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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146. 7544
Quoting sar2401:

You've been seeing NW jogs, bounces and wobbles for the last two days. If it's a turn, the pattern will show soon enough. If not, stop looking at every supposed jog as a predictor.


lol but it is happening every jog matters
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Quoting kwgirl:
Remember about two weeks ago one of the models was predicting two storms, one on either side of Florida. Could this low south of Cuba break off and become it's own entity? It will be interesting to watch.


It's not going to break off but it is showing the large monsoonal nature of this system with the huge area of vort and vort maxes rotating around. This stucture coupled with the upper level low is what I believe will bring it a little more west. Not as much as the nam but possibly a little more than the GFS. This also will be what helps to turn it into the HUGE subtropical to extratropical system.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2489
Moving NW now???

Quoting JRRP:
two eyes... lol

i was kidding
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5001
Quoting Flyairbird:
Hey guys and gals,

I am supposed to be flying out of Columbus, OH to Myrtle Beach tomorrow and then driving to Charleston on Sat to sail on Sat afternoon 4:00 to Turks and Caicos then to Half Moon Cay and then Nassau.

What kind of mess am I looking at? Carnival nor US SCARE has not said anything yet. UGH


You better have your sick pills ready!!!
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Quoting kwgirl:
Well, the ships are safer at sea with this type of storm rolling in. so they will probably sail no matter what. It just depends on what type of sea legs you have. They do have good stabilizers but..... Good luck.


Yea, a few years ago a cruise ship off Charleston withstood a 70-foot rogue wave with little more than a few broken windows and some bruised passengers. They are much safer at sea then in a harbor where they can wreak havoc.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2344
Quoting HurricaneKing:


What's interesting to me is the way the vorticity is associated with this system. It is made up of several pockets of vort all rotating around each other with our hurricane being the strongest. This could be part of why shes going to turn more to the north and west. The nam is pseudo picking up on this structure (I think an over kill) by showing briefly the weak low south of Cuba in the baggy pressure field.
Remember about two weeks ago one of the models was predicting two storms, one on either side of Florida. Could this low south of Cuba break off and become it's own entity? It will be interesting to watch.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
Quoting longislander102:
No talk of any evacuations here on Long Island, NY as of yet. I must say, I am getting a little nervous here on the south shore of the island.

Love reading all your posts and input!


Hey there fellow Long Islander! I'm in Nassau in the middle of the island myself. Be safe on the shore! My father is worried about his boat if a bad storm comes through, we have it down by East Rockaway.

I expected to wake up this morning and find completely different models and predictions but.. it looks even more concrete for an East Coast storm than it did yesterday. I am trying to spread the word to my friends and family. I know they are all obsessed with Facebook, so I keep on posting about it on there along with the maps, in hopes they will see and keep in mind this could get ugly.
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Quoting K8eCane:

...HURRICANE SANDY...

THE NAM GETS A LITTLE WEIRD WITH THIS SYSTEM EARLY IN THE PD AS IT
FUJIWARAS ACROSS SRN FL ON FRIDAY BEFORE RESUMING ITS NWD TREK
AFTERWARDS.


...MODEL TREND GRAPHICS AT www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/html/model2.shtml
...500 MB FORECASTS AT www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/h5pref/h5pref.shtml


WHY DOES HPC EVEN MENTION NAM??



???????????
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Quoting Flyairbird:
Hey guys and gals,

I am supposed to be flying out of Columbus, OH to Myrtle Beach tomorrow and then driving to Charleston on Sat to sail on Sat afternoon 4:00 to Turks and Caicos then to Half Moon Cay and then Nassau.

What kind of mess am I looking at? Carnival nor US SCARE has not said anything yet. UGH

At this point, I would go ahead with your plans. The SE coast may see very little from Sandy, and the storm should be well clear of the Turks. Keep up with what's happening, but you may sneak in between everything.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


What's interesting to me is the way the vorticity is associated with this system. It is made up of several pockets of vort all rotating around each other with our hurricane being the strongest. This could be part of why shes going to turn more to the north and west. The nam is pseudo picking up on this structure (I think an over kill) by showing briefly the weak low south of Cuba in the baggy pressure field.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2489
Don't flame me for this, but what are the chances the trough keeps Sandy offshore?

