Let me say up front: I respect, admire, and appreciate the work that the National Hurricane Center does every year. They work hard, they fight to get their message out, and they are usually a very steady voice during the tumult and chaos of tropical systems. They’re an asset to the country.
But someone is dropping the ball to some degree on Sandy. I have read and seen and even been asked myself about the fact that since the NHC will no longer be handling warnings on this system, and it’s only a nor’easter, it’s weaker or not as bad. The meteorological semantics of a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning means nothing to the general public. It has issues in terms of insurance companies, the meteorological record, and statistics. And in the end it’s probably not a massive deal either way. There’s even some upside to it. But when you get situations where people may let their guard down because a name change to them indicates it’s not so bad…that’s a problem.
Make no mistake: This storm is a monster, and it should be treated as such….regardless of name or definition. I would much rather see tropical advisories up and down the East Coast, than a jumbled, patchwork, inconsistent map of warnings such as this. The local NWS offices are doing amazing work…and will only have to work harder now because of this. And they deserve everyone’s thanks and appreciation for it.
On to the storm…
As I said, it’s a monster…modeling is unchanged and converging on a Long Beach Island-NYC landfall. Landfall again will only matter in terms of tidal flooding, and current flood projections along and north of the path are for major to record flooding. This is roughly from Monmouth County, NJ through NYC on to Long Island. The surge in New York Harbor is projected to be 5.5-6 feet, which would make it 1.5-2 feet higher than the flood from December 1992 that flooded parts of Lower Manhattan and the subway system, and it would also set a modern record, breaking the surge from Hurricane Donna in 1960. So the worst impacts will be along the Shore from Northern NJ through NY to Long Island and the CT coast.
In South Jersey, tidal flooding will be much like that of storms we saw in the 1990s…severe to major, but I don’t think it will be record breaking at this time. That will be strictly for the barrier islands, and perhaps along the Back Bays of the Mainland initially as well, though as the wind shifts, the Bay water will rush back to the islands.
For all areas: 40-60 mph winds, widespread power outages, rainfall flooding for parts of S NJ/PA/DE/MD, and pretty much a complete shutdown Monday, with slow improvement Tuesday.
So regardless of the name or classification, prep for this storm as you would a hurricane. And stay safe.