Brace for Impact: Sandy Now a “Frankenstorm”
October 25, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — An unusual nasty mix of a hurricane and a winter storm that forecasters are now calling a”Frankenstorm” is likely to blast most of the East Coast next week, focusing the worst of its weather mayhem around New York City and New Jersey.
Government forecasters on Thursday upped the odds of a major weather mess, now saying there’s a 90 percent chance that the East will get steady gale-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and maybe snow starting Sunday and stretching past Halloween on Wednesday.
Meteorologists say it is likely to cause $1 billion in damage.
The storm is a combination of Hurricane Sandy, now in the Caribbean, an early winter storm in the West, and a blast of arctic air from the North. They’re predicted to collide and park over the country’s most populous coastal corridor and reach as far inland as Ohio.
Meteorologist Paul Douglas has sent out this alert:
Sandy resembles Hurricane Debby, which morphed into “The Perfect Storm” on Halloween, 1991. The similarities are striking. As Hurricane Sandy drifts north it may lose some of its hurricane characteristics, morphing into a violent Nor’easter as it passes the Outer Banks of North Carolina, most likely being pulled inland by an approaching trough of low pressure late Sunday and Monday. Although the precise path is still in doubt, there’s little question that Sandy will impact a wide swath of the east coast, and residents from Miami to Boston need to stay up on the forecast, discuss contingency plans, and be ready to take measures to lower the risk to life and property. I’m most concerned about people on barrier islands, especially the Outer Banks, which may suffer a major blow Sunday and Sunday night.
Hurricane Sandy is a strong, Category 2 storm, with 105 mph winds, churning northward across the Bahamas at 20 mph. The storm will soak Florida with some 5-10” rains Friday and Friday night, but the core of the storm, strongest winds (and worst of the storm surge) will remain just offshore, a near-miss for Miami, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville.
The Outer Banks won’t be quite as lucky by Sunday, a rejuvenated Sandy, by this time a hybrid hurricane/Nor’easter, pummeling the barrier islands of North Carolina with hurricane-force winds and a 4-8 foot storm surge.
The Tidewater Region of Virginia (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News) will be impacted Sunday afternoon into Monday morning, with a potential for significant coastal flooding and beach erosion.
The latest model run seems to be nudging landfall farther north, closer to Atlantic City later in the day Monday. Keep in mind that the worst coastal (storm surge) flooding will take place north of where the eye or center of Sandy comes ashore, as it gets sucked into a larger trough of low pressure approaching the east coast. R
Richmond, Washington D.C. and Baltimore may see extensive 5-10” rains with inland flooding a very real threat early next week, but the strongest winds (and highest waves) will probably come from Ocean City, Maryland northward to Cape May and Atlantic City. Sandy may push a significant dome of water into New York Harbor by Monday, with extensive flooding along coastal regions of Long Island, from Southampton to Montauk.
This storm will impact tens of millions of Americans – in a sense the storm is taking a worst-case scenario track right up the east coast, close enough to create storm surge damage and coastal flooding, yet far enough out to sea to retain (some) hurricane characteristics and strength right up until landfall around Monday of next week. Coastal (and inland) residents from Florida to the Outer Banks to Cape Cod need to pay attention and take this storm very seriously. It’s not too early to take precautions and initiate contingency plans, especially for coastal facilities that have a history of hurricane and wind/water-related damage.
FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 28 – THURSDAY NOVEMBER 01: HURRICANE SANDY IS CURRENTLY CENTERED OVER THE BAHAMAS. THE FORECAST TRACK BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, AS OF 2PM EDT THURSDAY, IS FOR SANDY TO MOVE NORTHWARD OFFSHORE OF THE SOUTHEAST COAST AND MAKE A POTENTIAL LANDFALL IN THE MID-ATLANTIC OR NEW ENGLAND. HIGH WINDS AND HIGH WAVES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS STORM WILL LIKELY IMPACT THE SOUTHEAST COAST, FROM FLORIDA TO THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION ON SUNDAY OCT. 28. UNCERTAINTY IN THE EXACT TRACK OF THIS STORM CONTINUES AFTER SUNDAY. MANY MODELS FORECAST THE STORM TO MOVE NORTHWARD AS A SUB-TROPICAL SYSTEM AND MOVE INTO THE NORTHEAST PART OF THE COUNTRY. IF THIS HAPPENS, HEAVY RAIN, HIGH WINDS, HIGH WAVES, MAJOR BEACH EROSION, AND COASTAL/INLAND FLOODING WILL IMPACT PARTS OF THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION NORTH TO NEW ENGLAND SUNDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY.
ACCUMULATING SNOW IS POSSIBLE IN THE HIGHER ELEVATIONS OF THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS, WHICH MAY CAUSE MAJOR IMPACTS IN AREAS WHERE LEAVES ARE STILL ON TREES. ALTHOUGH A HEAVY SNOW HAZARD IS NOT CURRENTLY POSTED DUE TO UNCERTAINTY ON EXACT LOCATION, A FEW INCHES OF SNOW ALONG WITH STRONG WINDS COULD CAUSE MAJOR POWER OUTAGES IN THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE EXPECTED LARGE SIZE OF THE STORM WILL LIKELY BRING WIDESPREAD IMPACTS TO THE NORTHEAST EARLY NEXT WEEK.