Sandy remains a hurricane, slowly leaving the Bahamas

By: Angela Fritz , 9:28 PM GMT on October 26, 2012

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Reuters reports that the death toll from Sandy in the Caribbean is now up to 41 people as Hurricane Sandy continues its track toward the U.S. East Coast this afternoon, slowly leaving the Bahamas. States of Emergency have been declared in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New York. The hurricane is just barely still a Category 1 with surface winds of 75 mph and a minimum central pressure of 971 mb. Ocean buoys off the coasts of Florida and the Carolinas are recording sustained winds of around 45 mph this afternoon, with gusts steadily increasing and now up to 60 mph. Sandy's rainfall, which is limited to the north and northeast parts of the storm, is reaching eastern Florida, though most of it is staying offshore.

Satellite loops show an asymmetric Sandy, with almost all of the thunderstorm activity on its north side. The hurricane still has a very clear center of surface circulation which you can see on visible and infrared loops. Though the hurricane is leaving the influence of an upper level low pressure area over western Cuba, water vapor imagery shows a large area of dry air being pulled into the storm from the south, which is leading to the lack of thunderstorm activity and contributing to the weakening that Sandy is experiencing right now. The hurricane's tropical storm-force winds now extend 240 miles from the center, and could grow to 400 miles from the center by the time it reaches the East Coast.


Figure 1. Visible/infrared satellite image of Sandy as it leaves the Bahamas this afternoon. The mid-latitude trough, which Sandy will interact with over the next few days, is seen approaching from the northwest. The cold front associated with this trough is draped from upstate New York south to Louisiana, and appears as a line of clouds draped across the Midwest and South in this image.

Forecast For Hurricane Sandy

As a tropical cyclone approaches land, the worst storm surge is almost always where the winds are blowing from ocean to shore, where the wind pushes the water toward and onto the shore. In the case of Sandy's potential track, this region is on the north side of the center. In this morning's GFS scenario, Sandy's center passes over eastern Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. This would result in the highest surge north of New York City: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and possibly Maine. The ECMWF forecast from this morning is a bit further to the south. It's suggesting Sandy's center will meet land in New Jersey. This scenario opens up New York City, Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and southern coastal Mass. to the largest surge. In general, the places that will avoid the largest storm surge are those that are south of where the center of the storm makes landfall. The National Hurricane Center's forecast is similar to the ECMWF, but most importantly, its forecast is also to not focus on the exact point of landfall because of the size of the storm, and that widespread impact is expected.

The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts should be prepared for a storm surge no matter their exact location. A large portion of the coast will feel the impact of up to 60 mph winds and heavy rain. According to the most recent H*Wind analysis from the Hurricane Research Division is that storm surge has a destructive potential of 4.8 out of 6.0, which is a slight increase from previous analyses. Wind damage potential is holding steady around 2.3 out of 6.0. NOAA's HPC is forecasting rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and possibly more in coastal locations close to the core of the storm. Widespread power outages from Maine south to Virginia are likely, due to the combination of long-lived gale-force winds, leaves on trees, and rain that will moisten the soil and possibly increase the chances of falling trees. Snow in the Appalachians is also possible as the intense moisture meets the cold air being pulled south by the mid-latitude trough.


Figure 2. Departure of sea surface temperature from average for the Atlantic shows a large area of unusually warm waters up to 9°F above average off the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast.

Sandy to feed off near-record warm waters off the mid-Atlantic coast
During September 2012, ocean temperatures off the mid-Atlantic coast in the 5x10° latitude-longitude box between 35 - 40°N, 65 - 75° W were 2.3°F (1.3°C) above average, according to the UK Met Office. This is the 2nd greatest departure from average for ocean temperatures in this region since reliable ocean temperature measurements began over a century ago (all-time record: 2.0°C above average in September 1947.) These unusually warm waters have persisted into October, and will enable Sandy to pull more energy from the ocean than a typical October hurricane. The warm waters will also help increase Sandy's rains, since more water vapor will evaporate into the air from a warm ocean. I expect Sandy will dump the heaviest October rains on record over a large swath of the mid-Atlantic and New England.

Hurricane rains and climate change
Hurricanes are expected to dump 20% more rain in their cores by the year 2100, according to modeling studies (Knutson et al., 2010). This occurs since a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which can then condense into heavier rains. Furthermore, the condensation process releases heat energy (latent heat), which invigorates the storm, making its updrafts stronger and creating even more rain. We may already be seeing an increase in rainfall from hurricanes due to a warmer atmosphere. A 2010 study by Kunkel et al. "Recent increases in U.S. heavy precipitation associated with tropical cyclones", found that although there is no evidence for a long-term increase in North American mainland land-falling tropical cyclones (which include both hurricanes and tropical storms), the number of heavy precipitation events, defined as 1-in-5-year events, more than doubled between 1994 - 2008, compared to the long-term average from 1895 - 2008. As I discussed in a 2011 post "Tropical Storm Lee's flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw?", an increase in heavy precipitation events in the 21st Century due to climate change is going to be a big problem for a flood control system designed for the 20th Century's climate.


