AC Alert for November 19, 2012 Sandy -- Looked Like an Illegal Left Turn! AC Alert for November 19, 2012 Sandy -- Looked Like an Illegal Left Turn! AC Alert for November 19, 2012 Sandy -- Looked Like an Illegal Left Turn!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 10:45am

CONTENT: Newsletter

Wasn't that an illegal left turn which Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy took back on October 29th? Or, are we to expect more of these "bizarre" ("super storm") weather events in the future?

We know our friends in the Northeast don't have to be reminded, as they are still living through the nightmare. However, for the benefit of those in other parts of the country and the globe, here's what happened two weeks ago to cause a storm like none other to devastate portions of the most heavily populated shoreline areas in the country:

  • A tropical storm formed in the Caribbean in the third week of October, eventually strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane (nothing terribly unusual, rather typical for the latter part of the Atlantic hurricane season). It's what happened after that which has weather and climate experts scratching their heads. The storm moved up the Atlantic coastline and slammed ashore from New Jersey to New York City and beyond to Long Island.  Another storm moved to collide with Sandy.  And the waters were rising with a high tide in the Atlantic and shoreline waters.

Climate Central's Andrew Freeman offered this prophetic commentary back on October 22nd: "A swirl of thunderstorms in the Caribbean, which is a notorious breeding ground for October hurricanes, is expected to coalesce into Tropical Storm Sandy and possibly intensify to hurricane strength as it moves toward Jamaica, eastern Cuba, and the Bahamas by Wednesday and Thursday. But it's what could happen after that that has some weather forecasters pondering some rather bizarre scenarios — think if a hurricane and nor'easter mated, possibly spawning a very rare and powerful hybrid storm, slamming into the Boston-to-Washington corridor early next week, with rain, snow, damaging winds, and potential storm surge flooding. Several computer model runs have shown a slingshot scenario, in which Tropical Storm (or hurricane) Sandy initially moves out to sea east of North Carolina, but is captured by the jet stream and flung northwestward into the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast." (Source: Huffington Post)

What Freeman feared is precisely what occurred. As these storms move up the East Coast, they usually veer out to sea or at worst, hug the coastline. However, in this instance, Sandy made a sharp left turn east of New Jersey and plowed right into the vulnerable shoreline south of New York State and New York City. This put much of New Jersey as well as densely-populated New York City and to the east, suburban Long Island in the most dangerous "right quadrant" of the storm -- where the winds were highest and the Atlantic Ocean storm surge the greatest. This is extremely rare -- almost unheard of for hurricanes especially in northern latitudes.

Are we to expect more of this in the future? Did global warming and climate change have an impact on Sandy's track? These are very important questions and while no one has the definitive answers they are truly worth exploring.

  • As New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo said during the storm, it seems like the once-in-a-hundred year storm is coming every two years.


Our weather does seem to be on a warming trend. The ocean waters are growing warmer.  The storms coming from the tropics are growing stronger. Is it Global Warming -- or just the usual climate cycles? That’s the magic question. A great deal depends on the answers -- and the moves made to address global warming while we still have time on our side.

The last three years have seen a broadening and enlivened debate of the existence of human-caused climate change challenged by some doubters who feel the changes are just normal cycles. Up until Hurricane Sandy smashed into NJ-NY, polls showed that the majority of the American public apparently still doesn’t believe in the problems of climate change / global warming. That could change now, but with world governments still unable to agree on a course of action, at least Sandy got a lot of people talking and public officials focusing on global warming.

Accountability Central continues to focus on potentially one of the greatest issues world society faces in our special Hot Topic section Global Warming and Climate Change. Since this section was begun in April 2008 more than 3000 articles, commentaries and reports have been posted for our readers. Here are some of the latest:

Experts argue global warming's impact on Sandy's unusual path to N.J.
(Source: It wasn’t supposed to happen. That’s what the weather experts kept saying immediately before, during and after Sandy smacked New Jersey in the face. Not this far north, they said, not in autumn, and certainly not this bad.  This is why the global warming finger-pointing that usually begins after a natural disaster, preceded this one.

Climate change triggering national security threats
(Source: Politico) Climate change will likely lead to more frequent extreme weather events as well as droughts and floods, triggering serious social and political disruption that poses a potential threat to U.S. national security, according to a National Research Council report.

Climate Predictions: Worst-Case May Be Most Accurate, Study Finds
(Source: National Geographic Daily News) A new climate-change study in the journal Science says global warming is here to stay and that future warming will likely be on the high side of predictions.

Climate change threat to Arabica coffee crops
(Source: BBC News) Climate change could severely reduce the areas suitable for wild Arabica coffee before the end of the century.

Sandy said what presidential candidates were afraid to say
(Source: CNN) In the three debates by the presidential candidates and one by the vice-presidential hopefuls, no one could bring himself to utter the words "climate change."
Hurricane Sandy said what all four White House contenders were afraid to say.

Sandy, rising seas fuel future climate concerns
(Source: USA Today) In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a fight immediately broke out among public officials over the role global warming played with the storm.

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics