Enter Sandy

Oh hi, blog. I haven’t seen you in about 9 months. Let’s talk about Sandy. Numerous friends/family have asked me questions about this storm already. Hype is in overdrive, but we don’t do hype here.

Sandy is Jamaica’s problem at present, en route to Cuba, the Bahamas, and a brush with coastal South Florida. Not a severe storm relative to what is often experienced in these areas (though it’s interesting to note this is Jamaica’s first landfalling storm since Gilbert in 1988). So where’s it going from here?

ImageWe have two main models we look at (among many others): The GFS and European (Euro). For the last few days the GFS has kicked Sandy out to sea harmlessly, whereas the Euro has blown Sandy up into a monster superstorm, with varying landfall points from New Jersey to New England. The GFS is not a very skillful model with tropical systems in most cases. During Isaac, for several days the GFS suggested the storm would hit the Big Bend of Florida, while the European model went between Pensacola, FL and west of New Orleans. It wasn’t until we got within 48-72 hours of landfall that the GFS showed skill. We’re presently 4-5 days from first impacts with Sandy. That said, even the GFS began to come around today. I pasted an image above of the GFS ensemble members from this morning, which shows multiple ones with a big hit somewhere between NJ and New England.

Now, I do believe the European model is grossly overdoing the intensity of the storm (it missed Irene last summer by about 30 mb of pressure). It’s currently showing 930-940 mb for a central pressure, which is massive. I suspect that comes in reality between 955 and 970 mb. Either way, we’re talking about a big storm.

What does this mean for you?

I am not prepared to make a call on exactly where Sandy will go or how strong it will be or specific impacts, but I will give you some ideas of my thinking:

– Sandy will come ashore later Monday or early Tuesday somewhere between southern NJ and New England.

– Impacts will include strong tropical storm force winds across most of the Northeast and Mid Atlantic, with possible hurricane force gusts on the coast (highest risk of this right now seems to be the New England coast). Whether we get those really strong gusts remains to be seen.

– A full moon will enhance coastal flooding, as a long duration “fetch” over the open ocean could lead to very high tides from NJ north into New England, with west side flooding possible in Delmarva/Hampton Roads.

– Extremely heavy rain will fall, especially inland I believe. The inland flooding threat is difficult to peg down. It may not rival Irene…or it may; it just may occur in a different place. Do not underestimate this angle of the storm.

– Snow will be possible in western Maryland, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania as cold air wraps in behind the storm.

What should you do right now? Well, not much. First: Do not panic. Unnecessary….this is not the end of the world. It may just end up like your usual strong nor’easter. That said, it may not be a bad idea to get out in front of this storm and get some hurricane supplies set up before the media hype goes into overdrive (that should occur tomorrow evening). I would advise this for anyone living from NJ into New England, including NYC. Stay tuned to the forecast, and if you have plans Sunday night through Tuesday, start coming up with backup plans you can implement, just in case.

I will be less accessible than usual due to work obligations, so I may not post frequently about this.

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3 thoughts on “Enter Sandy”

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