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Hurricane Sandy a 1-in-700-Year Event Says NASA Study

timothy posted 1 year,9 days | from the nothing-to-see-here dept.

Earth 148

Rebecka writes "Hurricane Sandy, which pelted multiple states in Oct. and created billions of dollars in damage, was a freak occurrence and not an indication of future weather patterns, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies via LiveScience. The study (abstract), which calculated a statistical analysis of the storm's trajectory and monitored climate changes' influences on hurricane tracks, claims that the tropical storm was merely a 1-in-700-year event. 'The particular shape of Sandy's trajectory is very peculiar, and that's very rare, on the order of once every 700 years,' said senior scientist at NASA and study co-author, Timothy Hall. According to Hall, the extreme flooding associated with the storm was also due to the storm's trajectory which was described as being 'near perpendicular.' The storm's unusual track was found to have been caused by a high tides associated with a full moon and high pressure that forced the storm to move off the coast of the Western North Atlantic."

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148 comments

The problem with Probability... (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299073)

... is that it is possible to flip a coin and have it land heads up 1,000 times consecutively - it can happen and is increasingly likely to happen in a larger number of trials. Same can be said for a "Sandy" occurring in consecutive (or near neighbor) years. One thing is evident - the east coast, sand bars, outer banks, etc, were formed and shaped by this type of storm. I expect the 700 year estimate is fanciful.

global warming (1)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299137)

I think with global warming we'll find these "1 in 700" events occuring more regularly, and being more destructive. katrina, sandy, what next? the big dealio is that these are stronger than storms in the past, and overwhelm our defences that were built in a pre-global-warming world. we essentially need to go back to the drawing board and design defenses that protect us from global warming storms. face it... even if we stop CO2 emissions today (technically possible, but lacking political will), we'll feel the effects for the next 100 years. way to go industrial revolution through 1980, but suck to be us...

Re:global warming (1)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299909)

Except the models claim that arctic zones should warm more than the equatorial zones, so that should reduce the amount of energy available to power storms.

Re:global warming (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300005)

that's cool. please explain your models to NY, New Orleans, the Northeast (snowstorm), and everybody else impacted by global warming. I think they'll be relieved that your models say it's not a problem.

Re:your math (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300773)

If I heat the polar regions (more than?) the tropics, how will this reduce the energy warming the tropics?

Re:your math (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44301131)

You forget young grasshopper. Power for work is only available where there is a deferential of energy levels. If you have rotor between two cylinders with 10,000PSI there is no energy available to do to work. How ever if you allow it to vent to a lower pressure to container there is a lot of power available to harness. So if the arctics gets relative closer in temperature and pressure(you can change one with affecting the other) to the equator you get less energy available to make storms since you have less of a pressure gradient.

Re:your math (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301371)

Storms are essentially heat engines, but they do not run on the differential between the poles and the equator, they run on the differential between the surface and the upper reaches of the troposphere.

Given that, I see no mechanism for polar warming to offset warming of the oceans in the tropical zone.

Re:global warming (1, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300435)

I agree, people have already forgotten about Katrina it seems. And there are other models that imply that weather SHOULD be different as the earth moves from ice age to ice age. Sounds like a "keep calm" statement from the government so we don't lose sleep over what's to come.

Re:global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44300849)

The Real Estate markets are pretending to rally, unload that disaster-zone property before the word gets out.

Re:global warming (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301231)

Why do you think that? Guesses from scientists on the topic are all over the place. For example, this from the article:

Even less certain are changes in hurricane tracks due to climate. As the Arctic warms up, some scientists suggest the temperature difference between higher and lower latitudes will drop and weaken the jet stream, making storms less likely to follow this stream out into the Atlantic.

Re:The problem with Probability... (0)

geminidomino (614729) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299271)

it can happen

True.

and is increasingly likely to happen in a larger number of trials

False. 0.5^1000 == 0.5^1000 no matter how many trials there are.

