First Hurricane Sandy, now Winter Storm Athena for the Eastern U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:57 PM GMT on November 07, 2012

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Winter Storm Warnings are up for Southwest New Jersey, Northern Delaware, and Southeast Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, PA, where Winter Storm Athena is expected to drop 3 - 5" of snow today through Thursday morning. Slushy accumulations of up to 1" are likely in Baltimore, and non-accumulating snow will fall as far south as Washington, DC. Athena, the season's first Nor'easter and first winter storm to get a name under The Weather Channel's new naming system, is spreading rain and high winds into Southern New Jersey and Eastern Long Island, NY this morning. Winds at buoy 44025, about 40 miles offshore from the coast of Central New Jersey, reached 40 mph, gusting to 49 mph, with a significant wave height of 14', at noon EST. Winds at Nantucket, MA have gusted as high as 54 mph this morning. Athena is building a storm surge that has already reached 2.2' at Atlantic City and 1.8' at New York City as of noon EST. A storm surge of 2 - 3.5' is likely along the section of coast most heavily damaged by Sandy's storm surge, and battering waves up to 20' high will cause moderate beach erosion along much of the New Jersey and New York shoreline. The storm surge will cause minor to moderate flooding during this afternoon's high tide cycle near 1 pm EST, and again at the next high tide, near 1 am EST Thursday morning. Fortunately, the high tides this week will be some of the lowest of the month, since we are midway between the new moon and full moon. Wind gusts from Athena will likely reach 50 mph along the coasts of New Jersey and Southern Long Island, NY, and could hit 60 mph on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I expect that Athena's winds, rains, and wet, heavy snows will cause up to 50,000 new power outages today. As of early Wednesday morning, 676,000 customers were still without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy (down from a peak of 8.5 million customers.)


Figure 1. Winter Storm Athena as seen at 9:01 am EST November 7, 2012. Image credit: NOAA/GSFC.


Figure 2. Predicted storm surge at Sandy Hook, NJ, for Winter Storm Athena, from the experimental Extratropical Storm Surge model, run by NOAA's Meteorological Development Laboratory. This model used winds from this morning's 6Z (1 am EDT) run of the GFS model. The peak storm surge (yellowish-brown line) is predicted to be 3.4', occurring Wednesday evening. High tide (green line) occurs near 1 pm Wednesday afternoon, resulting in a peak storm tide of approximately 7.2' around 1 pm Wednesday (black line). For comparison, Sandy delivered a 8.6' storm surge to Sandy Hook before their tide gauge failed, with the storm tide reaching 13.2' above MLLW (Mean Lower Low Water.)

The decision to name Athena
The Weather Channel announced in October that they would begin naming winter storms this year, in an effort to aid in raising awareness and reduce the risks the public faces. One of the main criteria for naming a storm is its impact on populated areas; the meteorology of the storm may not get it named, if the storm doesn't affect a populated area. If Hurricane Sandy had not devastated the region of coast being affected by today's Winter Storm Athena, it may not have gotten a name. With so many people still under recovery efforts even well inland, the combination of heavy, wet snow and wind prompted the decision to name Athena. The models have been trending towards more cold air getting pulled into this system, so it is possible Athena could drop heavier snows than currently advertised. The National Weather Service will not be referring to today's Nor'easter as "Athena". They put out this internal directive: "The NWS does not use named winter storms in our products. Please refrain from using the term Athena in any of our products."

Here are the peak wind gusts from Athena as of 11 am EST on Wednesday, November 7, 2012:



Jeff Masters

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611. MontanaZephyr
4:27 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
For those that like to watch it snow, here is a link to Montana Web Cams Link

Especially pretty is this one from MacDonald Lake in Glacier Park, although the storm is probably not going to affect the far Northwestern part of the state so much Link
Member Since: May 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 432
610. plutorising
4:07 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting Neapolitan:
It's not true. From FEMA's rumor control page:

FEMA

Also here: http://www.snopes.com/fraud/employment/femasandy. asp


so sorry to spread fake news. it sounded like such a good idea.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 80
609. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
3:28 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
608. Tazmanian
3:19 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
El Niño Watch Discontinued


Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114051
607. AussieStorm
3:00 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


did the NYT use the term "Athena".. Just curious

Yes twice...

