Though Pennsylvania has no seashore and so no ocean surge damage, Sandy knocked out power to as much as one-third of Pennsylvanians at some point. In the Philadelphia area, approximately 60% of the population lost their electric service. And by sundown yesterday, more than 20% of Pennsylvanians were without power and in the dark and cold.
In terms of power outages, Sandy may rank among the top three most destructive storms of all time in Pennsylvania. Sandy's sustained winds follows Irene's pounding rains in 2011 that caused massive flooding to make it two years in a row that Pennsylvanians have suffered enormous storm damage. Yesterday, Pennsylvania did not dodge a bullet, as some suggested, but was hit with an historic one-two storm punch.
While utility electricity crews are working feverishly to restore service in Pennsylvania and across the Northeast, the damage is so widespread and severe that full restoration of service to all customers is almost certainly going to take close to a week. The frequency and severity of storms and outages raise important questions about the hardening of Pennsylvania's electricity infrastructure to decrease damage and its investments in flood protection.
Facts of nature are that the atmosphere contains 4% more moisture as well as land and water temperatures are up. Those are ingredients for severer weather ahead. We must be better prepared or the storm economic costs will continue to escalate, as they already have.