Re:The problem with Probability... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299391)

I think he means that if you flip it 50 million times, the odds are better for that 1000-heads sequence to show up at some point than if you flip it 5000 times. That said, I don't really see how that's applicable to hurricanes, except perhaps if we're getting more hurricanes per year then it's more likely that a given hurricane will emulate Sandy?

Re:The problem with Probability... (1)

Krojack (575051) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301441)

Plus it's not really a 50/50 chance another Sandy will occur. Several different factors have to all line up. Each one of those could have a 50/50 chance of occurring. So comparing a coin flip to another Sandy hitting isn't really a good comparison. Take a 20 sided die [wikipedia.org] and roll it 50 million times and see what the chances of rolling a 5 1000 times in a row.

Re:The problem with Probability... (5, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299883)

False. 0.5^1000 == 0.5^1000 no matter how many trials there are

Your right of course. But he's saying the longer you flip a coin, the more likely you will see an occurrence of 1000 heads in a row, and this is true.

Lets look at a smaller set 2 heads in a row:

The odds when flipping a coin twice is 0.5^2. or 1 in 4.
The odds when flipping a coin twice more is again 1 in 4.
repeat ad nauseum, which is your argument.

His observation is that if you flip it 3 times, the odds of two heads coming up in a row increases, and it does. It's now 3 in 8 which is greater than 1 in 4. If you flip it 4 times... its up to 8 in 16 (or 50%), 5 times, and your odds get to 19/32 which is almost 60%, 6 times 51/64 (almost 80%).

That doesn't change the odds of a superstorm happening next year, or next week. Its still a 1 in 700 year probability. But the thing about statistically unlikely things is not only that they can happen, but that they DO happen, and over a long enough period unlikely things are nearly inevitable.

Re:The problem with Probability... (3, Informative)

alen (225700) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299313)

Sandy hit at high tide and a full moon
the gravity of the moon raised the water a few feet which is why the storm surge caused all the flooding

we had a more powerful storm hit NYC the year before and it did a lot less damage because it didn't hit at high tide. very minor flooding.

for another hurricane to do as much damage as Sandy, it has to hit the around the 22nd of the month and make landfall close to 8pm

Re:The problem with Probability... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299601)

Sandy hit at high tide and a full moon the gravity of the moon raised the water a few feet which is why the storm surge caused all the flooding

we had a more powerful storm hit NYC the year before and it did a lot less damage because it didn't hit at high tide. very minor flooding.

for another hurricane to do as much damage as Sandy, it has to hit the around the 22nd of the month and make landfall close to 8pm

...and be at least as strong. I know it's convenient to leave out meaningful factors that don't really support your assertion, but the force of the storm kinda counts, don't you think?

Re:The problem with Probability... (1, Insightful)

alen (225700) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299695)

sandy was barely a category 1 hurricane, very weak

Re:The problem with Probability... (2, Insightful)

p.rican (643452) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300581)

Wrong.

It was a Category 1 Hurricane with Category 2 damage. It hit at high tide with a full moon and it met up with another storm system that was already over the northeast. Take a ride around NJ or the south shore of Long Island or Staten Island and tell me again that it was weak. Also remember that most of the people affected JUST got their homes/lives straigthened out from Irene 13 months prior.

Re:The problem with Probability... (0)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299619)

Sandy hit at high tide and a full moon
the gravity of the moon raised the water a few feet which is why the storm surge caused all the flooding

we had a more powerful storm hit NYC the year before and it did a lot less damage because it didn't hit at high tide. very minor flooding.

for another hurricane to do as much damage as Sandy, it has to hit the around the 22nd of the month and make landfall close to 8pm

Which sounds like as good a time and date to make landfall.

Where I grew up they'd describe a severe flood as happening once, every 70 years. I'm not 70 years old and another one has already happened.

Re:The problem with Probability... (2)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299353)

The entire East Coast does not have the same probability of getting hit by a hurricane. The Outer Banks get nailed almost every decade. The Jersey shore? The chance of getting hit each season is approximately 1 in 200. That said, one hit in 1903 and another in 1944. Then you have Sandy. So over the last 100 years, it looks more like once every 40-60 years (based on a whole 3 data points). Check out the risk maps. [globaldatavault.com]

Re:The problem with Probability... (2, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299381)

You know, 700 years ago the Indians were burning lots of fires to send smoke signals. Obviously they caused a climate change that brought the "Sandy" like hurricanes to their shores back then.

