Residents of the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to New England should be making preparations for Hurricane Sandy’s arrival. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has declared a state of emergency as the official National Hurricane Center’s official 5 day forecast continues to show his state as the most likely place for Sandy to come ashore Monday afternoon, although Baltimore could be feeling the effects of the storm’s outer fringe as early as Sunday.
The wild card in all the forecasts is a strong polar cold front that’s on a collision course with Sandy. That collision could result in a hybrid storm that National Weather Service has dubbed “Frankenstorm”. Weather Underground founder Dr. Jeff Masters says in his Friday blog entry high wind shear will help reduce some of Sandy’s wind speeds, but that’s only part of a scary picture. “The high shear should keep Sandy from intensifying the way most hurricanes do–by pulling heat energy out of the ocean. However, the trough approaching from the west will inject into Sandy what is called ‘baroclinic’ energy–the energy one can derive from the atmosphere when warm and cold air masses lie in close proximity to each other. This transition will reduce the hurricane’s peak winds, but strong winds will spread out over a wider area of ocean. This will increase the total amount of wind energy of the storm, keeping the storm surge threat high. This large wind field will likely drive a storm surge of 3 – 6 feet on Monday and Tuesday to the right of where the center makes landfall, on the mid-Atlantic or New York coasts. These storm surge heights will be among the highest ever recorded along the affected coasts, and will have the potential to cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
Power company executives who took a public relations beating when some of their customers were left without electricity for more than a week after last June’s derecho devastated much of the state say they are ready to apply lessons learned from that event. Potomac Energy, which serves much of western Maryland is denying leave requests until any post Sandy issues are resolved. In the meantime emergency managers are telling residents to stock up on at least three days worth of batteries, food and water.
In the Tampa Bay area we can expect a pleasant weekend, with winds out of the northwest at 35 miles an hour. The seven day forecast shows only a 20 percent chance of rain through Friday night. The weekend looks good with no mention of rain along with highs in the low 80s and lows in the low 60s.