With mounting concern about the imminent landfall of Hurricane Sandy, we wanted to share some useful information & resources with you.
As the roaring storm that has been dubbed ‘Frankenstorm’ approaches the northeast coast of America, people are ‘hunkering’ down and preparing for the worst. Faced with potentially devastating high winds and rain, the usually bustling streets of New York are more like a ghost town. Millions are staying at home, workplaces and schools are deserted whilst transportation and all but essential infrastructure is being closed down in readiness for Hurricane Sandy.
What is a hurricane?
Hurricanes are intense low pressure areas that are formed over warm ocean waters. Water vapour, evaporated from the ocean surface, fuels the hurricane by releasing energy in the form of heat. Usually, this heat is released and can be blown away by wind shear and topical-like thunderstorms. However, if there isn't enough wind shear, the heat can build causing the formation of low pressure which in turn causes wind to begin to spiral inward.
Hurricane intensity is calculated by recording the highest wind speed over a timed minute. The scale that is used to measure the force of hurricanes is called the 'Saffir-Simpson' scale and it can rate hurricane strengths from Category 1 to Category 5. In 1973, Civil Engineer Herbert Saffir and Meteorologist Bob Simpson introduced their hurricane scale as a way to help predict the damage likely to be caused by a hurricane.
Category 2 = Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage. Roofing material & poorly constructed doors & windows can be blown away. Trees can be snapped & uprooted.
Category 3 = Devastating damage will occur. Irreparable structural damage to homes, significant damage to trees and flooding are expected. Loss of power.
Category 4 = Horrific damage will occur. Mobile & manufactured homes flattened, trees uprooted, extensive beach erosion, inland flooding. Recent hurricanes of this category - Iris & Michelle (2001), Charley (2004), Dennis (2005), Gustav & Ike (2008).
Category 5 = Catastrophic damage will occur. Small utility buildings will be blown away, complete roof structure failure on many homes, severe flooding, coastal structures will be flattened &/or washed away. Virtually all trees uprooted or even debarked. Extensive power loss over sustained period.
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a Category 5 and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in US history.
Although Hurricane Sandy is currently listed as a Category 1 hurricane it is likely to have a devastating impact due to it's size. A combination of warm sea surface temperature and a merger with a winter storm coming in the opposite direction is causing this hurricane to continue to grow in size whilst moving only very slowly over the northeast coast.
Useful Links to help you through Hurricane Sandy
Google is providing interactive maps to track the hurricane's path and will be useful to those who will be providing localized support. Google's maps contain crisis information including the locations of Red Cross shelter zones in the hurricane's path. Each 'Pin' will show the location and capacity of the shelter.
NOAA - StormCentral: Includes latest advisories from NOAA's National Hurricane Center, Satellite image, rainfall forecast graphics, river observations and flooding forecasts.
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency - Smartphone & Tablet Apps with advice on what to do before, during and after a hurricane or tropical storm:
FEMA's Facebook page gives additional advice about how to find shelters that are open in response to Hurricane Sandy:
Twitter updates are available from @NHC_Atlantic @FEMA and @NOAA
In a bid to capture live scenes of Hurricane Sandy, The New York Times has placed a live webcam on the 51st floor of their building and there's a live stream (you can hear the roar of the wind) from the top of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbour as the storm approaches.
Wherever you are, all of us at 3B Scientific hope you and your families remain safe and well.