Before even getting into the stats on the storm, a tight eye can be seen on the satellite images of Hurricane Sandy. It passed through Jamaica unscathed and poised for rapid development. This is not what our trusty computer models had indicated. To be honest, I have been hard on the fact that most storms this season had underperformed. That is important for how it could play out down the line for the US. Now we have a storm with pressure level that dropped from 968 mb to 954 mb in a few hours. This is the deepest pressure of any Atlantic storm this season. That is still reported by The National Hurricane Center as a Category 1 storm, but the pressure level is equal to Category 3 intensity. It definitely did not Tropical Storm many models indicated.
Winds are reported at 90 mph. The pressure level will eventually translate to stronger winds at the surface and it will hit Cuba likely as a Cat 2 by morning.
This is important since a stronger storm would likely stay farther west and closer to the US coast. A weaker storm would get pushed a little farther east out to the open Atlantic. That is all based on atmospheric physics. The irony is that the tropical computer models had shown the dramatic turn towards the US in the Wednesday afternoon run. Yet this evening, despite the stronger storm, is showing the system back farther east and generally moving out in to the Atlantic safely away from the Mid Atlantic.
The other players are an arctic air mass that will be diving southeast from Canada. This will increase the pressure gradient along the eastern US and result in widespread strong winds for a few days. Outside of the main storm, tropical storm force winds are likely. Where the storm goes will also be directed by a blocking pattern in the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Tony in conjunction with high Pressure near Greenland will prevent the large Sandy from moving too far east. Thus, there is very little wiggle room.
How will this hit impact the US?
In short, the European Model has been consistent with placing a landfall between Maryland and New York City. I didn’t buy into that, but it is possible given how strong Sandy is now. I prefer to see the Canadian Model play out which turns Sandy away from the Carolina coast, but when the cold air catches up to it, the resulting hybrid system will pull back west toward New England. Either way, some places along the coast could be devastated. I have tried to not hype this storm too soon, but it already is over achieving. This is the time to raise awareness, but not scare before a better handle on the track can be acceptable.
Time frames to watch closely:
Friday: The storm will be passing the Bahamas. This is the first point some computer models split either hugging the US coast or shifting a little farther east. I have been banking on the notion that a stronger storm would stay closer to the US coast, while a weaker one would get pushed a little farther east by the upper level winds.
Saturday: Sandy will be moving north parallel to South Carolina. This is when most models swing the storm northeast, while the worse case scenario has it within a 100 miles or so of the coast. What is important to note is that winds will increase all along the east coast. The combination of arctic air moving in from Canada and this system will increase the pressure gradient in between. Sandy will lose some tropical characteristics but spread out to a much large size system.
Sunday: Either the storm will make the early landfall Sunday between Maryland and New York City, or it will swing out to sea and make it’s New England hit on Monday.
I discussed the other computer models last night, some which try to make this The Perfect Storm. The time frame that this could impact the eastern US is Sun-Tuesday. Monday October 29th is a full moon. This will enhance tidal swings and likely with the winds outside of the storm, result in beach erosion for a wide area. I will monitor that part of the storm on my Baltimore Weather Examiner page. Also follow along for updates through:
Facebook: Justin Berk, Meteorologist
See the official stats and warnings/watches below.
Tropical storm and hurricane history of naming. 2012 Atlantic list
Tropical Storm formation history: Storm origin maps every 10 days of season
Hurricane Preparedness Week: Storm Surge is the most deadly and destructive
Hurricane Destruction Animation based on Saffir Simpson Scale
NASA Global Hawk: Hurricane drone planes run by locals at Goddard
Official NHC Information
SUMMARY OF 1100 PM EDT…0300 UTC…
- LOCATION…19.4N 76.3W
- ABOUT 85 MI…135 KM SW OF GUANTANAMO CUBA
- ABOUT 100 MI…165 KM NNE OF KINGSTON JAMAICA
- MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…90 MPH…150 KM/H
- PRESENT MOVEMENT…N OR 10 DEGREES AT 13 MPH…20 KM/H
- MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…954 MB…28.17 INCHES
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT…
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY…
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE BAHAMAS HAS ISSUED A HURRICANE WARNING FOR THE
RAGGED ISLANDS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE BAHAMAS HAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WARNING
FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS…SOUTHEASTERN
INCLUDING THE ACKLINS…CROOKED ISLAND…LONG CAY…THE INAGUAS…
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT…
A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR…
* CUBAN PROVINCES OF CAMAGUEY…LAS TUNAS…GRANMA…SANTIAGO DE
* THE RAGGED ISLANDS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS
* THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS
* THE NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR…
* FLORIDA EAST COAST FROM OCEAN REEF TO SEBASTIAN INLET
* LAKE OKEECHOBEE
* THE REMAINDER OF THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS
A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR…
* FLORIDA EAST COAST FROM NORTH OF SEBASTIAN INLET TO FLAGLER BEACH
* FLORIDA UPPER KEYS FROM OCEAN REEF TO CRAIG KEY
* FLORIDA BAY