Climate Change Effects on Flooding During Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast US coastline in 2012. In New York City, it caused power outages that affected nearly 2 million people, forced evacuations of 6500 patients from hospitals and nursing homes, prevented 1.1 million children from attending school for a week, and disrupted the daily travel of about 11 million commuters. Many of these impacts were related to flooding of critical infrastructure, including nearly 90,000 buildings, and more than $5 billion in damages in the mass transit system. The maximum observed water level at the tidal gauge located at the southern tip of Manhattan was 5.3 m above the station datum and 2.8 m above the expected tide. This additional water, known as storm surge, was pushed from the open sea by strong winds during the storm. Sandy was one of several recent storms to cause flooding along the US Gulf and Atlantic coasts, including Katrina and Rita (2005), Gustav and Ike (2008), Irene (2011), Isaac (2012), and Hermine and Matthew (2016). Climatic changes are causing these storms to be larger and more intense, last longer, and move farther northward. Their impacts will be more severe to communities in coastal regions in the future.

JC Dietrich (2018). “Vignette: Climate Change Effects on Flooding During Hurricane Sandy.” Disaster Epidemiology: Methods and Applications, Academic Press, JA Horney, ed., 153-156, DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-809318-4.00020-4.