Hurricane Sandy pounding Jamaica, may hit U.S. this weekend; TS Tony forms

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:21 PM GMT on October 24, 2012

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Hurricane warnings are flying for Jamaica and Eastern Cuba, as an intensifying Hurricane Sandy plows north-northeast at 13 mph towards landfall. The Hurricane Hunters are in the storm, and measured surface winds of hurricane strength--75 to 80 mph--in the storm's northeast quadrant near 9:25 am EDT. Sandy's pressure at the time of the 9:28 am center fix was 973 mb, and the temperature in the eye had warmed 2°C since the 7:48 am fix, a sign of strengthening. Intermittent rain squalls from Sandy have been affecting Jamaica since Monday night, and Kingston, Jamaica has picked up 2.12" of rain from Sandy as of 9 am EDT. Winds in Jamaica have been below 20 mph as of 10 am EDT, but will start to rise quickly in the next few hours. The Hurricane Hunters found a large 55 mile-diameter eye that was open to the WNW this morning, and it is likely that Kingston will receive high winds of 55 - 65 mph from the western eyewall, which will cause considerable damage to Jamaica's capital. The eastern tip of Jamaica will likely see the eye pass overhead, and will receive the strongest winds. The eye is beginning to appear on visible satellite loops, and Sandy is showing an increasing degree of organization as it closes in on Jamaica. Sandy is the tenth hurricane of the 2012 hurricane season, which is now tied for eighth place for most hurricanes in a year since record keeping began in 1851.


Figure 1. Morning microwave satellite image of Tropical Storm Sandy taken at 8:45 am EDT. The large 55-mile diameter eye was just south of Jamaica. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Near-term forecast for Sandy
Wind shear is forecast to be in the moderate range and ocean temperatures will be a warm 28°C through Thursday morning, which will favor intensification. However, Sandy doesn't have much time left over water before it encounters the high mountains of Jamaica this afternoon, which should interrupt the intensification process. The strongest Sandy is likely to be at landfall in Jamaica is a 90 mph Category 1 hurricanes. After encountering Jamaica, Sandy won't have time to re-organize much before making landfall in Eastern Cuba near 10 pm EDT tonight, and the strongest the storm is likely to be then is a 90 mph Category 1. Passage over the rugged terrain of Cuba should weaken Sandy's winds by 20 - 30 mph, and it will be difficult for the storm to regain all of that lost strength in the face of the high wind shear of 20 - 30 knots it will encounter Thursday and Friday. I expect that Sandy will be a 60 - 70 mph tropical storm as it traverses the Bahamas.


Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Tropical Storm Sandy taken at 11:45 am EDT Tuesday, October 23, 2012. At the time, Sandy had top winds of 50 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Sandy: a potential billion-dollar storm for the mid-Atlantic and New England
On Friday, a very complicated meteorological situation unfolds, as Sandy interacts with a trough of low pressure approaching the U.S. East Coast and trough of low pressure over the Central Atlantic. The Central Atlantic trough may be strong enough to pull Sandy northeastwards, out to sea, as predicted by the official NHC forecast, and the 06Z GFS, 00Z UKMET, 00Z Canadian, and 06Z HWRF models (00Z is 8 pm EDT, and 06Z is 2 am EDT.) However, an alternative solution, shown by the 00Z ECMWF, 06Z GFDL, and 06Z NOGAPS models, is for Sandy to get caught up by the trough approaching the Eastern U.S., which will inject a large amount of energy into Sandy, converting it to a powerful subtropical storm that hits the mid-Atlantic or New England early next week with a central pressure below 960 mb and sustained winds of 60 - 70 mph. Such a storm would likely cause massive power outages and over a billion dollars in damage, as trees still in leaf take out power grids, and heavy rains and coastal storm surges create damaging flooding. The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical tides will be at their peak for the month, increasing potential storm surge flooding. A similar meteorological situation occurred in October 1991, when Hurricane Grace became absorbed by a Nor'easter, becoming the so-called "Perfect Storm" that killed 13 people and did over $200 million in damage in the Northeast U.S.