Anyway, it's all bullshit. Everybody knows that hurricanes are caused by gays who want to marry horses, or Protestants, take your pick [mcgill.ca] ...

Re:The problem with Probability... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299721)

You know, 700 years ago the Indians were burning lots of fires to send smoke signals. Obviously they caused a climate change that brought the "Sandy" like hurricanes to their shores back then.

Somewhere around 13,000 years ago the last glacial age ended, in effect the Earth has been warming prior and is accelerating today, which means weather patterns are changing. To mark 1 in 700 seems almost casually to overlook this relatively short time span and what has transpired within.

Re:The problem with Probability... (1)

Darth Twon (2832799) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300313)

... is that it is possible to flip a coin and have it land heads up 1,000 times consecutively - it can happen and is increasingly likely to happen in a larger number of trials. Same can be said for a "Sandy" occurring in consecutive (or near neighbor) years. One thing is evident - the east coast, sand bars, outer banks, etc, were formed and shaped by this type of storm. I expect the 700 year estimate is fanciful.

Just like a bunch of monkeys could be banging on a bunch of type writers and would eventually write the exact phrase that you wrote. Probably...

Re:The problem with Probability... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44300837)

Said like someone who does not understand statistics, meteorology, or engineering.

Re:The problem with Probability... (2)

avandesande (143899) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301203)

You aren't understanding where they came up with this statistic. Each of the inputs that make this storm unique are their own 'dice'... these probabilities are then combined to estimate the probability of another storm like Sandy will occur- once every 700 years.
What is the problem again? And why would it be increasingly likely?

Re:The problem with Probability... (2)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301279)

Remember also, it's only talking about the precise trajectory, not the size of the hurricane. You could have another hurricane that is larger, and more destructive, that wouldn't match this "1 in 700" event because the path of the hurricane is different.

Bet you cant do it with a quarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44301779)

I double dare you to do it.

Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (3, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299115)

That's funny because the year BEFORE Sandy, we had a "Once in a Hundred Year Storm" hit the northeast. And then next year, the exact same thing happened again, but it was worse.

And this year, I expect the weatherman to say the exact same thing....

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299197)

You are conflating what NASA said with something your local weatherman may have said.

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44299555)

You are conflating what NASA said with something your local weatherman may have said.

Sadly, the local weatherman is probably paid better and has better new equipment than NASA does at this point...

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301905)

The local weatherman has a computer that they use to access NOAA data. Maybe a barometer hanging on the wall. That's about it. They have become rip and read jockeys just like the news guys.

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299305)

I'm guessing you weren't around for any cicada brood conjunctions.

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299431)

If there's 100 different low probability events, then there's a decent chance of any two of those happening in consecutive years. Unless there's some correlation between the two that makes them unlikely to happen together, it's no more special than any other coincidence.

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44300113)

it's no specialer than any other coincidence.

FTFY

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299445)

hurricane irene was not a once in a 100 year storm, not even close

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299495)

not only was Irene not a power storm, in NY state it did the most damage after it lost hurricane strength. it was a slow moving storm and dumped a lot of rain in westchester county washing out a lot of railroad tracks

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

samkass (174571) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299547)

That's funny because the year BEFORE Sandy, we had a "Once in a Hundred Year Storm" hit the northeast. And then next year, the exact same thing happened again, but it was worse.

And this year, I expect the weatherman to say the exact same thing....

Irene was indeed as powerful as Sandy and happened only one year previous, but not as big a storm area-wise, and did not hit perpendicular on a full moon at high tide. Thus, it did relatively minor damage.

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300513)

That depends on where you were and what you consider damage. Irene was much worse here in Connecticut in terms of wind effects (downed trees on roads/houses/etc) than Sandy. Several hours later as the storm moved north, flooding in southern Vermont was horrible and the effects still being felt 2 years later.

