While sparing some areas, Sandy lived up to hype as massive, dangerous storm

A lot of Philadelphians and others across the region who escaped flooding and power outages are surprised by the relatively mild conditions they experienced after hearing for days about the advent of the monstrous Sandy.

Ask a meteorologist if forecasters made bum predictions about the storm some hyped as the “Storm of the Century,” and you might get an answer like this: “I don’t think the forecasters got it wrong.”

That was from Joe Miketta, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly. “I don’t agree with that assessment,” he said.


  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“The winds and wind gusts were certainly — with reports of 80 mph wind gusts — what we were forecasting,” Miketta said. “We had the strong winds, we had the tidal surge, we had near record flooding on the tidal river — the tidal Delaware River up to Philadelphia.

“We had some heavy rain, though the rainfall amounts were a little below what we were forecasting,” he said Tuesday.

There is, of course, something to be said for watching devastation on TV and appreciating your own good fortune.

AccuWeather’s Elliot Abrams says the storm did exactly what was expected. He also pointed out the winds, fallen trees and power outages were all predicted.

“Some areas did escape somewhat just because they were fortunate,” Abrams said. “For example, at Cape May the wind was out of the northwest as the storm approached and a northwest wind takes water back out to sea and so they didn’t have the flooding there.”

And it certainly lived up to its billing as a big storm, Abrams said.

“The storm extended, at one point, all the way from Bermuda to the Philadelphia area to the North Pole. So it was as big as anything people had experienced,” he said. “Was it as bad as the worst storm? Hurricane Hazel was probably worse in terms of the damage to our trees around here — in 1954. Who remembers that though?”

So was this really the “Storm of the Century”? Abrams said it was significant, and pointed out it’s still early in the century. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal