Angela's Blog

Superstorm Sandy: Impacts and Forecast

By: angelafritz, 6:32 PM GMT on October 30, 2012

Superstorm Sandy lived up to its forecast last night, bringing storm surge and strong winds to the eastern United States from the Carolinas north to Maine and west to Ohio and Michigan. Millions of people remain without power on Tuesday, and it's likely that some customers will remain without power for days as crews work to restore service. Storm surge was the biggest impact along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast, as an incredible surge came ashore from New Jersey to New York, crippling the coastlines and leaving many people stranded. The Battery in Lower Manhattan reached an all-time record water level of 13.88 feet, brought about by a surge of 9.23 feet on top of high tide. This surge smashed the record 11.2' water level recorded during the great hurricane of 1821. Roofs are collapsing in West Virginia today as snow continues to fall. Over 2 feet of snow is already on the ground in West Virginia and Maryland as a result of Sandy. Winds gusted beyond 60 mph Monday night in Cleveland, OH, where hundreds of thousands of customers lost power and continue to be without power on Tuesday.


Current infrared + visible satellite imagery of Sandy.


Current 1-3 day rainfall forecast from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center.

Impact Forecast

Sandy's inland impacts are forecast to continue through the week. Weather will probably return to "normal" for most people by Friday.

Wind

Strong winds are forecast to continue Tuesday across the northeast, the high elevations of the Appalachians, and west into the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes will see sustained winds of 30-40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. The northeast will see slightly weaker sustained winds, from 10-30 mph, but similar gusts up to 50 mph. The Mid-Atlantic can expect winds of 20-30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph.

Surge and Coastal Flooding

Though the worst of the storm surge is over, there is still some strong onshore flow, which will continue to push water toward the coast. This might cause otherwise dry areas to see coastal flooding during high tide. According to the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, the following water heights could be reached above ground:

Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds -- 2 to 4 feet
Upper and Middle Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay -- 2 to 4 feet
Delmarva Peninsula northward through the Jersey shore -- 1 to 3 feet
New York northward to Massachusetts -- 1 to 2 feet

The Great Lakes might also see continued coastal flooding along the southern shores as winds from the north push water toward those coasts.

Rainfall and River Flooding

Rainfall is tapering off on Tuesday. Scattered thunderstorms are tracking through Maine on Tuesday afternoon, bringing heavy rain and potential flooding of urban areas and streams. Another inch of rain is possible in some states, especially Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. In general, scattered showers will continue in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes states.

Some rivers in the Mid-Atlantic are approaching moderate or major flood stage, including the Potomac and the Monocacy River (see below).

Snow

Snowfall is also tapering off. Snow has fallen in Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. 2 to 3 feet of snow will have fallen as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Blizzard and winter storm warnings are in effect from West Virginia to far northeast Tennessee and far western North Carolina.





You can see more river forecasts in this region here.

Hurricane

Updated: 12:27 AM GMT on October 31, 2012

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Sandy: State by state impact forecasts

By: angelafritz, 11:43 PM GMT on October 28, 2012

We're seeing impacts as far west as Ohio on Monday evening. Wind gusts of 64 miles per hour have been reported in Cleveland, Ohio, where the winds have also brought down trees on to power lines. Widespread power outages have been reported from the Northeast to Ohio and south to North Carolina.

For local storm warnings and advisories, check out the "Severe Weather" layer on Wundermap. Click your location to see the advisories in effect.

Maine

• Storm tide and surge: 1 to 2 feet of storm surge on top of tides.
Wind: 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening.
• Rain: Widespread totals from 1 to 3 inches, with isolated amounts up to 5 inches
• Inland Flooding: Significant urban and small stream flooding is possible, which could linger into Tuesday.
• Power outages: Spotty power outages are possible as wind takes down branches and trees.

Vermont/New Hampshire

Wind: 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. Gusts to 70 mph on exposed slopes and higher elevations. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening.
Rain: Widespread totals from 1 to 3 inches, with isolated amounts up to 5 inches
Inland Flooding: Significant urban and small stream flooding is possible, which could linger into Tuesday.
Power outages: Spotty power outages are possible as wind takes down branches and trees.

Massachusetts

• Storm tide and surge: Up to 4 feet of storm surge on top of tides, with a 10-20% chance of surge exceeding 5 feet.

Storm tide forecast for Buzzards Bay, MA is 7-8 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Woods Hole, MA is 6-7 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Nantucket, MA is 6-7 feet.

Wind: Gusts up to 40 mph are still possible into Tuesday.
• Rain: Widespread totals from 1.5 to 3 inches, with isolated amounts up to 5 inches
• Inland Flooding: Significant urban and small stream flooding is possible, which could linger into Tuesday.
• Power outages: Spotty power outages are possible as wind takes down branches and trees

Rhode Island

• Storm tide and surge: 4 to 5 feet of surge is possible on top of tides, with a 10-20% chance of surge exceeding 5 feet.

Storm tide forecast for Newport, RI is 8-9 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Providence, RI is 10-11 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Block Island, RI is 7-8 feet.

Wind: 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening
• Rain: Widespread totals from 1.5 to 3 inches, with isolated amounts up to 5 inches
• Inland Flooding: Significant urban and small stream flooding is possible, which could linger into Tuesday.
• Power outages: Spotty power outages are possible as wind takes down branches and trees

Connecticut

• Storm tide and surge: 6 to 9 feet of surge is possible on top of tides, with a 60% chance of surge exceeding 5 feet west of Bridgeport. Surge will be worse as you move west along the Connecticut coastline.

Storm tide forecast for New London, CT is 8-9 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Bridgeport, CT is 14-15 feet.

Wind: 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening
• Rain: Widespread totals from 1.5 to 3 inches, with isolated amounts up to 5 inches
• Inland Flooding: Significant urban and small stream flooding is possible, which could linger into Tuesday.
• Power outages: Power outages are possible as wind takes down branches and trees

New York

• Storm tide and surge:
Long Island Sound -- 6-7 feet on top of tide with a 50% chance of exceeding 7 feet. Storm tide forecast for Port Jefferson is 13-14 feet.
Manhattan -- 4-5 feet on top of tide with a 40% chance of exceeding 7 feet.
Staten Island -- 4-5 feet on top of tide with a 60% chance of exceeding 7 feet.

Storm tide forecast for Montauk, NY is 7-8 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Port Jefferson, NY is 13-14 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Kings Point, NY is 12-13 feet.
Storm tide forecast for The Battery, NY is 9-10 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Bergen Pt, NY is 10-11 feet.

Wind: Long duration, damaging winds expected. 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 80 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and night.
• Rain: Widespread totals from 2 to 4 inches, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches, especially in the higher elevations. 1 to 2 inches PER HOUR are expected where the heaviest rain bands set up.
• Inland Flooding: Widespread urban flooding is expected Monday and into Tuesday. Fast-responding streams are expected to flood, as well. The flooding will be exacerbated by blockages in storm drains as well as rising storm tide.
• Power outages: Power outages are possible, even likely, as wind takes down branches and trees.

Pennsylvania

• Storm tide and surge: 1 to 2 feet of surge is possible on top of tides, with a 30-40% chance of surge exceeding 3 feet.

Storm tide forecast for Philadelphia, PA is 8-9 feet.

Wind: 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 70 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening and into Tuesday. Wind speeds will increase closer to the coast.
• Rain: Widespread totals from 4 to 10 inches, with the highest amounts mainly from Philadelphia metro southward. Heavy rain is expected to begin Sunday night, with the heaviest occurring Monday night into Tuesday.
• Inland Flooding: Significant urban and small stream flooding is possible, which could linger into Tuesday. RIver flooding is possible.
• Power outages: Power outages are likely as wind takes down branches and trees.

West Virginia

Wind: 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening and into Tuesday.
Rain: Rainfall up to 4 inches though Tuesday.
Inland Flooding: Significant small stream flooding is possible.
Power outages: Power outages are likely as wind and snow takes down branches and trees.
Snow: Blizzard warnings are in effect for the mountain regions of the state, where up to 3 feet of snow could fall in the highest elevations.

