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NASA satellites see Sandy expand as storm intensifies

October 28, 2012
Hurricane Sandy is a Category 1 hurricane on Oct. 28, according to the National Hurricane Center. Sandy has drawn energy from a cold front to become a huge storm covering a large area of the eastern United States. NASA satellite imagery provided a look at Sandy's 2,000-mile extent.

Hurricane Sandy is a Category 1 hurricane on Oct. 28, according to the National Hurricane Center. Sandy has drawn energy from a cold front to become a huge storm covering a large area of the eastern United States. NASA satellite imagery provided a look at Sandy's 2,000-mile extent.

Hurricane Sandy's reach has grown on satellite imagery, and during the morning of Oct. 28, the storm intensified as there was a large pressure drop. The atmospheric pressure dropped to 951 millibars during the morning of Oct. 28, an eyewall formed. When a storm's atmospheric pressure drops by a large amount as Sandy has done, it's a sign the storm is strengthening tremendously.

Sandy continues to merge with a cold front. The combination is expected to bring heavy rainfall and tropical-storm-force sustained winds for a couple of days to the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States, and cause flooding, downed trees and power outages.

The National Hurricane Center warned early on Sunday, Oct. 28, that "Sandy expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding to the Mid-Atlantic coast including Long Island sound and New York Harbor, winds expected to be near hurricane force at landfall." Storm surge in the Long Island sound is expected between 6 and 11 feet.

NASA and NOAA Satellite Imagery Reveal Sandy's Super-Size

The MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 26 at 16:10 UTC (12:10 p.m. EDT). The image showed the massive extent of its clouds, covering about 2,000 miles. Sandy's center was in the Bahamas at that time, and an eye was clearly visible. Sandy's western clouds were brushing the southeastern U.S. coast during the time of the image.

NOAA's GOES-13 satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 28 at 1302 UTC (9:02 a.m. EDT) that showed the massive extent of the storm, covering about one-third of the U.S. A line of clouds from the Gulf of Mexico stretching north into Sandy's western circulation are associated with the cold front that Sandy is merging with. Sandy's western cloud edge was already over the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S.

NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Super-Soaking Sandy

This hybrid Sandy is also a super soaker. NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite can measure rainfall from space. Oct. 27 at 1907 UTC (3:07 p.m. EDT), NASA's TRMM satellite saw that rain associated with Hurricane Sandy storm's center, was moderate and falling at a rate of 20 to 40 mm per hour (1.57 inches per hour). The heaviest rainfall at the time of the image was falling west of the center (and closest to the U.S. East Coast) at a rate of more than 2 inches (50 mm) per hour.

During the morning hours of Oct. 28, Sandy has been maintaining a small area of deep (strong) convection (rising air that forms the thunderstorms that make up the hurricane) near the center.

The National Hurricane Center has issued Flood Watches for the U.S. East coast and interior areas because Sandy is huge, slow moving and can drop up to 2 inches of rain per hour.

Rainfall Totals Forecast

As of Oct. 28, 2012, the National Hurricane Center predicts rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches over far northeastern North Carolina with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches possible. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches are expected over portions of the mid-Atlantic states, including the Delmarva Peninsula, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches possible.

Rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 5 inches are possible from the southern tier of New York State northeastward through New England.

Watches and Warnings in Effect

Watches and warnings effective Sunday, Oct. 28, included a tropical storm warning in effect from Cape Fear to Duck, N.C., the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and Bermuda.

The tropical storm warnings are somewhat misleading for this massive storm because it is expected to bring its tropical-storm-force winds far inland over a period of days. As a result there are high wind warnings and flood watches up and down the mid-Atlantic coast and northeastern United States that extend quite a distance inland, and are too numerous to mention. For weather warnings in your area, visit and put in your zip code or city and state.

Where is Sandy on Sunday, Oct. 28?

On Oct. 28 at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 UTC) Sandy's maximum sustained winds were still near 75 mph (120 kph). The National Hurricane Center discussion noted that "there is still some short-term potential for sandy to intensify as a tropical cyclone...especially since it will be traversing the Gulf Stream today." Sandy's center was near 32.1 North latitude and 73.1 west longitude, about 260 miles (420 km) southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. That's also about 395 miles (635 km) south of New York City.

Sandy is moving northeast near 10 mph (17 kph) and is expected to continue in that direction for the rest of the day today. However, on Monday, Oct. 28, Sandy is expected to be drawn back to the coast by a low pressure area and turn north and northwest. Sandy will approach the coast of the mid-Atlantic for a landfall late Monday night, Oct. 28.

Storm Surge a Serious Factor

Storm surge is expected to be big factor as Sandy approaches the mid-Atlantic coast. Very rough surf and high and dangerous waves are expected to be coupled with the full moon. The National Hurricane Center noted that the combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters. The water could reach the following depths above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide.

The National Hurricane Center identified the following areas for storm surges:

  • South of Surf City, N.C., 1 to 3 feet
  • north of Surf City, N.C. including Pamlico/Albemarle Sounds, 4 to 6 feet
  • Southeastern Virginia and the DelMarVa (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia) peninsula including the lower Chesapeake Bay, 2 to 4 feet
  • Upper and middle Chesapeake Bay, 1 to 2 feet
  • Long Island Sound and Raritan Bay, including New York Harbor, 6 to 11 feet
  • Elsewhere from Ocean City, Md., to the Conn./R.I. border, 4 to 8 feet
  • Conn./R.I. border to the south shore of Cape Cod including Buzzards Bay, 3 to 5 feet

Powerful Winds Continue Expanding

When a storm becomes extra-tropical and its core changes from warm to cold, the strongest winds spread out and the storm expands. According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricane-force winds again expanded on Sunday, Oct. 28, from 100 miles to 175 miles from the center. Tropical-storm-force winds that extended out 450 miles from the center on Sat. Oct. 27 now extend to 520 miles from the center.

The wind field of Sandy will continue to grow in size during the next couple of days and impact states from the Carolinas, west to the Ohio Valley, and north into Maine and Canada.

Updates on Sandy are available from the National Hurricane Center at:

NASA satellites will continue to provide forecasters at the National Hurricane Center with infrared, visible, cloud height, temperature and rainfall data as Sandy continues to affect the U.S. East Coast.

Story Source:

Materials provided by NASA. Original written by Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cite This Page:

NASA. "NASA satellites see Sandy expand as storm intensifies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2012. <>.
NASA. (2012, October 28). NASA satellites see Sandy expand as storm intensifies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2024 from
NASA. "NASA satellites see Sandy expand as storm intensifies." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 26, 2024).

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