Hurricane Sandy (October 24th 2012 to present) has already killed 66 people in the Caribbean and is now, on the afternoon of October 29th, just off the coast of the American north-east where 50 million people live, myself among them. It arrives at high tide just when bad weather is coming in from the west, creating what has been called a Frankenstorm.
Note: Sandy could knock me off the Internet for up to ten days. If my latest comment or tweet (see the right-hand column) is more than ten hours old, then you can assume Sandy knocked me off.
Sandy is expected to come ashore tonight in southern New Jersey and then move west between Baltimore and Philadelphia. It will then turn north to Syracuse, New York and then north-east to Montreal.
With winds of 150 km/h, it is a Category 1 hurricane. It is stronger than Irene (100 km/h), which hit the north-east last year, but not as bad as Katrina (205 km/h).
Sandy is huge – bigger than the north-east itself. It is about a thousand miles (1600 km) across. That means the storm itself it could last two to three days.
It will probably knock out electricity for 10 million, most of them tonight at about midnight (0400 GMT October 30th). Some might be without power for up to ten days.
New York will not get nearly as much rain as points further south, but, being to the right of the hurricane, it expects flooding, with waves up to 11 feet (3.4 metres). The trains and buses were shut down last night. The New York Stock Exchange is closed. Parts of Manhattan are starting to look strangely deserted, like in some Hollywood film about the end of the world.
So far Sandy was at its strongest in Cuba. It killed 11 people there. More people died in nearby Haiti, 51 in all, but more because Haiti is so poor and therefore more defenceless. It has also killed people in Jamaica (1), the Dominican Republic (2), the Bahamas (1) and the U.S. (1 dead, 2 missing so far).
Sandy comes just a week before the presidential election. The election is so close that it could determine who wins, but just how that will play out is hard to know. This is the October Surprise.
It could help President Obama if he shows leadership, Giuliani style – or lose him the election if he screws it up Bush style (hurricanes Katrina and Andrew).
Governor Romney, on the other hand, could shoot himself in the foot if he says something boneheaded with his out-of-touch rich self. He could, for example, repeat his belief that it is “immoral” for Washington, in the face of huge budget deficits, to spend any money helping Americans affected by natural disasters.
At the very least it will make it hard to campaign or do polls in that part of the country. It could also affect turnout. Because Obama’s strategy depends heavily on turnout, that could help Romney to win New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and maybe even Pennsylvania.
– Abagond, 2012.
- Inside Hurricane Sandy – my experience of it.
- Hurricane Sandy, Act I, scene ii: Sandy hits the American north-east – tons of pictures!
- Bruce Springsteen: 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
- Obama’s campaign strategy in 2012