Hurricane Sandy, a storm of unprecedented strength, made landfall in extreme southern New Jersey on October 29th and moved westward over Delaware in the following hours.
Impacts of Sandy to Delaware included record flooding along the Atlantic and Delaware Bay coasts of the First State, heavy precipitation, high wind speeds and a new state record low atmospheric pressure.
The Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS; www.deos.udel.edu) was a primary tool used by state government and the National Weather Service (NWS) to monitor conditions in Delaware during the storm. In addition, the UD College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) satellite receiving station (UD SRS) was also used to monitor many aspects of the storm from earth orbit.
Sandy began her life cycle as a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea, east of Nicaragua on October 22, quickly increasing strength to a tropical storm on the same day.
Sandy became a category 1 hurricane on the 24th as it moved over Jamaica and eastern portions of Cuba. The storm briefly became a category 2 hurricane as it entered the southern Bahamas on October 25th, but weakened to a category 1 hurricane as it made its way north off the eastern coast of the United States.
Hurricane Sandy made a very unusual turn to the northwest off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia, bringing the storm over New Jersey and eventually into Delaware.
Sandy was unusual both for its track and its structure, existing as a hybrid tropical/extratropical storm.
Heavy rain fell across Delaware during the passage of Hurricane Sandy from the 28th through the 30th.
Rainfall totals ranged from a high of 10.98” at Indian River Inlet, to a low of 5.21” in Claymont.
Even lighter rainfall amounts were prevalent in much of Chester County PA, limiting flooding along northern Delaware streams.
The highest wind speeds associated with Sandy occurred to our north across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, but winds were also strong in Delaware. Peak gusts across Delaware were in the upper 40 mph range along the coast at Indian River Inlet, at Jones Crossroads, and in New Castle County at Greenville (Winterthur).
The lower wind speeds across Delaware helped to lessen the number of downed trees and power lines compared to our northern neighbors.
Sandy was a very powerful storm as it made landfall on the 29th. Central pressures in the storm at landfall were estimated to be near 940 millibars (27.76”).
Here in Delaware, the lowest pressure recorded was 954 millibars ( 28.17”) at the DEOS station at Claymont.
Many if not all portions of the state likely saw the lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded as Sandy moved through the area.