Just when Consolidated Edison customers thought it was safe to put away the flashlights, Athena blew into town.

The northeaster called Athena (by the Weather Channel) started tearing down power lines on Wednesday faster than an army of repair crews could put them back up.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15749
606. AussieStorm
2:58 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Goodnight all. Rain has stopped but I can hear the creek flowing next to my place. Catch you all in the morning.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15749
605. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:57 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting barbamz:
Storm Aftermath: Continuing Coverage
By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Wednesday’s snowy northeaster knocked out power to nearly 350,000 homes in New York and New Jersey and interrupted train service on the Long Island Rail Road, setting back the recovery effort in a region still reeling from Hurricane Sandy.

More


Good morning over there ... I'm sorry to see those news. --- Tomorrow I'll leave for two days to take part in a conference in Switzerland. I've just heard that several lecturers from the US probably won't be able to come because their flights were cancelled or they got stuck at the airport due to beloved "Athena"...

Best greetings and good recovery for you people in the NE! See you next week. Barb


did the NYT use the term "Athena".. Just curious
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
604. yonzabam
2:57 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


sir...50 mph are quite strong. Those could knock out your power


All depends on the time span the gust has to be maintained for to be designated as that wind speed.

I believe hurricane winds have to be maintained for 60 seconds, for the wind speed to be official. Here in the UK, the gusts of gales have to be maintained for just 10 seconds to be official.

So, a 80mph hurricane will do much more damage than a 80 mph gale would do. I don't know what the situation is with a nor'easter over your way, though.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2421
603. barbamz
2:52 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Storm Aftermath: Continuing Coverage
By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Wednesday’s snowy northeaster knocked out power to nearly 350,000 homes in New York and New Jersey and interrupted train service on the Long Island Rail Road, setting back the recovery effort in a region still reeling from Hurricane Sandy.

More


Good morning over there ... I'm sorry to see those news. --- Tomorrow I'll leave for two days to take part in a conference in Switzerland. I've just heard that several lecturers from the US probably won't be able to come because their flights were cancelled or they got stuck at the airport due to beloved "Athena"...

Best greetings and good recovery for you people in the NE! See you next week. Barb
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 5020
602. GeoffreyWPB
2:51 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10578
600. washingtonian115
2:51 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
That snow shouldn't be around much longer anyways because temps will rise well above freezing over the next couple of days.So enjoy your stink'in snow now because it won't be around for long.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15707
598. ScottGridley
2:47 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Nor'easter looks to be hanging a left at ACK, no?
Member Since: June 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10
597. MontanaZephyr
2:46 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting MTWX:


Would be nice wouldn't it!! I'm jealous of my family in Great Falls!! Wish I was there!


I'll trade yas!

Just starting to dribble little spittle snow in Helena.

"Brutus" huh...? I suppose we can look forward to Olive Oyl, Popeye, SweatPea (whose provenance was never explained), Tweety and Woody Wood Pecker down the road.

Vulgar!
Member Since: May 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 432
596. pcola57
2:44 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
G'morning all,
49 degrees and clear here..
Here's a couple of webcams from my area this am..
(webcams posted kinda small..??)



Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6641
595. washingtonian115
2:44 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting TomballTXPride:

Washi ~ I miss rainy - your old avi. Any chance you can bring her back. You know the green gal. I just loved her!!
Are you talking about the one that had the leaf and red hair?.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15707
594. GeoffreyWPB
2:43 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting Neapolitan:
That wouldn't be so bad; it's not like anyone ever travels during the last full week of November... ;-)


How many pies are you going to make this year and do you deliver? :}
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10578
593. AussieStorm
2:40 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Gauteng storm warning
GAUTENG - The South Africa Weather service has issued a storm warning in the province for this afternoon, Thursday 8 November.
08 November 2012
State metrologists, based in pretoria, said unusual weather was expected over Midrand, Kyalami, Randburg and Sandton CBD.

