Category Archives: Storms and Hurricanes

When Hurricane Sandy Pounded USA, I Was in Ellicott City, Maryland!


By T. V. Antony Raj


When Hurricane Sandy, unofficially known as the “Superstorm Sandy“, devastated the United States in October 2012, I was in Ellicott City in Maryland.

Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in the history of the United States. It was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It all began on October 22, 2012.

A Timeline of Hurricane Sandy’s Path of Destruction
Monday, October 22, 2012

Developing in the southern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Nicaragua as a tropical easterly wave causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms, The depression strengthened and six hours later becomes Tropical Storm Sandy, with maximum winds of about 40 mph. It moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and gradually intensified.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On October 24, Sandy became a  Category 1 hurricane, moved northward across the Caribbean and made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica with winds of 80 mph.

Although Hurricane Sandy’s eye does not cross the Dominican Republic and Haiti to its east, the storm dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Hispaniola. More than 50 people died in flooding and mudslides in Haiti.

A few hours later, it re-emerged into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. Off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km).

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Detailed map compiled by NOAA on October 25, 2012, that shows the track of Hurricane Sandy (Source:
Detailed map compiled by NOAA on October 25, 2012, that shows the track of Hurricane Sandy (Source:


Sandy strengthened as it moved from Jamaica to Cuba and made landfall in the historic city of Santiago de Cuba with winds of about 110 mph as a Category 3 hurricane.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sandy caused more devastation as it crossed the Bahamas and made a slight turn to the north-northwest.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sandy moved away from the Bahamas and made a turn to the northeast off the coast of Florida. Sandy weakened for a brief period to a tropical depression and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy continued moving northeast on a track parallel to the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As it approached latitude 35 degrees north off the coast of North Carolina, the hurricane’s eye stayed well offshore. Even then, the storm still a Category 1 hurricane with peak winds of about 80 mph sent powerful tsunami-like waves onto North Carolina’s Outer Banks washing out some places in NC Highway 12.

Due to an unusual configuration of converging weather factors, meteorologists warned that the storm as it churns northward would likely morph into a powerful, hybrid super-storm.

A high-pressure cold front to Sandy’s north forced the storm to turn to the north-west toward major cities such as Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and New York. And the meteorologists expected that in conjunctions with the effects of the full moon Sandy’s storm to surge up to 11 to 12 feet in some places and a little higher as it made landfall.

Sandy expanded into a huge storm covering about 1,000 miles with strong winds.

Monday, October 29, 2012
This satellite image from NOAA shows Sandy on the morning of October 29, 2012 as it was about to begin its approach to the coast of New Jersey (Source:
This satellite image from NOAA shows Sandy on the morning of October 29, 2012 as it was about to begin its approach to the coast of New Jersey (Source:


At 12:30 pm, Sandy made its expected sharp turn. It curved west-northwest (the “left turn” or “left hook”) and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds. The storm also has started interacting with other weather systems, gaining energy in the process. The storm dumped heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

During the afternoon, Sandy brought high winds and drenching rains from Washington, D.C. northward, toppling trees and power lines and cutting off electrical power for millions of people. The storm eventually affected more than 50 million people on the Eastern Seaboard.

At 8 pm, Sandy’s centre came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The storm was no longer considered a hurricane but classified as a post-tropical Nor’easter. But the storm’s unusual path from the south-east made its storm surge much worse in New Jersey and New York.


The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is flooded after a tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012 in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 39 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel iflooded after a tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012, in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 39 lives in the United States and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)


A high storm surge, a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water occurred in New York City with a high tide of 14 ft (4.2 m),  a new record for a storm surge in the harbor, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. The surge tops the sea wall at The Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and floods parts of the city’s subway system. The surge also floods the Hugh Carey Tunnel, which links Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.


Spooky gray NYC skyline
Spooky gray NYC skyline


The wind, rain and flooding from the huge storm pounded New Jersey and New York throughout the night and through three cycles of high tides and low tides.


Tanker John B Caddell beached on Front Street, Staten Island (Photo: Jim Henderson)
Tanker John B Caddell beached on Front Street, Staten Island (Photo: Jim Henderson)


Staten Island also was hit very hard by the storm. The Seattle Times later reported that towns such as Oakwood Beach, Midland Beach, South Beach and Tottenville — which lost many residents who were police and firefighters during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — were among the hardest-hit communities.

