Hurricane Sandy/Nor'easter?

By: Zachary Labe , 2:18 PM GMT on October 23, 2012

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And so it begins. Yet again we are kicking off the end of October tracking another potential Nor'easter. Similar to last October, the threat of high winds, heavy rain, and heavy snow are a possibility. The synoptic setup is very different though in this instance and many different outcomes are possible.

Presently tropical storm Sandy is located in the central Caribbean tracking 0 degrees north.

It is encountering very little vertical shear (sub 10-15 knots) and slightly above normal SST's (80F+). Sandy will begin to increase in speed as it tracks north towards Cuba. A bit of drier air and increased shear along with the high mountain interactions with the tropical core, will weaken Sandy and prevent further strengthening. Intensity forecasts through Friday are only expected to peak at a minimal hurricane. As Sandy tracks north of the Bahamas encountering a more hostile environment, she will begin to take on extratropical characteristics. This time frame is around Saturday/Sunday. The track and intensity after this period is a bit more in question and will be detailed further below:

A deep negatively tilted trough will be swinging south through the central part of the nation by the end of the week. This feature is key in predicting the eventual path and impacts of Sandy. Located to the north is a very impressive blocking setup with an amplified ridge over Greenland and a steep west based negative NAO. The North Atlantic Oscillaion will be approaching the lowest value in several months during this time frame.

The blocking setup will allow for a very amplified jet stream pattern that is also slow moving. Three major scenarios are possible for the impacts of Sandy on the east coast.

1) Currently the 10/23/2012 runs of the GGEM and ECMWF are the most amplified and feature a tightly wrapped extratropical Sandy tracking up the eastern seaboard with a slightly northwest motion. They are also supported by this morning's 0z runs which have impressive consistency in allowing the negatively tilted upper level trough to capture and phase Sandy.

A broad precipitation deck forms while the surface low undergoes rapid bombogenesis courtesy of impressive baroclinic forcing. In some recent foreign model runs, the surface low has dropped sub 950hPa. A tight pressure gradient and raging low level jet sends strong winds to the surface in excess of 50mph up and down the Northeast. Meanwhile the cold air behind the front catches up to Sandy in a pocket of sub 0C H85 thermals located west of the center of circulation. Surface temperatures also fall due to dynamic cooling with heavy snow breaking out across western Maryland through all of central Pennsylvania. In fact the 0z 10/23/2012 ECMWF shows snow accumulations in excess of 12-24in from Reading west to the Laurel Highlands south to Hagerstown, MD and north to Elmira, NY.

Knowing a bit about 500mb maps shows that this solution requires many features to time perfectly to be able to capture Sandy and track with a slight northwest component. It is a dynamic setup and the anomalous blocking to the north makes this particularily more interesting than normally. This is also impressive and consistent support from both operation and individual ensemble guidance especially from the GGEM and ECWMF. A few ECWMF ensembles even show the surface low tracking right through southern New England with a landfall coming from the northeast near Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This setup would cause major problems up and down the eastern seaboard with heavy rain, high winds, coastal storm surge, and possibly heavy snow. Looking back at other analogs, Hurricane Wilma is a quick reminder how a system with tropical origins can quickly resemble a nor'easter with winter-like characteristics.

Key players to watch for the scenario require analysis of the 300mb and 500mb trough axis and tilt including time of these features for the upper level trough. Also the evolution will be highly dependent on the upstream position of the upper level heights near Greenland (blocking).

2) Another scenario is supported by the OP GFS and GEFS. In this evolution the overall jet stream is flatter and the trough lags behind a bit allowing Sandy to not phase and instead swing out to sea.

Therefore any precipitation in the Northeast is a direct result of the cold front and a small inverted trough feature in New England. A recent update in the GFS enembles this morning (6z run) show a clear west shift in about half of the models. This is a critical note to make especially when looking at future run times. Presently this evolution has support from the HPC and other NWS offices, although given recent developments for the ensembles and forecasts for blocking, it is starting to lose gravity.

3) For the time being, the following option has the most support looking at the overall orientation of the jet stream and synoptic setup. While this is a middle ground approach, it offers the most logical evolution given past analogs and our recent weather pattern over the last few months. Model support is lacking as most guidance is in the camps of the two extremes listed above. Nevertheless this possiblity allows Sandy to begin to rapidly take on extratropical characteristics and begin to wash out over the Atlantic as power vertical shear takes hold. A negatively titled -2SD trough will move east from the Ohio Valley and the interaction between the two features allows Sandy to track out to sea. But an inverted trough feature forms along the eastern periphery of the trough particularily towards New England. In almost a similar PRE (predecessor rain event) manner, an axis of +2SD PWATs would pool across New England as heavy rain streams through the region. QPF probably would be in excess of 1-2in given the inverted trough has tropical origins from post-Sandy. A screaming low level jet would also allow for gale force winds along the immediate coastline. Farther west and south impacts would rapidly diminish and mainly allow for a small corridor of rain showers along the immediate front. Both the GGEM and GFS show slight hints of this inverted trough feature.