Two weeks ago, a huge electrical storm hit Johannesburg, leaving devastation in its path. Hail stones the size of golf balls were reported throughout the city. Windows were smashed and vehicles looked as if they had been riddled with bullets after the storm.

Residents are advised to park under cover to prevent vehicle damage, plan their routes, and drive with caution.

Allan Hill commented on twitter; "Take it very easy if you are in JHB, apparently a huge storm with very heavy rain an hail approaching from the south."

Juac Mostert, who may have been affected by the first major storm of the season in Johannesburg, tweeted; "Everyone in JHB, there's a massive hail storm heading over from Boksburg [east] side. Hide your kids, hide your wives, and park your cars under cover!"


Link
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15749
590. GeorgiaStormz
2:39 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
New York's Central Park received a record 4.3 inches of snow, which was the city's earliest 4-inch snowfall on record, according to Nick Wiltgen, meteorologist for The Weather Channel.


some places in NJ and CT got a foot of snow, but i cant find any on traffic cams...
most snow i found was in CT:




All of this is more snow than i average seeing in a whole year and this is a minor storm for them.
12 inches of snow = 4-8 years of GA snow on average.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9452
589. Neapolitan
2:39 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting JeffMasters:
Latest 06Z GFS shows an unsettling possibility for Nov 22 - 23: a tropical cyclone heading towards New England, a blocking ridge in place over Greenland, and a strong negatively tilted trough over the Eastern U.S., which would have the potential to pull the tropical cyclone to the NW and merge with a big extratropical cyclone over New England. Granted, 2-week GFS forecasts are very low reliability, but I don't like seeing another Sandy-type situation predicted by the GFS.

Jeff Masters
That wouldn't be so bad; it's not like anyone ever travels during the last full week of November... ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13269
587. FunnelVortex
2:33 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
I am in the path of the potential Winter Storm/Blizzard Brutus.

But so far, it looks like I will be in the warm sector, so I should only get rain.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2866
586. stratcat
2:32 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
The good ol' Grateful Dead.
Member Since: May 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 15
585. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:30 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting Waltanater:
50 is nothing...ever been in a hurricane before!?


sir...50 mph are quite strong. Those could knock out your power
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
584. washingtonian115
2:29 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Good morning.This storm was very lame for my area.We didn't even see flakes.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15707
582. Waltanater
2:24 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting MontanaZephyr:


But it DOES change something ... it depreciates the meaning of naming storms that really matter. This noreaster is just a piff compared to Sandy or other tropical events.

Too, television is generally vulgar and appeals to vulgar people. I avoid people that watch it, TTYTT. The idea that TV related people would suppose that they may presume to make this move, even in a pop-culture sense, is also offensive and ghastily pretentious.

Ugh!~
EXACTLY!
Member Since: May 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1418
581. AussieStorm
2:21 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting TropicTraveler:

Wow - sounds like tornado weather for sure.

It was coming right at me but then took a right and broke away from the main band and headed SE. From all reports it was a very wild storm.



Take a look at this tweet from PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration)
Talk about a big window forecast.

PAGASA-DOST (@dost_pagasa)
Posted Thursday 8th November 2012 from Twitlonger



THUNDERSTORM WATCH:
Issued at 10:05PM, 08 November 2012

Thunderstorm is more likely to develop in Metro Manila within 12 hours. All are advised to monitor updates.

I'm getting this right now, Nice sleeping weather.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15749
580. Waltanater
2:18 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting Tazmanian:
Winter Weather Advisory is now up for new York city with forcast of 1 too 3" in the city
The ICEMAN COMETH! LOL
Member Since: May 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1418
579. Waltanater
2:16 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:
Approaching 4 inches of snow here in Naugatuck, CT.

