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Aerial Pictures Show Hurricane Sandy’s Destruction

Hurricane Sandy was one of the most destructive storms to ever strike the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. It brought a record storm surge that flattened parts of the New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut coastlines, flooded parts of New York City, and caused an estimated $50 billion or more in damage. The storm's battering waves helped reshape the coastline, forming breaches in the land and destroying homes and businesses. Aerial photography by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows the extent of the coastal changes before and after the storm.

"Sandy taught us yet again that not all Cat-1 hurricanes are created equal: the superstorm's enormous fetch over the Atlantic produced storm surge and wave erosion of historic proportions," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "We have seized this opportunity to gather unique data on a major coastline-altering event."

Storm waves and surge cut across the barrier island at Mantoloking, NJ, eroding a wide beach, destroying houses and roads, and depositing sand onto the island and into the back-bay. The yellow arrow in each image points to the same feature.
Click to enlarge the image. Credit: USGS.

View looking west along the New Jersey shore in Seaside Heights. Storm waves and surge destroyed the dunes and boardwalk, and deposited the sand on the island, covering roads. The red arrow points to a building that was washed off of its foundation and moved about a block away from its original location. The yellow arrow in each image points to the same feature.
Click to enlarge the image. Credit: USGS.

View looking west along the New Jersey shore. Storm waves and surge eroded the beach and destroyed the seaward edge of the pier and deposited the roller coaster superstructure in the ocean. Sediment deposited on the island is visible in the background and indicates that overwash occurred here. The yellow arrow in each image points to the same feature. 
Click to enlarge the image. Credit: USGS.

The USGS worked with the National Park Service to examine the storm's impacts on Fire Island National Seashore on Long Island.

“We found that there was widespread dune erosion and overwash,” said St. Petersburg-based USGS coastal geologist Cheryl Hapke. “On average the dunes eroded back 70 feet - the equivalent of 30 years of change, which had previously been measured. Our data also showed that dunes lost as much as 10 feet of elevation.”

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How Global Warming Made Hurricane Sandy Worse
Hurricane Sandy Paralyzes New York, New Jersey
Hurricane Sandy Walloping East Coast With Surge, Winds 
Hurricane Sandy Roars Ashore, Threatening Record Surge 
Sandy's Storm Surge Explained and Why It Matters
Ongoing Coverage of Historic Hurricane Sandy


By Laura Nelson (Takoma Park, MD 20912)
on November 10th, 2012

Houses shouldn’t be built on beaches and dunes in the first place. I studied land use planning back in the 70s and was taught that it wasn’t a good idea to build before the secondary dunes. I can’t believe the wispy beaches and spits of sand that big houses have been constructed on.

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