ADVERTISEMENT
This article is from the In-Depth Report Hurricane Sandy: An Unprecedented Disaster

Sandy versus Katrina, and Irene: Monster Hurricanes by the Numbers

Which storm has the highest wind speed, largest area, most snowfall?



Courtesy of NASA

Sandy is already the largest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. How does it compare with Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, and is considered the most destructive hurricane in U.S. history? And what about Irene, which came ashore on North Carolina on Aug. 27, 2011, and caused record flooding across eastern New York and Vermont after several subsequent landfalls as a tropical storm? Here are some telling numbers. And see the links below for some of the best sites for tracking Sandy yourself.

STATISTICS UPON U.S. LANDFALL

Strength

Katrina: Category 3 (Louisiana)

Irene: Category 1 (North Carolina)

Sandy: Category 1 (New Jersey)

 

Top Wind Speed

Katrina: 125 mph

Irene: 85 mph

Sandy: 94 mph

 

Diameter (extent of high winds)

Katrina:  400 miles

Irene: 520 miles

Sandy: 940 miles

 

Atmospheric Pressure

Katrina: 920 millibars (lower is stronger)

Irene: 951 millibars

Sandy: 940 millibars (lowest ever to make landfall north of North Carolina)

Typical at sea level: 1013 millibars

 

Storm Surge

Katrina: 14 feet, funneling to 28 feet at New Orleans

Irene: 8 feet

Sandy: 12.5 feet

 

Maximum Rainfall

Katrina: 15 inches

Irene: 10-15 inches (N.C.); 8 inches (N.Y., Vt.)

Sandy: 13 inches

 

Maximum Snowfall

Katrina: 0 inches

Irene: 0 inches

Sandy: 34 inches

 

Deaths

Katrina 1,833

Irene: 56

Sandy: 69 Caribbean, 55 U.S. as of Oct. 31 a.m.

 

Property Damage

Katrina: $81 billion

Irene: $19 billion

Sandy: $20 billion, estimate

 

Storm track, in real time, from the National Hurricane Center.

Map of wind speeds, in real time, across the U.S., which draws from the National Digital Forecast Database.

Severe weather alerts, county by county, nationwide.

How hurricanes form (video explainer).

Smart site that tracks and explains extreme weather: WunderBlog by Jeff Masters, part of the Wunderground weather site.

Statistics for this article, originally posted on Oct. 29, 2012, are updated as of Oct. 31, from AccuWeather.com and other sources

 

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Special Universe

Get the latest Special Collector's edition

Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, Future

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X