When I look back, I remember posting several times on Facebook on 29th and 30th October 2012 about Hurricane Sandy to benefit my friends and readers in the United States and to assure my kith and Kin in India that my family was safe:

7:00 am EDT:
From the Carolinas to Maine, Hurricane Sandy will affect 50 million people.

Hurricane Sandy is churning off the East Coast and is expected to join up with two other weather systems to create a huge and problematic storm affecting 50 million people. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening or expected, state by state.
The storm lashed barrier islands off North Carolina and rendered several homes and businesses nearly inaccessible. About 90 miles off the coast, a tall ship carrying 17 people was in distress; the Coast Guard was monitoring.

The number of power outages increased quickly in a state where utilities’ response to past weather-related failures has become a political issue. Connecticut Light & Power says hundreds of customers are without power. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked a task force to make sure fuel suppliers are fully stocked. Many residents along Long Island Sound heeded warnings and evacuated.

Hundreds of people fled to shelters as the rough surf pounded the coast. Water covered some roads.

Snow is expected in mountainous areas.

Officials predict coastal flooding and beach erosion, and utility crews have been brought in from Canada to handle anticipated power failures.

Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday.

Utilities brought in crews from as far away as Texas and the Midwest to cope with anticipated power failures. Most schools and colleges have canceled classes. The Boston transit authority said it would continue to operate as long it was safe.

Gov. John Lynch put 100 National Guard soldiers on active duty to help with preparations. Two shelters are being set up, and some schools have closed.

Sandy’s center is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday. By daybreak, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying areas, and many inland towns hit by flooding from storm Irene last year issued evacuation orders.

Many residents left low-lying flood evacuation zones, and the subway system shut down Sunday night. A storm surge of 11 feet is possible, the highest of all coastal areas being hit by Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets shut down for at least the day. Thousands of flights were canceled at the city’s major airports.

Residents of low-lying areas and along Lake Erie were told to watch for flooding; utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees and poles. Snow is forecast in some areas.

Many schools closed. Philadelphia shut down its mass transit system, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the city’s airport. Dozens of people took shelter at evacuation centers. Thousands of members of the National Guard have been told to be ready for deployment.

Several communities have ordered mandatory evacuations and many schools closed for the day. Big waves are expected to cause flooding along Narragansett Bay, which bisects the state. Authorities told people to be prepared for long periods without power.

Snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. High winds are expected in many areas.

About 2,000 customers lacked power, and a utility said as many as 1 million could ultimately lose electricity. Many residents of Chincoteague Island, popular with tourists, shrugged off the idea of evacuation.

Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a state of emergency to provide access to National Guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Culverts and storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris.

The capital area’s transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003, and the Smithsonian Institution closed for the day.

As much as 2 to 3 feet of snow were forecast in mountainous areas, and flooding was possible in some areas. Several shelters were put on standby, and power crews were mobilized to handle potential failures.

3:30 pm EDT:
Here in Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed is 41 mph NW. Not menacing at the moment.

3:40 pm EDT:
Landfall for Sandy within 3 hours time near Atlantic City, New Jersey shore with a wind speed of 90 mph in the center. The system moves at 18 mph.

8:40 pm EDT:
In Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed has risen to 49 mph WNW.
8:54 pm EDT:
Sandy landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm.
9:00 pm EDT:
Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 11.87 feet high. Water might enter NYC subway. Trains and buses won’t run on Tuesday (tomorrow).

9:30 pm EDT:
Waters from Hudson river has breached the Manhattan Broadwalk. Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 13.7 feet high. MTA confirms that the subways are flooded.

1.5 million homes experience power outages in many states. In Maryland, 195,000 homes are without electric power. We have still not been hit by a power cut.

9:45 pm EDT:
Power surges, outages and flashes being experienced in the New York City area. Everything is dark over there. Manhattan is in darkness as well as the Statue of Liberty.

10:47 pm EDT:
All bridges were closed for traffic. Chesapeake Bay Bridge that connects Baltimore-DC area with the northern parts of Maryland such as Kent Island too was closed for traffic around 4 pm.

10:55 pmEDT:
Sandy is still on its way towards us playing havoc with everything in its path.

Sandy had its landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm. Ellicott City, MD is about 210 miles from the landfall area. The system is moving around 20 to 25 mph and I expect it to come here on Tuesday (tomorrow) morning around 6 am EDT.

Tuesday , October 30, 2012

2:10 am EDT:
Hurricane Sandy plays havoc: Widespread Power outages have occurred in all the north-eastern and eastern states. In Maryland, 391,005 homes are experiencing power cut.