Winds have been very gusty, maybe close to 50MPH.
50 is nothing...ever been in a hurricane before!?
Member Since: May 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1418
578. VR46L
2:14 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting TomballTXPride:
Leavin' Texas, fourth day of July,
Sun so hot, the clouds so low, the eagles filled the sky.
Catch the Detroit Lightnin' out of Sante Fe,
The Great Northern out of Cheyenne, from sea to shining sea.


Missing the lyrics that used to be interspersed around the blog LOL :).....Back to lurk mode

Funktop image of east coast

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6613
577. TropicTraveler
2:14 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting Neapolitan:
It's not true. From FEMA's rumor control page:

FEMA

Also here: http://www.snopes.com/fraud/employment/femasandy. asp

Not uncommon for unscrupulous contractors to gather folks up and haul them to disasters, get them to work a few weeks, then skip out without paying them. Please be careful not to be scammed. I've seen these crews left without food and housing trying to get meals from the Red Cross (who are supposed to be serving disaster survivors.) Crews don't even have the cash to get home.
Member Since: July 24, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 919
576. LargoFl
2:06 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Maine..........URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CARIBOU ME
656 AM EST THU NOV 8 2012

MEZ005-006-081700-
/O.CON.KCAR.WW.Y.0024.000000T0000Z-121108T1700Z/
NORTHERN PENOBSCOT-SOUTHEAST AROOSTOOK-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...MILLINOCKET...EAST MILLINOCKET...
PATTEN...MEDWAY...HOULTON...HODGDON...SHERMAN...S MYRNA MILLS
656 AM EST THU NOV 8 2012

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST
TODAY...

* PRECIPITATION TYPE...SNOW...MIXING WITH SLEET AND RAIN.

* ACCUMULATIONS...ADDITIONAL SNOW ACCUMULATION OF AROUND AN INCH
FOR A TOTAL OF 2 TO 4 INCHES...ALONG WITH A POSSIBLE TRACE OF
ICE.

* TIMING...THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THE MORNING.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOWER 30S.

* WINDS...NORTH 10 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 20 MPH.

* IMPACTS...LOW IMPACT. EXPECT SOME TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. SNOW...
FOLLOWED BY A MIX OF SNOW... SLEET...AND RAIN MAY CAUSE SOME
SLIPPERY CONDITIONS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IF TRAVELING...SLOW DOWN AND PLAN EXTRA TIME TO REACH YOUR
DESTINATION. LISTEN TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO ALL HAZARDS OR OTHER
MEDIA OUTLETS FOR THE LATEST FORECASTS AND STATEMENTS.

&&
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33350
575. LargoFl
2:03 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
CONN got the snow for sure............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33350
574. LargoFl
2:00 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33350
573. LargoFl
1:59 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
For West Palm Beach...Beautimus

nice
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33350
572. TropicTraveler
1:59 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting AussieStorm:
Fire & Rescue NSW ‏@FireRescueNSW
#FRNSW responding to widespread incidents of trees and powerlines down across western Sydney as severe #storm cell hits.

Lee Brooks ‏@brooksie101
Supercell storm with hail & winds to 100km/hr downing trees - moving into Liverpool, Moorebank now - Menai, Barden Ridge, Engadine 15mins

Sydney Traffic ‏@sydneytraffic
Penrith: Henry St at High St. TRAFFIC LIGHTS BLACKED OUT Power failure. Impact: Traffic in all dirs. Expected to remain blacked out until 7pm


Wow - sounds like tornado weather for sure.
Member Since: July 24, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 919
570. GeoffreyWPB
1:55 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
For West Palm Beach...Beautimus

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10578
569. LargoFl
1:53 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33350
568. Waltanater
1:53 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting MontanaZephyr:
I can't quite put my finger on why, but there is something vulgar and crass about this naming of winter storms.

Why? Could it be that it is because it is not a discrete entity in the way that a tropical system is...?