Figure 3. The Wednesday morning 06Z (2 am EDT) run of the GFS model was done 20 times at lower resolution with slightly varying initial conditions of temperature, pressure, and moisture to generate an ensemble of forecast tracks for Sandy (pink lines). These forecasts show substantial uncertainty in Sandy's path after Friday, with a minority of the forecasts taking Sandy to the northeast, out to sea, and the majority now predicting a landfall in the Northeast or mid-Atlantic states of the U.S. The white line shows the official GFS forecast, run at higher resolution.

When might Sandy arrive in the mid-Atlantic and New England?
The models vary significantly in their predictions of when Sandy might arrive along the U.S. coast. The 06Z NOGAPS model predicts Sandy's heavy rains will arrive on North Carolina's Outer Banks on Saturday, then spread into the mid-Atlantic and New England on Sunday. The 00Z ECMWF model predicts that Sandy's rains won't affect North Carolina until Sunday, with the storm making landfall in New Jersey on Monday night. The GFDL model is in-between these extremes, taking Sandy ashore in Delaware on Monday morning. The trough of low pressure that Sandy will be interacting with just moved ashore over the Western U.S. this morning, and got sampled by the 12Z (8 am EDT) set of land-based balloon-borne radiosondes for the first time. One of the reasons the models have been in such poor agreement on the long-term fate of Sandy is that the strength of this trough has not been very well known, since it has been over the ocean where we have limited data. Now that the trough is over land, it will be better sampled, and the next set of 12Z model runs, due out this afternoon between 2 pm - 4pm EDT, will hopefully begin to converge on a common solution. I'll have an update this afternoon once the 12Z model runs are in.


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of Tropical Storm Tony.

Tropical Storm Tony forms in the middle Atlantic
Tropical Storm Tony formed Tuesday night in the middle Atlantic, becoming the nineteenth named storm of this very busy 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. Tony has a modest area of heavy thunderstorms, as seen on visible satellite images, but is battling dry air , wind shear, and ocean temperatures that have fallen below 26°C. Tony will not threaten any land areas, and will likely be dead by Thursday night.

Tony's place in history
Tony is the Nineteenth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, tying this year with 1887, 1995, 2010, and 2011 for third busiest Atlantic season since the HURDAT historical data base began in 1851. With five more weeks left before the November 30 end of hurricane season, 2012 is likely to move into second place for most named storms before the year is out, as all six prior Atlantic hurricane seasons with nineteen or more named storms have had at least one named storm form after October 24. Here, then, is a list of the seven busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record:

2005 (28 named storms)
1933 (20 named storms, according to a new re-analysis)
2012 (19 named storms)
1887 (19 named storms)
2010 (19 named storms)
2011 (19 named storms)
1995 (19 named storms)

It's pretty remarkable that we've now had three straight years with nineteen named storms in the Atlantic. But how many of these storms might not have been counted in the pre-satellite era (before 1960)? Here's a list of weak and short-lived storms from 2010 - 2012 that stayed far out sea, and would likely have gone unnoticed in the pre-satellite era:

2012:
Tropical Storm Joyce
Tropical Storm Oscar
Tropical Storm Tony

2011:
Tropical Storm Jose
Tropical Storm Franklin

2010:
Tropical Storm Gaston

Even if we correct for the possible over-count of approximately two named storms per year during the 2010, 2011, and 2012 hurricane seasons, compared to the pre-satellite era, there is nothing in the HURDAT data base that compares to the type of activity we've seen the past three years. One likely contributor to the unusual string of active years is the fact hurricane season has gotten longer, perhaps due to warming ocean temperatures. I discussed in a 2008 blog post that Dr. Jim Kossin of the University of Wisconsin published a 2008 paper in Geophysical Research Letters titled, "Is the North Atlantic hurricane season getting longer?" He concluded that yes, there is a "apparent tendency toward more common early- and late-season storms that correlates with warming Sea Surface Temperature but the uncertainty in these relationships is high".

Jeff Masters

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Florida and the Bahamas may be in for a beating. Sandy stalls for a while before heading north again. This is the latest GFS.
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lets keep in mind Cuba tends to "suck storms in " and wobble them west, not saying it will happen but folks in SEFL should keep an eye on that
Member Since: July 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1163
Quoting HurricaneJamaica:
Update from Red Hills, Kingston, Jamaica. Had a few gusts blow through, strongest all morning...raining on and off and has calmed down again. Most people are saying it's gone, it's not coming nowhere etc. I know better and keeping myself updated via this site.