2:15 am EDT:
Sandy is 10 miles southwest of Philadephia, PA.

10:50 am EDT:
Sandy has passed us. We did not incur any damages. We did not lose any power.

I thank you all for praying for us.

However, my heart bleeds for those who have suffered and are undergoing hardships due to the havoc created by this “Frankenstorm” called SANDY.

11:00 am EDT:
Sandy: The loss to properties has been assessed between 10 and 20 billion dollars.

11:30 am EDT:
Sandy slammed New Jersey last night and early morning today. At least 16 deaths reported. Massive flooding, high winds, and widespread power outages hit the East Coast as Sandy moves inland.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy dissipated over western Pennsylvania, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its final advisory on the storm: “multiple centers of circulation in association with the remnants of Sandy can be found across the lower Great Lakes.”


Click on this line or the photo below to see photos of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. 

People scavenging for food in a dumpster where a Key Food supermarket has discarded spoiled food, due to power outages after Hurricane Sandy hit New York (Photo: Mr. Choppers)
People scavenging for food in a dumpster where a Key Food supermarket has discarded spoiled food, due to power outages after Hurricane Sandy hit New York (Photo: Mr. Choppers)



India and Day 26 – Part 3: The Devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj


December 26, 2004 – Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

On Sunday, December 26, 2004, an undersea megathrust earthquake, known as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake occurred at 00:58:53 UTC in the Indian Ocean with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, between Simeulue in the Aceh province of Indonesia and mainland Indonesia. The earthquake with a magnitude of Mw 9.1–9.3, is the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph.

The duration of faulting, between 8.3 and 10 minutes, was the longest ever observed. The behemothic quake caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimetre (0.4 inches) and triggered other minor earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

The tsunami was then known by various other names such as: “The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,” “South Asian tsunami,” and “Indonesian tsunami.” Since the tsunami occurred on December 26, it was also known as the “Christmas tsunami” and the “Boxing Day tsunami.”

December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (Source:
December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. (Source:

The earthquake triggered a tsunami, considered to be one of the deadliest in history, which inundated coastal communities with waves up to 100 feet (30 meters) high and killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

Costlines severely hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami (Source:
Coastlines severely hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami (Source:

The huge waves racing at the speed of a jet aircraft took fifteen minutes to seven hours to reach the various coastlines. The waves hit the northern regions of the Indonesian island of Sumatra immediately. Thailand was struck about two hours later, despite being closer to the epicentre because the tsunami waves travelled more slowly in the shallow Andaman Sea off its western coast. About an hour and a half to two hours after the quake, Sri Lanka and the east coast of India were hit. The waves then reached the Maldives.

Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Indian Ocean had a devastating effect on India. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs about 18,000 are estimated dead.

The following table compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a total of 227,898 people died. According to this table, in mainland India and in its territories, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 12,405 people died in the tsunami, around 5,640 are missing and 647,599 people have been displaced.

Figures compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Country where
deaths occurred
Confirmed Estimated Injured Missing Displaced
Indonesia 130,736 167,799 n/a 37,063 500,000+
Sri Lanka 35,322 35,322 21,411 n/a 516,150
India 12,405 18,045 n/a 5,640 647,599
Thailand 5,395 8,212 8,457 2,817 7,000
Somalia 78 289 n/a n/a 5,000
Myanmar (Burma) 61 400–600 45 200 3,200
Maldives 82 108 n/a 26 15,000+
Malaysia 68 75 299 6 5,000+
Tanzania 10 13 n/a n/a n/a
Seychelles 3 3 57 n/a 200[70]
Bangladesh 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
South Africa 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
Yemen 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
Kenya 1 1 2 n/a n/a
Madagascar n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,000+
Total ~184,167 ~230,273 ~125,000 ~45,752 ~1.69 million


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean were devastated by the tsunami, and by the initial quake and several aftershocks that occurred during the following days. The Great Nicobar and Car Nicobar islands were the worst hit among all the islands due to their proximity to the epicentre of the quake and because of the relatively flat terrain.

One-fifth of the population in Nicobar Islands was reported dead, missing or wounded. Chowra Island lost two-thirds of its population of 1,500. Communication was cut off when many islands submerged. The Trinket Island was bifurcated.

Fishing communities were destroyed and very little is known about the effects of the tsunami on the indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The official death toll in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was 1,310, with about 5,600 missing from the islands. But the unofficial death toll, including those missing and presumed dead, was estimated to be around 7,000.

