didn’t take it as seriously as they would a hurricane watch or warning.
Hurricane Sandy’s enormous windfield caused maximum impact when it made landfall in New Jersey, with impacts extending over many adjacent states and beyond to the whole region, with damages reaching around $75 billion – the second highest ever total at the time behind Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, mute one-man show Nathan Foy was scheduled to have a Monday-Friday vacation in the south of England during the storm. Early updates were created easily and efficiently, even though by today’s standards they are pretty poor. Internal communications also reveal that Nathan criticised the British news media for publicising Hurricane Sandy as “Frankenstorm”.

“Oh for goodness sake. Now the British news agencies are calling Sandy “Frankenstorm”, coined by the American media. They named storms since 1950 for a reason. The name’s Sandy!”

But a point of realisation came about where it was becoming plain that this would be a severe impact whether tropical or not, and that he would have to either sit out the vacation or sit out Sandy.

Things got worse when Sandy reached Category 2 hurricane status as it started to execute its terminal turn towards the United States in the subtropics. Landfall was slated for Monday evening, October 29, right around the time that Nathan and company would be settling in after driving six hours across the country. The journey began at 12:15pm, and ended at 5:30pm, with good traffic along the way. At this point, Hurricane Sandy was now 8 hours from landfall.

And so, the source of the below photo comes from hurriedly setting up the computer in an isolated cabin in Cornwall, to produce the biggest update of Hurricane Sandy’s life – the one where it was about to make landfall and unleash its widespread damage and storm surge. The video was made as normal on the computer, however the only free power point was along a wooden bench, with no desk for a monitor. Making the video was only one part of the project, however, as the cabin had no internet reception. Nathan was also prepared for this, and had to rush a laptop across to the community hub of the holiday park and use their WiFi to upload the video, after transferring the video via a memory stick.

Nathan Foy preparing for Update 10 of Hurricane Sandy, which was published at 9:30pm UTC on October 29. At this point, the storm was about to make landfall in New Jersey with winds of 90mph and a pressure of 940mb. Nathan produced the update in a holiday cabin, and had to run across to the park’s entertainment area to upload it on a laptop, where the WiFi was.

The vacation in general was a damp squib, with Hurricane Sandy getting in the way and the accomodation having poor heating. Nathan and his family headed back home on October 31, only three days into the five day trip.

Links:
The video that was produced from the holiday cabin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z24AvnOn20
The Track of Hurricane Sandy (created in 2020): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASr7Vrb04lc

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