Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest storm of tropical origin to strike the states outside the South since Agnes in 1972. It also made landfall near Brigantine, several miles north of where forecasters said the day of the storm.
The National Hurricane Center’s final report about Sandy's meteorological and physical effects, released Tuesday, also noted that Sandy briefly strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane about 12 hours prior to landfall the evening of Oct. 29. However, the storm transitioned from a hurricane to a northeaster about one hour before landfall as it interacted with the cold air and atmospheric conditions near New Jersey, the report said.
This transition, however, did not have an impact on the record storm surge that reached more than 5 feet in Atlantic City and Cape May, and reached up to 9 feet in New York City, the report said.
States along the entire eastern seaboard, from Florida to Maine, experienced some level of storm surge, with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut seeing the highest water level. The surge sent up to 5 feet of water into the Hudson River all the way to Albany, or more than 100 miles inland, the report found.
Storm surge is the amount of water on top of a normal tide. The report noted that barrier islands, including Long Beach Island, were almost completely inundated in areas. High water marks 5 feet above ground level were found in Tuckerton and Long Beach Island, with inundation marks found 2 to 4 feet above ground level near Atlantic City and Cape May.
"I guess in some ways that was fortunate for us because we were not on the north side of the storm where more damage occurred," Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther said after learning his town had been the point where Sandy came ashore. "Certainly when the eye passed over for those of us in town at that point, it was calm and very eerie, until the back side of the storm came."
Winds at landfall were recorded at 70 knots, or 80 mph, above minimum hurricane status, the report said. When Sandy made landfall, the storm's minimum barometric pressure recorded at the National Ocean Service buoy on Steel Pier was 945 millibars, or the lowest pressure ever recorded north of North Carolina. This pressure is one of the causes of Sandy's destructive storm surge, coastal scientists have said.
The hurricane center's analysis of the storm also found that sustained hurricane-force winds, defined as at least 74 mph, occurred in New Jersey, but likely after the storm had transitioned into a northeaster.
Of the 72 deaths in the U.S. attributed to Sandy, 41 were from the storm surge, the report said. At least another 87 deaths were indirectly linked to the storm, including 50 related to the extended power outages. The causes of those deaths included hypothermia, falls and carbon monoxide poisoning, the report stated.
At least 650,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by Sandy. In New Jersey, 346,000 housing units were damaged or destroyed, with 22,000 of those uninhabitable. Nearly 19,000 businesses each had damage worth at least $250,000. Repairs to utility lines statewide are expected to cost about $1 billion and repairs to damaged water and sewer infrastructure will cost about $3 billion, the report said.
Sandy also will rank as the second costliest disaster in the nation's history, with a current damage estimate of about $50 billion. If inflation, property valuation and other equalizing factors are considered, the storm will rank as the sixth costliest disaster, the report stated.
National Hurricane Center forecasters had said the day of the storm that Sandy made landfall about 3 miles south of Atlantic City. It is not unusual for forecasters to alter the landfall location following the hurricane center's forensic report.
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