East Coast of US Braces for Possible ‘Frankenstorm’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. meteorologists expect a natural horror show of high wind, heavy rain, extreme tides and maybe snow to the west beginning early Sunday, peaking with the arrival of Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday and lingering past Halloween on Wednesday.

Experts predict at least $1 billion in damage in the United States.

"It's looking like a very serious storm that could be historic," said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground. "Mother Nature is not saying, 'Trick or treat.' It's just going to give tricks."

Read it all.

Filed under: * General InterestWeather

16 Comments
Posted October 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Karen B. wrote:

I’ve always been a bit of a hurricane geek ever since being very badly affected by Hurricane Agnes in 1973 when I was a child.  I’ve had some unexpected free time today, so I’ve spent a lot of time on the weather blogs and sites following this closely.  (I’ve got lots of friends and family in the areas most severely threatened by the storm.)

I’ve posted a hurricane prayer litany at Lent & Beyond, and will probably be posting other prayers there as well during the weekend:
http://anglicanprayer.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/praying-for-all-in-the-path-of-hurricane-sandy/

It really is a good prayer… I first found it back in 2004 and have posted it many times since.

October 26, 6:09 pm | [comment link]
2. Karen B. wrote:

I wanted to post that link to the Prayer Litany as a stand alone comment, but I have some other interesting links to share.

Of course all in the storm’s path should pay attention to the National Hurricane Center, their local weather service office, and local emergency officials.

But, for those who want to read more about this storm than the mere official advisories, I can recommend some interesting links / blogs for those who want to follow this storm:

Dr. Jeff Masters’ blog at the Wunderground site:
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html

At the same site, Bryan Norcross’ blog. 
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/bnorcross/show.html
(Bryan Norcross gained much fame and respect in Florida during 1992’s Category 5 Hurricane Andrew.)

I found a fascinating post by a blogger Brendan Loy at Pajamas media which goes into great detail about how this storm could impact the Presidential Election. I really suggest reading this. (It’s very even-handed and non-partisan).
http://pjmedia.com/weathernerd/2012/10/25/hurricane-sandy-could-seriously-disrupt-the-election/

(Brendan was one of the first bloggers to start posting on Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and gained national attention for his accurate and detailed posts.)

You can find all of Brendan Loy’s blogs about Hurricane Sandy here:
http://pjmedia.com/weathernerd/

More links later…

October 26, 6:14 pm | [comment link]
3. Karen B. wrote:

At a weather discussion board I participate in, someone just posted this overview about SANDY from the head met at the Weather Channel.  It’s quite clear and helpful and not hyped:

Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist, The Weather Channel
Oct 26, 2012 7:39 pm ET

SANDY

- After tragically affecting the Greater Antilles with dozens of fatalities, Sandy’s core is beginning to pull north of the Bahamas as the western fringe brushes the Atlantic coast of Florida with high surf and gusty winds, and then will do so along the coast of the Carolinas this weekend along with some bands of heavy rain.

- Then all signs continue to point to an extraordinary combination of meteorological ingredients coming together to produce a major and potentially historic storm in the northeastern states, with the peak being on Tuesday after Sandy makes an unusual turn sharply back toward the coast. There are no longer any model forecasts that portray a track in which Sandy goes out to sea and misses the U.S. Assuming no future substantive changes in the overall scenario, the main forecast focus from this point forward will be to hone in on the local details as the storm’s arrival gets closer.

- An important aspect of Sandy will be its size. The massive breadth of its circulation will produce a much wider scope of impacts than if it were a tiny storm, and some of them will extend far inland.

- That expansion has begun while Sandy’s maximum wind speeds have decreased for now, as it has undergone the expected commingling with the jet stream and acquisition of “hybrid” with characteristics of both tropical and non-tropical cyclones. The reason for forecasters’ expectations of such a significant event despite it not being as intense as when it was in the Caribbean is that enlargement of the storm, which is already big and will further expand, along with models’ indications that it will get a boost of additional energy as it heads north toward such a highly-populated area. It’s a complicated weather system, but no matter what the official designation - hurricane, tropical storm, or “post-tropical” - Sandy should be taken seriously.

- Effects are expected to include strong, gusty winds with widespread tree damage and long-duration power outages, coastal flooding from storm surge along with large battering waves on top of that and beach erosion, local flooding from rainfall, and possibly heavy snow accumulations over the central Appalachians.

