Tim's Weather World: A tale of two storms

A woman walks down Charles Street during a severe winter storm in Boston

BRIAN SNYDER, REUTERS / February 9, 2013


Many in the northeast were still recovering from superstorm Sandy when they got hit by a blizzard over the weekend.  Now new reports on both storms review and assess their impacts.

The blizzard that produced record setting snowfall in New England rated 3 out 5 on the Regional Snowfall Index or RSI scaleThe National Climatic Data Center’s RSI evaluates significant snowstorms that impact the eastern two thirds of the US.  The index ranks a storm’s impact on a scale of 1 to 5 similar to the Saffir-Simpson scale that ranks hurricanes.  Storms on the low end of the scale with an index of 1 are considered “notable” while storms ranking a 5 on the high end are considered “extreme”.  The recent blizzard registered a 3 on the index, considered a “major” storm.



According to the NCDC-

While the area impacted by this storm was less than many other major storms, the heaviest snowfall landed in more densely populated areas, making it a “major “storm in the RSI categories. Over 49,000 people across 192 square miles saw 30 inches of snow or more as a result of this storm.”


In a lengthy, detailed report on superstorm Sandy, NOAA concluded that Sandy was not a hurricane went it made landfall along the Jersey shore on October 29th, 2012.  Sandy’s losing its hurricane classification as it moved onshore posed problems for forecasters.  The storm was technically a “post-tropical cyclone” at that point but advisories and warnings that accompany that type of storm may not carry the same sense of urgency (at least in the public’s mind) as hurricane advisories and warnings.  Local National Weather Service offices began issuing advisories and warnings after the storm was downgraded and the National Hurricane Center no longer issued statements on the storm. The National Hurricane Center may “continue issuing formal advisories on post-tropical cyclones as long as those systems pose a significant threat to life and property” in the future for storms like Sandy according to proposed changes suggested in the report.


sandy report pics

Other hi-lights from the report:


  • Hurricane Sandy was the second costliest ($50 billion) in US history
  • 72 deaths were attributed to Sandy, most for east coast storm since Hurricane Agnes killed 122 in 1972
  • 8.5 million people lost power as result of the storm
  • at least 650,000 houses were either damaged or destroyed
  • highest storm surge in New York was more than 12½ feet at Kings Point on the west end of Long Island Sound









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