Winter storms in the past have developed names when they were memorable... "The Great Blizzard" (1888), for instance. But this Athena business.... who in the world is going to remember this storm even a month from now...? The only name that it even remotely deserves is "Son of Sandy", due to its proximity in time to Sandy.... which makes some people and property more vulnerable... but any other time, any New Yorker would simply call it "November", put on a rain slicker, maybe, and not give it another thought.

THAT is what the problem is: They are elevating the trivial, and, by doing so, somewhat throwing a blanket over events that are not trivial. What's to be next...? The naming of individual clouds?

Hooray for the NWS position on this silliness!
I agree with Montana here. Winter storms should not be named at all...they come and go and people really don't care if it is named or not. If it's memorable in some way, put a label on it and be done with it.
Member Since: May 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1418
567. LargoFl
1:51 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
I like the new graphics the NWS is putting out now........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33350
566. trHUrrIXC5MMX
1:49 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting JeffMasters:
Latest 06Z GFS shows an unsettling possibility for Nov 22 - 23: a tropical cyclone heading towards New England, a blocking ridge in place over Greenland, and a strong negatively tilted trough over the Eastern U.S., which would have the potential to pull the tropical cyclone to the NW and merge with a big extratropical cyclone over New England. Granted, 2-week GFS forecasts are very low reliability, but I don't like seeing another Sandy-type situation predicted by the GFS.

Jeff Masters


Thanks Dr. Master... I just can't handle this storms anymore
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
565. MTWX
1:48 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I'd love to be in Montana. Winter Storm Brutus is expected to bring blizzard conditions to the area.



Would be nice wouldn't it!! I'm jealous of my family in Great Falls!! Wish I was there!
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1391
564. etxwx
1:48 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Good morning all. This morning's podcast on EarthSky.org has an interesting feature on hole punch clouds.



Andrew Heymsfield on hole-punch clouds made by jets

Excerpt: You might be familiar with contrails, those wispy strands of clouds made by jet exhaust high in the sky. But you might never have seen a hole-punch cloud. They’re very strange clearings in the cloud cover – clear patches of sky, often with a circular shape. Sometimes people report them as UFOs. Some thought airplanes created hole-punch clouds – but just how they did it was unclear.

EarthSky spoke with Andrew Heymsfield, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He led a team that showed a relationship between these strange-looking clouds, jet aircraft and snowfall. He told EarthSky:

This whole idea of jet aircraft making these features has to do with cooling of air over the wings that generates ice.

His team found that – at lower altitudes – jets can punch holes in clouds and make small amounts of rain and snow. As a plane flies through mid-level clouds, it forces air to expand rapidly and cool. Water droplets in the cloud freeze to ice and then turn to snow as they fall. The gap expands to create spectacular holes in the clouds.

He said: "We found an exemplary case of hole-punch clouds over Texas. From satellite imagery you could see holes just pocketing the sky, holes and long channels where aircraft had been flying at that level of the cloud for a while."

Dr. Heymsfield used a weather forecast model developed at NCAR – and radar images of clouds from NASA’s CloudSat satellite – to explain the physics of how jet aircraft make hole-punch clouds.


Photos, remainder of article and podcast can be found here.
Member Since: September 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1214
563. LargoFl
1:48 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
wow COLD up in the Panhandle of florida huh.............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33350
562. AussieStorm
1:48 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


WS Brutus is here. I forgot NWS does not do that

This is where I got those from.... Bit confusing when he calls it Brutus but NOAA/NWS doesn't in the linked products I posted in #553

Jim Cantore ‏@JimCantore
On to #Brutus: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/FXC/make_img.php?wfo=slc&i name=Active_Screen1L&size=1&force=no … http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/FXC/wxstory.php?wfo=byz … http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/FXC/wxstory.php?wfo=tfx …
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15749
561. AztecCe
1:48 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
Quoting LargoFl:
looks good over in Texas this week...............
I miss texas. I used to live in clear lake city south of houston
Member Since: October 12, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 178

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About JeffMasters

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