Friday, June 12, 2015

Natural Hazards: Hurricane Sandy 2012

This week we continued our study of natural hazards by compiling two maps: One that depicts the path of Hurricane Sandy and another that is a Damage Assessment of the same Hurricane. The below excerpt is from, "Tropical Cyclone Report Hurricane Sandy (AL182012) 22-29 October 2012":

"Hurricane Sandy was a classic late-season hurricane in the southwestern Caribbean Sea.  The cyclone made landfall as a category 1 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) in Jamaica, and as a 100-kt category 3 hurricane in eastern Cuba before quickly weakening to a category 1 hurricane while moving through the central and northwestern Bahamas...  The system restrengthened into a hurricane while it moved northeastward, parallel to the coast of the southeastern United States, and reached a secondary peak intensity of 85 kt while it turned northwestward toward the mid-Atlantic states.  Sandy weakened somewhat and then made landfall as a post-tropical cyclone near Brigantine, New Jersey with 70-kt maximum sustained winds.  Because of its tremendous size, however, Sandy drove a catastrophic storm surge into the New Jersey and New York coastlines.   Preliminary U.S. damage estimates are near $50 billion, making Sandy the second-costliest cyclone to hit the United States since 1900."

Hurricane Sandy was certainly a major Natural Hazard event in 2012, and it makes sense for us to study this event today. Our objectives for this week's lab were to utilize several tools to create and display the storm path and conduct a damage assessment in the area where the storm made landfall. Some of the tools I used were:

- Select by Attribute
- Add X-Y data
- Points to Line Tool
- Adding Graticules

Using the Points to line tool was interesting. The tool can be found at:

ArcToolbox > Data Management Tools > Features > Points to Line Tool

I took the points provided with the Sandy Track Events file and utilized the Points to Line tool to create the path that Sandy followed up to the New Jersey shore. Then, I symbolized the storm intensity using an appropriate color ramp and then I added the storm symbol to my map. Another interesting thing I did was add Graticules to my map. This was indeed a first for me, and fortunately, a relatively straight forward task to accomplish:

From Data Frame Properties > Grids > New Grid.  Select Graticule: divides map by meridian and parallels and, there you have it. Of course, you must be in the Layout view to see the Graticules (another Lesson Learned).

To create the Damage Assessment map, I used several aerial images to make a Raster Mosaic.

I added the imagery to DamageAssessment.gdb by right-clicking on the GDB > New > Mosaic Dataset. After adding all the layers such as the NJ_Counties, NJ_Municipalities, NJ_State and NJ_Roads, it was time to create some data!

One of the main objectives for this week's lab was to make comparisons of the before and after aerial imagery where Sandy came ashore in New Jersey. The Effects toolbar contains a "Swipe" tool that allows you to peel the selected layer back and see underneath it. Cool! Only, you have to be in Data View to use the tool...I was in Layout view when I started this part and the tool was disabled; another good lesson learned.

I created the Damage Assessment Table after digitizing several homes from the post storm aerial and I did remember to save my edits!  Here's a look at my final two maps.

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