Figure 3. Time series of the 15-yr running average (plotted at the end point of the 15-yr blocks) of the tropical cyclone Heavy Precipitation Index (red) and the associated 15-yr total of U.S. landfalling hurricanes from Atlantic HURDAT hurricane data base, from 1895 - 2008 (blue). Note the steep rise in heavy precipitation events from tropical cyclones over the past 20 years, which has not been accompanied by a corresponding increase in landfalling hurricanes. Image credit: Kunkel et al., 2010, Geophysical Research Letters.

Angela Fritz and Jeff Masters

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If the Pottery not broken don't fix it.
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Early dynamic models.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting VirginIslandsVisitor:


I've been sitting here reading the blog, off and on now for a couple of hours. I'd just like to say something here, Kori.

Many's the time this hurricane season when I was up at oh-four or oh-three o'clock in the morning, worried sick about what was headed our way. I came to realize that at those ungodly hours, you'd be there posting updates for us. I for one am going to give you all the kudos I can. I admire you and thank you for all the work you do on this blog.

Lindy


Thank you Lindy.

Think about this, people: if I truly lacked compassion, would I seriously waste hours at a time writing forecasts on a storm? Would I really care about posting factual information to inform the public of approaching danger? I worked tirelessly for Beryl, Debby, Isaac, and now Sandy. I extend that courtesy to storms outside US jurisdiction as well. Seriously, just think about it.

I am NOT JFV.
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Post 398 Sandy claims its first troll....
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hi guys...
here is a pic of the road in and out for my house...look at the woodsy area..but I love this time for the fall colors

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Quoting KoritheMan:


I promised pottery I would let this go, but as someone who prides himself on being a logical thinker, you actually do raise a valid point. If you wish to discuss this further, feel free to message me.


:):))
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Quoting THEYGOOFEDAGAIN:
we just had our highest wind gust here in daytona beach 28mph still waiting on the 45 to 55 that they predicted


Failed to notice the 69 mph wind offshore Daytona Beach?
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Quoting KoritheMan:

He also did really well with Ernesto, unlike me. Go back and look at my forecasts and compare them to his.


I've been sitting here reading the blog, off and on now for a couple of hours. I'd just like to say something here, Kori.

Many's the time this hurricane season when I was up at oh-four or oh-three o'clock in the morning, worried sick about what was headed our way. I came to realize that at those ungodly hours, you'd be there posting updates for us. I for one am going to give you all the kudos I can. I admire you and thank you for all the work you do on this blog.

Lindy
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396. DrewE
I can't believe how large she is, and she is expected to get even bigger! Possibly even twice the size, if my guess is correct.

Getting a nice amount of rain here in north central VA.
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Quoting NewEnglandExpress:


Hi from New london CT. Im not enjoying the north jog.
Were looking at a real bad situation in this area.
We have been spaired many decades around here, many people have build right on the water.I see water lines around town when the 38 hurricane came through.
I hope we dont see that, but I think our time has come.


Hey man uncasville here
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what are the new models showing..if any changes at all for landfall.. ?
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Quoting charlottefl:





Sandy could be the storm of the century XXI
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Quoting GreyJewel:
[..] How can anyone know one way or the other that a given amount of death and destruction will prevent ANY amount of death and destruction at a later date? [..] Does it even make it a sure thing that people will prepare better next time?
I plused you for this part (not the rude bits). Human beings have very short memories. And to make things "worse" there are always new ones being born who have none.
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Quoting GreyJewel:
Re: Kori and hope that the storm hits hard enough to "wake some people up" or whatever.

What is the actual hope here?

That a certain number get killed THIS TIME in order to ensure that a certain number don't get killed NEXT time?

What?

How can anyone know one way or the other that a given amount of death and destruction will prevent ANY amount of death and destruction at a later date?

If 40 or 50 people die on Tuesday, does that make it a sure thing that LESS than 40 or 50 die in the next storm?

Does it even make it a sure thing that people will prepare better next time?

NO.

Your silly little hope is not only degrading to you as human being, IT MAKES NO SENSE.



I promised pottery I would let this go, but as someone who prides himself on being a logical thinker, you actually do raise a valid point. If you wish to discuss this further, feel free to message me.
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Quoting unknowncomic:
Sandy today at the beach.
Link


I bet it was really Sandy.

