Sandy: the new normal?

Written by: Mariana Braz

Image of Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday Oct 30 at 6:02 a.m.EDT.



When John and Fwan Deblasi, Milltown residents, heard that Hurricane Sandy was coming towards NJ, they thought they were going to experience Hurricane Irene all over again.

“Last year the flooding was the biggest issue. We also lost power for a week,” said Mrs. Deblasi.

Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast on Oct. 28 causing around $50 billion in damages. More than 150 people were killed during the storm and almost 9 million people lost power. Last year, Hurricane Irene, a category 1 storm, killed 56 people, caused flooding and left millions without power.

The Deblasi’s were among the millions of people who lost power for days because of Sandy. “We used generator for the refrigerator, and we lived pretty much in the kitchen for a few days”, said John Deblasi.

Mr. Deblasi also said that he was very worried because a tree fell on their lawn and hit the power line. “We stayed awake all night worried the large trees we have in the backyard could fall on the house.”

Sandy, Irene, Bill, Earl… In the past few years, the East Coast has seen an increase in extreme weather events, especially during the second half of the year, which is known as hurricane season. The question is what causes this to occur?

MCCC Professor of Biology, Renee Nerish, explained that the environment is changing. “We have hotter summers and the winter starts earlier than a few years ago.” Nerish also believes that humans’ action contributed to the climate change. “We have absolutely a lot to do with what’s happening, especially the gas emission by cars.”

Hurricanes and tropical storms are not only caused by global warming. In an article published in Washington Post, James E. Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, explained: “Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) states that the period from 2000 to 2010 was the “warmest period on record.” They also said the planet’s average temperature is now 1.4F higher in comparison to the last century. They attribute some of the responsibility for the climate change to human action.

Some of the causes are the industrialization, pollution and the excessive dispose of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Professor Denise Ingram, head of the Sociology Department, and professed “weather geek,” discussed the effects of the storm with the VOICE. Prof. Ingram said that meteorologists are in agreement that climate change is happening, and she said that “there’s definite, crazy shit that’s going to be happening with the weather.”

Prof. Ingram said, “As with anything that is going to be costing money and lives, the people at the bottom are going to be getting hit the hardest.”

Hurricane Bill, a category 3 storm lost strength by the time it passed New Jersey in 2009. As a category 1 storm, it caused 10-foot waves along the Jersey Shore. Despite the 85mph wind gusts, the damage caused by this storm in New Jersey was minimal compared to later storms.

August 2010 was time for Hurricane Earl to leave its mark. Classified as category 4, it killed 2 civilians in New Jersey and 6 in total in the country. North Carolina and the Virgin Islands were the most affected states in the US accumulating over $15 million in damages.

Hurricane Irene came in 2011. It was a tropical storm by the time it made landfall but the 90 mph wind gusts caused $16.6 billion in damages.

Mrs Deblasi can’t forget all the trouble her family went through last year, and after Hurricane Sandy, they felt that losing power for a few days was nothing compared to all the flooding caused by Irene. “The storm from last year was much worse than Sandy for us, because this time we only lost power and a couple trees fell. Irene caused a lot of flooding on top of everything else.”

Only a week after Sandy, a Nor’easter hit the East Coast leaving from 3 to 8 inches of snow. According to The Weather Channel, the Nor’easter is a big storm with hurricane characteristics. This storm didn’t cause any flooding but some of the efforts to clean up after the Hurricane were interrupted for a while.

If this is the new trend for the East Coast, nobody is sure yet, but scientists are positive about the climate change and its influence on the storms.

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Mariana Braz

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