Or would it actually draw Sandy westward?

I went to school with a girl named Sandy Westward...but I digress.
Member Since: July 25, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 597
Quoting sar2401:

Everything is being a bit overdone, since we really have no idea of the track or intensity of Sandy. So far, Sandy has not been an Irene in terms of rain production, so a northeast hit may not produce the kind of flooding we saw last year from Irene. OTOH, the Mid-Atlantic was lulled to sleep by Irene last year. If Sandy really does make a Mid-Atlantic coast hit, things may be much worse for them than last year...or not. Uncertainty breeds lots of speculation.

The storm people are concerned about is a different animal than what's near the Bahamas right now (or Irene for that matter). Will be interesting to see what happens.
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Sandy's eye is reforming nicely and any east component is vanishing as she moves quickly to the north closely parallel to 75W. Sandy is now north of the ULL which looks to be centered roughly on the Isle of Youth right now, so it will be noteworthy if we start seeing a little bit of westward component creeping into her motion over the next several hours.
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"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"

Jeff Masters
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9689
Quoting Flyairbird:
Hey guys and gals,

I am supposed to be flying out of Columbus, OH to Myrtle Beach tomorrow and then driving to Charleston on Sat to sail on Sat afternoon 4:00 to Turks and Caicos then to Half Moon Cay and then Nassau.

What kind of mess am I looking at? Carnival nor US SCARE has not said anything yet. UGH
Well, the ships are safer at sea with this type of storm rolling in. so they will probably sail no matter what. It just depends on what type of sea legs you have. They do have good stabilizers but..... Good luck.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
Quoting 7544:
did anyone catch that nw jog just now could the turn begin at this hour

You've been seeing NW jogs, bounces and wobbles for the last two days. If it's a turn, the pattern will show soon enough. If not, stop looking at every supposed jog as a predictor.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CloudGatherer:
Dropsonde in the eye finds pressure rising slightly, now up to 967mb.

NHC forecast discussion expects less intensity but larger windfield.

A CONTINUED INCREASE IN SHEAR AND INTERACTION WITH THE UPPER-LEVEL LOW SHOULD RESULT IN GRADUAL WEAKENING DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. HOWEVER...DURING THIS TIME THE OUTER WIND FIELD OF
SANDY IS EXPECTED TO EXPAND...AND SANDY IS FORECAST TO BE A LARGE CYCLONE AT OR NEAR HURRICANE INTENSITY THROUGH THE END OF THE FORECAST PERIOD.
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They're gonna meet in NYC

Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9689
Quoting cruzinstephie:


While I think the NAM is overdoing the turn a bit (or at least hope it is) it certainly shouldn't be ignored! It's very good and handling all of the trough patterns. If memory serves me correctly, it was the first model to pick up on Hurricane Jeanne (2004) making a loop and coming back at us in FL.


Exactly, we should be watching the NAM for timing of the front and all the other players
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Hey guys and gals,

I am supposed to be flying out of Columbus, OH to Myrtle Beach tomorrow and then driving to Charleston on Sat to sail on Sat afternoon 4:00 to Turks and Caicos then to Half Moon Cay and then Nassau.

What kind of mess am I looking at? Carnival nor US SCARE has not said anything yet. UGH
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

...HURRICANE SANDY...

THE NAM GETS A LITTLE WEIRD WITH THIS SYSTEM EARLY IN THE PD AS IT
FUJIWARAS ACROSS SRN FL ON FRIDAY BEFORE RESUMING ITS NWD TREK
AFTERWARDS.


...MODEL TREND GRAPHICS AT www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/html/model2.shtml
...500 MB FORECASTS AT www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/h5pref/h5pref.shtml


WHY DOES HPC EVEN MENTION NAM??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting guyjr:
I wonder if the damage estimate due to trees with leaves still attached is a bit overdone? This year, the leaves have been falling about two weeks ahead of where they were last year, due to the early spring we had up here in NJ. I distinctly remember last year's foliage filled trees during the blizzard, and this year a lot of those trees were rapidly shedding their leaves as of last weekend.