The wind effects were exacerbated by the fact that Irene hit in August - late summer - when trees and plants had full foliage. Lots of trees came down as a result - if you were lucky they didn't fall on anything important (I just lost a section of fence). Even more crowns and major limbs came down as well. It was pretty bad in terms of the magnitude of the destruction over a wide area. It didn't make big news because we're not New York/New Jersey and the population density here is pretty low. For what it's worth, power was out for 5-7 days for most people, which wasn't much fun either.

Sandy, on the other hand, hit in late October when the leaves had fallen, so despite somewhat higher winds, there was nowhere near as much damage. A few twigs fell on my roof and that was about it. I was out on the deck grilling dinner during the peak winds (to use up some frozen food in anticipation of the inevitable week-long power loss) and it was nowhere near as scary or dangerous as Irene. A few trees came down here and there in the region, but not nearly as many as the previous year. As a storm to be caught outside in, Irene was much scarier.

The flooding caused by Sandy was much worse, though limited mostly to the coastal towns here. The fact that the storm was larger in area and impacted regions with higher population density and correspondingly greater economic devastation was what made it newsworthy. Irene was the more damaging storm in terms of broad effect on the countryside from my observation.

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301109)

Personally, in my NJ suburban area Sandy hit us a lot worse than either Irene or that freak snow storm around Halloween 2011.

I don't remember much about Irene actually. I think we were without power at my parents house for like a 2-3 days but some co-workers were pushing a week. Some were without water, but in my case I was just mildly inconvenienced. And gas wasn't that hard to find.

A few months later we had the freak snow storm around Halloween. The leaves were still on the trees due to a mild autumn and as a result the heavy snow took out branches which took out TONS of powerlines. Lots of places without power for a week. My parents were without power for 6 days and 12 hours. THAT I remember more vividly, because being without power for a week really stinks. Meanwhile a co-worker closer to NY said she had no issues, but she was in an area with far fewer trees. Gas was still not a big deal though, but harder than Irene.

I moved into a townhouse a few months before Sandy. It was a bad storm and I considered staying in the basement at one point due to the debris flying and hitting the sides of the townhouses. My parents got power back in like 7 days... my townhouse was out for 9 days. Getting gas was VERY difficult this time in my area. Trees fell on houses nearby. Roads were closed. And our section of NJ isn't exactly near the coast or even NY.

Meanwhile, I talked to the neighbors at my townhouse association... they were upset because this was like the first time in a decade that they lost power for more than a couple of hours. Since the associations lines are all underground and the lines in the actual town normally faired pretty well. This time though, it was bad.

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

p.rican (643452) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300693)

Irene dropped approximately 10 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. Sandy dropped approximately 2 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. The full moon, high tide and meeting up with another storm system in the northeast is what killed us. A lot oif things went "right" for it to become a super storm

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299553)

They are just talking down the insurance rates for Cape Canaveral.

Re:Once in a Hundred-Year storm... (1)

kimvette (919543) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299983)

I think you misunderstand what the 10, 50, and 100 year storms refer to.

So what happens ... (0)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299129)

So, if we get another one like these in our lifetime, what then?

NASA just says oops and people keep pretending like there isn't climate change happening?

Re:So what happens ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44299187)

We're currently in the "wishful thinking" stage of dealing with the problem.

Re:So what happens ... (2)

alen (225700) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299393)

if you look at wikipedia, NYC gets hit by Category 3 storms once every 70 years on average. Sandy was barely a Cat 1 when it hit us.

the last one was in 1938. 135 mph winds when the storm made landfall at Long Island. we are actually overdue for a very powerful storm here

Re:So what happens ... (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299641)

The entire US is overdue for a Category 3, not just New York.

A quick google search...
http://images.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&q=category+3+landfall+USA [google.com]

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bJhUmJyxrQs/ULy7NL1QbAI/AAAAAAAACQw/RlSJLqrsz5Y/s1600/hurrdrou0613.jpg [blogspot.com]

looks promising.