Conclusion) It is a complex setup given both tropical and non-tropical features that need to interact to produce a solution with a surface low undergoing rapid cyclogenesis and pinwheels northwest sub 940hPa. Therefore given that Sandy just developed and is still located in the central to southern Caribbean, forecasts at this point can be taken with a grain of salt. It is important to note at this point the overall orientation of the jet stream and past analogs given the setup. Also the continuous support for dense upstream blocking is beginning to make odds of some sort of impact on the Northeast particularily higher than just a day or two ago. A few forecasts are already rotating about the cyber world concerning a grim storm tracking towards the east coast. These have little to no support and should be thrown out. The time frame for impact is early next week in the 144-174 hour time frame according to 0z 10/23/2012 model runs. Keep an eye the next few days on ensemble shifts and trends particularily in the timing of any possible phase of Sandy with the upper level trough.

As a final note as of 10/23/2012 at 10am, latest upper level air reports out of Sandy indicate the presssure dropping to 996mb with winds aloft up to 60 knots. Impressive strengthening and it is all courtesy of the warm bath water in the Caribbean.

Stay tuned and discuss below!

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"Lower Susquehanna Valley Doppler"

(Courtesy of WGAL)

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235. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
1:39 PM GMT on October 26, 2012
Blizzard92 has created a new entry.
234. PhillySnow
1:20 PM GMT on October 26, 2012
It's chilly here and has been. Not that I'm expecting snow this far east from the possible storm, and perhaps we have a way long shot. Interesting to see how it develops.

Listener: Congrats on Ally's continued progress! Great news.
Member Since: December 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1233
233. TheRasberryPatch
1:06 PM GMT on October 26, 2012
Quoting wunderstorm87:

Yesterday here in State College we didn't even see a cloud and got up to the 70s. Harrisburg and the Susquehanna Valley got stuck in the easterly flow cloud deck that busts so many forecasts along the coast. ABC27 did a good job of forecasting it yesterday though.


I couldn't even tell you the last time I watched the weather on TV. I get my information from wunderground. Maybe I should start watching TV weather on occasion.
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 72 Comments: 6256
232. Stanb999
1:01 PM GMT on October 26, 2012
Hello Sir,


I have a question and some info for you to add to your upcoming forecast. (which I look forward to.)

The local forecast for my region keeps saying it's to warm and has for most of the week. Into the 70's.

But the actual weather has been cool and rainy. How will colder temps entrenched in the elevations of the Northern Pocono's/ Catskills effect the storm? They just keep wanting it to warm. Even today they claim it's to be in the 60's by 9am this morning... But the temps outside are barely 50. The ground is saturated so more rain will run off. Fortunately the trees are bare of leaves so even strong winds will not be to big of an issue.



P.S. I hope you are enjoying your studies.
Member Since: September 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 444
231. MariettaMoon
12:57 PM GMT on October 26, 2012
Quoting TheRasberryPatch:
here is evidence of long range not meaning much - this week was supposed to be beautiful sunny and warm in the 70's. We had ONE day of that on Wednesday. Like lawton said Thursday and today is misty marine layer. Tuesday we got 0.15" of rain in the morning. But this storm system seems to be following the models. Tropical systems though behave differently then a regular nor'easter. If it does occur, look out along the coast. I wouldn't be surprised if Baltimore gets flooded heavily from the storm surge.

I know it's so much different, but it kind of reminds me of that movie that came out about 10 years ago where a cyclone just sat off the coast and arctic air inflitrated.

I am looking forward to the forecast from Blizz. I saw this morning they are expecting the snow to be in Ohio and Indiana and Michigan with the rain along the coastal states.


I agree, this week was a huge bust!

I think the spine of the highest elevations of WV, MD, and maybe PA get the highest snowfall totals. Foot plus?
Member Since: June 11, 2011 Posts: 36 Comments: 677
230. Pcroton
12:53 PM GMT on October 26, 2012
TRP we are too far out yet with this system... we have to have the special interaction between a negatively tilting trough and the extratropical sandy to take place just right. This thing could still just peel off to the NE and hit New England. We don't know. But the chances are looking pretty good regardless of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, this is not a tropical cyclone. This is an extratropical cyclone that is deepening...I suspected this would occur and it would mean a much stronger solution for us up north. This seems to be what is unfolding.

