Massive and dangerous Hurricane Sandy has grown to record size as it barrels northeastwards along the North Carolina coast at 10 mph. At 8 am EDT, Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds extended northeastwards 520 miles from the center, and twelve-foot high seas covered a diameter of ocean 1,030 miles across. Since records of storm size began in 1988, no tropical storm or hurricane has been larger (though Hurricane Olga of 2001 had a larger 690 mile radius of tropical storm-force winds when it was a subtropical storm near Bermuda.) Sandy has put an colossal volume of ocean water in motion with its widespread and powerful winds, and the hurricane’s massive storm surge is already impacting the coast. A 2′ storm surge has been recorded at numerous locations this morning from Virginia to Connecticut, including a 3′ surge at Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and Sewells Point at 9 am EDT. Huge, 10 – 15 foot-high battering waves on top of the storm surge have washed over Highway 12 connecting North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the mainland at South Nags Head this morning. The highway is now impassable, and has been closed. The coast guard station on Cape Hatteras, NC, recorded sustained winds of 50 mph, gusting to 61 mph, at 5:53 am EDT this morning. In Delaware, the coastal highway Route 1 between Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach has been closed due to high water. Even though Sandy is a minimal Category 1 hurricane, its storm surge is extremely dangerous, and if you are in a low-lying area that is asked to evacuate, I strongly recommend that you leave.
Figure 1. A fright to behold: morning satellite image of massive Hurricane Sandy.
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