Mantoloking Bridge, Northern New Jersey, March 18, 2007
Mantoloking Bridge after Superstorm Sandy, October 31, 2012
Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast last week. Camera crews and smartphone-toting locals chronicled the storm’s devastation on the street. These aerial photos, taken 7,500 feet above the ground, demonstrate the destruction on a larger scale. Just north of the spot where Sandy came ashore, the Mantoloking Bridge used to connect this barrier island to mainland New Jersey. The bridge was only two years old when the first picture was taken, in March 2007, but since the storm has washed away much of this former island, it has become, quite literally, a bridge to nowhere.
Images courtesy of the NOAA Remote Sensing Division, NASA.
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.
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.
A new sight appeared on Saturn earlier this month: A massive, swirling storm with a tail that cuts across the gas giant. Amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley, who was the first to spot the Earth-sized scar on Jupiter last summer, took the first pictures of this storm. And then on Christmas Eve the Cassini spacecraft beamed home its own ravishing images.
The spacecraft took images of the planet on December 24th, returning — as usual — jaw-dropping pictures of Saturn showing the storm. This image, taken with a blue filter, shows the storm clearly. The main spot is huge, about 6,000 km (3600 miles) across — half the size of Earth! Including the tail streaming off to the right, the whole system is over 60,000 km (36,000 miles) long.
There’s an added bonus in these images: the shadow of the rings on the planet’s clouds is obvious, but the rings are nearly invisible! You can just make out the rings as a thin line going horizontally across Saturn in the first image. These pictures were snapped when Cassini was almost directly above the rings, which are so thin they vanish when seen edge-on. Actually, that works out well as otherwise they might interfere with the view of the storm in these shots.
For more details, check out the rest of Phil’s post at Bad Astronomy.
80beats: By Demolishing a Moon, Saturn May Have Created Its Rings
80beats: Mysterious Smash on Jupiter Leaves an Earth-Sized Scar
Bad Astronomy: Saturn rages from a billion kilometers away
Every year, the coming of warmer weather in the spring brings with it the scientific parlor game of predicting how many storms the impending Atlantic hurricane season will bring. But could meteorological prognosticators soon begin to predict storms years in advance, and not just months, with some accuracy?
It is possible, a team led by Doug Smith of the U.K.’s Met Office says. In a study in Nature Geoscience, Smith essentially modeled the climate of past to see if the team’s system accurately predicted the Atlantic hurricane season.
The researchers used nine versions of its decadal prediction model to “hindcast” Atlantic hurricanes each year from 1960 to 2007. The model was set to May 1 for each of those years and then was asked how many storms would come that season. Averaging across the nine versions, the model results closely matched the changing number of hurricanes that occurred over those decades. Smith says: “We’ve found that there is some skill there.” [Science News]
The insurance industry’s weather simulator is more awesome than your weather simulator. It can hold nine houses, create hurricane-force conditions on its interior via 750,000-gallon tanks of water, and it just opened.
The Institute Business & Home Safety, an organization backed by the insurance industry, built the $40 million hangar of destruction in South Carolina.
With an update next year, “we’ll shoot hail down from the rafters of the building to simulate hail storms,” said Tim Reinhold, senior vice president of research at Tampa-based IBHS. The goal is to improve building codes and maintenance practices in disaster-prone regions. Such labs, insurers say, help reduce their exposure to catastrophic losses—even at a cost of $100,000 for each large hurricane simulation. [Washington Post]
IBHS conducted its first tests yesterday, blasting a normally constructed house and another made of stronger materials with winds stirred up by 105 giants fans.
As Tropical Storm Earl grew into Hurricane Earl this past weekend, NASA had a plan: Fly a plane into it. A DC-8 aircraft, used for NASA’s new Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) project, darted around the storm to trace the movement of atmospheric aerosols–particles suspended in the air–and to drop weather sensors, giving NASA researchers data on how such storms form and strengthen.
NASA’s DC-8 aircraft left Fort Lauderdale at 10:05 a.m. EDT on Saturday heading for St. Croix for a multi-day deployment that targeted (at that time) Tropical Storm Earl…. On Sunday, August 29, the DC-8 completed an 8.5-hour science flight over (then) Hurricane Earl west of St. Croix. The research aircraft flew at altitudes of 33,000 feet and 37,000 feet and descended to 7,000 feet northwest of the storm area to collect measurements of atmospheric aerosols. The flight originated in St. Croix but diverted to land in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., due to the degrading weather forecast for St. Croix associated with the approaching hurricane. [NASA]