/end unfunny joke
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Will he last 5 Post? Pole of the day.
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Quoting THEYGOOFEDAGAIN:
YEPPERS I AGREE WITH THAT THEY HAVENT GOTTEN A FFORCAST RIGHT HERE SINCE 2004 JUST PANIC PEOPLE AND NOTHING HAPPENS


Will you please ease off on the caps? It makes your post annoying to read...
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Sandy today at the beach.
Link
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Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:
I don't generally advertise Levi on here, but he deserves some credit for this one. He's done an excellent job.

This will answer a lot of questions many folks have here, who understand a tidbit of the science.

He also did really well with Ernesto, unlike me. Go back and look at my forecasts and compare them to his.
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Stu Ostro

Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist, The Weather Channel
Oct 26, 2012 7:39 pm ET

SANDY

- After tragically affecting the Greater Antilles with dozens of fatalities, Sandy's core is beginning to pull north of the Bahamas as the western fringe brushes the Atlantic coast of Florida with high surf and gusty winds, and then will do so along the coast of the Carolinas this weekend along with some bands of heavy rain.

- Then all signs continue to point to an extraordinary combination of meteorological ingredients coming together to produce a major and potentially historic storm in the northeastern states, with the peak being on Tuesday after Sandy makes an unusual turn sharply back toward the coast. There are no longer any model forecasts that portray a track in which Sandy goes out to sea and misses the U.S. Assuming no future substantive changes in the overall scenario, the main forecast focus from this point forward will be to hone in on the local details as the storm's arrival gets closer.

- An important aspect of Sandy will be its size. The massive breadth of its circulation will produce a much wider scope of impacts than if it were a tiny storm, and some of them will extend far inland.

- That expansion has begun while Sandy's maximum wind speeds have decreased for now, as it has undergone the expected commingling with the jet stream and acquisition of "hybrid" with characteristics of both tropical and non-tropical cyclones. The reason for forecasters' expectations of such a significant event despite it not being as intense as when it was in the Caribbean is that enlargement of the storm, which is already big and will further expand, along with models' indications that it will get a boost of additional energy as it heads north toward such a highly-populated area. It's a complicated weather system, but no matter what the official designation - hurricane, tropical storm, or "post-tropical" - Sandy should be taken seriously.

- Effects are expected to include strong, gusty winds with widespread tree damage and long-duration power outages, coastal flooding from storm surge along with large battering waves on top of that and beach erosion, local flooding from rainfall, and possibly heavy snow accumulations over the central Appalachians.
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Quoting tropicfreak:
Hey folks.... watching Sandy closely and preparing here in Central VA. Glad to see the euro shift back north, if it had stayed on its present course then I would be in deep doo doo. Oh well, I'm sticking with my guns and going with a delmarva landfall. Local weathermen around here are calling for 60 mph gusts and heavy rains. TS force winds and rains for 2 days. That can't be good.


Hi from New london CT. Im not enjoying the north jog.
Were looking at a real bad situation in this area.
We have been spaired many decades around here, many people have build right on the water.I see water lines around town when the 38 hurricane came through.
I hope we dont see that, but I think our time has come.
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Quoting THEYGOOFEDAGAIN:
we just had our highest wind gust here in daytona beach 28mph still waiting on the 45 to 55 that they predicted
It probably won't happen without convection. I'm relatively certain that those particular forecasts, similar to the NHC's wind field product, extrapolates the maximum possible extent of a given wind speed in a particular location.

They predicted gusts to 75 mph last year with Lee, and it never even went above 40.
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Moisture coming back.
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Quoting ces15hurricanes:
Sandy is extratropical, ignoring the hurricane status

Yeah no... Sandy is still warm core and has a vigorous closed circulation.
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Satellite looks like Sandy's getting her second wind.
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Quoting stormchaser19:
All of thing what is happening to Sandy was predicted but like Levi said early in the day..is happening more sooner than expected...All of the models are saying this will be a strong storm ..with winds of strong cat.1 hurricane and TS winds hundreds of miles away from the center

I don´t live in EE.UU but many of member of my family live in new york and new jersey, i´m wishing nothing happen, but all of the models regrettably are saying this would no be a good scenario
I don't generally advertise Levi on here, but he deserves some credit for this one. He's done an excellent job.

This will answer a lot of questions many folks have here, who understand a tidbit of the science.

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Quoting ces15hurricanes:
Sandy is extratropical, ignoring the hurricane status


@wunderground
69 mph wind gust reported at buoy east of Daytona Beach, FL


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Quoting DrewE:
I don't think folks in PA should be worried, after all it's always sunny in Philadelphia.