Everything is being a bit overdone, since we really have no idea of the track or intensity of Sandy. So far, Sandy has not been an Irene in terms of rain production, so a northeast hit may not produce the kind of flooding we saw last year from Irene. OTOH, the Mid-Atlantic was lulled to sleep by Irene last year. If Sandy really does make a Mid-Atlantic coast hit, things may be much worse for them than last year...or not. Uncertainty breeds lots of speculation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
122. JRRP
two eyes... lol

i was kidding
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Quoting guyjr:
I wonder if the damage estimate due to trees with leaves still attached is a bit overdone? This year, the leaves have been falling about two weeks ahead of where they were last year, due to the early spring we had up here in NJ. I distinctly remember last year's foliage filled trees during the blizzard, and this year a lot of those trees were rapidly shedding their leaves as of last weekend.
And the wind should knock a lot more off. Good morning everyone. This is the first hurricane, I can remember, since 2004, that the Lower Keys weren't all tense and anticipating. That said, it is still making our winds gusty and pushing Fla. Bay up on the beaches. All this during Fantasy Fest. LOL We have Pretenders tonight which is a costume contest. Hope the winds don't get any stronger today. Everyone in the path of this storm, pay attention to your emergency managers, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That is all any of us can do in the face of Mother Nature.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
Dropsonde in the eye finds pressure rising slightly, now up to 967mb.
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119. JRRP
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


you typed 1.....why didn't you just 1 it?

i meant that i agree... sorry
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Quoting clwstmchasr:


Ignore it. I never pay attention to it. Stick to the Euro, GFS, and to a lesser extent GFDL and HWRF and the ensembles.


While I think the NAM is overdoing the turn a bit (or at least hope it is) it certainly shouldn't be ignored! It's very good and handling all of the trough patterns. If memory serves me correctly, it was the first model to pick up on Hurricane Jeanne (2004) making a loop and coming back at us in FL.
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117. 7544
did anyone catch that nw jog just now could the turn begin at this hour
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Guys the NAM is quite accurate, it just wasnt meant for the tropics, but it is wonderful for severe weather and regular US weather.

On Sandy and the NAM, from a registered meteorologist:

Brad Panovich9:14 AM

NAM 4 does very well within the data grid of the U.S. especially with small scale stuff near the surface. It essentially is very close the ECMWF. 
Remember we have upper air & radar data from the Carribean in the NAM. Not to mention several recon trips and dropsonde data now in the NAM for Sandy. It's also more likely the NAM is handling the deep trough and cold air much better than any tropical model. Which would struggle this far north in late October. 

Quite true, which is why the NAM is so whacky right now, with Sandy still being a tropical system. The NAM may become a much more accurate player when Sandy become extra-tropical, especially if she develops a cold, or at least less warm, core.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

You get the gas. Beer's on me. ;-]
Sounds good to me! Seriously hope it turns out alright for everybody though!
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Sandy looks to be making the NW turn, as the upper level low to the west of her is inverting help this turn.
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Quoting JRRP:

1


you typed 1.....why didn't you just 1 it?
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Morning everyone,

I see that I missed a lot of Sandy on Steroids, powering through Cuba as an, arguuably, major hurricane that could indeed have been stronger than many of us thought, and that is why it appears that she hasn't weakened much... she could have in fact weakened a lot more due to her being a lot stronger. I checked back on earlier frames and she had a fantastic look to her in the wee hours.

And I see she is wasting no time now, this is quite the powerful storm we are dealing with. Imagine where she'd be at now if it were a month earlier, and the wind shear was light. It's a scary thought.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thanks Doc

I was wondering if it really would make that turn back toward the north and even north-northwest, but I see it doing just that now. Is that due to the weakening that happened and can we assume it will re-adjust back to the north-northeastern path once it gets it's act back together?
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109. JRRP
Quoting southfla:
The NAM is NOT a tropical forecast model. I have no idea why anyone would even attempt to use it to forecast a tropical cyclone's path. I always thought of NAM as a useful model for looking at the synoptic (highs and lows) patterns over the continental U.S and how they might be positioned. For instance, to compare the forecast versus actual speed of troughs. Maybe it isn't even used for that anymore.

