Numbers, Pictures, Climate Change: Stories From Sandy

By Veronique Greenwood | October 31, 2012 1:06 pm

Here in New York City, and all along the US’s eastern seaboard, we had an epic Monday night. Here are photos and videos from the trenches and links to our picks of science reporting answering your questions about superstorm Sandy.

(1) A monster storm surge submerged Lower Manhattan, Red Hook in Brooklyn, and just about anywhere else within 9 feet of sea level.

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Courtesy of That Hartford Guy / flickr

Ars Technica‘s Casey Johnston looks into new research and reports that by 2200, 9 feet above current sea level will be the new normal, thanks to climate change.

(2) What I thought was a lightning storm turned out to be a  transformer blowing.

Maggie Koerth-Baker at BoingBoing explains how transformers work and links to an explainer on why transformers explode at Popular Mechanics.

(3) Con Edison cut power to part of Manhattan to ease the pain of getting the equipment back online after the flood receded.

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Courtesy of TenSafeFrogs / flickr

Before the storm hit, over at TIME, Bryan Walsh explained how the storm would test our electric grid, which is, to say the least, cobbled together. After the storm, Katie Fehrenbacher of GigaOm laid out the case for a cleaner, more distributed power grid.

(4) In Chelsea, the facade of a four-story building crumbled:

I asked around on Twitter and learned that high winds and/or old or shoddily-laid brick can sometimes cause this. WIN.

(5) At NYU Langonne hospital, after the power failed, so did the back-up generators.


See ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein’s Storify of the chain of events and how this is not the first time this has happened here.

NY Governor Cuomo later said in a press conference that the generators were in the basement. Which, of course, was flooded.

(6) At the height of the storm, Popular Science‘s Martha Harbison made a break for Brooklyn’s Newtown Creek to see what she could see. She does not recommend trying this. But you can read what it was like here.

(7) The wind brought down trees, trees, trees…

Popular Science editors put together an extensive gallery of fallen trees here.

(8) Now that the storm is passed, the recovery here and elsewhere has begun. It will have to take into account what New York Governor Cuomo referred to as a new, extreme weather reality.


Quartz news reporter Chris Mims thoughtfully addressed how climate change fed into Sandy here. And Maggie Koerth-Baker put together a set of links and info here to address why what you mean when you ask “Did climate change cause Sandy?” matters:

If you’re just kind of curious and/or looking for something to blame, we don’t have great answers on that yet. I’m sorry. Nobody is really going to be able to tell you one way or the other.

But if you’re using that question as a proxy to really ask, “Is climate change real and do I have to care about it?”, well, good news! We have enough information to answer your question. And the answer is, emphatically, yes.

For my part, the one article that kept coming to mind was this one from National Geographic last year. We might someday start adding the natty wood structures used by these people to our front yards.

Food for thought.


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