Sounds like you are in the eye.

Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
318. UWI
The structure is now visible on the Cuban Doppler

Link
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Quoting HurricaneJamaica:
Update from Red Hills, Kingston, Jamaica. Had a few gusts blow through, strongest all morning...raining on and off and has calmed down again. Most people are saying it's gone, it's not coming nowhere etc. I know better and keeping myself updated via this site.

Hey HJ! We have not seen any wind as yet, but we're having light to moderate showers.
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Quoting jeffs713:

731mb is... wow. If you didn't type pressures in the 730s twice, I say its a typo. But that is the pressure at around 10k feet. Also, if the winds drop to 7 kt, then pick back up, that means it isn't stacked, which holds back intensification.
My apologies - it's 974 and 971. It's possible that we're seeing a tilted eye, although none of the vortex messages have described it that way, and the overall readings don't seem to bear that out.

My own guess, looking again at the data-plot, is that the hunter expected to find the center southeast of where it actually was. If you look at the course it flew, it made a sudden - although hardly unusual - jog to the north just as it deployed the dropsonde, and just after it passed the lowest surface pressure. I think what happened is that they didn't realize they were over the center until they passed it, and their instrumentation showed pressure and wind rising again - in part, because that lowest pressure came while there were still 10kts of surface wind.

Pressure isn't as important in forecasting the likely impact on Jamaica as wind - and the hunter's set to make another center pass any minute. The NHC always prefers the (actual) dropsonde data over the (inferential) SFMR readings, so they went with 974mb for the Vortex. And that would put the storm strengthening at a very steady rate. I'm just saying that I wouldn't be surprised to see a reading at or below 971mb on this next pass.
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Dual cyclones
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
GFS Loop


Is that Tony doing a loop and becoming a hurricane?
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In Kingston Jamaica, altitude 580'. No wind yet, only 1.35" rainfall since midnight.
The calm before the storm.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Update from Red Hills, Kingston, Jamaica. Had a few gusts blow through, strongest all morning...raining on and off and has calmed down again. Most people are saying it's gone, it's not coming nowhere etc. I know better and keeping myself updated via this site.
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971mb again, but with a 30kt SFMR reading, so the actual pressure may be around 969-970.
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Quoting LostTomorrows:


For which, Sandy or Tony? For the latter, the same was said for Cap'n Kirk.

Sandy.

I haven't looked much at Tony.

Kirk... confounded everyone.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
GFS Loop
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Quoting MTWX:


Sorry, I have to ask...

How is a storm that is practically on top of Jamaica going to pull moisture from storms (which don't exist) 1400+ miles away on the other side of a high pressure system??

Must of missed moisture teleportation day in school...

Beat me to it (commenting on that one).

If a thunderstorm 1400 miles away can influence a tropical system, when there is a high pressure system between them, I think there are half a dozen physics theories that need to be re-examined.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting jeffs713:
The upper-air environment isn't there. At all.


For which, Sandy or Tony? For the latter, the same was said for Cap'n Kirk.
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I think land interactions will keep her below major status...between Jamaica and eastern Cuba, that's just too many mountains. she missed her window for major status, IMO.

Quoting LostTomorrows:
Holy derp, does Tony have an eye too?



Also, Sandy is now the best-looking large storm of the year! Second goes to Rafael. She is looking like she's gunning for major status, and I'm not entirely discounting that, Paloma did something similar in November, and of course there is the dreaded Wilma to draw comparison to.
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A turn left looks more likely now IMO, but I'm thinking Sandy will no longer be a tropical system. She should become frontal in nature, and potentially be a very strong extratropical cyclone for NH, ME and NS. That seems to be the HPC reasoning right now as well, but I expect the intensity to be upped here by their next graphic update.

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East coast Florida watch............Statement as of 12:20 PM EDT on October 24, 2012

... Tropical storm watch remains in effect...

... Precautionary/preparedness actions...
precautionary/preparedness actions...

Preparations should be made as soon as possible... before
conditions deteriorate. Keep informed while listening for possible
warnings. Secure loose outdoor objects which can be blown around.


... Winds...
as Sandy moves closer... the threat for sustained high winds is
likely to increase by late Thursday night into Friday. Sustained
winds from 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph will be possible
along the coast.

