The most fundamental lesson we can glean from the impending catastrophe is simply that weather affects history. Most historical narratives still focus on events within purely human spheres, describing changes in relationships between classes, for example, or cultural trends. The rise of post-modernism in particular has left some historians suspicious of attempts to describe environmental influences and, ultimately, "what really happened." Of course, there are the limits - both practical and conceptual - that cloud our ability to reconstruct the past and make sense of relationships between human histories and, for example, severe weather events. Nevertheless, hurricane Sandy reveals that many histories are little more than interesting stories unless they at least attempt to address environmental influences.
In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy's landfall, it's likely that many will describe how the storm "caused" devastation along the East Coast and, in turn, altered the election. The third and final lesson, then, is that weather events are but one influence among many. Natural disasters occur at the intersection of human and environmental histories; indeed, while "natural" usually refers to stimuli that, at least until recently, have largely existed beyond human influence, there is no "disaster" without human settlement. Teasing out how exactly hurricane Sandy affected the East Coast, how it helped change the election, and what social structures were especially vulnerable will be a painstaking task. Luckily, there is an entire field of study devoted to unraveling those relationships.