New Jersey

• Storm tide and surge: 4 to 5 feet of surge is possible on top of tides, with a 30-50% chance of surge exceeding 7 feet. Surge will be worse as you move north along the New Jersey coastline.

Storm tide forecast for Sandy Hook, NJ is 10-11 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Atlantic City, NJ is 9-10 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Cape May, NJ is 9-10 feet.

Wind: 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 70 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening and into Tuesday. Wind speeds will increase closer to the coast.
• Rain: Widespread totals from 4 to 10 inches. Heavy rain is expected to begin Sunday night, with the heaviest occurring Monday night into Tuesday.
• Inland Flooding: Significant urban and small stream flooding is possible, which could linger into Tuesday. RIver flooding is possible.
• Power outages: Power outages are likely as wind takes down branches and trees.

Delaware

• Storm tide and surge: 4 to 5 feet of surge is possible on top of tides, with a 20% chance of surge exceeding 6 feet.

Storm tide forecast for Reedy Point, DE is 8-9 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Lewes, DE is 9-10 feet.

Wind: 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 70 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening and into Tuesday. Wind speeds will increase closer to the coast.
• Rain: Widespread totals from 4 to 10 inches. Heavy rain is expected to begin Sunday night, with the heaviest occurring Monday night into Tuesday.
• Inland Flooding: Significant urban and small stream flooding is possible, which could linger into Tuesday. RIver flooding is possible.
• Power outages: Power outages are likely as wind takes down branches and trees.

Maryland and Washington D.C.

• Storm tide and surge: 4 to 5 feet of surge is possible on top of tides on the ocean coast, with a 10-20% chance of surge exceeding 6 feet.
Wind: 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening and into Tuesday. Wind speeds will increase closer to the coast, and will also be stronger along the ridges.
• Rain: Widespread totals from 3 to 6 inches, with locally higher amounts, especially in the D.C. metro. Heavy rain is expected to begin Sunday night, with the heaviest occurring Monday night into Tuesday.
• Inland Flooding: Moderate to major flooding is possible on the smaller creeks and streams. Flooding is also possible on the larger mainstream rivers beyond Tuesday.
• Power outages: Power outages are likely as wind takes down branches and trees.
Snow: Blizzard warnings are in effect for the western mountain region of the state, where up to 3 feet of snow could fall in the highest elevations.

Virginia

• Storm tide and surge: 2 to 4 feet of surge is possible on top of tides on the ocean coast.

Storm tide forecast for Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, VA is 6-7 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Wachapreague, VA is 7-8 feet.
Storm tide forecast for Kiptopeke Beach, VA is 6-7 feet.

Wind: 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening and into Tuesday. Wind speeds will increase closer to the coast, and will also be stronger along the ridges.
• Rain: Widespread totals from 3 to 6 inches, with locally higher amounts, especially in the D.C. metro. Heavy rain is expected to begin Sunday night, with the heaviest occurring Monday night into Tuesday.
• Inland Flooding: Moderate to major flooding is possible on the smaller creeks and streams. Flooding is also possible on the larger mainstream rivers beyond Tuesday.
• Power outages: Power outages are likely as wind takes down branches and trees.

North Carolina

• Storm tide and surge: 2 to 4 feet of surge is possible on top of tides.

Storm tide forecast for Duck Pier, NC is 7-8 feet.

Wind: 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening and into Tuesday. Wind speeds will increase closer to the coast, and will also be stronger along the ridges.
• Rain: An additional 1 to 3 inches possible overnight Sunday.
• Inland Flooding: Flood threat is tapering off as Sandy moves north.
• Power outages: Sporadic power outages are possible as wind breaks branches off trees.



Hurricane

Updated: 4:39 AM GMT on October 30, 2012

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Sandy tied for 2nd largest tropical cyclone since 1988

By: angelafritz, 12:18 AM GMT on October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is now the 2nd largest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic since 1988, tied with Hurricane Lili of 1996. Sandy's tropical storm-force winds now extend 450 nautical miles from the center on the northeast side of the hurricane. This is a very, very large storm, and I suspect the #1 spot (Olga of 2001) is in jeopardy, as well.

