It's fairly unusual to have such a powerful storm arise so late in October. The hurricane season is usually petering out by the middle of the month.
And the confluence of Hurricane Sandy with an equally powerful, cold, northern storm created unprecedented havoc across the northeastern states.
Could this superstorm be a result of global warming? For years climatologists have been warning that one result of heating up the atmosphere could be bigger and more powerful storms.
A warmer atmosphere and oceans means there's more energy available for bigger storms to develop. In the years to come, "once-in-a-century" storms such as Sandy may be smashing us every few years, or even more often.
Unless we find a way to alleviate global warming.
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On the other hand, modern communications helped to mitigate the dangers of the storm. Ferocious as Super Sandy may have been, the damage could have been much worse.
But we were alerted to the storm early on, so that private citizens and emergency-response teams across half the nation were prepared for its effects.
The warnings began with satellite imagery. Sandy and the northeast storm were spotted early and tracked hour by hour from weather satellites.
The next time someone asks what our space program has done for us, remember that satellites stand out there in orbit like watchmen, warning us of approaching storms that in the past — before space technology — surprised us, killing thousands and wiping out entire cities.
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OK, how can we improve our response to such storms? How can we mitigate even further the damage they inflict?
One of the biggest problems such storms bring is electrical-power blackouts. Storm winds snap tree branches and topple whole trees, which snap power lines. It takes days, sometimes weeks, to get the power lines up and humming again.
What can we do about this? One obvious answer it to bury the power lines. When I lived in New England I always wondered why the power lines ran past trees. The trees were beautiful, especially when they turned color in the autumn. But they inevitably snapped power lines, leading to blackouts.
Most communities balk at the expense and difficulty of burying their power lines. Certainly the power companies aren't going to voluntarily do the job. They'd rather let the lines break, have their customers suffer blackouts and let their insurance carriers foot the bill for the repairs.
What can individual citizens do about this? One answer is to equip homes with emergency generators. But if the blackout goes on for several days, or even weeks, the emergency generators will run out of fuel.
In our Connecticut home we put in an emergency generator and fueled it with natural gas, which was piped into the house. We could run the generator as long as the gas company kept its pipes flowing.
But there's another way.
The problem is that most homes get their electricity through the transmission lines of the electrical-power grid. When the grid goes down, blackouts ensue.
If a home could get off the grid and generate its own electrical power, it would not suffer a blackout.
That's where solar energy could help. Solar photovoltaic cells generate electricity from sunlight. Around the world, millions of households that have never been connected to their local power grid generate their own electricity from sunlight.
The ultimate emergency generator could be solar panels. Putting photovoltaic cells on your roof could provide electrical power whenever the sun is shining, and some of that power could be stored in batteries to provide power at night.
Homes that have solar electrical systems could avoid the blackouts that come from storms such as Sandy. Once the clouds break and the sun comes out again, solar-powered homes can generate their own electricity. For days. For weeks. For years.
That could be the best answer to storm-caused power blackouts. Even when the weather is good, a solar-powered home would not need the local electric company. And in the aftermath of a storm, when the power grid has broken down and there's a blackout, solar-powered homes wouldn't have to wait in darkness for the grid to be repaired.
And solar electrical systems don't produce greenhouse gases. Welcome sunshine!
Bova's latest novel is "Orion and King Arthur." His website address is www.benbova.com.