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2012 in review: Superstorm Sandy slams the Northeast

Published Dec. 28, 2012

Superstorm Samdy swept two-story homes from their foundations, turned neighborhoods into smoldering ruin and snuffed the southern tip of Manhattan like a candle. It scoured the eastern seaboard with such ferocity that it may have changed the terrain of the debate on climate change as much as it altered the landscape of New Jersey's beaches.

Sandy was the second most destructive storm in U.S. history, but perhaps it was the political significance of the region it devastated that prompted people to ask if climate change is making weather, and hurricanes in particular, more extreme through higher sea surface temperatures or rising sea levels.

Sandy was a meteorological fascination: It combined a massive cold front with a hurricane; its tropical storm-force winds at one point extending more than 900 miles, roughly the distance between New York and Atlanta; and, of course, it smacked the most densely populated area of the country.

At least 125 people were killed in the United States, and Sandy is blamed for more than $60 billion in damage .

The impact on the climate change debate is unclear, but Sandy is likely to stir more discussion about how we protect ourselves against nature's most powerful forces.


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