Sandy's Surge Was NOT Unexpectedly High
(Incidentally, if you're wondering about even earlier predictions, the predicted range as of Saturday afternoon was a 4-8' surge. That's still enough to seriously flood the city ("only" ~5' to ~5.5' at high tide was needed to do that) -- which is why Bloomberg should have ordered the evacuation of Zones A and B on Saturday -- but it's not quite as high as the 9' surge that ultimately occurred. Going back a little further, to the Saturday wee hours when I composed my earlier-quoted blog post, the official NWS forecast was for a surge "2 TO 3 FT ABOVE ASTRONOMICAL TIDES...WITH POSSIBLE HIGHER DEPARTURES DEPENDENT UPON THE TRACK OF SANDY." My citation of 6 to 10 feet in my "NYC In Peril" post was based on computer model estimates of those "possible higher departures" in the event of a worst-case track, as conveyed to me by Eric Holthaus of the Wall Street Journal.)
Here, by the way, is a tweet I posted Saturday night, which also made clear that the forecast was for 6 to 11 feet plus high tide on top of that:
@racheldulitz Wait till WHEN, Rachel? Till less than 24 hours before the storm starts? 6-10 ft surge + high tide + big waves WILL flood A&B.— Brendan Loy (@brendanloy) October 28, 2012
And yet Con Edison says "nobody predicted" a 9-foot surge plus high tide. And the Associated Press repeats that lie without comment or correction.
What's really strange is, I don't think ConEd has done anything wrong with respect to its handling of the storm. Of course Sandy was going to produce widespread power outages, and of course it's going to take a while to get the power back on. As of now, there's really nothing to criticize the power companies over, so far as I'm aware. And yet ConEd is making complete factual misstatements in its CYA statements. I have no idea why they feel the need to do that -- but this false "unexpected" meme must not be allowed to take hold.
Reminder: if any politician says this was "unexpected," "didn't see it coming," THEY ARE LYING. Treat such statements as resignation letters— Brendan Loy (@brendanloy) October 30, 2012
Sandy was an extraordinarily well-forecasted storm (and thank goodness for that), and what it did is precisely what had been forecast for many days in advance by the computer models and the National Weather Serice. There was absolutely no reason for anyone to be surprised, and you should not tolerate CYA excuses -- from anyone -- that claim otherwise. Again, I encourage voters and citizens to treat all such "caught us off guard" statements as, effectively, letters of resignation by the officials making those statements, because anyone making such a statement is -- necessarily -- either lying to the public about a matter of critical importance, or was so woefully unprepared and uninformed about the nature of Sandy's threat that they do not deserve the public trust.
As for you journalists: Do not repeat this lie. Do not allow officials to get away with it. Correct it every time it is stated. Shame those who state it. This cannot be allowed to continue. It is an affront to the notion of public accountability and transparency, an insult to the meteorologists who predicted this storm so well, and above all, a fraud on the American public, to pretend that Sandy's wrath was "unexpected."
You are the Fourth Estate. Your job is to inform your readers and viewers about the facts. Do your damn job.
P.S. Please note, this is not about me. I'm not beating my chest or trumpeting how right I was. What I wrote was obvious and well-known; I was relaying information from forecasters, not making "predictions" of my own. It was widely predicted that a surge like this could happen, and indeed, was expected to happen if Sandy stayed on track. So I'm not bragging about how I got it "right." I'm merely using my statements as an example of how widely well-understood it was -- among those paying attention to the computer models and the official NWS predictions, anyway -- that a 6-11' surge on top of the tides was potentially in the offing.