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Documentation and hydrologic analysis of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, October 29–30, 2012

Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5085

Prepared in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency
By:
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https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20165085

Links

  • Document: Report (85.5 MB pdf)
  • Tables:
    • Table 3 (77.5 KB xls) - Peak-of-record tide elevations and peak storm-tide elevations at U.S. Geological Survey permanent monitoring tide gages in New Jersey, October 29–30, 2012
    • Table 4 (45 KB xls) - Description of U.S. Geological Survey sensors temporarily deployed for Hurricane Sandy with peak storm tide elevations, annual exceedance probabilities, and estimated recurrence intervals in New Jersey, October 29–30, 2012
    • Table 5 (144 KB xls) - Peak storm-tide elevations at 169 high-water-mark sites along the coast of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy, October 29–30, 2012, and the corresponding Federal Emergency Management Agency flood elevations for the 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year recurrence intervals
    • Table 6 (61 KB xls) - Peak storm-tide elevations for selected historic coastal floods and peak storm-tide elevations during Hurricane Sandy, October 29–30, 2012, at selected U.S. Geological Survey permanent monitoring tide gages in New Jersey
    • Table 7 (74 KB xls) - Peak storm-tide elevations at 82 high-water-mark sites flagged and surveyed after the December 1992 storm in New Jersey, peak storm-tide elevations from the closest high-water-mark sites flagged and surveyed after Hurricane Sandy, October 29–30, 2012, and peak storm-tide elevations from the nearest U.S. Geological Survey tide gage along the coast of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy, October 29–30, 2012
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Abstract

In 2012, a late season tropical depression developed into a tropical storm and later a hurricane. The hurricane, named “Hurricane Sandy,” gained strength to a Category 3 storm on October 25, 2012, and underwent several transitions on its approach to the mid-Atlantic region of the eastern coast of the United States. By October 28, 2012, Hurricane Sandy had strengthened into the largest hurricane ever recorded in the North Atlantic and was tracking parallel to the east coast of United States, heading toward New Jersey. On October 29, 2012, the storm turned west-northwest and made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J. The high winds and wind-driven storm surge caused massive damage along the entire coastline of New Jersey. Millions of people were left without power or communication networks. Many homes were completely destroyed. Sand dunes were eroded, and the barrier island at Mantoloking was breached, connecting the ocean with Barnegat Bay.

Several days before the storm made landfall in New Jersey, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) made a decision to deploy a temporary network of storm-tide sensors and barometric pressure sensors from Virginia to Maine to supplement the existing USGS and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) networks of permanent tide monitoring stations. After the storm made landfall, the USGS conducted a sensor data recovery and high-water-mark collection campaign in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Peak storm-tide elevations documented at USGS tide gages, tidal crest-stage gages, temporary storm sensor locations, and high-water-mark sites indicate the area from southern Monmouth County, N.J., north through Raritan Bay, N.J., had the highest peak storm-tide elevations during this storm. The USGS tide gages at Raritan River at South Amboy and Raritan Bay at Keansburg, part of the New Jersey Tide Telemetry System, each recorded peak storm-tide elevations of greater than 13 feet (ft)—more than 5 ft higher than the previously recorded period-of-record maximum. A comparison of peak storm-tide elevations to preliminary FEMA Coastal Flood Insurance Study flood elevations indicated that these areas experienced the highest recurrence intervals along the coast of New Jersey. Analysis showed peak storm-tide elevations exceeded the 100-year FEMA flood elevations in many parts of Middlesex, Union, Essex, Hudson, and Bergen Counties, and peak storm-tide elevations at many locations in Monmouth County exceeded the 500-year recurrence interval.

A level 1 HAZUS (HAZards United States) analysis was done for the counties in New Jersey affected by flooding to estimate total building stock losses. The aggregated total building stock losses estimated by HAZUS for New Jersey, on the basis of the final inundation verified by USGS high-water marks, was almost $19 billion. A comparison of Hurricane Sandy with historic coastal storms showed that peak storm-tide elevations associated with Hurricane Sandy exceeded most of the previously documented elevations associated with the storms of December 1992, March 1962, September 1960, and September 1944 at many coastal communities in New Jersey. This scientific investigation report was prepared in cooperation with FEMA to document flood processes and flood damages resulting from this storm and to assist in future flood mitigation actions in New Jersey.

Suggested Citation

Suro, T.P., Deetz, Anna, and Hearn, Paul, 2016, Documentation and hydrologic analysis of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, October 29–30, 2012: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5085, 73 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165085.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract 
  • Introduction
  • Analysis of Storm-Tide and Wave Data from Hurricane Sandy 
  • Comparison to Historic Storms
  • Flood Frequency Comparison and Analysis
  • Storm Surge Analysis 
  • Extent of Flood Inundation 
  • General Description of Flood Damages
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1.  Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
  • Appendix 2.  Storm and Damage Photographs

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Documentation and hydrologic analysis of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, October 29–30, 2012
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2016-5085
DOI:
10.3133/sir20165085
Year Published:
2016
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
New Jersey Water Science Center
Description:
Report: ix, 73 p.; 5 Tables
Country:
United States
State:
New Jersey
Online Only (Y/N):
Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
Y