A year ago next month, New York and the Northeastern U.S. was hit by the biggest storm in recent memory — Hurricane Sandy. As the effects of the storm are still seen today — losses that total $68 billion and countless people displaced — SUNY is continuing its work to ensure a safer and more predictable landfall should another Sandy-sized storm hit the region.
When Hurricane Sandy brought the Eastern seaboard to a halt last year, SUNY sprung into action. From SUNY Maritime College housing hundreds of relief workers and ultimately serving more than 37,000 meals to SUNY Downstate Medical Center deploying 100 medical personnel across New York City to hundreds of students ascending on the metropolitan area from across the state, the humanity and kindness of the people of SUNY positively impacted many people in a time of crisis. However, SUNY’s work does not stop when the last board is removed from a window or the final stake is in the ground of a rebuilt home. Research is being conducted by SUNY campuses across the state to study the source of the damage — hurricanes and massive weather formations — so that physical and emotional damage may be diminished in the future.
Graduate students from the University at Albany‘s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES) worked alongside the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes Experiment (GRIP). As part of GRIP, the team focused on studying how hurricanes form and rapidly intensify. During the GRIP experiment, the students were to collect data on the hurricane’s structure, dynamics and motion. This will assist in decreasing the size of the evacuation area while increasing the warning time to targeted areas. More recently other graduate students from DAES are participating in a weather forecasting team in support of NASA’s HS3 field campaign to observe hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.
Students from SUNY Oswego are becoming a driving force in hurricane research, literally. The SUNY Oswego “Storm Chasers” are driving directly into storms to observe them firsthand. Through this hands-on research they hope to better predict storms and their movement.
SUNY-ESF is using a model created in their labs to better understand the effects of hurricanes in forests. With this model they can estimate potential damage to different landscapes based on the strength of the hurricane, allowing students to learn a great deal about hurricane movement and potential for destruction.
A team from the Stony Brook University is developing a model to better predict storm surges in their region. The model is being developed as a coastal early warning system for emergency response against flooding in Metropolitan New York. Local National Weather Service forecasters use the information to announce forecasts affecting 10 million residents in the region. The forecasts are also used for energy-load forecasting in a project jointly supported by the Long Island Power Authority.
SUNY professors are also making strides in hurricane research. Suffolk County Community College Professor Scott A. Mandia teaches Earth and Space Sciences and is the Assistant Chair of the Physical Sciences Department. Professor Mandia is a climate expert who has a passion for studying hurricanes. He uses his research to predict the future vulnerability of Long Island to hurricanes.
The research all of these SUNY schools are doing is helping to ensure a safer and more predictable landfall should another Sandy-sized storm hit the region. The tragic destruction of Hurricane Sandy will never be forgotten, but hopefully it will never be re-imagined.
Glenn is a student assistant in the Office of New Media of the State University of New York. He is an undergraduate economics and political science major at the University at Albany in Albany, NY.