Coastal Storms | Extreme Weather

March 20, 2023

Restore The Shore Seaside Heights, New Jersey (by Hypnotica Studios CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

10 years later, see how Superstorm Sandy changed the Northeast – National Geographic

Elevated beach homes, walls of sand dunes, and new urban parks show how New York and New Jersey have rebuilt after one of the costliest weather disasters in U.S. history.

When Superstorm Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey, on October 29, 2012, it was unlike anything residents in the storm’s path had ever seen.

After a weeklong journey up the East Coast, Sandy was no longer technically a hurricane, but it collided with a powerful winter storm and created a behemoth “super storm” that pummeled coastal areas with 80-mile-an-hour winds and a storm surge as high as 14 feet.

The storm killed over 100 people in the U.S., destroyed 600,000 homes, and knocked out power to eight million residents. It was the fourth costliest storm of its kind in U.S. history, with damages totaling $81 billion, and it showed how vulnerable the region was to natural disasters.

“When Sandy hit, New York City had zero coastal protections, says Daniel Zarrilli, special advisor for climate and sustainability at Columbia University. “For a city with 520 miles of coastline, it’s almost shocking we didn’t have those interventions in the past.”

The destruction left by Sandy was a wake-up call. It pushed residents, city planners, and politicians to protect the coast from present threats and those expected in the future as a result of climate change.

Warming temperatures are making hurricanes stronger, rainier, and more likely to strike farther north. And as seas rise—seas along the coast of New York have risen nine inches since 1950—coastal flooding is becoming deadlier.

Planners knew they couldn’t rebuild the same structures the same way. They would have to be smarter, tougher, and higher off the ground.

“I credit Sandy as that pivotal moment that not only launched billions of dollars of resilience investments across the city,” says Zarrilli. “It also provided the spark for a whole range of other climate policies.”

Ten years later, results of those policy changes are visible. New building codes have lifted beach homes several feet. Dunes on the Rockaway Boardwalk and an oyster reef off the coast of Staten Island stand ready to blunt the force of storm surge. In the Oakwood Beach neighborhood, government-funded buyouts have emptied a housing development that’s now becoming a wetland, returning to nature what couldn’t be protected…



Hokusai's The Great Wave at Kanagawa (1760-1849) vintage Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcut print (Public domain image via Wikimedia, digitally enhanced by rawpixel).

Paleotsunami Detectives Hunt for Ancient Disasters – Hakai Magazine

Gigantic tsunamis have been decimating coastlines since time immemorial. We ignore these prehistoric warnings at our own peril.

A boulder weighing more than 40 tonnes sits on the sand high above the ocean. Dwarfing every other rock in view, it is conspicuously out of place. The answer to how this massive outlier got here lies not in the vast expanse of the Atacama Desert behind it but in the Pacific Ocean below…

Atmospheric River event in January 2017 (animation by NOAA/ESRL/PSD, Public Domain)

No debate anymore: Climate change makes extreme weather worse, federal scientists say – WUSF Public Media

Scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) delivered a clear message: Climate change is — unequivocally — making extreme weather events worse.
South Florida has always been hot, rainy and vulnerable to hurricanes. So it’s understandable that some longtime residents remain skeptical that climate change is doing anything to make the region’s age-old problems any worse…

Swirls of sediment off the coast of California on January 17, 2023, and a view of same area off the coast of California under more typical conditions on January 23, 2023 (Satellite image by Joshua Stevens, courtesy of NASA earth observatory).

On the Coast: Before and After the Parade of Atmospheric Rivers – Planet Snapshots issue 59 via Medium

California is left drenched, flooded, and perhaps a little hopeful after recurring atmospheric rivers pummeled the state for 2 weeks straight. The rains are a small reprieve for the area’s years-long drought. But the sheer volume of rainfall was much more than the parched landscape could handle. With a turn of the faucet, the state went from too dry to too wet in what’s called a “weather whiplash,” transforming the Golden State to shades of brown…

The Cement Ship, SS Palo Alto continues to be battered by strong surf, Seacliff State Beach, CA Januray 13, 2023 © 2023 Shmuel Thaler - Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Atmospheric rivers hitting California will become even more intense. Here’s how they work – the San Francisco Chronicle

The same weather that replenishes California water supplies could bring the next megaflood.

A procession of storms is drenching Northern California this week, with rainfall already topping 2 inches in San Francisco and surpassing 8 inches in the Santa Cruz Mountains. More precipitation is on tap through the weekend, prompting concerns of widespread urban flooding and potential landslides…

Coast Guard Air Station Astoria crew deploys to Russian River during Northern California floods (by by Petty Officer 3rd Class Taylor Bacon CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

What Will ‘Weather Whiplash’ Mean for California? – the New York Times

California is built upon the great gamble of irrigation. Left alone, much of the land in the Western United States would be inhospitable to teeming cities. But we’re Americans — we couldn’t let the desert stand in our way.

More than a century ago, the United States Bureau of Land Reclamation began taming the water in the West…

New Year's Eve Storm drenches Santa Cruz County, CA, creating flooding, slides, slip outs, downed trees and wire ©2023 Shmuel Thaler - Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Welcome to the era of weather whiplash – Vox

California’s floods reveal a likely climate change symptom: Quick shifts between opposing weather conditions. In less than a week, the story about California’s weather shifted dramatically. Just before New Year’s Eve, the state was running out of water following two decades of severe drought. Then, it started to rain and rain..California was battered by a series of atmospheric rivers…