Map showing Tsunami Affected Area in India.
Map showing Tsunami Affected Areas in India.

The tsunami hit the southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. It inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast. Around 8,000 deaths were reported from Tamilnadu, and around 200 deaths from Kerala. The district of Nagapattinam was the worst hit in Tamil Nadu, with nearly 5,500 deaths.

The tsunami of December 26, 2004 inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast of southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. Crown. (Source:
The tsunami of December 26, 2004 inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast of southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. Crown. (Source:

Surprisingly, Bangladesh, which lies at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, had only two confirmed deaths, despite being a low-lying country and located relatively near the epicenter. Also, distance alone does not guarantee a safety since Somalia located in the Horn of Africa on the eastern coast was hit harder than Bangladesh even though it is much farther away.

Coasts, with a landmass between them and the location of origin of a tsunami, are usually deemed safe, but tsunami waves can sometimes steer around such landmasses. Being a relatively small island, the western coast of Sri Lanka suffered substantial damages from the impact of the tsunami; likewise, the Indian state of Kerala too was hit by the tsunami, despite being on the western coast of India.

The government of India announced a financial package of about US$200 million to Andaman and Nicobar islands after the tsunami, but the unbearable living conditions due to rise in sea level, constant aftershocks and fear of another similar tsunami, propelled thousands of settlers on the islands to relocate to the Indian mainland.

According to the World Bank, reconstruction was expected to cost more than US$1.2 billion in India alone.


 Previous ~ India and Day 26 – Part 2: Turmoil in Gujarat

Next → India and Day 26 – Part 4: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – 1






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Blizzard Paralyzes Northeast Region: 9 dead, thousands without power

Myself By T.V. Antony Raj


Blizzard wallops


In the snow-bound communities from New York to Boston Municipal workers toiled through Saturday night rescuing motorists stuck for hours in heavy snow. The blizzard with hurricane-force winds dumped up to 40 inches of snow killing at least nine people.

Across a nine-state region, the snow brought down trees and power lines. By early Sunday, utility companies reported that around 350,000 customers were without power.

According to Flightaware, a flight tracking service, airlines cancelled around 5,800 flights on Friday and Saturday. Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and the Long Island MacArthur Airport closed on Saturday reopened on Sunday morning.



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Freak Hailstorm that Rained Sizable Boulders Kills Nine People in India


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

While an incomparable event takes place now on the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka, where four distinct nearby volcanoes are erupting concurrently, seven villages in India suffered freak hailstorm that rained on sizable ice boulders killing nine people.

Freak Hailstorm in AP - 1


On Tuesday 29th January, people living in seven villages in Chevella, Moinabad and Shankarpally, in the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India experienced a once-in-a-lifetime freak natural event. The hailstones started falling during the night.

Freak Hailstorm in AP - 2

On the following day at dawn, women found it difficult to clear their yard of the large boulders of ice using the indigenous ekel brooms.

Though the hailstorm lasted only for about 20 minutes, it covered the entire villages under a snowy blanket causing financial loss to most of the villagers by destroying their houses, live stock and crops.


December 21, 2012: Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere or Is It Doomsday 2012?

Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj




The astronomical event known as the solstice occurs when the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion point relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. This event occurs twice a year.

On the day of the solstice, at local solar noon, the Sun appears to have reached its highest or lowest annual altitude in the sky above the horizon.


UT date and time of equinoxes and solstices on the earth


For any place other than the tropics the solstice day in summer is the longest day of the year, and the solstice day in winter is the shortest day of the year.

During the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as the Southern solstice that occurs on December 21st to 22nd, the Sun at noon would appear at its lowest altitude above the horizon, namely, at its southernmost point in the sky. On the other hand, in the Southern Hemisphere, the winter solstice also known as the Northern solstice occurs on June 20th to 21st each year.  On this day, the Sun appears at its northernmost point in the sky.

The axis of rotation of the earth directed towards the same point in the heavens is the result of its axial tilt and the gyroscopic influences of its daily rotation. As the Earth orbits around the Sun, the polar hemisphere facing the Sun encountering summer would after six months face away from the Sun to  endure the winter.

The solstices last only a moment in time. This year, winter solstice would occur today, December 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM UTC (6:12 AM EST; 4:42 PM IST).

Worldwide, interpretation of the winter solstice varies from culture to culture. However, all recognize the rebirth of the Earth that involves religious festivals, rituals, and other celebrations. The following lists a few observance believed to be directly linked to the winter solstice.


