Threat of Northeast Effects from Sandy

By: Bryan Norcross , 2:00 AM GMT on October 24, 2012

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Wow... what an extraordinarily unusual scenario. What seemed like a fluke of an idea - a hurricane-like system hitting the northeastern U.S. - is gaining credibility. Originally the European model was on its own with the spectacular but somewhat bizarre idea that Sandy would be injected with jet stream energy and curve back toward New England as a stunningly strong storm. Now one model after the other, including the ensembles, are favoring a swing back toward the East Coast after the storm goes by Cape Hatteras.

This the the afternoon run of the American GFS model ensembles - multiple lower-resolution runs with slightly different initial information, which allows for the fact that we can't measure the atmosphere precisely among other things.



The majority of the possible tracks now head into the Northeast, New England, or Atlantic Canada.

Could it really be a strong hurricane, as the European model predicts? We know that, occasionally, hurricanes do occur at these high latitudes at the end of October. Famously, the "Perfect Storm", otherwise known as the Halloween Hurricane battered New England in 1991. Also, Category 2 Hurricane Ginny hit Nova Scotia in late October 1963. But, neither were of a scale and impact like the Euro is showing.

With the influence of the jet stream, you would think any storm that comes ashore would be subtropical in nature - part tropical and part like a nor'easter - but the NHC doesn't allow for subtropical hurricanes in their naming scheme. It's considered to be such a rare and nearly impossible event.

The spectacularly unusual confluence of events is the shape and orientation of the dip in the jet stream that is forecast to develop over eastern North America over the weekend - oriented in such a way to pull Sandy inland instead of pushing it out to sea, and the presence of a strong tropical or subtropical system where it can get pulled in. That's so bizarrely unusual that I can't think of another event like it.

This kind of thing occasionally happens with nor'easters, notably the Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950 which curved in off the Atlantic and dumped 20 to 30 inches of snow over a wide area in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, but the odds of it happening with a system that originated in the tropics - with all of the moisture that that implies - are extremely low.

We certainly don't know that it's going to happen, and our concern at the moment is for our friends in the Caribbean and the Bahamas who will take a direct hit from a strengthening hurricane. The Florida and Carolina coasts also need to be ready to take protective action - especially boaters and people right at the coast - depending on the track Thursday to Saturday. But it's not often that credible forecast models consistently forecast a historic event, and with more models leaning that way, we need to be aware and pay attention along the entire U.S. East Coast.

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13. Miami1992
9:09 PM GMT on October 28, 2012
Dear Mr. Norcross:

Your voice on the Weather Channel is soothing. You got me through Andrew and now I find you comforting as I am worried about my 88 year old mother who lives in NY. Never dreamed I would have to wonder about Hurricanes in NY.

Miami misses you, but now you can give aid and comfort to the whole country.

Peace, Rose
Member Since: October 28, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
12. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
3:21 AM GMT on October 25, 2012
bnorcross has created a new entry.
11. 1wthrjunkie
9:45 PM GMT on October 24, 2012
The storm track looks like a giant question mark "?", how appropriate...
Member Since: October 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
10. NEwxguy
4:26 PM GMT on October 24, 2012
Thanks Bryan,sitting here in eastern Mass,when I first saw these models,I just lauged at a typical delusional model,but now as you said little by little other models are starting to lean toward this idea,I have sit up and take notice.STill a lot of things have to fall into place,but still an amazing situation starting to take place.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 878 Comments: 15739
9. georgevandenberghe
1:32 PM GMT on October 24, 2012
People need to be aware that this kind of system is in the climatology
of the Northeast and, although very rare, has precedents. It is
a common fallacy to confuse "rare" with "unprecedented" or "impossible"

Living in the DC area I am waiting (hopefully forever but probably sooner) for the next Hazel analog which would cause extreme
devastation in an area that is much more developed than in 1954.
And there is worse, a more SSE to NNW track just west of the
Chesapeake Bay could cause a storm surge up the Potomac River
on top of other problems. This hasn't happened in the 19th or 20th
centuries or so far in the 21'st. and I'm not thinking this storm will
do it but a future one eventually will.

To put things in perspective, the DC area has less weather hazard
risk than much of the U.S.

Member Since: February 1, 2012 Posts: 18 Comments: 1763
8. GeorgiaStormz
12:02 PM GMT on October 24, 2012
thanks!

Quoting weatherhistorian:
Checking David Ludlum's classic book 'Early American Hurricanes: 1492-1870' he relates the following possible late season hurricanes (or at least tropical storms) violently affecting the U.S. coast north of Hatteras on the following dates:

1693 Oct. 29
1716 Oct. 24-25
1723 Nov. 10
1761 Oct. 23
1770 Oct. 20
1861 Nov. 2-3

How many of these were truly tropical in origin or just powerful northeasters remains in question, although Mr. Ludlum's research indicates they were all tropical storms (or he would not have included them in his work on the subject).



interesting.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
7. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
7:14 AM GMT on October 24, 2012
Checking David Ludlum's classic book 'Early American Hurricanes: 1492-1870' he relates the following possible late season hurricanes (or at least tropical storms) violently affecting the U.S. coast north of Hatteras on the following dates:

1693 Oct. 29
1716 Oct. 24-25
1723 Nov. 10
1761 Oct. 23
1770 Oct. 20
1861 Nov. 2-3

How many of these were truly tropical in origin or just powerful northeasters remains in question, although Mr. Ludlum's research indicates they were all tropical storms (or he would not have included them in his work on the subject).
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 300 Comments: 280
6. flcanes
2:18 AM GMT on October 24, 2012
thx bryan
sandy is being a party pooppper
Member Since: August 20, 2012 Posts: 13 Comments: 1254
4. hurricanejunky
2:09 AM GMT on October 24, 2012
Thanks Bryan! Love your work...glad to see you on TWC and getting the recognition you deserve.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2898
2. wxchaser97
2:07 AM GMT on October 24, 2012
Thanks Mr. Norcross!
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
1. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:05 AM GMT on October 24, 2012
Thank you, Mr. Norcross.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32072

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This is the official blog for Bryan Norcross, Hurricane Specialist at The Weather Channel.

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