Geophysical Research Letters, in press.

The impact angle of hurricane Sandy's New Jersey landfall

Timothy M. Hall
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, and Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, NY.

Adam H. Sobel
Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, NY.


Hurricane Sandy's track crossed the New Jersey coastline at an angle closer to perpendicular than any previous hurricane in the historic record, one of the factors contributing to record setting peak-water levels in parts of New Jersey and New York. In order to estimate the occurrence rate of Sandy-like tracks we use a stochastic model built on historical hurricane data from the entire North Atlantic to generate a large sample of synthetic hurricanes. From this synthetic set we calculate that under long-term average climate conditions a hurricane of Sandy's intensity or greater (category 1+) makes NJ landfall at an angle at least as close to perpendicular as Sandy's at an average annual rate of 0.0014 yr-1 (95% confidence range 0.0007 to 0.0023); i.e., a return period of 714 yr (95% confidence range 435 to 1429).