This brings us to the Doomsday Prophecy attributed by some to the Mayan Calendar. Though the Mayans never predicted that the world would end today, December 21, 2012, some doomsday soothsayers have been touting all these days that around 80 percent of the world population would be wiped out on this fateful day. Many who believe these scare mongers have left their homes; they have traveled to places where they think their chances of survival will be better.

Ten hours ago, I read an article titled “Global doomsday hot spots draw believers, revelers” by Vanessa Gera where she describes some of the world’s key doomsday destinations and other places marked by fear and fascination.



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Sandy: Third Most-Active Hurricane of 19 Named Storms in the Atlantic Basin.

It was a year with a greater number of named storms than normal. While numbers were high, not many storms hit the U.S.; however, the ones that did were devastating.

Play video

It was a year with a greater number of named storms than normal. While numbers were high, not many storms hit the U.S.; however, the ones that did were devastating. AccuWeather broadcaster Valerie Smock has more.

The end of the 2012 hurricane season left an impression, as historic Sandy wreaked immense damage in the Northeast.

Photos: 2012 Hurricane Season
Link: 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season Wallpaper

2012 tied 1887, 1995, 2010 and 2011 as the third most-active year on record in the Atlantic, with a total of 19 named storms in the Atlantic Basin. A normal hurricane season has around 12 storms, with around six hurricanes and close to three major hurricanes. The most active hurricane season was 2005, with 28 named storms, including Hurricane Katrina.

Category 5 = 0
Category 4 = 0
Category 3 = 1
Category 2 = 3
Category 1 = 6
Tropical storm = 9
Number of land-falling storms on the U.S.: 4

Highest category: Michael, Category 3
No major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) has hit U.S. since 2005.

Lowest pressure in a hurricane: Sandy, 940 mb

Highest wind: Michael, 115mph

Earliest storm: Alberto, May 19

Latest storm: Sandy, Oct. 29

Costliest storm: Sandy, according to The New York Times

Longest duration: Nadine, 24 days

Shortest duration: Joyce, 3 days

2012 Hurricane Stats

Name Dates Max Wind (MPH) Pressure (mb)
T.S. Alberto May 19-22 60 995
T.S. Beryl May 26-30 70 992
H. Chris June 19-22 75 987
T.S. Debby June 23-27 60 990
H. Ernesto Aug. 1-10 95 980
T.S. Florence Aug. 3-6 60 1002
H. Gordon Aug. 15-20 110 1004
T.S. Helene Aug. 9-18 45 965
H. Isaac Aug. 21- Sept. 1 80 968
T.S. Joyce Aug. 22-24 40 1006
H. Kirk Aug. 28-Sept. 2 105 970
H. Leslie Aug. 30- Sept. 11 75 968
H. Michael Sept. 3-11 115 964
H. Nadine Sept. 11-Oct 4 90 978
T.S. Oscar Oct. 3-5 50 997
TS Patty Oct 11-13 45 1005
H. Rafael Oct. 12-17 90 969
H. Sandy Oct. 22-29 110 940
T.S. Tony Oct. 22-25 50 1000

Storm Cost

Storm Deaths Cost
T.S. Beryl 4 $148 million
T.S. Debby 7 $308 million
H. Ernesto 12 $117 million
H. Isaac 41 $2 billion
H. Rafael 1 $2 million
H. Sandy 253 more than $70 billion, according to the New York Times



The statistics come from the National Hurricane Center.

Re-posted from (December 03, 2012)

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Winter Storm Athena. What’s in a Name?

Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj


The Winter Storm Team of The Weather Channel has named the current nor’easter “Winter Storm Athena” – first named winter storm! However, shortly after The Weather Channel announced the name Athena this morning, the National Weather Service office in Bohemia, N.Y., circulated an internal direction to its forecasters not to use The Weather Channel’s name for the Nor’easter storm.

Forecasters predict up to six inches of snowfall combined with winds gusting over 35 mph at times Wednesday afternoon through Thursday mid-morning across portions of Eastern Pennsylvania, including the Philadelphia Metro Area, New Jersey, southeastern New York, Connecticut and interior New England, still undergoing extensive recovery efforts from Sandy.

