All branches of the National Weather Service (NWS) deserve high praise for their excellent forecasts concerning the monster storm system that devastated parts of the Caribbean and US east coast the past few days. The storm system has a rising death toll of 90+ as it moved from south of Jamaica to the final landfall near Atlantic City New Jersey. The graphic shows the expected rainfall through Sunday morning. The following branches of the NWS deserve the country’s praise:
- The Environmental Prediction Center that is responsible for so many of the computer models that were used by all meteorologists to accurately predict the path and intensity of the storm many days in advance.
- The National Hurricane center that used some of those models, their own hurricane models, and their skill and expertise to generate super accurate path and storm surge forecasts.
- The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center for their excellent precipitation forecasts, both the very heavy snow and rain forecasts.
- The River Forecast Centers for forecasting the ongoing river flooding,
- The local NWS forecast offices that utilize all available center forecasts and local expertise to issue specific local forecasts to protect life and property.
This storm forecast was a total team effort by many dedicated and hard working federal employees. Your tax dollars at work to protect your life and property 24/7. Image the death toll if this storm system had not been predicted so accurately in advance of the storm. Imagine the death toll and property damage if the forecasts had been ignored by all the state and community utilities and emergency services. Imagine the toll if you, the public, had ignored the forecasts, warnings, and evacuation orders.
The size and devastation of the storm was a unique combination of meteorological factors that all came together at exactly the same place and time to generate such a monster storm. Some of the factors are:
- A late season hurricane with its warm and very moist air moving north.
- Above normal water temperatures along the eastern seaboard to help maintain the hurricane as it moved north along the coast.
- A cold upper level stream digging down over the center and eastern part of the country to merge with the hurricane.
- A Greenland upper level block to prevent the storm from turning out to sea.
The last feature is probably the most crucial to developing such a monster storm. This block forced the system back toward the coast as well as allowing the cold jet stream to undercut it from the south and ultimately merge with it. Had the block not been in place, the system would have moved out to sea.
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