WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Erosion caused by Hurricane Sandy reached "historic proportions," suggesting not all Category 1 storms are minimal events, the USGS said.
Sandy struck the U.S. East Coast in late October as a Category 1 hurricane, the least intense of storms categorized as hurricanes. It later merged with an eastward-bound weather pattern, however, creating a superstorm that left millions of customers without power and more than 100 people dead.
U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt said aerial surveys indicated that Sandy caused major changes to the East Coast shoreline for hundreds of miles.
"Sandy taught us yet again that not all Category 1 hurricanes are created equal," McNutt said in a statement. "The superstorm's enormous fetch over the Atlantic produced storm surge and wave erosion of historic proportions."
USGS said major infrastructure like roads and highways were buried under sand while dune erosion left coastal populations vulnerable to extreme storms.
McNutt said storms like Sandy can have long-term effects on public health because of pollutants that could be pushed onshore through storm surges.