Hurricane Sandy Shuts Down Smithsonian

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Anticipating the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the Northeast, the Federal Government shut down on Sunday, October 28, 2012. All non-essential employees stayed at home and all Smithsonian facilities on the East Coast, including the museums and the National Zoo, were closed to the public. The majority of Smithsonian buildings opened on Wednesday, October 31, 2012. However, several Smithsonian facilities - Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on the Chesapeake Bay, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, and the Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City - were still without power. Staff were required to check with their supervisors about reporting to work at those facilities. Power, telephone and internet service were all disrupted at New York offices, including the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Heye Center and Smithsonian magazine offices. The NMAI New York museum remained closed for the rest of the week. During the closures, animal care personnel still reported to work at the National Zoo and its Conservation Biology Institute.


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Hurricane Sandy, a tropical cyclone, affected portions of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States in late October 2012, and became the largest Atlantic hurricane in diameter on record, with winds spanning 1,100 miles. Sandy developed from a tropical wave in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22. On October 24, Sandy was upgraded to a hurricane, shortly before making landfall in Jamaica. Upon moving farther north, Sandy re-entered water and made its second landfall in Cuba during the early morning of October 25 as a Category 2 hurricane. On October 29, Sandy was declared a post-tropical cyclone, while still maintaining Category 1 strength and made its final landfall 5 miles southwest of Atlantic City, New Jersey, at about 8 p.m. The storm picked up additional energy from a storm/cold front, traveling from the middle of Canada east to the coast. Sandy affected at least 22 states in the US, from Florida to New England, with tropical storm force winds, massive flooding along the coast, and mountain snows in West Virginia. The cyclone brought a storm surge to New York City, flooding numerous streets, tunnels and subway lines in Lower Manhattan and destroyed large portions of the Jersey Shore.
  • SI Email Announcements, IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Hours of Duty, Leave, and Pay for Pay Period 22, October 31, 2012.
  • "Sandy Brings Hurricane-Force Gusts After New Jersey Landfall," Washington Post, October 30, 2012.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


October 29-30, 2012


  • Closings
  • Storms
  • Hurricanes
  • Natural disasters


  • Washington (D.C.)
  • New Jersey
  • New York (N.Y.)

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