Anyway. Pretty obv been awfully lucky recently.

Re:So what happens ... (1)

Shinobi (19308) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300585)

"Sandy was barely a Cat 1 when it hit us."

True, if you look at it in a very simplistic fashion, i.e wind speed only. However, if you look at it in terms of size, Sandy was a MONSTER, and it hit in conjunction with another weather system of hard weather.

The total energy potential of Sandy, due to sheer size, was greater than quite a few Cat 3's etc.

Re:So what happens ... (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300713)

As I recall Sandy was a tropical storm when it hit.

Found a pic of Sandy
http://en.es-static.us/upl/2012/10/Hurricane-Sandy-on-October-29-2012.jpg [es-static.us]
Compared to...

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/81/Tropical_storm_irene_aug_27_2011_at_1059_est.jpg/932px-Tropical_storm_irene_aug_27_2011_at_1059_est.jpg [wikimedia.org]

The size doesn't seem that dramatic.

So. Not sure what the monster part was. Apart from, ofc, the fact that it hit at an unusually high tide.

I believe most of the damage was storm surge, not due to land covered, or rain fall.

Re:So what happens ... (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300777)

Erm. Right. Point of pic, really, was that as hurricanes fall apart into tropical storms, they are almost always huge things that cover like most of the east coast.

Compared to pics of hurricanes falling apart into a tropical storm as they track up the coast that I recall and could find of the past, Sandy seems pretty typical.

The dramatic part was the high tide and pushing that storm surge up against New York City which was woefully unprepared despite warnings in the past (shades of Katrina).

Re:So what happens ... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299417)

People who constantly blame everything on climate change - even events like hurricanes, where there is no scientific consensus on the matter - are as big a problem as the "I don't believe in global warming" crowd.

Re:So what happens ... (1, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299535)

even events like hurricanes, where there is no scientific consensus on the matter - are as big a problem as the "I don't believe in global warming" crowd.

Well, the problem with that statement is that except for the "I do not believe in global warming" crowd, there's an awful lot of scientific [nasa.gov] consensus [ca.gov] on the topic.

Re:So what happens ... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299597)

Agreed. One of the other posters pointed out that Sandy did as much damage as it did in part because of the effect of the moon and the tides. Now, I'm no climate scientist, but I was completely unaware that global warming was affecting the moon's gravitational pull.

Re:So what happens ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44300077)

Without climate change, this would have been a tropical storm or even turned out to sea due to it being weaker.

I think we will see NYC hit again in the next 40 years with a hurricane Cat 1 or stronger. You add in melting water increasing sea levels and you won't need high tide and a full moon to do the same amount of damage. And help us if it hits again during high tide with higher sea levels.

Re:So what happens ... (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300123)

i've lived in NYC on and off for over 30 years and this is my 3rd hurricane
gloria in 1986 or so
irene in 2011
sandy

lots of hurricanes hit NYC usually every few years. its quite normal

Re:So what happens ... (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301025)

Anecdotally speaking, I think that meteorological records are being broken at an unprecedented historical level. Just what I've noticed, and I have been fooled by evidence in the past.

Re:So what happens ... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299465)

Then we had some bad luck. Or God hates us. You pick.

  You can't mitigate every single potential risk, you have to look at the odds of a given risk occurring and prioritize response based on that.

Re:So what happens ... (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299473)

Maybe you should visit the source, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies http://www.giss.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov] and see if you think this particular branch of NASA is soft pedaling global warming.

It's been James E. Hansen personal pulpit for the last 30 years.

Re:So what happens ... (1)

JWW (79176) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299493)

I have to commend GISS on this analysis. I would be to their advantage to say:

Climate Change Caused Hurricane Sandy!!!

But they took the data, and analyzed it and came to a scientifically sound conclusion that it was not purely a Climate Change caused event.

This is exactly how things should be done.

Also, the next time people get all up in arms saying:

This huge cold weather snap is proof against Climate Change!!

