Why is Sandy being called a “Super Storm”?

October 27th, 2012 at 11:19 am by under Weather

Why is Sandy being called a “Super Storm”?  Well, it’s certainly not for its wind speeds.  Forecasters use the Saffir Simpson scale as a measure of hurricane winds.  The scale starts at a Category 1 storm with winds of 74 mph increasing to a Category 5 storm with winds of greater than 156 mph.  As of 10 am Saturday Sandy is just barely a Category 1 storm with winds of 74 mph.  The forecast has winds continuing in the 70 mph range as it makes landfall sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning.


The factor that makes this storm super is its size.  By merging with a winter storm Sandy will affect the entire eastern seaboard.  Many large cities will be at a virtual standstill as long as the storm continues to blow.  Here are the 4 main factors that will make this storm one for the history books:


  1. Coastal Flooding.  Costal areas of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York will be affected by storm surge, now forecast at 4-8 feet.
  2.  Power Outages:  High winds will be widespread across New England.  Winds will average 50 mph with gusts over 70 mph- this will break tree limbs and take down power lines.  The scale of this event (roughly from Vermont to Virginia) will keep some people in the dark for a number of days, maybe even a week.
  3. Heavy Mountain Snow:  Moisture, cold air, and this powerful storm will combine to dump 1-2 feet of snow in high elevations.  Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania will be hardest hit.  Besides affecting travel this heavy wet snow will down trees and power lines creating more power outages. 
  4. Flooding Rainfall:  The leading edge of Sandy will produce heavy flooding rainfall with 4-6” of rain forecast with isolated 8” amounts possible.  Flooding could stretch from Virginia to Vermont.


The path and strength of Sandy will continue to challenge forecasters, so go to the National Hurricane Center for the latest storm track.  This site from the National Weather Service in Virginia is also very handy for information on Sandy.  Click here for flight delays; there will be a lot of them starting Sunday night! 

6 Responses to “Why is Sandy being called a “Super Storm”?”

  1. joe says:

    Can you explain why Sandy would be dubbed a “superstorm” by the media, but not other storms in the past (ie. Katrina, or the 2011 tornadoes)?

  2. puffidredz says:

    it said it in the second paragraph why it’s a “superstorm”.

    “The factor that makes this storm super is its size. By merging with a winter storm Sandy will affect the entire eastern seaboard. ”

    what made it a superstorm is the fact that it had “unusual” conditions than your standard hurricane. Sandy merged with a winter storm in the west with a jetstream from the north and created an even larger hybrid storm that brought storm conditions for the entire eastern seaboard from VA to ME, bringing blizzards to as far west as West Virginia and noreaster/hurricane conditions to its north.

    Hurricane Katrina was not a superstorm because it did not merge with any other storms and did not create any unusual weather conditions; it was just a plain old simple hurricane.

    1. Preston says:

      That Simple hurricane funked up my entire junior year. People lost. Never heard from them again… maybe now we all know loss from natural disaster.

  3. joe says:

    Actually, unusual conditions and/or two storms combining do not qualify a storm to be a superstorm. Technically, any storm that is powerful and destructive to a large area could be classified as a superstorm. Sandy is a superstorm, but not because it has unusual conditions or because it combined with another storm. “Superstorm” appears to be the buzzword being used for this storm. I just wanted to see if a meteorologist could shed some more light on the subject.

  4. greg says:

    It’s being called a superstorm because today’s journalists like cute. It’s a buzzword and it’s silly, pointless and unbecoming of a serious journalist because it does nothing to clarify or convey information. It’s on a par with another popular misleading term: Great Recession. Journalists are on a mission to make everything that happens historic in some way, and truth and clarity be damned.

  5. Dave says:

    They keep calling it a superstore for the same reason they call the WTC attack on 9/11 a ” disaster “. Im sure it has something to do with Federal funding and screwing the victims over. I know 2 people who lost bother their houses and have not seen one dime of help from anyone, despite all the donations and concerts going on.
    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss….

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