Get me a hurricane and some kitten mittens from Paddys and I'll be ready for The Nightman Cometh.
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Hope I don't sound like captain obvious here but hopefully people in storm's path don't look at the models and think the storm actually begins when the little picture shows it arriving in my area. It arrives WAY before that. LOL Whatever the model shows as landfall, I usually have a deadline of 24 to 36 hours before that to be 100% complete on preparations.
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Quoting Maryland1:


Agreed, but I'm really not liking the hook back south. Even if NJ is where it goes in, that is going to bring a real nasty surprise to us. Guessing I'm about 130 miles north of you.


Yeah I'm in Richmond... I just don't like the looks of that hook... ugh. Should have seen the GFDL yesterday... parked a 930 mb right over my city with a landfall in Virginia Beach.
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Quoting ces15hurricanes:
Sandy is extratropical, ignoring the hurricane status


You should apply at the NHC. You're way to smart for this blog, and your reasoning is absolutely flawless for why this has no tropical characteristics. Props.
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Got a question for u guys. Does anybody know if the markets on Wall Street will be closed for Monday or Tuesday???? By the way, has Wall Street ever been closed for a tropical system before??? Just wondering if there any day traders on this board.
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thanks , i just questioned if normal model forcasts could predict with accuracy, due to the rare higher water temps for this time of the year. and them having few if any data inputs for that
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Quoting ces15hurricanes:
Sandy is extratropical, ignoring the hurricane status


If anything they should allow extra-tropical systems to have some sort of hurricane status, if their sustained winds support it. Not the other way around. I'm hoping they keep the storm under tropical classification simply because it is simpler than trying to explain to the public that there is a hurricane strength post-tropical storm.
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Quoting Maryland1:


two or three high tide cycles, massive rain and sustained heavy winds with upslope wet snow over a foot, yep, that will be a bit more than our region can deal with. Funny, it was TS Agnes that did the most damage to our area back in the early seventies. Whatever Sandy's name ends up being, it will be one to be remembered and cursed for a long time. Turn east, dammit.

What part of MD you in? (are you?)

I'm in the pasadena area.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2556

Quoting ces15hurricanes:
Sandy is extratropical, ignoring the hurricane status
No she isn't:


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Quoting indianrivguy:


It could have been much worse on the storm surge had Katrina come ashore 50 miles west which would have impacted New Orleans with storm surge, then Pontchartrain. Or Ike 25 miles south which would have overtopped Galveston Island.

Interesting comment on the cars. I believe that someday a hurricane is going to catch a gridlocked traffic jam. It "could" have happened in Floyd

http://www.intercom.net/~terrypl/evacuation-Plann ing.html

By Terry Plowman

Almost 600 miles wide, and swirling with 130-mph winds and relentless rain, Floyd forced nearly three million people to join the largest evacuation in U.S. history. And it sent this sobering message to the coastal states: You had best take a look at your evacuation plans.

Although no deaths directly resulted, tens of thousands of evacuees suffered through near-gridlock as they tried to flee Hurricane Floyd. Trips that normally would have taken an hour or two took 16 hours or more.

In Florida, an estimated two million people left their homes, "causing an enormous strain on the carrying capacity of evacuation routes," according to a post-Floyd report that described the event as a "worst-case scenario."

Unprecedented traffic flowed northward, flooding into Georgia and the Carolinas, whose own citizens were trying to flee the impending storm. Floyd blew ashore near Cape Fear, North Carolina, with 110-mph winds, then dumped 15 inches of rain in 12 hours, causing post-evacuation flooding on a scale never before seen in the region. /article

Thing with Florida everyone reckons you gotta go north. Now us weather nuts can ususally tell where it will go and what wind we will expect. In most cases you can just shoot from east to west or visa versa to get out the way. Most of the time we just don't leave home anymore unless serious
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Sandy is extratropical, ignoring the hurricane status
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The Euro, GFS, and other similar model Directors could wind up with hefty jail time if this doesnt happen. Oh wait, this isnt Italy.
I think it would make a great tabloid front page picture: a computer in a jail cell.
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Quoting srqthymesage:

Rain barrels from roof gutters with hookup hoses (if not sliding downhill....)? Besides experience, sounds like you may have some imagination going for you, too.


Oh, we'll figure something out - though it might be a bit unconventional, LOL. I think I may just go ahead and de-winterize the camper. That would allow an extra 40 gallons drinking/wash water, plus a little hot water heater, stove, etc. Full water tanks will help with the weight, too. :) I think I'll flush the pipes and go ahead and fill the fresh tanks, just in case.... (arrgggh - it such a PAIN to winterize.)

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All of thing what is happening to Sandy was predicted but like Levi said early in the day..is happening more sooner than expected...All of the models are saying this will be a strong storm ..with winds of strong cat.1 hurricane and TS winds hundreds of miles away from the center

I don´t live in EE.UU but many of member of my family live in new york and new jersey, i´m wishing nothing happen, but all of the models regrettably are saying this would no be a good scenario
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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