GISS can study that too and prove that no, the cold snap in one particular large region has nothing to do with Climate Change either.

Honest science kind of tends to fall in the middle on a lot of different issues. Our currently wild political hyperbole from both sides is where all these all encompassing gross generalizing and completely wrong statements come from.

Re:So what happens ... (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299525)

So, if we get another one like these in our lifetime, what then? NASA just says oops and people keep pretending like there isn't climate change happening?

One supposes that with new data the NASA scientists would revise their theories. If NASA's models are broken, then attack the models. Short of that, data-less speculation is just that.

Re:So what happens ... (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299905)

If NASA's models are broken, then attack the models. Short of that, data-less speculation is just that.

The (re)insurance industry has more or less admitted that its statistical models are broken and that "1 in X00 years" is a meaningless metric based on information that is no longer relevant.
The future trend is for the insurance industry to require mitigation for extreme weather events or you won't get (cheap or any) insurance.

https://www.google.com/search?q=it+is+rather+obvious+that,+for+many+regions,+hazard+risk+can+no+longer+be+seen+as+stationary [google.com]

Re:So what happens ... (2)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299643)

These estimates are not based on counting the number of storms that actually occur, they are based on simulations of storm paths.

The probability that another one of these happens in our lifetime is about 10%.

The probability that another once-in-700-year event happens somewhere in the US even just next year is nearly 100%, since there are many more than 700 sites that keep and report these statistics. In different words, you expect multiple extreme weather events to be reported in the US every year.

Does that answer your question?

Re:So what happens ... (1)

KapUSMC (1812044) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301221)

These estimates are not based on counting the number of storms that actually occur, they are based on simulations of storm paths.

The probability that another one of these happens in our lifetime is about 10%.

The probability that another once-in-700-year event happens somewhere in the US even just next year is nearly 100%, since there are many more than 700 sites that keep and report these statistics. In different words, you expect multiple extreme weather events to be reported in the US every year.

Does that answer your question?

Its not even separate sites. Its that "type of storm". One area can be hit with multiple "types" of storms that break the 1 in model. 2005 New Orleans was hit with Katrina a 1 in 400 year storm 2008 New Orleans was hit with Gustav 1 in 100 years 2012 New Orleans was hit with Isaac 1 in 100 years The events were different... Gustav was really strong, Katrina had the massive storm surge, Isaac sat over the city instead of moving on, etc... So the 1 in whatever is pointless.

Just Another Alarmist (-1)

SuperKendall (25149) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299799)

So, if we get another one like these in our lifetime, what then?

Sigh.

More proof that warming alarmist are bad at math, and even worse at statistics...

They claim to be backed by "science" but ignore whatever real scientists say when it does not promote alarmism.

Your logic is the same logic that brought us such great things as the Department of Homeland Security and exuberant drug laws.

weather change (1)

deodiaus2 (980169) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299131)

Does that take into account that the weather has changed due to climate change (global warming) and these rare events will become more probable in this new climate?

Re:weather change (1)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299501)

RTFA

Re:weather change (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299549)

Does that take into account that the weather has changed due to climate change (global warming) and these rare events will become more probable in this new climate?

Depends on how you calculate probable.

Storms are actually predicted to be fewer in number, but more intense. http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/201303_storms/ [nasa.gov]

The rest of the story (0)

Jawnn (445279) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299141)

After massive pressure from Congresspersons responsible for NASA's budget, NASA said, "Hurricane Sandy, which pelted multiple states in Oct. and created billions of dollars in damage, was a freak occurrence and not an indication of future weather patterns..."

TFTFY.

Re:The rest of the story (0)

FooAtWFU (699187) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299843)

Ha! As if. I suppose you're blaming house Republicans, but if those guys were making budgetary threats, they'd be pretty hollow. Or have you been asleep for the past year and a half of gridlock? :P

And you're not doing much yourself to provide a counterexample to the notion that climate-change is a left-wing conspiracy. So I have an idea for you. How about we talk science for a bit instead of political smears?