... Storm surge and storm tide...
large and battering waves Thursday afternoon into Friday and
continuing into Saturday will cause moderate beach
erosion... dangerous surf... and minor coastal flooding in
vulnerable spots.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
hoping for a wobble next hr or two
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big ridge over Greenland the more I think about it the more convinced I am that she may turn back to the west maybe not wnw but NW atleast
Member Since: July 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1163
Quoting CloudGatherer:
Clearly, I need more coffee - that should've been 974 and 971, obviously.
I think you may need an espresso. ;)

Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
298. MTWX
Quoting FunnelVortex:


The united states, duh


Sorry, I have to ask...

How is a storm that is practically on top of Jamaica going to pull moisture from storms (which don't exist) 1400+ miles away on the other side of a high pressure system??

Must of missed moisture teleportation day in school...
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k
Member Since: July 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1163
Quoting LostTomorrows:
Holy derp, does Tony have an eye too?



Also, Sandy is now the best-looking large storm of the year! Second goes to Rafael. She is looking like she's gunning for major status, and I'm not entirely discounting that, Paloma did something similar in November, and of course there is the dreaded Wilma to draw comparison to.
The upper-air environment isn't there. At all.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Makes it to the Great lakes as a powerful system, spilling cold air down, check the blue line and the precip past it, could be a big noreaster, especially since it comes in in New Hampshire and moves west further north than the Euro.
It would be hard to escape the trough in the position the GFS shows it in, especially considering the low to the east of sandy is trending weaker in the models.



If it is going to go into the great lakes, we could see some snow here in Wisconsin. Depends on how far it goes in.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting TXCWC:
GFS JUST MADE A BIG STEP TOWARD THE EURO -



Open the freezers....and let the cold air spill forth.
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Quoting FunnelVortex:


731 mbs? What are you smoking?
Clearly, I need more coffee - that should've been 974 and 971, obviously.
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Quoting CloudGatherer:
Maybe I'm missing something, but that Vortex message seems oddly conservative. The dropsonde was deployed from 10k feet, as the wind died down to just 7kts - clearly, the crew thought they were dropping it in the center of the eye. But by the time it reached the surface, and measured a surface pressure of 734mb, the winds had risen to 30kts.

I don't know what that means, exactly. Some vorticity in an eye that hasn't finished clearing? Did the dropsonde get carried closer to the eyewall, by gusts or momentum?

Either way, I have a very hard time believing that there are winds gusting to 30kts where the pressure in the eye is lowest. The extrapolated surface pressure was as low as 731mb - I'd bet that's a more accurate snapshot of where this storm is right now.

731mb is... wow. If you didn't type pressures in the 730s twice, I say its a typo. But that is the pressure at around 10k feet. Also, if the winds drop to 7 kt, then pick back up, that means it isn't stacked, which holds back intensification.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
she's looking good, the eye is clearing on visible loops, nice convection on the west side even.




Quoting barbamz:
New center fix

Storm Number & Year: 18L in 2012
Storm Name: Sandy (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 4
Observation Number: 23
A. Time of Center Fix: 24th day of the month at 15:40:30Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 17°15'N 76°47'W (17.25N 76.7833W)
B. Center Fix Location: 51 miles (83 km) to the S (179°) from Kingston, Jamaica.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 2,875m (9,432ft) at 700mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 65kts (~ 74.8mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 17 nautical miles (20 statute miles) to the WSW (240°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 323° at 61kts (From the NW at ~ 70.2mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 24 nautical miles (28 statute miles) to the WSW (238°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 974mb (28.76 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 7°C (45°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,037m (9,964ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,055m (10,023ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 4°C (39°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Closed
M. Eye Shape & Diameter: Circular with a diameter of 48 nautical miles (55 statute miles)
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 700mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 1 nautical mile
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 86kts (~ 99.0mph) in the southeast quadrant at 14:41:30Z
Maximum Flight Level Wind Outbound: 76kts (~ 87.5mph) in the northeast quadrant at 15:48:00Z
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Dry air is getting closer on the SW side of Sandy. It could begin to interfere with the RI we have seen.
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Quoting reedzone:
Now that the GFS has switched, the NHC will probably shift there track towards the USA.
should be very interesting this time tomorrow
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
By Friday, the storm's proximity to Florida will bring strong winds to the other side of the state. Winds gusting to 40 mph are expected, mainly along the east coast. Isolated to scattered showers are expected, as well.
A tropical storm watch along the east coast of Florida has been extended north to the Brevard-Volusia County line.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Makes it to the Great lakes as a powerful system, spilling cold air down, check the blue line and the precip past it, could be a big noreaster, especially since it comes in in New Hampshire and moves west further north than the Euro.
It would be hard to escape the trough in the position the GFS shows it in, especially considering the low to the east of sandy is trending weaker in the models.

