Sandy WAS more powerful than Hurricane Katrina – and it ranks as the second most powerful storm in modern history
- Sandy was more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb
- The storm surpassed Hurricane Katrina given its strength related to its size ratio
- Sandy could become the strongest hurricane after Katrina
- Despite being only Category 1 at landfall, Sandy generated significant storm surge over hundreds of miles
Hurricane Sandy is the second most powerful hurricane in modern history, with strength surpassing even that of Katrina, according to a measure of 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 strength based on how far tropical storm winds extend from the center, is second only to Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
Hurricane Sandy’s IKE was 140 Terajoules, which was about 20 Terajoules higher than Katrina’s, according to Brian McNoldy, a senior research scientist at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marin and Atmospheric Science.
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Sandy was only rated a Category 1 due to wind power, but received a significant storm surge after hitting land
Color enhanced satellite image of Hurricane Sandy
Sandy just hours before it finally made landfall on the US East Coast
Record-breaking storm: Hurricane Sandy was more powerful than Katrina, but its power was more spread out, researchers say
“Sandy’s IKE was over 140 Terajoules (TJ, 1 TJ = 1 trillion Joules = 277,778 kilowatt-hours), meaning it generated more than twice the energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima,” McNoldy wrote on a blog published by the Washington Post.
“At any given time, many hurricanes contain more energy than a nuclear bomb in their surface winds alone (even excluding winds at higher altitudes and latent heat energy),” he added.
The category levels more commonly cited to quantify the strength of hurricanes purely measure wind speed. Katrina was measured as a Category 3 hurricane at landfall and later rose to a Category 5 hurricane.
The estimated cost of Hurricane Sandy is $20 billion
Residents walk past burned down houses in Breezy Point, a neighborhood in New York’s Queens borough, after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy
Sandy, meanwhile, was measured as a Category 1 hurricane at landfall.
But Sandy could well become the second costliest hurricane in history, after Katrina, because of its high IKE, McNoldy noted.
“Sandy had Category 1 winds on landfall but was able to produce a very significant storm surge over hundreds of miles of densely populated coastline,” he wrote.
General view of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana after Katrina in 2005
Katrina’s IKE was more concentrated, Sandy’s IKE was more scattered. This measure – more than wind speed – includes the horrific effects of the respective storms.’
Sandy is estimated to have cost at least $20 billion in damage, while Katrina cost about $106 billion.
VIDEO: Following Sandy from start to finish…