Dry air, shear, cooler waters - all now favorable conditions for continued deepening --- versus what would cause a tropical cyclone (such as Irene) to weaken as it heads north.


(static rehosted image,will not update)

Member Since: September 26, 2011 Posts: 49 Comments: 7726
229. wunderstorm87
12:52 PM GMT on October 26, 2012
Quoting TheRasberryPatch:
here is evidence of long range not meaning much - this week was supposed to be beautiful sunny and warm in the 70's. We had ONE day of that on Wednesday. Like lawton said Thursday and today is misty marine layer. Tuesday we got 0.15" of rain in the morning. But this storm system seems to be following the models. Tropical systems though behave differently then a regular nor'easter. If it does occur, look out along the coast. I wouldn't be surprised if Baltimore gets flooded heavily from the storm surge.

I know it's so much different, but it kind of reminds me of that movie that came out about 10 years ago where a cyclone just sat off the coast and arctic air inflitrated.

I am looking forward to the forecast from Blizz. I saw this morning they are expecting the snow to be in Ohio and Indiana and Michigan with the rain along the coastal states.

Yesterday here in State College we didn't even see a cloud and got up to the 70s. Harrisburg and the Susquehanna Valley got stuck in the easterly flow cloud deck that busts so many forecasts along the coast. ABC27 did a good job of forecasting it yesterday though.
Member Since: August 5, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 588
228. TheRasberryPatch
12:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2012
here is evidence of long range not meaning much - this week was supposed to be beautiful sunny and warm in the 70's. We had ONE day of that on Wednesday. Like lawton said Thursday and today is misty marine layer. Tuesday we got 0.15" of rain in the morning. But this storm system seems to be following the models. Tropical systems though behave differently then a regular nor'easter. If it does occur, look out along the coast. I wouldn't be surprised if Baltimore gets flooded heavily from the storm surge.

I know it's so much different, but it kind of reminds me of that movie that came out about 10 years ago where a cyclone just sat off the coast and arctic air inflitrated.

I am looking forward to the forecast from Blizz. I saw this morning they are expecting the snow to be in Ohio and Indiana and Michigan with the rain along the coastal states.
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 72 Comments: 6256
227. lawntonlookirs
11:59 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
The center of the cone has Sandy coming directly over Harrisburg, Pa early next week. Another cloudy/foggy day here in Harrisburg as the moisture comes in from the Atlantic. Looking forward to your update Bizz. Still not sure if I am going to Olean, NY and will wait until I get done with the Dr. today.
Member Since: April 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 31
226. Pcroton
11:27 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Remember everyone,

It is FRIDAY 7AM... And landfall is expected roughly TUESDAY 7AM

96 hours to go...can't put much faith in her yet. That's one wild left hook that has to occur. If the pressure heights are off it won't happen - or will happen 100s of miles away. So...just gunna sit on that for now. I will say model consensus appears more and more likely today as expected. But hey, we've seen that before, and watched it be way off in the end.

Things behave very different up in the northern latitudes. Atmospheric changes can occur much more rapidly.

The one thing all of this has going for it is the arctic block...which I can soundly say is indeed the real thing, as our weather has been a stagnant cool cloudy drizzly mess for three or four days now with absolutely no change. Soooo..that is kind of a hint this could very well play out just how a long range solution pegged it.

*shrug*

4 days....
Member Since: September 26, 2011 Posts: 49 Comments: 7726
225. Pcroton
11:10 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Fairly confident of these features here....

Member Since: September 26, 2011 Posts: 49 Comments: 7726
224. colortheworld
11:00 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Look at that! Center of the storm's coming to see me!

Member Since: August 22, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
223. Pcroton
10:58 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Good Morning.

As of last evening there was a landfall of roughly Pt Pleasant NJ, Tuesday 10AM

As of this morning we have a landfall point of roughly Cape May, NJ, Tuesday 4AM

I expect this to flop around as the models flop around.

It would appear that Sandy is very hybrid if not extratropical - I think what we saw yesterday when I made the little diagram was indeed the moment she began to go extratropical - which for us further north means - a very strong solution as we will have a deepening extratropical cyclone entering conditions favorible for supporting a deepening xtrop storm ---- versus a tropical cyclone clinging to it's identity - entering the same exact conditions which are destructive towards tropical cyclones - and we would have had a weaking tropical cyclone approaching (like Irene).

