The super-soaking superstorm, Hurricane Sandy, drenched the east coast of the United States in late October, 2012. Nicknamed “Frankenstorm” due to its large size and arrival in the United States near the Halloween holiday (October 31), Sandy first formed from an elongated tropical wave on October 22 in the western Caribbean Sea. The wave quickly strengthened into eighteenth named storm and the tenth hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season as it marched steadily northward.
By October 24, Sandy’s winds intensified to hurricane status and made landfall first in Jamaica. The next day, the storm reached Category 2 hurricane status as it crossed over Cuba. The initial interaction with land left at least 68 people dead across the Caribbean, Bahamas and the United States after this early interaction with land.
At 1530 UTC (11:30 a.m. EDT), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of Hurricane Sandy over the Bahamas. Clouds associated with strong thunderstorms can be seen in the southern arm, which is positioned over the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and eastern Puerto Rico. The northwestern edge of the sprawling storm covers southern Florida. At about 3 ˝ hours after this image was captured, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Sandy’s maximum sustained winds remained near 105 mph (165 km/h).
As Sandy left Cuba behind and crawled northward towards the East Coast, the storm weakened. Late on October 25 winds slowed to Category 1 status, and by the morning of October 27, Sandy briefly fell to Tropical Storm strength before restrengthening.
By October 28, the sprawling storm expanded to truly enormous proportions – a giant storm with a 2,000 mile extent. Early that same morning a distinct eye wall formed, and the atmospheric pressure dropped to 951 milibars – both indications that Sandy was intensifying, even as it merged with a cold front and began showing extra-tropical characteristics.
The National Hurricane Center warned early on Sunday, Oct. 28, that "Sandy expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding to the Mid-Atlantic coast including Long Island sound and New York Harbor, winds expected to be near hurricane force at landfall." Storm surge in the Long Island sound is expected between 6 and 11 feet.