October 26, 10:20 pm | [comment link]
4. Karen B. wrote:

Here’s part of a morning email update from a tropical meteorologist named Jeff Lindner in Houston, posted at a weather discussion board I belong to.  It is extremely sobering.  I hope he’s wrong.  But many tropical forecasters are writing and saying similar things.

Please prepare if you are in the projected impact area (primarily between DC and Boston or in the Ohio Valley, or the the NC & WV mountains.)  And everyone else, please be praying!

Impacts:

Major travel disruption is likely as numerous major E coast airports will not be able to sustain operations and this will have ripple effects across the nation. Additionally, widespread power outages and down trees will greatly hamper surface and rail travel across the entire region with widespread and potentially prolonged impacts to commerce.

This will be a long duration multi-day event with prolonged impacts over the entire area from North Carolina to Canada and extending inland into the OH valley affecting some 55-65 million people.

Coastal flooding or storm surge flooding appears to be significant especially for the New Jersey and New York (NYC and Long Island) coasts. The angle of approach this storm will be taking from (SE to NW) strikes the coast at a right angle instead of the usual grazing by of the coast most storms in this region take (SW to NE or parallel to the coast). This direct hit on the coast will drive onshore winds and massive amounts of Atlantic seawater toward the central and northern New Jersey coast and into the “L” shaped New York Bight area of southern New York City and western Long Island (a worst case track for this area, that has never occurred before with this strong of a storm system). The fetch of wind across the entire north Atlantic will drive large waves and surge to the coast and this will last for several high tide cycles. Tides will be at their maximum due to the full moon on Monday. Massive beach erosion is likely with coastal structures experiences significant damage many to the point of total collapse. Seawater inundation will be extensive and widespread and long lasting and in some places potentially record setting. Due to the rare track of this storm, some locations that have never before experienced coastal flooding, may flood with this event.

Winds of 50-60mph with gust to 70-80mph will battered a wide area for 24-48 hours. Expect widespread tree damage and power outages which could rival some of the largest power outages ever in the US. The prolonged nature of the event will result in trees giving way over time as the ground saturates from the heavy rainfall. Winds will be higher in an near tall high rise buildings where funneling will take place. Structure damage will be mainly from trees falling into buildings and to roofs from the wind itself.

Rainfall amounts of 5-8 inches will be common over a very large area with totals of 8-12 inches over New Jersey into southern PA and New York. Isolated amounts of 15 inches are possible as the tropical moisture from Sandy’s air mass crashes into the eastern slopes of the mountains and a stalled frontal boundary. Rainfall of this magnitude over an area of steep terrain will produce life threatening flash flooding and major river flooding.

Ocean seas will be building to staggering heights over the next few days. Already buoys north of the Bahamas have been reporting 30 foot seas, and Wave Watch III guidance is maxed out at 42-48 foot seas over the NW Atlantic Ocean by early next week. The expanding area of strong winds of 50-60mph and the massive fetch of wind all the way from Europe will produce very large swells. Would not be surprised to see reports of wave greater than 50-60 feet over the NW Atlantic. Some of this wave action and energy will be directed toward the US coastline and this will worsen the beach erosion. Large wave setup will also trap water levels near the coast and worsen the coastal flooding threat.

On the extreme SW flank of the storm heavy wet snow will fall over parts of OH and WV with totals of 1-2 feet possible.

Power outages will likely last for 1-2 weeks or longer

Large scale evacuation orders for the New Jersey coast will be underway today with portions of New York also likely requiring evacuation due to the potential for coastal storm surge inundation.

October 27, 11:16 am | [comment link]
5. Karen B. wrote:

Here’s a detailed article posted at MarketWatch which details the very worrying danger for NYC from this storm:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-york-faces-most-intense-storm-in-history-2012-10-26

This storm could be worse than the famous “Long Island Express” Hurricane of 1938, which up until now has been the worst tropical storm for most in the region.

I think most readers here will know I am not usually an alarmist or sensationalist in what I post.  But this storm has me very very deeply concerned.

October 27, 11:19 am | [comment link]
6. Karen B. wrote:

Here’s the morning briefing from the Mount Holly, NJ bureau of the National Weather Service, which covers most of NJ, the Philly Metro area, Delaware etc.

http://www.erh.noaa.gov/phi/briefing/packages/current_briefing.pdf

It’s excellent.  Clear, succinct, conveys real danger without hype.
Kudos to them for such an excellent communication tool.

