An historic storm system, the combination of the warm core tropical hurricane Sandy with a cold core upper level trough, will make landfall over the southern New Jersey coast this evening. This storm system has been extremely well forecast, as far back as last Thursday. The track has changed relatively little as the storm system has continued to move up from the Jamaica. This can be seen as one follows my many articles concerning the storm over the last few days.
What has already made this an historic storm is the pressure reading. The lowest pressure in a storm gives you an excellent idea of just how much energy is in the storm system. The lower the pressure, the more energy through all the layers of the system. The more low level air is being sucked in at the bottom and exhausted from the system at the top. The previous record lowest pressure reading ever recorded north of Cape Hatteras was 946mb or 27.94 inches on Sept. 21, 1938 in a hurricane that hit Long Island. The latest pressure reported so far from the hurricane center is 943mb or 27.85 inches. Truly incredible.
You can get a feel of the tremendous size and energy in the storm system by some following facts. Hurricane force winds extend out 175 miles from the center. Tropical force winds extend out 485 miles from the center or a circle that is roughly 970 miles in diameter. Seas of at least 12 feet cover 1560 miles of ocean. Waves recorded east of Cape Hatteras this morning were 30 feet. This from a wind field that is only a Category I. It is the absolutely tremendous size of this system that is the story, not the actual wind speed.
Part of the destruction with this system will come not only from the usual suspects of high winds and flooding rains, but the storm surge. The graphic shows the expected storm surge along the New Jersey coast and around NYC. As can be seen the surge is forecast to be from 9 to 13 feet in this general coastal area. The flood walls protecting Manhatten are only 5 feet high, so part of NYC will definitely be flooded. The big question is if parts of the subway system will be flooded. An extensive discussion concerning this fact can be found here. The critical value is 10.5 feet. Anything higher, part of the subway floods unless sandbags can hold back the water.
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