Now that we are getting more confident in the general track of Sandy as it interacts with a closed upper-level low, I thought I would write a more specific entry that focuses on the storm effects. Keep in mind that Sandy (in whatever form it makes landfall) is going to be a very large storm where the wind and rain will be spread out ~400 miles. With that said, we are all in this one together and I will gladly answer questions if you have any.
Sandy has been downgraded to a tropical storm with 60 knot (70 mph) winds, but this is most likely temporary. The pressure remains very low and a gradual re-strengthening should commence tomorrow night up until landfall. The track guidance above shows a general consensus that is focused on central to southern NJ. The official track below that, valid at 5 am EDT on 10/27/12, is a compromise of the guidance and other global computer models, but a tad south of the overall consensus. This suggests a landfall near Cape May, NJ late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
So, what does this mean for everyone from VA, MD, PA, DE, NJ, NY, CT, RI, and MA (yes, that is lots of real estate)? Everyone will see strong gusty winds, but they will be strongest near the coast as you might expect with a landfall hurricane/hybrid. It’s tough to give exacts on wind speed, but my first guess is that the coastal areas will see sustained winds of 60-75 mph with gusts that could approach or exceed 90 mph. Farther inland, winds would be slightly lower, sustained at 40-50 mph with gusts approaching 80 mph. Coastal flooding will become a significant threat along the MD, DE, NJ, Long Island (including around New York City), CT, RI, and MA coastlines. The worst of it looks like NJ with a storm surge that could range from 5 to 10 feet! This would be a record, so pay attention to local media outlets or better yet. . .your local National Weather Service office. I will give you the information if you can’t find it.
Rainfall will be another very significant threat with totals possibly exceeding 10 inches in many areas, but especially from parts of eastern VA, MD, and DE. The DC/Baltimore area will see 6-8 inches of rain with 3-6 inches expected in most of NJ into PA. Rainfall amounts will taper off to the north due to this complex interaction of a tropical/hybrid system with a cold air mass. Speaking of cold, it may snow in the Appalachians, but mainly in far western VA, MD, and PA. Not a ton of confidence in this, but amounts could approach a foot! Happy Halloween?
Ok, I think I covered the main points in this post. I hope to have an afternoon update (after a well-deserved nap) where I will continue to highlight the players in this atmospheric dance. Before I leave you, I wanted to show you the “beautiful” side of this storm. Below is a very high resolution satellite image showing you a “visible” image view of Sandy that was taken using the light of our 93% full moon overnight. It’s amazing how our technology has advanced to the point where we can see things like this. Notice the city lights on the East Coast! The image was retrieved around 1:30 am and it looks like you are seeing a daytime image.
Thanks for reading!