Top 12 Largest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones

These sizes were determined using the Extended Best Track dataset (Demuth et. al 2006).

Name, Year: Radius of tropical storm-force winds (nautical miles)

1. Olga, 2001: 600
2. Lili, 1996, 450
2. Sandy, 2012: 450
3. Tanya 1995: 400
3. Irene 1999: 400
3. Igor, 2010: 400
4. Wilma, 2005: 375
5. Felix, 1995: 360
5. Michael, 2000 360
5. Irene, 2005: 360
5. Florence, 2006: 360


High resolution MODIS visible satellite image of Hurricane Sandy on October 27, 2012.

Angela

Hurricane

Updated: 9:10 PM GMT on November 12, 2012

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New poll shows Americans are feeling the impact of climate change

By: angelafritz, 8:16 PM GMT on October 10, 2012

A report from the Yale Project on Climate Change and Communication shows that the impacts of extreme weather and climate change are weighing heavily on the minds of Americans, especially after this year of extreme weather, drought, and heatwaves. The project conducted interviews with 1,061 adults. The results show that more Americans now attribute worsening weather to climate change than in the Spring of this year, or in 2011.


Results from the question, "How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? '…Global warming is affecting weather in the United States.'" Responses shown are "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree." Results from the Fall 2012 poll are in red, and results from the Spring 2012 poll are in blue.

The project reports the following results:

• A large and growing majority of Americans (74%, up 5 points since the project's last national survey in March 2012) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”

• Asked about 6 recent extreme weather events in the United States, majorities say global warming made each event “worse.” Americans were most likely to connect global warming to the record high temperatures in the summer of 2012 (73%).

• Americans increasingly say weather in the U.S. has been getting worse over the past several years (61%, up 9% since March).

• A majority of Americans (58%) say that heat waves have become more common in their local area over the past few decades, up 5 points since March, with especially large increases in the Northeast and Midwest (+12 and +15, respectively).

• One in five Americans (20%) says they suffered harm to their health, property, and/or finances from an extreme heat wave in the past year, a 6 point increase since March. In addition, 15% say they suffered harm from a drought in the past year, up 4 points.


Results from the question, "Some people say that global warming made each of the following events worse. How much do you agree or disagree?" Responses range from "strongly agree" in dark red to "strongly disagree" in dark blue.

Asked about these six extreme weather events, the majority of respondents said that global warming made the events "worse." They were least likely to associate the derecho in June 2012 to global warming. While heat waves and drought seem to be easily linked to global warming, it's harder for people to draw a line between a warmer atmosphere and events like a strong derecho. The June 2012 derecho tracked from Chicago to Washington D.C. and also made a strong appearance in the Twitterverse. The storm killed 26 people, left 3.5 million people without power for days, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The amount of energy available to the storm (in the form of heat and moisture) was very high—our Weather Historian Christopher C. Burt pointed out that the number of heat-related records set around the time and location of the derecho were "extraordinary." It's likely that global warming did play a role in the intensity of the derecho. How much of a role is hard to determine. Jason Samenow from the Capital Weather Gang posed this question to Harold Brooks, a scientist at NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory. Brooks's response to the question of whether there was a climate change role in the derecho: "Not to a particularly significant extent. The hot surface temperatures and high lapse rates aloft directly contributed. I’m not sure how much of either of those goes to long-term warming trends. An important aspect was the set up of the vertical wind profile in relationship to storm motion."

Links and News

• PBS NewsHour special: Chicago Fights Extreme Urban Heat With Greener Ideas

• PBS Frontline special coming on October 23rd: Climate of Doubt

• NOAA: Arctic summer wind shift could affect sea ice loss and U.S./European weather

• NCDC State of the Climate: January to September 2012 the warmest such period on record for the U.S.

• From the AP, "Experts: Global warming means more Antarctic ice"

Angela

Climate Change Climate Change Politics

Updated: 9:55 PM GMT on October 10, 2012

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About angelafritz

Atmospheric Scientist here at Weather Underground, with serious nerd love for tropical cyclones and climate change. Twitter: @WunderAngela

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