October 27, 11:33 am | [comment link]
7. Karen B. wrote:

A scary storm-surge forecast for the NY Metro area based on the latest NHC track:
http://twitpic.com/b7v2s3/full

Also, just read that mandatory evacuations of Fire Island (barrier island on Long Island) have started
See CBS News story here

October 27, 12:06 pm | [comment link]
8. Karen B. wrote:

I’m talking to myself here, I think, but I hope and pray the resources I’ve been posting are helpful to someone.

I’ve just posted a new entry and prayer at Lent & Beyond.

October 27, 12:35 pm | [comment link]
9. Karen B. wrote:

At Lent & Beyond, I’ve posted a very helpful graphic from the Weather Channel which shows areas where people need to “take action” (prepare NOW for risk of prolonged power outage or risk of flooding) or “be alert.”

I don’t think it is hype or overkill based on what I’m reading by respected forecasters.

http://anglicanprayer.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/sandy-threat-area.jpg
http://anglicanprayer.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/hurricane-sandy-threat-area/

October 27, 12:59 pm | [comment link]
10. Karen B. wrote:

Oh My.  I just saw that the latest analysis by the officials at NOAA have the storm surge potential estimated at a 5.2 danger on a scale of 1 - 6.  That is almost unheard of.  This is Katrina-like or Ike-like, or worse folks.  Extremely extremely serious and dangerous.

Please note, that storm surge risk estimate is the OFFICIAL forecast.  Not just some weatherman giving his own opinion.

You can read all the details at Dr. Jeff Master’s latest entry at Weather Underground.

Here’s an excerpt:

This morning’s 9:30 am EDT H*Wind analysis from NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Sandy’s winds at a modest 2.3 on a scale of 0 to 6, However, the destructive potential of the storm surge was exceptionally high: 5.2 on a scale of 0 to 6. Sandy’s large wind field will drive a damaging storm surge of 3 - 6 feet to the right of where the center makes landfall. These storm surge heights will be among the highest ever recorded along the affected coasts, and will have the potential to cause billions of dollars in damage. The latest set of 00Z (8 pm EDT) and 06Z (2 am EDT) computer model runs have come into better agreement on the timing and landfall location of Sandy. Our two top models, the ECMWF and GFS, both call for landfall between 10 pm Monday night and 4 am Tuesday morning, with the center coming ashore between Delaware and New York City.

October 27, 1:54 pm | [comment link]
11. Karen B. wrote:

Sad.  The death toll from Sandy in Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti now stands at 48.  35,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in Cuba.

October 27, 2:00 pm | [comment link]
13. Karen B. wrote:

Wow.  It sure is quiet here.  I’m surprised Kendall has not posted anything more about the storm, and that no one else has commented.  It’s kind of eerie talking to myself.  I sure hope I’m wrong and Sandy turns out to be no big deal, but all the models and most knowledgeable forecasters are suggesting that she is a VERY BIG deal.

And speaking of BIG….
Hurricane Sandy’s tropical storm windfield now extends out 520 miles from the center of the storm – making it one of the largest Atlantic tropical cyclones on record, and I believe it is still expected to get even bigger.

You can see a graphic from the NHC which shows Sandy’s size here.
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT18/refresh/AL1812R_sm2+gif/153841R_sm.gif

Wow.  Mind-boggling.

October 27, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
14. Karen B. wrote:

By the way, to see all the prayers and resources I’ve posted about Hurricane Sandy at Lent & Beyond, click here:
http://anglicanprayer.wordpress.com/tag/hurricane-sandy/

October 27, 8:27 pm | [comment link]
15. BlueOntario wrote:

You aren’t talking to yourself. I appreciate the updates.
I think with storms it comes down to the egoistic “well, how is it going to effect ME?” Which, of course, can’t be answered until one is actually effected. A tree could strike down a neighbor’s house and yet one may come out without even losing power or phone service. Or one could find oneself on one’s roof in a raging storm, floating down a river, with no hope for aid for a long time. Acknowledging that last possibility and the lesser things in between and planning on how to deal with them is, I think, the important thing.

October 27, 9:39 pm | [comment link]
16. BlueOntario wrote:

BTW, digging around data from here: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/rmd.shtml
I see that the wind is already backing up the rivers in Virginia’s Tidewater.
From Yorktown, VA
http://tidesonline.nos.noaa.gov/plotcomp.shtml?station_info=8637689+Yorktown,+VA

October 27, 9:52 pm | [comment link]
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