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Critics: Sandy Showed Nuclear Plants’ Vulnerability to Weather, Sabotage

Frequent storms, wilder weather extremes- nuclear facilities face dangers they are not prepared for. They put all of us at risk by their very nature. This is only compounded by regulatory laxness. It’s time to regulate the regulators, and long past time to start shutting down the reactors. We have energy alternatives that are safer and better. We must put our attention to developing and using them. We can’t wait until the nuclear industry is satisfied that they have gotten the last possible cent they can squeeze out of the public and government coffers. — Dr. Helen Caldicott

Oldest nuclear power plants in usa Nine Mile Point Unit 1
Constellation Energy’s Nine Mile Point Unit 1, on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario near Oswego, New York, is the second-longest-operating nuclear station in the United States; it opened in 1969, the same year as Oyster Creek, and shares the same design. (Photograph courtesy Constellation Energy via PRNewsFoto)

This article was originally published in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

By Douglas P. Guarino, Global Security Newswire

The danger Hurricane Sandy posed to nuclear power plants along the East Coast highlights some of the same vulnerabilities that terrorists looking to release harmful radiation into the environment could exploit, watchdog groups said this week.

The unprecedented storm posed two main challenges to atomic energy facilities: rising water levels and interruptions to the electricity grid. Both have the potential to disrupt crucial cooling systems at the plants, and particularly those for pools used to cool spent reactor fuel. If spent fuel rods overheat and are exposed to air, they can cause fires and dangerous radiation releases.

In Lacey Township, N.J., the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant faced both of these challenges. High water levels threatened to submerge a water pump motor used to cool water in the plant’s spent fuel pool, Reuters reportedThe situation, caused by a combination of rising tide, wind direction, and storm surge affecting the Atlantic Ocean and adjoining estuaries, prompted the facility to declare an emergency “alert,” according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In addition, the Oyster Creek plant at one point experienced a power disruption that necessitated the use of two backup diesel generators, according to Reuters.

While such auxiliary power can usually keep cooling systems for a nuclear reactor itself operating, activists warn that NRC regulations do not require that such resources also be connected to the mechanisms that cool spent fuel pools.

“As soon as the electric grid goes down, water circulation pumps stop operating,” Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist with the group Beyond Nuclear said in a statement released during the storm.

Pool water can begin to boil within “several hours” of loss of cooling, he noted, and could leave fuel rods exposed within “several to many days.”

Kamps told Global Security Newswire that the same problems could be caused by an intentional attack.

“While high winds can knock out the electric grid, so too can sabotage or terrorism,” Kamps said. He added that “normal cooling-water flow pathways and mechanisms,” threatened by high water during the storm at Oyster Creek and other nuclear plants, “could also be disrupted intentionally.”

In the event of a disruption to the usual spent fuel pool cooling system, power-plant operators could use fire fighting equipment in an attempt to replenish water lost through evaporation. Japanese authorities tried similar tactics during the Fukushima Daiichi disaster last year. Watchdog groups argue that relying on this is insufficient, however.

Steam generated by a boiling spent-fuel pool “could short-circuit critical safety systems throughout the nuclear plant,” Kamps said.

Robert Alvarez, who served as a senior adviser to the Energy secretary during the Clinton administration, noted that spent fuel pools were originally designed for temporary storage lasting no longer than five years. He cited a 2006 study by the National Academy of Sciences that said pools at nearly all of the more than 100 reactors in the United States now contain high-density spent-fuel racks that allow about five times more waste to be stored in the pool than was originally intended.

“The Oyster Creek spent-fuel pool is currently holding about 3,000 irradiated assemblies (including a recently discharged full core) containing about 94 million curies of cesium 137—more than three times more released from all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests,” Alvarez, now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, said by e-mail. “Whether or not mega-storm Sandy portends what’s in store for the near future, it’s still too risky to use high-density spent-fuel pools as de facto indefinite storage for some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.”

Watchdog groups have long advocated for an NRC rule that would require used fuel rods to be removed from pools and placed in hardened, dry casks as quickly as possible. Alvarez said dry casks at the Fukushima Daiichi site were “unscathed” by the earthquake and tsunami that threatened the plant’s spent fuel-storage pools last and caused meltdowns in three reactors.

Even in a worst-case scenario, the “consequences of a breach in a dry cask in terms of radioactive releases is about 2,500 times less than a spent-fuel pool fire,” Alvarez said. “Whereas a spent-fuel pool fire could create life-threatening contamination of hundreds of square miles.”

Following the Fukushima disaster, watchdog groups petitioned NRC to immediately require a number of upgrades at U.S. atomic energy plants. Among the activists’ demands were that the commission requires dedicated backup power systems for spent-fuel pools and that fuel rods be removed from the pools after five years.