What will they be saying... (1)

Flyingfenix (2405414) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299143)

... when another Sandy hits next year (or the next)? I think we are all seeing too many "one-in-x years" climate-related events (where "x" is 50, 100 or 700 years) lately!

Re:What will they be saying... (2)

beanpoppa (1305757) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300333)

They aren't saying that they don't expect a storm as damaging, or as strong, to occur every 700 years. They are saying that they don't expect a storm to approach with this type of path, at this time of lunar cycle, at this time of day more than once in 700 years. That doesn't mean that we can't or won't get Nor'easter, blizzard, or hurricane with an equally high level of destruction- it's a different type of storm.

Re:What will they be saying... (1)

Flyingfenix (2405414) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301105)

When I said "another Sandy" I wanted to say another storm with a similar path, at a similar time, with similar destructive power, etc.

it seems to me (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299257)

we've been getting these once-in-a-lifetime storms every ten years or so nowadays

Re:it seems to me (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301103)

What a wonderful time to be alive! All of these outrageous and unusual happenings!

Re:it seems to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44301299)

Aw shit, fun's over, guys... Mr. Censorship-is-cool! is back from not making another Filipino horror movie. :o(

Amazing (-1, Flamebait)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299355)

This explains why the Earth's climate was so warm 700 years ago and the era was full of freak hurricanes. I mean, the 1300's was an era of increase greenhouse emissions and freak storms just like this. Let's not even get started on the 600's, or 100 BC. Now those were some whoppers.

It's SCIENCE!

Re:Amazing (0)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299741)

The "little ice age" started about 700 years ago. That was a cooling period causing widespread famine and disease in Europe. In some places in Europe, witches were blamed and hunted for the change in climate by the orthodox and respected authorities.

In different words, yes, it was pretty much like what we're experiencing now, including the witch hunts, except it got unusually cold instead of unusually warm. But we have those bases covered since it's now called "climate change" instead of "global warming".

climate change deniers! (1)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299471)

Those evil climate change deniers at NASA are up to their old tricks again!

That's just for that one type of storm (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299515)

On the other hand, natural disasters that make those who want to cut disaster relief look like hearless fools right before a presidental election are a 1-in-4 year event.

700 years? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299633)

700 years seems oddly specific. I wonder how that was worked out. It isn't like we have any real reliable date past say 100 years for example. How are they extrapolating 700 years statistically?

Re:700 years? (1)

dildos_akimbo (2714029) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299783)

I think being a round number, that it isn't very accurate or credible. If they said 1-in-759 years, it would be more believable.

Re:700 years? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301595)

I guess I mean, I get like 100, 500 being a round number or 1000. But 700? Just seems odd to me.

To my mind someone did a very useless statistical calculation, got a number like every 723.7654358 years, said 700, and called it a day.

The point being if it really was a round number say 1000 years, one could make a reasonable interpretation of accuracy (which would be very little). By saying 700 they seem to be trying to give it more credibility than it is worth, which I call BS.

A lot of time particularly statistics, data is all about how you present it (or frame it), which makes this smell pretty fishy to me. As in intentionally misleading. That said, half the time somebody did the calculation and reporting correctly, and some journalist, policy peon, or management spin doctor, who either doesn't know, or is willfully ignorant due to some agenda or another just puts whatever they like.

Re:700 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44300035)

Clearly, they are only providing one significant digit. This is to be expected for something like weather predictions, which happens to be a quite difficult problem to solve.

Had they said 700.0 years, I would be wondering how they got that kind of accuracy...

Understanding probability (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299677)

Lets not fall into the Gambler's fallacy [wikipedia.org] , it don't mean that won't happen next year, and the next after it, or that should happen for sure in the next 700, 1000, or 10000 years. Also, odds of taking a certain, specific path are pretty low, as the odds of hitting a particular point of a dartboard, but that don't mean that no point of the dartboard will be hit, and the same for potential paths of destruction.

Re:Understanding probability (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44301159)

Also, once an event happened, it is irrelevant for the probability of the next one happening.