Looks like the real deal storm wise and intensity wise - in fact it may prove to be underdone in the end (dec 1992 nor'easter of about 90mph sustained winds up here) comes to mind as a distinct possibility.

Now we look at track...and I don't think we have a handle on that yet. Maybe they do within a 300 mile error cone somewhere in the DE-NJ-CT/LI region but that is too vast of a landfall suggestion to yet take seriously.

This evening I suspect, as I have all along, we will get our firm answers on this system.


Until then......
Member Since: September 26, 2011 Posts: 49 Comments: 7726
222. testbenchdude
7:20 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Quoting Gaara:
Keeper: Can just link to the e-wall model run? Or maybe fewer intervals? Not sure what the point of 20 consecutive posts is on a thread with as low a comment volume as this one, compared to the good doctor's. I do a lot of viewing of these pages on mobile and linking 3 megs of images every model update is not particularly productive, especially when I reload a page for updates..


I had to put him on ignore since I am extremely bandwidth-limited here in Germany...

I also asked him last year why he flooded the blogs with tiny little pictures but I don't think he ever gave a satisfactory response. Oh well, if he does post something worthwhile, perhaps I'll see it quoted in someone's reply.
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 217
221. colortheworld
5:05 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
I agree, the majority of us know where to get maps and see them independent of this site anyway, there's no real need to populate a thread with 30 individual posts of maps. We appreciate the contribution, don't get us wrong, but it's very easy to lose vital info in the jungle of maps.
Member Since: August 22, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
220. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:58 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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219. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:53 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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218. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:46 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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217. Gaara
4:44 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Keeper: Can just link to the e-wall model run? Or maybe fewer intervals? Not sure what the point of 20 consecutive posts is on a thread with as low a comment volume as this one, compared to the good doctor's. I do a lot of viewing of these pages on mobile and linking 3 megs of images every model update is not particularly productive, especially when I reload a page for updates..
Member Since: December 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 375
216. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:20 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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215. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:18 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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214. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:17 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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213. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:15 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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212. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:14 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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211. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:10 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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210. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:08 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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209. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:05 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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208. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:00 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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207. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:58 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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206. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:54 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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205. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:53 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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204. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:52 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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203. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:48 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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202. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:47 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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201. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:46 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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200. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:45 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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199. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:41 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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198. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:41 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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197. Walshy
3:33 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Shifted south a bit there...hmmmmm
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196. colortheworld
3:26 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Nice. I believe that would be Harrisburg. And I moved away. Ughhhhhhh.
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195. weathergeek5
3:12 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Fresh off the press from the National Hurricane Center:



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194. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:54 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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193. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:52 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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192. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:50 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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191. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:49 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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190. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:48 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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189. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:47 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
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188. upweatherdog
2:04 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Hi all! Havn't been on the blogs much but I've decided to stop by since things are getting active.

I see some data wraps Sandy back westward and gives the upper great lakes significant lake effect snow and gales.

Zach, do you think that the blocking will stay strong enough to allow this to happen?
Member Since: October 14, 2007 Posts: 173 Comments: 1372
187. TheRasberryPatch
2:03 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Wow, I am just amazed at all the information for this storm. I reminds me of the storm of '93.

Blizz - I guess you are somewhat disappointed not being in the area to feel the effects.

I look forward to your prediction for the storm. I am not looking forward to the outcome. Being a homeowner you have so much to prepare and even when you thing you have it all ready there is something that thrown a wrench. Like last year during the major flood the ground was so saturated that the water came up underneath the foundation.

Oh btw - congrats on Ally....that is so wonderful
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 72 Comments: 6256
186. Zachary Labe
1:53 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
hey blizz
hope ya don't mind me stopping by
normally i don't show up till after cane season
but i am a little early this year

Oh gosh, not at all. I love your map posts! They are especially helpful when I am away and can't access some information. Welcome back!
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 284 Comments: 15112
185. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:41 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
hey blizz
hope ya don't mind me stopping by
normally i don't show up till after cane season
but i am a little early this year
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53613

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About Blizzard92

Cornell University- Atmospheric Sciences Undergrad; Research Assist.- Onset of Spring Indices Toolbox; Interests- Small spatial scale climatolology

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Linglestown, PA
Elevation: 520 ft
Temperature: 24.2 °F
Dew Point: 15.2 °F
Humidity: 68%
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Wind Gust: 9.0 mph
Updated: 10:37 AM EST on January 18, 2014

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