Storm Stats: Sandy, Irene & Now Joaquin

The question is rippling through the increasingly humid New Jersey air: Will Joaquin be anything like Sandy or Irene?

Though it seems New Jersey has had its fair share of destructive hurricanes in recent years, neither Sandy nor Irene actually maintained hurricane status by the time the storms made landfall in the Garden State.

Technically, the most recent hurricane to strike New Jersey was on September 16, 1903. Named the “Vagabond Hurricane” by the Press of Atlantic City, the storm struck with 80 mph winds. Luckily, it only claimed the life of one New Jerseyan. This was before a system for naming tropical storms was developed by the World Meteorological Organization in 1953.

Here’s how Joaquin compares so far to the most recent tropical storm events to significantly impact New Jersey.

Hurricane Joaquin
Theoretical NJ Landfall: October 5 or 6, 2015

Joaquin is the third hurricane of the relatively tame 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. As of October 1, Joaquin is a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds.

Satellite photo of Hurricane Joaquin from October 1, 2015. Credit: NOAA

Satellite photo of Hurricane Joaquin from October 1, 2015. Credit: NOAA

Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency on Thursday in case Joaquin does make for New Jersey. While no evacuations are planned, power and utility companies are prepping for potential outages. Visit ready.nj.gov for recommendations on how to prepare for the storm.

The National Hurricane Center's official forecast cone as of 8 am, October 1; a compromise between the competing scenarios from the computer models. Credit: weather.com

The National Hurricane Center’s official forecast cone as of 11 am, October 1; a compromise between the competing scenarios from the computer models. Credit: weather.com

The East Coast is expected to experience heavy rainfall, gusty winds, high surf, beach erosion and some coastal flooding because of the storm. However, the storm’s path is unpredictable and it’s still too early to say if Joaquin will veer toward New Jersey. If it does, Joaquin may become the most serious meteorological threat to the state since Superstorm Sandy.

Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy
NJ Landfall: October 29, 2012

Tropical Storm Sandy built up to hurricane status on October 24, 2012.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy as the eye approaches Jamaica on October 24, 2012. Credit: NOAA

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy as the eye approaches Jamaica on October 24, 2012. Credit: NOAA

As Hurricane Sandy moved northward, it hit Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane and then was downgraded to a Category 2 as it moved along the eastern seaboard. Before it made landfall, Sandy was measured as the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, with winds spanning 1,100 miles in diameter.

Satellite photo taken on the morning of October 29, 2012. Sandy officially made landfall at 8 pm. Credit: NOAA

Satellite photo taken as Hurricane Sandy nears the East Coast on the morning of October 29, 2012. Sandy officially made landfall at 8 pm after downgrading to a post-tropical cyclone. Credit: NOAA

Sandy reached Atlantic City on October 29, 2012, as a post-tropical cyclone with 80 mph winds. By the time the “superstorm” dissipated, it had claimed the lives of 233 people in eight countries; 43 deaths in New Jersey were tied to the storm. A number of factors contributed to Sandy’s unusual strength, including a full moon (increasing the storm surge) and its proximity to other storm systems.

Tropical Storm Irene
NJ Landfall: August 28, 2011

A year before Sandy, there was Irene.

Hurricane Irene forms an eye over the Caribbean in this satellite image taken on August 24, 2011. Credit: NOAA

Hurricane Irene forms an eye over the Caribbean in this satellite image taken on August 24, 2011. Credit: NOAA

When Hurricane Irene formed an eye (above), winds were recorded at 115 to 125 mph. Irene peaked as a Category 3 hurricane over the Bahamas.

Satellite image taken of Tropical Storm Irene as it made landfall near New York City on August 28, 2011. Credit: NOAA

Satellite image taken of Tropical Storm Irene as it made landfall near New York City on August 28, 2011. Credit: NOAA

By the time Irene made landfall at Little Egg Inlet, it had been downgraded to a tropical storm with winds at 65 mph. The storm caused at least 56 deaths, including seven in New Jersey.

Check back for more updates! The story reflects changes as the forecast evolves.

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