Superstorm Sandy breaks records

Counting the cost of Superstorm Sandy
Counting the cost of Superstorm Sandy

    JUST WATCHED

    Counting the cost of Superstorm Sandy

MUST WATCH

Counting the cost of Superstorm Sandy 01:28

Story highlights

  • Sandy's strength, indicated by barometric pressure, set a record for Northeast storms
  • New York Harbor saw a record level 32.5-foot wave
  • Sandy cut power to a record number of people in the Northeastern United States
  • Sandy is not expected to come near Katrina's record $108 billion in damages

Superstorm Sandy, which New York Mayor Bloomberg called "a storm of unprecedented proportions," will likely not set records for most costly or most deadly. Still, the mayor tweeted Tuesday that Sandy is "maybe the worst #NYC has ever experienced."

The hurricane-turned-cyclone can claim several historical titles.

Sandy's strength, as indicated by barometric pressure just before landfall, set a record. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

When hurricane hunter aircraft measured its central pressure at 940 millibars -- 27.76 inches -- Monday afternoon, it was the lowest barometric reading ever recorded for an Atlantic storm to make landfall north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The previous record holder was the 1938 "Long Island Express" Hurricane, which dropped as low as 946 millibars.

Sandy's strength and angle of approach combined to produce a record storm surge of water into New York City. The surge level at Battery Park topped 13.88 feet at 9:24 p.m. Monday, surpassing the 10.02 feet record water level set by Hurricane Donna in 1960.

Superstorm aftermath from every angle
Superstorm aftermath from every angle

    JUST WATCHED

    Superstorm aftermath from every angle

MUST WATCH

Superstorm aftermath from every angle 01:08
PLAY VIDEO
Sandy spawns blizzard in West Virginia
Sandy spawns blizzard in West Virginia

    JUST WATCHED

    Sandy spawns blizzard in West Virginia

MUST WATCH

Sandy spawns blizzard in West Virginia 00:59
PLAY VIDEO
iReporters share Hurricane Sandy images
iReporters share Hurricane Sandy images

    JUST WATCHED

    iReporters share Hurricane Sandy images

MUST WATCH

iReporters share Hurricane Sandy images 02:22
PLAY VIDEO
Superstorm Sandy batters boats
Superstorm Sandy batters boats

    JUST WATCHED

    Superstorm Sandy batters boats

MUST WATCH

Superstorm Sandy batters boats 00:59
PLAY VIDEO

Sandy's impact: State by state

New York Harbor's surf also reached a record level when a buoy measured a 32.5-foot wave Monday. That wave was 6.5 feet taller than a 25-foot wave churned up by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

As Sandy approached the Northeast, forecasters were fond of pointing out that if the hurricane were a country, the area it covered would make it the 20th largest in the world -- roughly twice the size of Texas.

But with tropical-force winds reaching out 580 miles, Sandy still was just the second-largest Atlantic storm on record. Hurricane Olga, another late-in-the-year storm, set the record in 2001, with tropical-force winds extending 600 miles, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Transit systems struggling to restart

Sandy's power cut electricity service to a record number of people in the Northeastern United States, according to utility company numbers.

There were 7.5 million businesses and households without electric power in 15 states and the District of Columbia by late Tuesday morning, according to numbers compiled by CNN from local power providers.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said 2.4 million households in his state were in the dark Tuesday, twice the number left powerless in Hurricane Irene's wake last year.

"This is the largest storm-related outage in our history," John Miksad, Con Edison senior vice president for electric operations, said in a company Twitter message Tuesday.

Sandy changes lives forever

It will take time before we know how expensive Sandy will prove, but early estimates would not make it the costliest on record.

Eqecat, which provides loss estimates to the insurance industry, calculated Tuesday that the total cost of property damage and lost business could run between $10 billion to $20 billion.

Another estimate, by Kinetic Analysis Corp. research director Chuck Watson, put the Sandy's overall economic impact at $20 billion to $25 billion. Flood damage to New York's subway tunnels and potential electrical system damage is a major wild card, Watson said.

Is Sandy a taste of things to come?

Sandy is not expected to come near the $108 billion in damages the National Hurricane Center estimated was done to the Gulf Coast states by Katrina in 2005.

With new ways for people to experience and share the storm available, new measures of impact are rising.

For example, the smartphone photo-sharing app Instagram registered a record number of image uploads Monday "at a rate of nearly 10 each second -- with the hashtags #hurricanesandy, #sandy and #frankenstorm," the company said.

How to help

      Superstorm Sandy

    • The storm that broke records, and hearts

      A mother learns that her newborn is part of a hospital evacuation. Facebook posts from a member of the HMS Bounty turn ominous. A man worries about the wind and rain, but another force of nature hits home.
    • In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a storm that ripped so much apart, people have come together to provide help and hope.

      In Sandy's wake, help comes in unexpected ways

      Tourists become volunteer rescue workers. The connected provide power outlets and Wi-Fi. Performers lift spirits. Photographers preserve images. Doctors work overtime to keep hospitals running and patients alive.
    • Despite a mangled phone screen, volunteer Candice Osborne is able to quickly respond to the needs of Superstorm Sandy victims with the help of social media.

      Social media make helping personal

      It has been in operation only since October 30, but the Facebook page for "Giving back to those affected by Sandy" has a longer timeline than most Facebook members.
    • Steph Goralnick

      Let's not forget Superstorm Sandy's victims

      It's important to remember that even as the effect of Superstorm Sandy recedes from the news, there are still devastated areas that are without electricity, heat or hot water.
    • Americares volunteers help clean out flood damaged homes in Queens, New York during Operation "Muck-Out"

      Volunteers help Sandy victims start over

      Our AmeriCares "Operation Muck-Out" team immediately got to work, ripping out the interior walls and removing the insulation until only wooden beams were standing.
    • exp point harlow murray sandy_00013211

      Trying to keep the family business afloat

      Ashley Murray became the first female president of Liberty Industrial Gases and Welding Supplies Inc. in Brooklyn. But now the family history Murray was charged with preserving is at risk of ending after Superstorm Sandy.
    • Jeannette Van Houten and other residents of Union Beach, New Jersey, have found family photos such as this one scattered after Superstorms Sandy. They want to return them to their rightful owners.

      Finding joy among the wreckage

      The adage says "a picture is worth a thousand words," but when Leeann Lewandowski happened upon a photograph of her late mother on Facebook after her home was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, she was speechless.