Sandy slams Cuba, intensifies over the Bahamas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:39 PM GMT on October 25, 2012

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Hurricane Sandy shrugged off wind shear of 20 knots and passage over the southeastern tip of Jamaica yesterday afternoon, explosively deepening into a top-end Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Sandy made landfall in Southeastern Cuba around 1 am EDT this morning near Santiago de Cuba, which experienced sustained winds of 78 mph, gusting to 114 mph. Winds at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba peaked at 58 mph, gusting to 72 mph, at 3 am local time this morning, and the base received 3.51" of rain from Sandy as of 8 am EDT this morning. Punta Lucrecia, Cuba on the north coast of Cuba received 8.42" of rain from Sandy as of 8 am EDT. Cuban state media is reporting that one person was killed on Cuba, and damage was heavy, with thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. Damage was also substantial on Jamaica, where one person was killed, and power was knocked out for 70% of the island's residents. One death has been reported in Haiti due to flooding.

Sandy survived the crossing of Cuba's high mountains with its inner core relatively intact, and is now re-intensifying over the warm waters of the Central Bahama Islands. The latest 9:30 am center fix from the Hurricane Hunters found a central pressure of 965 mb, down 3 mb in 1.5 hours. The eye is intermittently visible on satellite loops, and Sandy appears to be holding its own against the high 30 knots of wind shear affecting it.


Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy approaching landfall in Southeast Cuba as seen by Cuban radar at 10:15 pm EDT Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Image credit: Cuban Institute of Meteorology.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Sandy.

Forecast for Sandy
Wind shear is expected to rise to 40 - 55 knots by Friday, as Sandy interacts with a trough of low pressure to its west. The high shear should disrupt Sandy's inner core and reduce the maximum winds. However, the trough will also inject energy into Sandy, and the hurricane's winds will spread out over a wider area of ocean, keeping the storm surge threat high. This large wind field will likely drive a storm surge of 5 - 8 feet in the Bahamas. Sandy will make its closest pass by Nassau around 8 am EDT Friday.

The latest set of 00Z (8 pm EDT) and 06Z (2 am EDT) computer model runs are in substantial agreement for the next 3 days, but Sandy's future is as clear as mud after that. Sandy will continue to punish the Bahamas today and Friday, as it tracks north to north-northwest. Sandy will probably come close enough to the Southeast U.S. on Saturday afternoon to spread heavy rains to the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina. However, the 4 - 6 day computer model forecasts for Sunday - Tuesday diverge widely. The GFS model, which has been one of our two top models for predicting hurricane tracks the past two years, has been very inconsistent with its handling of Sandy. Runs of the GFS model done 6 hours apart, at 8 pm last night and 2 am EDT this morning, were 300 miles apart in their position for Sandy on Tuesday, with the latest run predicting a landfall in Maine on Wednesday morning. On the other hand, the ECMWF model, our other top model for predicting hurricane tracks, has been very consistent in its handling of Sandy. The ECMWF model has Sandy hitting Delaware on Monday afternoon, the same forecast it has had for three consecutive runs. The other models tend to follow one extreme or the other, and NHC is picking a solution somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. An extra set of balloon-borne radiosondes is going to be launched at 2 pm EDT Thursday all across the U.S., which should help this evening's model runs. Extra radiosondes will be launched every 6 hours through Saturday afternoon.


Figure 3. This Maximum Water Depth storm surge image for the Bahamas shows the worst-case inundation scenarios for a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, as predicted using dozens of runs of NOAA's SLOSH model. For example, if you are inland at an elevation of ten feet above mean sea level, and the combined storm surge and tide (the "storm tide") is fifteen feet at your location, the water depth image will show five feet of inundation. No single storm will be able to cause the level of flooding depicted in this image. Sandy's maximum storm surge may reach levels portrayed in this image for some islands in the Bahamas. See wunderground's storm surge pages for more storm surge info.

The Northeast U.S. scenario
If Sandy makes landfall farther to the north near Maine and Nova Scotia, heavy rains will be the main threat, since the cold waters will weaken the storm significantly before landfall. The trees have fewer leaves farther to the north, which will reduce the amount of tree damage and power failures compared to a more southerly track. However, given that ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast are about 5°F above average, there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain. If the trough of low pressure approaching the East Coast taps into the large reservoir of cold air over Canada and pulls down a significant amount of Arctic air, the potential exists for the unusually moist air from Sandy to collide with this cold air from Canada and unleash the heaviest October rains ever recorded in the Northeast U.S., Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. This Northeast U.S. scenario would probably cause damages near $100 million dollars.