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Quoting CloudGatherer:
Maybe I'm missing something, but that Vortex message seems oddly conservative. The dropsonde was deployed from 10k feet, as the wind died down to just 7kts - clearly, the crew thought they were dropping it in the center of the eye. But by the time it reached the surface, and measured a surface pressure of 734mb, the winds had risen to 30kts.

I don't know what that means, exactly. Some vorticity in an eye that hasn't finished clearing? Did the dropsonde get carried closer to the eyewall, by gusts or momentum?

Either way, I have a very hard time believing that there are winds gusting to 30kts where the pressure in the eye is lowest. The extrapolated surface pressure was as low as 731mb - I'd bet that's a more accurate snapshot of where this storm is right now.


731 mbs? What are you smoking?
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Now that the GFS has switched, the NHC will probably shift there track towards the USA.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Unfortunately it looks like it's turning back on this run.

I see more of a stall, rather than getting pushed back. Its got a strong high to the NNE, and a strong high to the west/WNW. And they bridge together to the north. I don't see much able to pull it west or NW, based on the wind patterns.
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283. TXCWC
GFS JUST MADE A BIG STEP TOWARD THE EURO - Game over - looks like Euro WILL turn out to be more correct.

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Holy derp, does Tony have an eye too?



Also, Sandy is now the best-looking large storm of the year! Second goes to Rafael. She is looking like she's gunning for major status, and I'm not entirely discounting that, Paloma did something similar in November, and of course there is the dreaded Wilma to draw comparison to.

Edit: My image from WU's satellite of Tony is refusing to appear. >_<
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12Z GFS EXTENDED 24 OCT hr 168 TILL XXX


LARGE ERRORS APPLY
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
168 hrs. Sandy or her Extratropical/Nor'Easter counterpart is centered over Toronto.

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winds picking up for me now!
Wind Speed E 22 G 29 mph
Quoting 12george1:

I'm not seeing the wind increase yet
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4511
Maybe I'm missing something, but that Vortex message seems oddly conservative. The dropsonde was deployed from 10k feet, as the wind died down to just 7kts - clearly, the crew thought they were dropping it in the center of the eye. But by the time it reached the surface, and measured a surface pressure of 974mb, the winds had risen to 30kts.

I don't know what that means, exactly. Some vorticity in an eye that hasn't finished clearing? Did the dropsonde get carried closer to the eyewall, by gusts or momentum?

Either way, I have a very hard time believing that there are winds gusting to 30kts where the pressure in the eye is lowest. The extrapolated surface pressure was as low as 971mb - I'd bet that's a more accurate snapshot of where this storm is right now.
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The trend towards the ECMWF solution continues.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:
OMG. This GFS run (12Z) totally turning it back to the coast of Maine. OMG. This is very far out, but a very scary run.



So, the GFS and ECMWF are getting closer to agreement.

The more I look at this, they more I feel my Snowicane predictions are correct. Enspecialy that the ECMWF is still predicting Sandy to produce 5" of snow inland as a subtropical hurricane.
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Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4511
Quoting TomballTXPride:
Holy Bananas. That's a 400 mile shift to the east for the GFS, bringing her into Maine. Interesting that the last 10 runs of the GFS showed completely out to sea, and this one is DRASTICALLY different.

156 hours out. Lots can change. Jamaica up first. But stay tuned, Folks.



not particularly more scary than the ECMWF but I notice it doesnt pass by and then spin up the low as the previous run did, interesting to see if it comes back south, seems to have a great hold on the cold air
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Wow, thirty minutes ago it was heavy rain and light wind. Now so calm.
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man look at those water temps down there..........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
12Z GFS EXTENDED 24 OCT hr 159 TILL XXX


LARGE ERRORS APPLY
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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