Stevens Institute Measures Hurricane Sandy Currents

Researchers at Stevens Institute predicted and measured the currents and storm surge of Hurricane Sandy.

Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, including Nickitas Georgas and Philip Orton, are passionate about forecasting and monitoring currents and water level around the greater New York City region.  Nickitas and his team maintain a number of observational stations around NYC including two Nortek ATON Systems.  The ATON Systems are Nortek 1 MHz Aquadopp Profilers mounted on Coast Guard Aids to Navigation.  The ATON Systems profile the water column every 6 minutes and report real-time data back to the Stevens lab via cell modems.  The ATON System at Gowanus Station 32 measured current velocity during Hurricane Sandy on 10/30/2012.  Data were reported in real-time every 6 minutes until telemetry was lost during the height of the storm.  The data record indicates very strong near-surface currents of nearly 1 m/s flowing northwards towards Hoboken and Staten Island.  Typically, northward currents rarely exceeded 0.5 m/s since the northward flood current is partially offset by the constant southward surface outflow of the Hudson River.  These strong northward currents were partially responsible for the devastating flooding in NYC and nearby regions.  A full report about how ATON Systems are used for recreational and commercial maritime safety was published in Sea Technology.

Sandy ATON Data

The ATON Systems are part of a larger New York Harbor Observing and Prediction Systems (NYHOPS) that assimilates observations with numerical models to predict currents, water levels, and other variables such as temperature and salinity.   At the southern tip of Manhattan and at the Battery, both Stevens and NOAA models were predicting a record breaking 11 ft surge above MLLW before the storm. Nature surpassed that high water mark prediction by another 3 ft!  In the photo below, Philip Orton demonstrates the observational method of detecting the high water mark after the water recedes. More information about the Storm Surge Warning System (SSWS) can be found here:

NYHOPS Model Output


Sandy High Water Mark


Nortek ATON System mounted on 8x26 Coast Guard Aid to Navigation.


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