What to do with Sandy (10/24 version)?

As I’m sure most people are aware, there is the potential for a large, nearly historic storm for the East Coast as we head towards the early part of next week, just in time for Halloween. Much of the week, forecasters have been wondering if the models have been playing tricks on them,but as of this morning’s model runs, it appears there is a growing concern for a significant event on the East Coast starting Sunday and last through the middle of next week. How will this happen? I’m glad you asked. . .let’s look at the puzzle pieces from a satellite perspective.

RGB “Natural Color” image of Hurricane Sandy as of 1:30 pm EDT

Hurricane Sandy with 70 knot (80 mph) winds is bearing down on the eastern tip of Jamaica with a landfall expected this afternoon. Sandy will continue moving north towards eastern Cuba this evening and should emerge on the north coast of Cuba by early tomorrow morning, possibly as a hurricane, but more likely a strong tropical storm. Beyond this point, we know the Bahamas will feel the greatest effects with some rainbands and wind moving towards southeast Florida. What happens in the day 4-6 time frame depends on a couple features.

GOES-Sounder RGB Air Mass product with the 12z tropical model guidance for Hurricane Sandy overlaid.

The RGB Air Mass image above shows the potent trough that moved ashore the West Coast this morning (circled in red). This will translate east in the coming days being further strengthened by shortwaves over the Northeast Pacific. Meanwhile, Sandy’s projected tracks are shown in the far bottom left with the 12z solutions. How Sandy interacts with this developing/strengthening trough is the real question?

SEVIRI RGB Air Mass product of the North Atlantic on 10/24/12. The red circle identifies a developing cutoff low, the blue circle shows an expanding upper-level ridge, and the black circle identifies Tropical Storm Tony.

The SEVIRI RGB Air Mass image above shows other players on the field that will play a significant role in this complex evolution. With the NAO going negative, one would expect a strong storm along the East Coast. In this case, the expanding upper-level ridge (blue circle) is retrograding northwest towards the Labrador Sea, while a large cut-off upper-level low (red circle) is going to strengthen and move slowly southeast. This in turn may capture Tropical Storm Tony (black circle) and entrain the energy producing a large ocean storm that completes a Rex Block pattern with a large ridge on top of a large low. This would impede the Sandy/trough interaction from moving out to sea and could push the Sandy towards the trough (most likely as an extratropical/hybrid storm).

One thing I’ve noticed is the very expansive easterly fetch across the Atlantic aimed at the Mid-Atlantic and New England. If this materializes, you will have astronomical high tides with the full moon, a large fetch of westward moving water, and the strong winds assisting the storm surge. This all spells the potential for a high impact event.

I will try to post an update tomorrow with another snapshot of the features.

Thanks for reading!

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