Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Finish Preparations! Storm Moving Faster

It is time to wrap up preparations.  Sandy still looks like a major threat and she is moving a little faster than originally anticipated.  

Don't make this mistake, "we underestimated this one."

Hurricane Sandy at 8:30am CDT with 75 mph winds and a minimum pressure of 951 mb.
University of Wisconsin
Coastal winds are coming up a bit faster than I expected with gusts to nearly 40 mph at Norfolk, VA and gusts in the 30's in eastern North Carolina and DelMarVa. Kitty Hawk had a gust of 45 mph recently.

Current Rainfall

AccuWeather regional radar shows the banding structure associated with Sandy causing light to moderate rains in coastal areas.

Additional Rainfall

Because some of the storm's rain has already fallen and because it is moving a little faster than originally forecast, the amounts don't look quite as impressive as earlier forecasts. However, these are more than sufficient to cause flooding in the areas with heavier rains.
click to enlarge

The center of Sandy should move inside the shaded blue area.

Now, I have to ask you to work with me to convey the wind threat. There is no way to, in a blog, list every single city of interest. So, pick out your location and I'll walk you through the highlights.

This is, more or less, the storm's current wind field (actually, it is a forecast for 2pm EDT but bear with me):
So, you can compare the changes from the current winds (above) to the forecasts (below).

8am EDT Monday forecast. Note, the exact position of the storm, and the corresponding winds, could shift north or south a little.
The pressure is forecast to have fallen to 944 mb, stronger than now. U.S. GFS model via WeatherBell
The winds surrounding the eye are forecast to have strengthened which is what is meteorologically expected with the falling pressure.  Winds are already gusting above 40 mph from DelMarVa across NYC and along the southern New England coast.

2pm EDT Monday.
Pressures have fallen another 4mb. 
Red winds = strong enough to cause power failures.  Winds will be gusting above 50 mph from, roughly Washington, DC to NJ to Boston and southern New Hampshire. Very dangerous winds with gusts above 70 ph will be reaching Long Island (keep in mind the pattern may shift a little north or south).

8pm EDT Monday. 

Landfall in New Jersey Monday evening. Note that winds capable of causing power failures extend from Portland to Norfolk. Winds are coming up in the eastern Great Lakes.  Dangerous winds are occurring in the D.C.-Baltimore area.  Winds are relatively calm (temporarily!) near the eye.

2am EDT Tuesday

The eye is in the general vicinity of Harrisburg. Strong winds are still occurring from D.C. up toward Hagerstown and over the eastern Great Lakes and southwest Ontario.  There are other strong winds along the St. Laurence Valley.

There will be a major storm surge. This map does not include the +2' astronomical tide (full moon) and wave action of 20' or more.

So, preparations should be rushed to completion throughout this region. This storm is not weakening and will be as bad as I have feared.

The blue areas are under winter storm watches for high winds and heavy snow.

Is It Hype?

All weekend, even at the wedding reception last night, I've been asked if meteorologists are "hyping" this storm. Let me give you some metrics so you can compare what I am expecting so you can judge for yourself:

  • $20 billion or more in damage
  • Two million or more "customers" (individual homes and businesses) without power
  • At least one land-based (as opposed to a ship over water) wind gust of 75 mph or higher

So, there it is as best as I can lay it out. Hunker down in a sturdy building with some good books, board games, and look on it as one of life's adventures. Be prepared for an extended period of inconvenience. Try to have a good attitude -- you'll be able to bore your grandchildren with stories about the Great Storm of '12!

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