Hurricane Sandy’s Unprecedented Storm Surge

Funny thing… Hurricane Sandy’s unprecedented storm surge was likely surpassed in the New England hurricanes of 1635 and 1638. From 1635 through 1954, New England was hit by at least five hurricanes producing greater than 3 m storm surges in New England.  Analysis of sediment cores led to the conclusion “that at least seven hurricanes of intensity sufficient to produce storm surge capable of overtopping the barrier beach (>3 m) at Succotash Marsh have made landfall in southern New England in the past 700 yr.”  All seven of those storms occurred prior to 1960.

Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy’s estimated maximum storm surge compared to historical storm surges in southern New England (Donnelly et al., 2001)

Even funnier thing… The 1635 and 1638 hurricanes occurred before Al Gore invented global warming…

Figure 2. Storm surges of Hurricane Sandy and southern New England (right y-axis) plotted with HadCRUT3 and Moberg et al., 2005 northern hemisphere temperature reconstructions.

Even more funny thing… The 1600’s were the coldest century of the last two millennia…

Figure 3. HadCRUT3 and Ljungqvist, 2009 northern hemisphere temperature reconstructions.

But the funniest thing is that the 1600’s were possibly the coldest century of the Holocene since the 8.2 KYA Cooling Event…

Figure 4. Central Greenland temperature reconstruction (after Alley, 2000).

Disclaimer: I’m not implying that Hurricane (AKA post-tropical cyclone) Sandy or its devastating effects on millions of people are funny. I’m only saying that efforts to link this storm to global warming are .


Donnelly, Jeffrey P.; et al. (2001). “700 yr Sedimentary Record of Intense Hurricane Landfalls in Southern New England”.
Geological Society of America Bulletin 113 (6): 714–727.

Moberg, A., D.M. Sonechkin, K. Holmgren, N.M. Datsenko and W. Karlén. 2005.
Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data.
Nature, Vol. 433, No. 7026, pp. 613-617, 10 February 2005.


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