When you think of sandy, you might think of beaches. Unfortunately, life’s not a beach in Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas this week, where Hurricane Sandy is bringing intense wind and rain as she steams north, towards the East Coast of the United States. On October 22nd, the eighteenth Atlantic depression of the year formed. By October 25th, Sandy was a Category 2 hurricane with winds near 105 mph. Sandy moved through Jamaica and Cuba, causing flooding, and is being blamed for 11 deaths in Cuba, where 3000 buildings were also damaged. The historic city of Santiago de Cuba suffered the worst damage from the storm. On Friday, Sandy reduced somewhat in strength to a Category 1 hurricane as it moved through the Bahamas.
Hurricane Warnings: Possible Super Storm For the East Coast
In Florida, hurricane warnings have been issued for Miami, Jacksonville, Melbourne and Key West. There is concern that Sandy could merge with other seasonal storms to create a much stronger storm that will pummel the US East Coast. This storm could bring heavy rain and snow and strong winds to the coast early next week.
Hot Towers: Why Are They Significant?
Hurricane Sandy contained hot towers when it was forming – what does that mean to meteorologists? A ‘Hot Tower’ is a high thundercloud that sends out a lot of heat. Hot tower rain clouds reach all the way up into the troposphere. Hot air rises, and in the case of a hot tower, hot air pushes way up into the atmosphere, up to nine miles into the air. Air cools when it rises, and coalesces into rain; the storm clouds emit this heat.
The presence of a hot tower generally means that a storm will intensify, so it’s one of the ways meteorologists predict whether a tropical depression will turn into a tropical storm or a hurricane. Not all tropical depressions turn into something interesting – some of them disintegrate before they can turn into a tropical storm. Depressions that contain hot towers, such as now-Hurricane Sandy, however, are twice as likely to intensify, rather than fading away.
Sandy May Bring A Halloween Blast To the East Coast
It remains to be seen whether Sandy will wreak havoc in areas pummeled by Hurricane Irene last year. If this hurricane does merge with a polar air mass in the Atlantic, the storm will likely bring coastal flooding, high winds and rain, and power outages to areas up and down the US East Coast, including New York City, Boston, and the Carolinas up to Maine, so preparation is key for residents of those areas.
Check here for a Hurricane Sandy Update, as of October 28!
CNN. Sandy Kills 11 in Cuba, Then Batters Bahamas. (2012). Accessed October 26, 2012.
NASA. Hurricane Sandy. (2012). Accessed October 26, 2012.