As Sandy approaches, a wall of water will create a dangerous storm surge.
Storm surge is when winds associated with a storm system forces water up onto the land. The result is coastal flooding and beach erosion, but if the surge is high enough, it can be life-threatening.
Winds ahead of Sandy are expected to force water up into Long Island Sound. With a persistent flow and very strong winds, water will get piled up along the shoreline.
The above forecast indicates a storm surge of 10+ feet possible.
This means that the ocean level could potentially rise 10 feet above normal.
Even if the surge is only half of that, about 5 feet, it would be similar to what we experienced with Tropical Storm Irene.
*If a storm surge of 6, 8 or even 10 feet were realized, it could put hundreds of homes and businesses under water.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is currently forecasting a storm surge of 4 to 8 feet, which would be similar to Irene or worse.
At this point, prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. It’s been over a hundred years since such a strong storm came in from the southeast into New Jersey, so we won’t know with 100% certainty how bad things will be until they’re happening.
The image below shows a forecast for Sandy to move into central New Jersey. In this situation, strong southeasterly winds will force water into Long Island Sound. The arrows above show this, but they also show wind forcing water into the western Sound, towards the East River.
This is why the forecast model has such a severe storm surge.