Added by Erik West on October 27, 2012
As hurricane Sandy slowly moves at about 14 km/h (9 mph) from 570 km (917 miles) southeast of Charleston, NC, USA, residents in the US and Canada on Saturday prepared for the storm’s arrival – expected within days, based on current forecasts.
The current forecast track indicates the centre of the storm, which will be a tropical storm, will arrive in New York at about 12:00 GMT/UTC on Tuesday, where it will remain until Wednesday and move north over Canada through Thursday. The storm’s wind radius, the area that is affected by the storm’s wind, is very wide prompting officials in New York and states to its south to prepare for the storm ahead of its arrival.
The storm was reduced to a tropical storm early Saturday, yet was upgraded again to hurricane status after wind speeds increased at about 12:00 GMT/UTC. Several states along the southeast coastlines of the US declared a state of emergency and are under a flood watches with residents preparing for the storm’s landfall.
At an elevation of just 10m (33ft) above sea level, New York city with a dense population of over 8m is considered to be low-laying area. As a result, local officials are preparing plans to deal with flooding and are deliberating whether to close the city’s subway service (underground train network).
Hurricane Sandy is currently moving toward the NNE at about 14 km/h (9 mph) and winds reported at 120 km/h (75 mph), with gusts up to 150 km/h (90 mph). The storm is currently located (as of Saturday at 15:00 GMT/UTC) about 570 km (917 miles) southeast of Charleston, NC, USA.
In the Caribbean at least 43 people are dead in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, with the most deaths – 26 – reported by Haiti. Some deaths were confirmed not to be a direct result of the storm – officials in the area say the death toll could rise as hillsides and remnants of houses are searched in the coming days. Haiti continues to experience flooding, displacing over 17,000 people who had already moved to temporary shelters.
The storm is estimated to have caused the collapse of 5,000 Haitian homes, and caused about 30,000 homes to deteriorate into unliveable condition as the result of losing their roofs. Crops including Banana, sugar, and coffee were damaged as well.
The Dominican Republic reported the destruction of many bridges, resulting in about 130 communities being cut-off from assistance. About 18,000 were evacuated.
Hurricane Grace in 1991 was dubbed ‘The Perfect Storm’ when a cold front absorbed the remnants of the hurricane after it had been downgraded to a low pressure system. The storm re-emerged as a category one hurricane on November 2 and resulted in the sinking of several vessels, including the famous Andrea Gail which was featured in the year 2000 film ‘Perfect Storm’. The storm caused widespread power outages, leaving over 20,000 people without power. The storm caused about US$325m (or USD$200m in 1991) in damage.
Preparations for a hurricane, as recommended by the US National Hurricane Center, include informing yourself about storm conditions and assessing risk, planning exit routes and becoming familiar with local emergency plans, and creating and maintaining a basic disaster supply kit, that includes water, food, first aid kits, flashlights, battery power radio, whistle, tools, maps, cell phone chargers, prescription drugs, coats, glasses, and other items. The US National Hurricane Center recommends keeping on hand about two weeks of supplies depending on the level of risk in the area.
Power outages are common during natural events like storms – cell phones’ batteries can run out and cell phone networks may become unavailable during a power outage. Regular, wired phones, that are not VoIP phones, usually continue to work during outages because very little electricity is needed to power them, plus local phone companies’ telephone exchanges are powered by batteries and backup generators which keep the phones working.
The fifth-costliest US hurricane, hurricane Irene in 2011, lifted the US economy by 2.5% in October 2011. Economists initially thought the US economy was improving yet found later that the increase in economic activity was a result of preparations for and recovery from the hurricane.