New Jersey State Climate Office Services and Sandy

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Thursday, 6 February 2014: 1:30 PM
Georgia Ballroom 2 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
David A. Robinson, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ; and D. P. Fittante, M. R. Gerbush, E. Namendorf, J. Read, C. Shmukler, N. Stefano, and D. A. Zarrow

The Office of the NJ State Climatologist at Rutgers University served New Jersey before, during and after Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy made landfall and severely impacted the Middle Atlantic region. This presentation will provide an overview of Sandy activities associated with our trifold mission to gather data, conduct research, and communicate information to decision makers, stakeholders and the general public within New Jersey. This includes operation of the NJ Weather and Climate Network (NJWxNet), whose 55 stations reported a multitude of critical observations from the Jersey shore to the northwest hills every five minutes throughout the storm. This real time information, along with pertinent consultation, was provided to the NJ Office of Emergency Management (where the Governor was situated for most of the storm), the National Weather Service, multiple media outlets, and a host of others. A Sandy Internet dashboard was quickly developed and rushed into service just over 24 hours before landfall and served a valuable purpose in keeping tens of thousands of individuals and entities informed. The NJWxNet recorded the strongest gust (90 mph at Seaside Heights) achieved in New Jersey during the storm. The only NJWxNet equipment damaged during the storm was a single anemometer, and thanks to solar or generator power at most stations, only six stations failed to report for an extended period. Data were transmitted via a cellular network that remained intact, and the Rutgers computer center remained generator powered. Approximately 200 citizen scientists contributed rainfall and anecdotal storm observations through the NJ branch of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. This included a 12.71 total at Stone Harbor, one of the largest storm totals in the U.S. from Sandy.

Over 100 interviews were conducted with a wide range of print, radio, television, online media beginning a week prior to Sandy, during the storm and in the weeks and months afterward. This included several documentaries that were recorded in early November. Several dozen presentations concerning Sandy have been made in a wide range of venues, such as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, the NAS Transportation Research Board, the NJ chapter of the Solid Waste Management Association of North America, The NJ chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the NJ Bar Association, schools and retirement communities.

Post-storm consultations with public and private entities and in-house research efforts continue to address a variety of issues associated with Sandy. Topics include wind speeds, which are of particular interest to the insurance industry; the storm surge, including the estimation of a record shattering high water mark at Sandy Hook; recurrence intervals for surge, wind and rain, the overall frequency of hybrid storms of this type and magnitude; and the potential influence of climate change on Sandy and potential future storms.