Hurricane Sandy reached Saratoga on Monday, and the dire predictions of high winds, toppled trees and lost power never materialized.
So what happened?
“We were really lucky,” says Kristen Corbosiero. She’s an assistant professor in the department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University at Albany.
Corbosiero says there are several reasons why Hurricane Sandy didn’t batter Saratoga Springs. For one, the Berkshire Mountains to the east. “They protected us from heavier winds and precipitation. We ended up in what’s known as a rain shadow.” A rain shadow is an effect common around mountains. When Hurricane Sandy passed over the Berkshires, the hills acted as a sort of scrubber, scraping much of the precipitation from the storm.
And once the precipitation was gone, the winds became less of a factor.
The storm still had high winds when it reached Saratoga – at about a thousand feet up they were reaching 90 miles an hour, which is hurricane force. And Corbosiero says what normally happens in a hurricane is that precipitation, which is heavy, can serve to force those winds down to the surface, where massive damage can occur. But because the precipitation was stripped out over the Berkshires there was not enough moisture to bring those high winds down to earth.
“There were actually high winds, they just never made it down to the surface,” she says.
Finally, there was one other reason we didn’t get hit hard – the center of the storm missed us. “Here we were just far enough away from the center of the storm that we didn’t experience its full force. And we were away from the portion with the precipitation so we didn’t get much rain.”
All this doesn’t mean we won’t still feel some of the storm’s effects. Corbosiero says the center of the low pressure system – what is left of Hurricane Sandy – is centered right now in western Pennsylvania, and it will move to the north. “It will stay windy here, and we’ll have off and on rounds of showers, but it won’t be anything like they experienced on the coast. So rain showers and windy, but nothing that would be really severe or damaging. And those effects will probably last through Thursday as well.”
National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella, meanwhile, says Saratoga Springs was fortunate to miss much of the storm’s damaging effects. “About 900,000 people are still without power on Long Island,” he says. The storm hit Atlantic City New Jersey about 8pm Monday night, battering the New Jersey coast along with western Long Island and the southern end of Manhattan.
In comparison, in the Capital Region Stella says at the peak about 20,000 homes were without power. And according to a National Grid website, as of 11am on Tuesday less than five people, all located out near the hospital, are without power in Saratoga Springs.
National Grid had hundreds of crews in the region waiting to help in case of major problems. But Stella says it’s like a police or fire department. Even when they’re not working, “You’re glad to know they’re there.”
For an interesting look at wind patterns over the United States, check out this site. It's an art project aimed at tryhing to find new ways to visualize data.
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