The models I look at for tropical cyclone forecasts are the GFS (this year has been better than previous years) and the ECMWF (European model).

+1
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108. guyjr
I wonder if the damage estimate due to trees with leaves still attached is a bit overdone? This year, the leaves have been falling about two weeks ahead of where they were last year, due to the early spring we had up here in NJ. I distinctly remember last year's foliage filled trees during the blizzard, and this year a lot of those trees were rapidly shedding their leaves as of last weekend.
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Heading up the road a bit ...

NOTE THAT THE TROPICAL CYCLONE WIND SPEED PROBABILITIES ARE NOT DESIGNED TO HANDLE THE TYPE OF STRUCTURAL CHANGES ANTICIPATED WITH SANDY DURING THE FORECAST PERIOD. AS A RESULT...THESE PROBABILITIES WILL UNDERESTIMATE THE ACTUAL RISK OF STRONG WINDS AWAY FROM THE CENTER OF SANDY.

Of course, if you drink enough beer you just won't care.
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Quoting Chucktown:


If its 240 miles wide, then wouldn't the radius be 120 miles on either side. Also, from the NHC...

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 30 MILES...45 KM...FROM
THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 140
MILES...220 KM.

The windfields from Sandy have remained tiny for her entire life. It appears that her compact size has helped fight off wind shear and dry air so far. It will be interesting to see what happens when interaction takes place and Sandy, in theory, should have a much wider windfield, although with weaker winds. It seems like wind shear will become a bigger factor then.
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Guys the NAM is quite accurate, it just wasnt meant for the tropics, but it is wonderful for severe weather and regular US weather.

On Sandy and the NAM, from a registered meteorologist:

Brad Panovich9:14 AM

NAM 4 does very well within the data grid of the U.S. especially with small scale stuff near the surface. It essentially is very close the ECMWF. 
Remember we have upper air & radar data from the Carribean in the NAM. Not to mention several recon trips and dropsonde data now in the NAM for Sandy. It's also more likely the NAM is handling the deep trough and cold air much better than any tropical model. Which would struggle this far north in late October. 
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The NAM is NOT a tropical forecast model. I have no idea why anyone would even attempt to use it to forecast a tropical cyclone's path. I always thought of NAM as a useful model for looking at the synoptic (highs and lows) patterns over the continental U.S and how they might be positioned. For instance, to compare the forecast versus actual speed of troughs. Maybe it isn't even used for that anymore.

The models I look at for tropical cyclone forecasts are the GFS (this year has been better than previous years) and the ECMWF (European model).
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Quoting AussieStorm:
I guess this is the front/trough that's going to clash with Sandy.


Link


Clash of the Titans?!
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100. JRRP
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Appears to have jogged a little to the left.

ok
Quoting AussieStorm:

With the size of Sandy, a few .?degrees is not going to matter.

yea that is true
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Quoting bwi:
Forecaster Cisco has a geeky sense of humor.

PRELIMINARY EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD
942 AM EDT THU OCT 25 2012

VALID 12Z MON OCT 29 2012 - 12Z THU NOV 01 2012
...HIGH IMPACT MERGING OF ENERGETIC SYSTEMS ANTICIPATED OFF THE MID ATLANTIC COAST...
PRELIMINARY UPDATE...

... AND ONCE THE COMBINED GYRE MATERIALIZES, IT SHOULD SETTLE BACK TOWARD THE INTERIOR NORTHEAST THROUGH HALLOWEEN, INVITING PERHAPS A GHOULISH NICKNAME FOR THE CYCLONE ALONG THE
LINES OF "FRANKENSTORM",
...>


Doesn't he mean Bride of Frankenstorm?
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I am in the cone of uncertainty ! Guess I better gas up the generator and get some beer!
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ULL forming to her west over western Cuba

Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9689

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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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