Re:Understanding probability (1)

avandesande (143899) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301245)

...not to mention what they are predicting- Sandy was hardly considered a category 1 hurricane when it hit, but it was very large and came ashore at an odd angle.

Smaller much more powerful (higher winds) storms have hit the coast in the last century.

How many 700-year trajectory are there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44299829)

So, when the next mighty 700-year storm clobbers us - within two years or so - as badly as Sandy did, I guess the odds are that it will have a different trajectory. One that is different, but just as awful. - tobias d. robison tobyr21

But But (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | 1 year,9 days | (#44299903)

if it happens every 700 years then how can we blame global warming?

I think the key is if 1 in 700 year events start happening every second Tuesday, then I might be convinced.

Re:But But (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44300295)

We are done trying to convince the people who think climate change means that the Midwest will need to be a dust bowl, Miami will be 2 feet underwater, and low's in Phoenix are in the triple digits... before they will even think about driving their SUVs 55mph or not at all, switching to LED's and solar power, and riding bikes to work.

The rest of us want to get something done to prevent the worst or even just pollution from happening.

Last 700 years: yes, future: not so much (2, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300367)

These records get broken as a matter of routine these days in exactly the way climate sciences has predicted for quite a while now: Things get more extreme and less stable is the main prediction. So while Sandy may have been once in 700 years for the past, it could well be 1 in 50 years or even worse in the future.

Re:Last 700 years: yes, future: not so much (2)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,9 days | (#44300707)

Utter nonsense, no records broken at all by storms on historic scale. No evidence of more frequent nor more powerful tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts nor anything else. The worst storms and droughts have not occurred in the past decade, that's a fact.

Is this even real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44300419)

"associated with a full moon"...

The moon is the same size with the same influence on tides regardless of its phase. Am I missing something, or has whoever wrote this article misunderstood something?

Re:Is this even real? (2)

thoromyr (673646) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301409)

You are missing knowledge about what the phase of the moon is, and how it applies. Tides are more complicated than "follow the moon" because the ocean/sea floor has considerable impact. But the thing with tidal forces isn't that the size changes, but that the distance changes. That is, tidal force is the differential between two points and that is a function of distance. If its night and the moon is full it is closer to you than when its night and it is a new moon (e.g., already set and on the other side of the earth). This variation in proximity causes change in the tidal forces.

I haven't followed this, but the argument seems to be that all forces combined to bring water higher than normal, ergo the greater flooding.

Re:Is this even real? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301735)

I thought the main thing about the phases of the moon was to do with the sun-earth-moon angle - higher tides when the moon and sun are opposed or in conjunction, lower tides when they're at 90 degrees to each other in the sky*.

*roughly

Oh ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44300985)

I think a category 1 hurricane causing everyone to get their panties in a bunch will happen far more often than once every 700 years.

one of the two (1)

Pharoah_69 (2866937) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301167)

It could have been caused by the robots from Pacific Rim or by the Occult god, Horus; one of the two.

HAARP (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44301207)

This is why it was a freak incident. Sandy was generated artificially by HAARP, as the media knew, and was told well in advance, that this was going to be a huge storm guaranteed to land.

Yes the government can create superstorms and move the weather as it wishes (See China before the olympics)

Don't ask me why they created it, no one on slashdot cares to know the truth.

Terry Pratchett sez (2)

wcrowe (94389) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301267)

Yeah, but to paraphrase Terry Pratchett, everyone knows that a 1 in 700 year chance occurs nine times out of ten.

Re:Terry Pratchett sez (2)

Z00L00K (682162) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301479)

And 1 in 700 is the statistical figure, you can have one every year for 10 years and then no serious storms for the next 7000 years.

What is important is to realize that humans don't have much to put up against nature when it's doing the worst it can. The only thing to do is to be prepared for bad events. Construct a survival kit that you can use when the time comes. At least if you live in an area where nature can make a serious impact.

Thanks NASA! (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | 1 year,9 days | (#44301561)

How useful is this to know? It's not like New York is now definitely safe from hurricanes for the next 700 years.
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