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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 13, issue 10 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 2579-2598, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-13-2579-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 18 Oct 2013

Research article | 18 Oct 2013

Investigation of superstorm Sandy 2012 in a multi-disciplinary approach

M. Kunz1,2, B. Mühr1,2, T. Kunz-Plapp1,3, J. E. Daniell1,3, B. Khazai1,3, F. Wenzel1,3, M. Vannieuwenhuyse1,4, T. Comes1,4, F. Elmer1,5, K. Schröter1,6, J. Fohringer1,7, T. Münzberg1,8, C. Lucas1,9, and J. Zschau1,10 M. Kunz et al.
  • 1Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM), Potsdam and Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-TRO), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 3Geophysical Institute (GPI), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 4Institute for Industrial Production (IIP), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 5Scientific Infrastructure and Platforms, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 6Section Hydrology, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 7Section Geoinformatics, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 8Institute for Nuclear and Energy Technologies (IKET), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 9Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (IPF), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 10Section Earthquake Risk and Early Warning, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. At the end of October 2012, Hurricane Sandy moved from the Caribbean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean and entered the United States not far from New York. Along its track, Sandy caused more than 200 fatalities and severe losses in Jamaica, The Bahamas, Haiti, Cuba, and the US. This paper demonstrates the capability and potential for near-real-time analysis of catastrophes.

It is shown that the impact of Sandy was driven by the superposition of different extremes (high wind speeds, storm surge, heavy precipitation) and by cascading effects. In particular the interaction between Sandy and an extra-tropical weather system created a huge storm that affected large areas in the US. It is examined how Sandy compares to historic hurricane events, both from a hydro-meteorological and impact perspective.

The distribution of losses to different sectors of the economy is calculated with simple input-output models as well as government estimates. Direct economic losses are estimated about USD 4.2 billion in the Caribbean and between USD 78 and 97 billion in the US. Indirect economic losses from power outages is estimated in the order of USD 16.3 billion. Modelling sector-specific dependencies quantifies total business interruption losses between USD 10.8 and 15.5 billion. Thus, seven years after the record impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Sandy is the second costliest hurricane in the history of the United States.

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