Will Sandy Be the Worst Ever?


Hurricane Sandy.

Radar Map

If you’ve turned on a television, radio, or computer, or picked up a newspaper over the past several days, perhaps you’ve heard that this massive “frankenstorm” is poised to batter our fair city for the next couple of days. Walking around late last night felt like a normal breezy fall night. Looking out the window at 7am, it looks like a little light rain that should hardly be closing schools, setting supermarkets into a frenzy, and inspiring several Walnut Street businesses to board up their windows.

But according to the New York Times, our area can expect winds approaching 85 MPH and up to six inches of rain in the days to come. Other sources are predicting stronger winds and even more rain. Glen ‘Hurricane’ Schwartz hasn’t slept in 72 hours.

Seriously. Image from southjerseylocalnews.com

But where will Sandy rank in the all-time storms (non-snow category) to hit our region? Extensive research on numerous weather sites has shown a few other storms that are often considered the worst ever in this area.

Many of you may recall Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which went down as the most expensive natural disaster in the history of the State of Pennsylvania. Rain and wind weren’t too bad in Philadelphia, as the worst of the storm hit the middle of the state. But as huge quantities of water flowed downstream on the Schuylkill, Boathouse Row was flooded, and other low-lying areas experienced flooding as well.

In 1954, Hurricane Hazel resulted in winds that reached nearly 100MPH in Philadelphia. The winds from this storm damaged countless buildings, and downed trees led to many losing power for days.

But the worst storm may well be the one that none of us remember, the Gale of 1878. Over 700 buildings were destroyed, and over fifty churches lost their spires. Train depots and a few bridges were washed away, and first floors of buildings along the river fronts were underwater. Winds exceeded 100MPH.

Hopefully, this storm will pass us by like Irene last year, and we’ll avoid flooding, power outages, and property damage. Fingers emphatically crossed.

Everybody, be safe out there!