- Sandy was more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb
- The storm surpassed Hurricane Katrina given the strength related to its size ratio
- Sandy could become the second costliest hurricane after Katrina
- Despite being only a Category 1 when it made landfall, Sandy generated significant storm surge for hundreds of miles.
Hurricane Sandy is the second most powerful hurricane in modern history; Its power surpasses even that of Katrina, as measured by the hurricane’s strength relative to its size.
Researchers have found that Sandy’s integrated kinetic energy index, or IKE, which quantifies a hurricane’s power based on the distance tropical storm-force winds extend from the center, ranked second only to the Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
Hurricane Sandy’s IKE was 140 terajoules, about 20 terajoules higher than Katrina, according to Brian McNoldy, principal investigator at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
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Sandy only had a Category 1 rating due to wind power, but generated significant storm surge after making landfall.
Enhanced Color Satellite Image of Hurricane Sandy
Sandy just hours before it finally made landfall on the US East Coast.
Record storm: Hurricane Sandy was more powerful than Katrina, but its power was more widespread, researchers say
“Sandy’s IKE was more than 140 Terajoules (TJ, 1 TJ = 1 trillion joules = 277,778 kilowatt hours), meaning it generated more than twice as much energy as the Hiroshima atomic bomb,” McNoldy wrote in a blog published by the Washington Post.
“At any given time, many hurricanes contain more energy than an atomic bomb in their surface winds alone (even excluding winds at higher elevations and latent heat energy),” he added.
The category levels most widely cited for quantifying hurricane power purely measure wind speed. Katrina was measured as a Category 3 hurricane upon landfall and was later upgraded to a Category 5.
The estimated cost of Hurricane Sandy is $20 billion.
Residents walk past burned houses in Breezy Point, a neighborhood in the New York borough of Queens, after it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Meanwhile, Sandy was measured as a Category 1 hurricane upon landfall.
But Sandy may end up being the second-costliest hurricane in history after Katrina because of its high IKE, McNoldy noted.
“Sandy had Category 1 winds at landfall, but was capable of creating very significant storm surge across hundreds of miles of densely populated coastline,” he wrote.
General view of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, after Katrina hit in 2005
‘Katrina’s IKE was more concentrated, Sandy’s IKE was more widespread. This metric, more than wind speed, summarizes the terrible effects of the respective storms.’
It has been estimated that Sandy cost at least $20 billion in damages, while Katrina cost approximately $106 billion.
VIDEO: Following Sandy from start to finish…