NRC officials rejected the demands that they act immediately on these items, but agreed to consider them in their long-term review of lessons to be learned from Fukushima. Kamps said the threats posed by this week’s storm underscored the urgency of requiring such upgrades.

For now, the commission “is focused on the current situation with the plants,” according to NRC spokesman David McIntyre, who emphasized that “all of them are safe and have performed according to design and their license conditions.

“If there are lessons to be learned from Sandy, we will look at them, but we do not have the luxury that [the watchdog groups] have of being able to jump to conclusions before a situation even plays out,” McIntyre added.

In total, the Hurricane Sandy impacted at least a half-dozen nuclear plants, Reuters reported. Other affected sites include Unit 1 of the Salem, N.J., plant – which was shut down due to high water and debris – and Indian Point 3 in New York, which went offline due to fluctuations in the power grid caused by the storm.

John Keeley, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents the nuclear-power industry, noted that the majority of nuclear plants “in the path of the storm continued to produce electricity” and that the “ones that did shut down did so safely and securely.”

This article was originally published in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.


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Yet Another Storm May Target Sandy-Ravaged East Coast Next Week


Another East Coast storm may be in the works for next week, and it would threaten to add to the misery of those still dealing with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Concern continues to grow that a storm will take shape along the Southeast coastline on Election Day before traversing the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts next Wednesday and Thursday.

Such a storm would be accompanied by rain, some wind and the possibility of snow over a part of the Northeast’s interior.

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Some Images of the U.S. East Coast Pounded by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy, a.k.a., The Perfect Storm, The Super Storm, The Monster Storm, Frankenstorm and by various other names bore down on the U.S. East
Coast, on Monday, October 29, 2012.

As hurricane Sandy loomed in on the U.S. East Coast’s largest cities, forecasters warned that 60 million people in those regions could face threatening high winds, huge rainfall and sea water surging up to a height of 11 feet. This forced the government to impose mandatory evacuation from some coastal zones. Hundreds of thousands moved to higher ground leaving their homes.

The public transport system shut down, and a number of bridges closed. Many financial and business establishments put down their shutters. The U.S. stock market suffered its first weather-related closure in 27 years.

Millions of people in the eastern United States awoke on Tuesday to flooded homes, fallen trees and widespread power outages caused by the giant storm Sandy, which swamped New York City’s subway system and submerged streets in Manhattan’s financial district.The monster storm caused more than two-thirds of the East Coast’s refining capacity to shut down and fuel pipelines to idle. Early assessments show the region’s biggest plants may have escaped damage.

The monster storm caused more than two-thirds of the East Coast’s refining capacity to shut down and fuel pipelines to idle. Early assessments show the region’s biggest plants may have escaped damage.

Bracing for high winds
Bracing for high winds. (Reuters: Randall Hill)

Bracing for high winds: The winds of Hurricane Sandy pound waves onto the east side of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, October 27, 2012.

Shopping for the storm
Shopping for the storm. (AP Photo: Louis Lanzano)

Shopping for the storm: Customers stock up on bread at a Manhattan grocery store, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in New York.

NYSE shuts down
NYSE shuts down. (AP Photo: Richard Drew)

NYSE shuts down: The floor of the New York Stock Exchange is empty of traders, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York. Trading has rarely stopped for weather since the Great Blizzard of 1888.  All major U.S. stock and options exchanges remained closed Monday and Tuesday, the first time that the weather caused a two-day market shuts down. A blizzard led to a late start and an early close on Jan. 8, 1996, according to the exchange’s parent company, NYSE Euronext. The NYSE shut down on Sept. 27, 1985 for Hurricane Gloria.

Morning commute in the rain
Morning commute in the rain. (Photo: Rex Features)

Morning commute in the rain: People walk on an empty street in New York as the massive storm Sandy, described by forecasters as one of the largest ever that hit the United States, makes its way towards the population-dense East Coast. Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, has asked the public to stay at home when Sandy slams the city. Nearly 10,000 flights have been canceled for Monday and Tuesday by airlines bracing for Hurricane Sandy.

Spooky gray NYC skyline
Spooky gray NYC skyline. (Reuters: Eduardo Munoz)


Spooky gray NYC skyline: This view from Exchange Place shows the skyline of lower Manhattan in darkness after a preventive power outage caused by the giant storm Sandy in New York on October 29, 2012.

Shopping in the rain
Shopping in the rain. (Photo: The Washington Post: Linda Davidson)

Shopping in the rain: Photo taken from the window of a grocery store of a woman shopper hurrying in the windblown rain of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012.

