Monday Evening Storm Update: Stronger than Expected – “A Meteorological Bomb”

October 29, 2012

Paul Douglas’ Monday evening Sandy Update:

Hurricane Sandy Headlines:



LOCATION…38.3N 73.1W

I realize there was (a lot) of skepticism, cynicism and name-calling with this storm. “Meteorologists are hyping the weather again!” Americans were understandably hesitant about taking Sandy seriously, in spite of repeated warnings. As I tell my staff at The Media Logic Group, it’s good to be skeptical, but perpetual cynicism in the face of overwhelming evidence isn’t good – in fact it can be dangerous. The prevailing wisdom for many coastal residents was: “I’ll believe it when I see it, and if it gets bad…we can always leave at the last minute!” Maybe not. Because at the last minute roads and bridges may be inundated, barrier islands cut off. You’ll have no choice but to ride out the storm. Emergency management and 911? In spite of best efforts they may not be able to reach your location in time.

Synopsis. Sandy’s 90-100 mph. winds will reach coastal New Jersey this evening. Winds in New York and Long Island will gust to 90 mph, with a second, even stronger, more damaging storm surge late this evening, coinciding with high tide and a full moon. Astronomical forces have conspired to turn this from a 1 in 50 year storm to a 1 in 100 year storm surge for many coastal locations.

Monster-Storm. As expected the heaviest rains and reports of inland flooding are taking place from south Jersey, the Delaware Valley and southern Pennsylvania south to D.C., Baltimore, the Delmarva Peninsula (Bethany Beach and Rehoboth) and Virginia’s Tidewater into OBX. Rainfall amounts may exceed 2-4” over southern New England, but inland flooding will be worse over the Mid-Atlantic than over most of New England.

Impact Of First Storm Surge. This photo, courtesy of WeatherNation TV, was taken in Atlantic City around midday when an 8 foot surge was reported. A second surge is likely, coinciding with landfall and high tide this evening.

Maximum Surge. Still reeling from a 6-12 foot surge late morning and midday, a second, slightly higher surge if forecast for late evening from northern New Jersey and “The New York Bight”, northeastward to Groton, CT. Based on a track across southern New Jersey, sustained wind speed/direction and underwater topography (Continental Slope) a 10 foot plus storm surge is anticipated in western Long Island Sound, impacting Long Island, Greenwich, CT, and portions of Queens and Brooklyn. Map: NOAA.

The second, most damaging storm surge takes place close to landfall and high tide tonight, between 8 pm and midnight at many locations. This will be the height of the storm, in terms of wave-power and inundation of low-lying areas – as bad as it gets.

A Flooded Battery. This morning’s 9 foot (observed) storm surge at Manhattan’s Battery was a taste of what’s to come – an 11-12 foot surge, marking the peak of the storm, rolls into Lower Manhattan between 8 and 10 pm. This should be as bad as it gets – and it will be pretty bad.

Meteorological “Bomb”. Meteorologists are (at time) prone to exaggeration and hype. But, if anything, we may have slightly undersold this storm. Every storm is different, every hurricane is unique. Weather models help, as does experience, past history and gut feel. There have been similar storms over the ages, but nothing quite like “Sandy”, in terms of a). coming so late in the season, b). the size of the storm, c). the slow forward  motion of the storm, and d). astronomical complications: high tide coupled with a full moon magnifying subsequent storm surges. We said this was going to be an historic storm – and events are playing out to underscore this prediction. Sandy has been a vivid reminder that America’s weather is, in fact, becoming more extreme.

9 Responses to “Monday Evening Storm Update: Stronger than Expected – “A Meteorological Bomb””

  1. Cars are floating on Wall Street. There’s a metaphor for our era:

    But, seriously, my best to everyone on the East Coast. Even though I am watching this with the detachment of someone not in the storm’s path, I do still hope everyone is okay.

  2. rayduray Says:

    As of 10/29/2012 19:36:00 EDT the tide gauge at The Battery in Lower Manhattan in NYC is registeriing the following:

    Predicted elevation: 4.28 feet
    Observed Elevation: 12.54 feet
    Storm Caused Surge: 8.26 feet

    The MTA subway system flooded during Hurricane Irene last year when this gauge reached 10,5 feet.

    This could be really bad news.

    High tide is not for another 80 minutes. Yikes!

  3. I and many others were skeptical of the scenario emerging from the models… a storm the size of a continent pulling off the growth and maneuvers that Sandy has demonstrated defy experience and to some degree “common sense”.
    I and many others were skeptical of the scenario emerging from the models… a storm the size of a continent pulling off the growth and maneuvers that Sandy has demonstrated defy experience and to some degree “common sense”. Hurricanes don’t like cold water, and they don’t make sharp left turns onto land without something really big shoving them around.

    Whether I believed it could happen or not, it’s done exactly what the ensemble models have predicted, and is exceeding the “worst case” proposals. The size, strength, and growth have all been much worse, more of a “what we feared” than “what we expected” case.

    This morning I saw lots of claims about where AGW fits into this scenario, but the information I trusted came from Professor Hayhoe, as follows:

    Sea level is 7″ higher now compared to 100 years ago,
    About 15% of the unusually warm sea surface temperatures fueling Sandy are result of climate change, and
    It is possible that the 2012 record Arctic sea ice loss may have contributed to a huge High over Greenland, steering Hurricane Sandy into the U.S. East Coast instead of out to sea, although that has yet to be determined.

    We should not stand up and try to convince anyone that “it’s all because of global warming”. What we’re seeing is a small shift, a minor tweak in our atmosphere. It’s not even the 2 degree target we’ve been hoping to stay under to limit the damage to our civilization. We’re just slightly over half way up, about 1 degree. This is mostly being caused by the water getting warmer.

    This, my friends, is just a taste of what’s to come.

  4. rayduray Says:

    Excellent live TV coverage by ABC Channel 7 NYC:

  5. MorinMoss Says:

    Meanwhile, over at TonyBoy’s Deniapalooza, that idiot Eschenbach and the dittohead cooligans are circlejerking about how this isn’t a REALLY bad storm and how the MSM are stupid alarmists.

  6. Many climate hawks have made comments in the past along the lines of: “Ater more than two decades of having a solid scientific, economic, technological and ethical case for climate action, the world still hasn’t really begun to tackle this problem. Denial runs so deep that I’m afraid it might take a powerful hurricane over New York for people to wake up…”
    I’m confident that professional deniers are now scanning McKibben’s and other scape-goats’ twitter accounts to find such comments to accuse them of having hoped for disaster. When they do, I want to be without an internet connection, or I’ll get a heart-attack with rage.

    It’s like taking a comment out of context to accuse a mother of having wished the death of her child the day after that child died, when she used up all her money, sold her house and belongings to be able to pay for the treatment which the accuser had purposefully sabotaged.
    I know they’ll go this low. Expect it.

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