The mid-Atlantic U.S. scenario
Landfall Monday along the mid-Atlantic coast on Monday, as predicted by the ECMWF and NOGAPS models, would likely be a billion-dollar disaster. In this scenario, Sandy would be able to bring sustained winds near hurricane force over a wide stretch of heavily populated coast, causing massive power outages, as trees still in leaf fall and take out power lines. Sandy is expected to have tropical storm-force winds that extend out more than 300 miles from the center, which will drive a much larger storm surge than its winds would ordinarily suggest. The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical tides will be at their peak for the month, increasing potential storm surge flooding. Fresh water flooding from heavy rains would also be a huge concern. Given the ECMWF's consistent handling of Sandy, I believe this mid-Atlantic scenario has a higher probability of occurring than the Northeast U.S. scenario. However, it is likely that the models are overdoing the strength of Sandy at landfall. The models have trouble handling the transition from tropical storm to extratropical storm in these type of situations, and I expect that the 940 mb central pressure of Sandy predicted at landfall Monday in Delaware by the ECMWF model is substantially overdone.

Jeff Masters

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296. 7544
cloud deck expanding now to over west of andros island hmmm
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


its todays noon run or 12z gfs
wrong date should say 25

00z run comes out at 1130 at night
06 around 530 in the am
12 z around 1130 in the am
18z around 530 in the late afternoon early evening


The link I posted showed models that were initialized at 12Z. So it should have shown the same track yours did, right? But it looks like yours showed the center over NY, not Maine. I am still trying to figure this out...
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Lot of convection stuck south of Hispaniola.
Could try to break away or dissipate soon, seems to be slipping by between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, but i think it will just have to dissipate.

Sandy flattening out on top, and spreading west.



Very heavy rain and thunderstorm activity here in Punta Cana Dominican Republic. The power is flickering intermittently and I expect to lose network connectivity soon. Definitely making for an interesting time here.
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Quoting catastropheadjuster:


If that is the wind shear map how in the world could Sandy stay alive with that kind of wind shear? I mean 60,70,80 that's really strong.

sheri

I think that trough on the west side is feeding her and the ridge is suppose to lift out/weaken.
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I'd say Sandy came off of Cuba in pretty good shape internally.

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Lot of convection stuck south of Hispaniola.
Could try to break away or dissipate soon, seems to be slipping by between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, but i think it will just have to dissipate.

Sandy flattening out on top, and spreading west.



The situation here in Dominican Republic is not good 48 hours continues of heavy rain,nearly 15,000 evacuated and 200 house destroyed.....And looks like if the tail of Sandy is going to stay at least 24 to 48 hours more...this is a large system
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Quoting Chicklit:
Oh wow. here it is.


If that is the wind shear map how in the world could Sandy stay alive with that kind of wind shear? I mean 60,70,80 that's really strong.

sheri
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Quoting Grothar:


Good afternoon to you, and please don't call me Shirley.


Somehow that joke doesn't work quite as well when it's in print. :)
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The visible eye (from above) was covered over by the CDO over the last few frames.....Lots of lightening going on in there at the moment I would bet.
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286. flsky
I was just asked to be on standby for a FEMA declaration in NY!
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complex of thunderstorms in the mona channel look impressive
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Quoting Huskymaniac:


How does that compare to these maps:

Link

Are you posting a newer run or something? It is still a little unclear to me (newbie of sorts) as to when and how often these models are run.


its todays noon run or 12z gfs
wrong date should say 25

00z run comes out at 1130 at night
06 around 530 in the am
12 z around 1130 in the am
18z around 530 in the late afternoon early evening
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 187 Comments: 57968
283. 7544
Quoting SFLWeatherman:
958MB now!!!



wow shes starting to blow up again and a burst near the eye
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Quoting mati:
If Sandy nails New York dead on, I forsee crazy flooding


ice skating at Rockafeller center, IN A HURRICANE
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Quoting Chicklit:
It would be nice if we had an updated shear map. CIMSS is still posting the 0900 UTC.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
the recon found this

958.5 mb
(~ 28.30 inHg


O_O

Think she may be rapidly intensifying again?
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Quoting sar2401:

Sly little insults? Surely you jest. :) Good afternoon, Gro.


Good afternoon to you, and please don't call me Shirley.
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New Blowup just west of the Center of Sandy, center clouded over again.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9769
Oh wow. here it is.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 187 Comments: 57968
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 187 Comments: 57968
Good luck and stay safe to my friends in the Bahamas... at least the onset is in daylight.
Looks like it is getting bad for Long Island and the Exumas right now.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
12Z GFS INIT 23 OCT hr 012 TILL 144




How does that compare to these maps:

Link

Are you posting a newer run or something? It is still a little unclear to me (newbie of sorts) as to when and how often these models are run.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Lot of convection stuck south of Hispaniola.
Could try to break away or dissipate soon, seems to be slipping by between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, but i think it will just have to dissipate.