Cover from the rain
Cover from the rain. (Reuters: Eduardo Munoz)

Cover from the rain: Hurricane Sandy brought inclement weather, high winds, and huge waves to the East coast.  A woman tries to take cover from rain in Hoboken while Hurricane Sandy approaches New Jersey, October 29, 2012.

Walking through flooded streets
Walking through flooded streets. (AP Photo: Alex Brandon)

Walking through flooded streets: A walk through the flood waters on Monday, Oct.ober 29, in Fenwick Island, Delaware,

The President in the rain
The President in the rain. (AP Photo: Jacquelyn Martin)

The President in the rain: After canceling his appearance at a morning campaign rally in Orlando, Fla., President Barack Obama walks toward the White House in a driving rain after returning to Washington to monitor preparations for early response to Hurricane Sandy, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.

Fallen tree on top of a car in Hoboken, New Jersey
Fallen tree on top of a car in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Reuters: Gary Hershorn)

Fallen tree on top of a car in Hoboken, New Jersey: A workman cuts a tree in pieces after it fell on top of a car in Hoboken, New Jersey, October 29, 2012.

A crane dangles
A crane dangles. (Photo: Rex Features)

A crane dangles: A crane dangles over the Manhattan skyline at 157 West 57th Street after the winds from Hurricane Sandy cause it to collapse.

Waves crash on Scituate.
Waves crash on Scituate. (AP Photo: Elise Amendola)

Waves crash on Scituate: Ocean waves kick up near homes along Peggoty Beach in Scituate, Mass. Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.

High Water signs
High Water signs. (AP Photo: Alex Brandon)

High Water signs: A car goes through the high water as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Ocean City, Md.

Governors of North Carolina, where steady rains were whipped by gusting winds Saturday night, to Connecticut declared states of emergency. Delaware ordered mandatory evacuations for coastal communities by 8 p.m. Sunday.

Subway floods

Subway floods. ( (Photo: Reuters: NY, NJ Port Authority)

Subway floods: This video frame grab from the NY/NJ Port Authority twitter feed October 29, 2012 shows floodwaters rush through an elevator shaft into the Port Authority Trans-Hudson’s (PATH) Hoboken, New Jersey station.

Collapsed facade of a four-story building on 14th
Collapsed facade of a four-story building on 14th. (AP Images: John Minchillo)

The collapsed facade of a four-story building: The facade of a four-story building on 14th Street and 8th Avenue collapsed onto the sidewalk, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York. Hurricane

Lower Manhattan goes dark

Lower Manhattan goes dark. (AP Images: Bebeto Matthews)

Lower Manhattan goes dark: Lower Manhattan goes dark during hurricane Sandy, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, as seen from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Taxis under water
Taxis under water. (Photo: Rex Features)

Taxis under water: Hurricane Sandy brought inclement weather, high winds, and huge waves to the East coast. Taxi cabs line a flooded street in Queens on October 29, 2012.

Submerged car in the Dumbo section of the Brooklyn
Submerged car in the Dumbo section of the Brooklyn. (AP Images: Bebeto Matthews)

Submerged car in the Dumbo section of the Brooklyn: As the East River overflows during hurricane Sandy, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, a submerged car in the Dumbo section of the Brooklyn borough of New York. Authorities warned that New York City and Long Island could get the worst of the storm surge: an 11-foot onslaught of seawater that could swamp lower  areas of the city.

Floodwaters in Hoboken, New Jerse
Floodwaters in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Reuters: Gary Hershorn)

Floodwaters in Hoboken, New Jersey: Floodwaters surround a car parked on a street in Hoboken, New Jersey October 29, 2012.

Building full with debris
Building full with debris. (Reuters: Eduardo Muno)

Building full with debris: The front of a building full of debris after the passing of giant storm Sandy at Exchange Place, New Jersey October 30, 2012.

Exchange Place debris
Exchange Place debris. (Reuters: Eduardo Munoz)

Exchange Place debris: Following Hurricane Sandy, debris litters the floor of Exchange Place in New Jersey, October 30, 2012.

Devastated homes after the storm
Devastated homes after the storm. (Reuters: Shannon Stapleton)

Devastated homes after the storm: Homes that are devastated by fire and the effects of Hurricane Sandy are seen at the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York October 30, 2012. Millions of people across the eastern United States awoke on Tuesday to scenes of destruction wrought by monster storm Sandy, which knocked out power to huge swathes of the nation’s most densely populated region, swamped New York’s subway system and submerged streets in Manhattan’s financial district.


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