John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A most ominous storm was brewing over the East Coast.
If Tim Burton directed a weather movie, it might look something like this eerie animation produced by University of Delaware researchers.
The video shows how the Sandy plumped into a true monster storm between October 22 and October 31, using about 800 infrared images captured by the GOES satellite network. Computer specialist Matt Shatley, who monitors satellite feeds for the school's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, gave the footage a creepy, almost evil vibe with a monochromatic color scheme and cloud patterns reminiscent of ghost tendrils. (Here's NOAA's regular version.) It's like one of those Dementors from Harry Potter descended on the East Coast to chew out its soul.
Regarding what was happening in the atmosphere at this time, university climatologist Daniel Leathers says:
“Once Sandy moved along the coast of the United States, it began to interact with a strong upper-level jet stream causing it to become a hybrid tropical/extratropical storm. As it moved over the waters of the Gulf Stream, Sandy continued to have tropical characteristics, as thunderstorms once again began to grow around the eye. In the end, this hybrid nature is what caused the storm to be so strong and so large!”
Although it wasn't in the terrible northern part of the nor'eastercane, Delaware still got a hearty taste of Sandy's smashing, blowing, flooding fury. The coastline suffered record-breaking high tides, which pushed swells of briny H20 into the streets. Here's a time-lapse video the university recorded showing rising waters in Lewes, located just north of Rehoboth Beach:
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