A new computer animation reveals the explosive and erratic development of superstorm Sandy, which ravaged the U.S. northeast coast last week and left millions without power.

The special animation, created by researchers at the University of Delaware, was produced by stitching together 800 infrared images taken by the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), which continually scans the Western Hemisphere.

"Because the satellite is stationary, it allows us to receive a constant stream of data and observe changes over the same geographic area," said Matt Shatley, a computer research specialist at the university’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.

Shatley assembled the animation in about one day.


The University of Delaware's superstorm computer animation of Sandy involved stitching together 800 infrared images. (University of Delaware)

He noted that as Sandy moved up the U.S. coast, it started to interact violently with an upper-level jet stream.

"As it moved over the waters of the Gulf Stream, Sandy continued to have tropical characteristics, as thunderstorms once again began to grow around the eye," said Shatley.

"In the end, this hybrid nature is what caused the storm to be so strong and so large."

At its biggest, Sandy was 1,609 kilometres across, triggering a massive 4.23-metre storm surge in New York with winds hitting more than 200 km/h.

Sandy left more than 100 people dead in 10 states. Half a million people in New York state remain without power and more than 800,000 were without power in New Jersey a week after the storm.

The storm’s damage has been estimated at $50 billion US.