• Category 3 hurricane passes through Cuba and Haiti.

• Unprecedented flooding in New York.

• Several feet of snow in North Carolina.

• School closures due to storm in Pottstown.

Ten years ago, if you had been told that all four of these events were connected, you probably wouldn’t have believed it. You might not believe it even today, as this diverse set of weather phenomena is unlikely to ever occur together.

However, everyone seems to remember their own personal story with Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast 10 years ago this week and directly caused all four of these events in one week.

Hurricane Sandy hit hard in many ways, and her story is one for the record books.

A voyage from the Caribbean

While everyone remembers the effects of Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast, what is often forgotten is that it formed thousands of miles away.

Tropical Storm Sandy was first named on October 24, 2012 just a few hundred miles south of Cuba. Here he was able to feed on the energy of warm water.

Sandy moved north in the Caribbean Sea and did something many meteorologists did not foresee. The storm experienced a rapid build-up or deepening of pressure and an increase in wind speed for just one day.

Meteorologists know when rapid intensification is likely to occur, and this success has been seen in recent storms such as Hurricanes Ian, Ida and Laura.

However, in 2012, the prediction of rapid intensification remained a weak point for the meteorological community, and the sudden strength of the storm surprised many.

Featured photo is Souderton Borough

Vehicles pass barricades at High Street and Armand Hamer Boulevard, where a wire lay across the road during the high winds from Hurricane Sandy. (MediaNews Group file photo)

On the morning of October 25, Sandy made landfall in Cuba as a major Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 miles per hour. It caused severe damage in Cuba, including 45,000 houses losing their roofs in the province of Santiago de Cuba alone. Eleven people died from Sandy in the country, and damage was estimated at $2 million. Another 54 people died in the storm in Haiti. 40 percent of the country’s valuable harvest was destroyed.

Due to the strong winds caused by the hurricane
A power pole is down and wires are hanging close to the ground along Main Street in Lynnfield due to the high winds caused by Hurricane Sandy. (MediaNews Group file photo)

At this point, Sandy’s Category 3 status would make it the strongest storm ever in terms of wind speed. However, this stage was perhaps weaker than the one that will take place in the following days.

Voyage across the Atlantic

From that moment on, Hurricane Sandy increased dramatically in size, even as its strength weakened.

The storm passed north of Cuba through the Bahamas as a Category 1 hurricane, producing stronger winds and flooding damage. A total of 71 lives were lost in all Caribbean countries.

Sandy went through a period of recycling as he began to grow in size. Although Sandy was more than 200 miles away, it caused beach erosion in Florida and flooding on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Forecast models then focused on where Sandy was headed, and confidence grew as the days passed that a rare resolution would materialize. Sandy will make a 90 degree left turn directly to the northeast.

It was unlikely in many ways. Such a track was possible only because of the strong atmospheric ridge established over Greenland. This basically creates a blockage where the wind goes against the standard west-to-east gradient, thus changing the storm’s course.

Think of congestion and any incoming storms as opposing magnets. The “Thunder Magnet” is repelled by the “Blocking Magnet” and must choose which direction to go around it.

In Sandy’s case, the blocking was so strong and prominent over the Atlantic Ocean that the storm had no choice but to head toward the US, directly to the northeast.

To make matters worse, another storm was also trapped in the block, eventually merging with Sandy. This cruiser grew in size in terms of diameter, and her wind field at one point reached 1,000 miles across – still the largest in Atlantic history.

Instant and long lasting effects

On October 29, 2012, Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey. Shortly before that, over cooler northern waters, the storm had transitioned from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone. This change, along with its combination with another storm, led meteorologists to consider the unique system a “Superstorm.”

The statistics of such a storm even after 10 years are impressive. Water levels were reported at nearly 14 feet in Battery Park Harbor, New York, in Islip, New York.

Metro, tunnels and streets were flooded in Veliky Yablyk. On average, most Jersey Shore beaches have receded 30 to 40 feet due to waves and erosion.

A traffic light continued to operate at High and Monotown Streets in Pottstown after it went down due to high winds from the hurricane
The traffic light continued to operate at High and Monatown Streets in Pottstown after it was cut by strong winds from Hurricane Sandy. (MediaNews Group file photo)

Memories are not statistics, but the deepest scars that remain.

“Many people ended up selling their homes because the financial burden of repairing the damage was too much to overcome. A lot of people were afraid it would happen again,” said Katie Barlow, 19, an Ocean City resident and current student at Ursinus College in Collegeville.

The damage is remembered a decade later. Today, many businesses still have signs on their buildings showing where the storm surge hit, with the words “Sandy was here.”

As the clouds of Frankenstorm or Hurricane Sandy slowly drift away, Ron Ingram of Diane Court in Lower Pottsgrove wanted to have some fun and remember that it's Halloween, so he came up with a sign on his home he's renovating that reads,
As the clouds of Frankenstorm or Hurricane Sandy slowly drift away, Ron Ingram of Diane Court in Lower Pottsgrove wanted to have some fun and remember that it’s Halloween, so he came up with a sign on his home he’s renovating that reads, “Bye , Sandy, time” 4 candies. (MediaNews Group file photo)

Sandy’s massive circulation also helped produce enough cold air to cause snow in the Appalachians. A whopping 36 inches was recorded in West Virginia and North Carolina.

Schools and transportation were closed in Pennsylvania. About 5 inches of rain and strong winds fell in the Pottstown area, causing the Schuylkill River to overflow and downed trees throughout the region.

One person died after a tree fell on his home in Berks County. A total of fourteen people died in Pennsylvania from the storm. Compared to Hurricane Irene a year earlier, Sandy was a larger storm in terms of size and diversity of impact.

Final results

Overall, Hurricane Sandy is the fourth costliest hurricane in US history, causing $82 billion in damage and killing 157 people. It ranks in the top five for many records in the books, from wind diameter to snow produced by a tropical system.

This “Frankenstorm” will forever be remembered for its varied weather from the Caribbean to the Appalachian Mountains, and will certainly never be forgotten in the hardest-hit Mid-Atlantic region anytime soon.

Will Cano is a college freshman who is really into meteorology. You can find it any day by reading weather forecasts and events to your peers. Will started a weather club during his sophomore year at Owen J. High School. Roberts. In addition, he won high school science fair awards from both NASA and the American Meteorological Society with his project on atmospheric aerosols and hurricanes. He plans to major in atmospheric science in the fall with hopes of becoming a meteorologist in the future

Pottstown Borough workers are out repairing a traffic light at Monatown and High Street that was blown down by hurricane-force winds
Pottstown Borough workers are out repairing a traffic light at Monatown and High Street that was blown down by strong winds from Hurricane Sandy. (MediaNews Group file photo)