Sandy flattening out on top, and spreading west.

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9769
958MB now!!!
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5001
Quoting oracle28:


Hey!
Who are you calling 'little'??

Sincerely,
Insults.


LOL
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Can anyone share good webcams from the Bahamas that we might take a look at? How do you think the islands will cope with Sandy?
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Quoting overwash12:
Water temps still @ 80F 150 miles due east of N.C.Link


Was just fishing out there, a 10 days ago. Water temps at Oregon Inlet were 77 degrees, I know the stream was warmer. Now, all that nice warm water awaits, how unpleasant that may be to us. It just isn't going to wither in that water and combined with the front, is an amazing, ugly scenario.
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Quoting Grothar:


Not much. Just watching the maps and some sly little insults people throw at each other on the blog. Same as everyday. Hope you're doing well. Interesting week ahead.

Sly little insults? Surely you jest. :) Good afternoon, Gro.
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the recon found this

958.5 mb
(~ 28.30 inHg
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Quoting Grothar:


Not much. Just watching the maps and some sly little insults people throw at each other on the blog. Same as everyday. Hope you're doing well. Interesting week ahead.


Doing OK thanks...heading down to the VA Hospital for a couple appointments today....Yup,we could have quite a week if the Euro and GFS verify.
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Sandy NE jog?
maybe it's getting caught up on its convection stuck by the islands
I think any NE jog would only last 1 or 2 frames anyway:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9769
Quoting Grothar:


Not much. Just watching the maps and some sly little insults people throw at each other on the blog. Same as everyday. Hope you're doing well. Interesting week ahead.


Hey!
Who are you calling 'little'??

Sincerely,
Insults.
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The minimal effect land interaction with Jamaica and Cuba had on Sandy changed the intensity forecast game illustrating, once again, how this remains the most difficult area to get a handle on. Very impressive storm for this time of the year traversing untapped and very warm SST's in the short-term. Sandy may have time to make a strong Cat 2 right over the Bahamas and she is looking quite good at the moment.

After that, she should start ramping down as sheer increases (wind speed wise) but the rain, flooding and surge issues are going to be massive for the US whether the mid-Atlantic coast or NE region.

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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


What's new Gro...LOL


Not much. Just watching the maps and some sly little insults people throw at each other on the blog. Same as everyday. Hope you're doing well. Interesting week ahead.
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260. JRRP
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Good afternoon.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Thursday, October 25th, with Video
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258. TXCWC
Map from Crownweather site showing current NHC forecast
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NC snow lol:
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9769
Quoting Chicklit:

...of which there are more than a few on here...
uhhh i guess were jus gonna have one major this year but they could change it in post season
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Quoting Grothar:
All of you are wrong.


What's new Gro...LOL
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
West Virginia foot or more of snow:



bring the storm closer to land earlier on and less of a hook and you would clobber with snow all the states around West virginia and even virginia as the cold air would wrap around south like the Euro showed.


Hurricanes bringing snow? I knew climate change would cause some weird weather, but I never thought of that one.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3171
Chief Met Basil Dean is on ZNS TV right now...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22864
Quoting hydrus:
I hate saying it, but Sandy could be much worse than Irene, and comparable to some of the biggest storms and Nor,Easters to hit the region. Satellite image of the intense nor'easter responsible for the North American blizzard of 2006. Note the hurricane-like eye at the center.


Could this be like 1804 all over again!??
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West Virginia foot or more of snow:



bring the storm closer to land earlier on and less of a hook and you would clobber with snow all the states around West virginia and even virginia as the cold air would wrap around south like the Euro showed.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9769
Quoting sar2401:

It wasn't a cat 3. It was a simple typing error that lasted five minutes before being corrected. Highest winds were 110 mph. Not that this really matters much except to rabid hurricane geeks. :)

...of which there are more than a few on here...
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249. AVL
Some Earl Gray and storm watching. Could it be better? Maybe?
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If you take the GFS version of Sandy and move it halfway towards the coast at every forecast point, it would get an amazing pull on the cold airmass, and would lead to an amazing blizzard for areas inland.

5 days for it to change, and for the models to figure it out, and right now is probably one of the most important stages in its evolution.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9769
Quoting windshear1993:
wait aminute wasnt sandy a cat 3 earlier this morning?? why did they degrade it?

It wasn't a cat 3. It was a simple typing error that lasted five minutes before being corrected. Highest winds were 110 mph. Not that this really matters much except to rabid hurricane geeks. :)
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12Z GFS INIT 23 OCT hr 012 TILL 144


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 187 Comments: 57968

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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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