Sandy: Serious As a Heart Attack

By: Bryan Norcross , 4:05 AM GMT on October 27, 2012

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It's one of the ugliest looking hurricanes you'll see, but Hurricane Hunters and satellite measurements confirm that its still tropical enough to be a hurricane... and its on track to cause a pile of trouble.

Two atmospheric processes are counteracting each other at the moment. Strong upper winds are trying to tear the storm apart, but a split in the upper flow is causing, essentially, a strong suction from above which is helping the storm keep going. This situation will likely result in some weakening... which would mean Sandy would drop below hurricane strength. But then the polar jet stream takes over and re-energizes the storm increasing the winds and growing the size. A sharp dip in the jet stream will pick up the reinvigorated Sandy and swing it toward the East Coast. At least that's the plan.

There are some ifs and maybes in that scenario, but the best computer forecast models independently insist that this is what's going to happen... and the not-so-reliable ones say the same thing. So, beginning immediately, it comes down to figuring out how to deal with it.

The ocean will rise along the coast as Sandy makes it's way north, but the biggest coastal problems will come when the center makes landfall. We're unlikely to know exactly where that will be until Monday, but this is critical. The ocean will be pushed toward the coast north of that point and away to the south. The onshore flow of water is exaggerated where bays, inlets, or the shape of the coastline focus the water to make it rise even higher. The most prominent problem spot is New York City, where Long Island and New Jersey make an "L".

Raritan Bay and New York Bay and the south end of Manhattan are especially susceptible to rising water if the center of Sandy comes ashore in New Jersey or south. Much as we saw in Irene, it is potentially a monstrous problem due to the threat to NYC infrastructure and transportation. There are tough decisions ahead for the Mayor and his people.

Right now, the odds favor that southern track. The threat from this situation is serious as a heart attack for anybody near the rising water.

Then there's the wind which is expected to be MUCH higher than Irene at the skyscraper level. The city will also have to be thinking about the threat to people in tall buildings.

The winds... expected to be at or near hurricane strength at landfall... will spread inland for hundreds of miles either side of the storm center. It's hard to imagine how millions of people are not going to be without power for an extended period of time.

Widespread rainfall of 3 to 7 inches with some places getting a foot or more will cause extremely dangerous flash flooding.

And then there's the snow. Heavy wet snow is forecast for the mountains of West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania, mixed with rain at the lower elevations.

The winds will increase Sunday night in the Tidewater of Virginia and spread north through the day on Monday. The best guess right now is that the peak winds will come in overnight Monday night... near high tide and under a full, flooding moon. A triple whammy.

Let me think, what other disastrous thing might happen. It's storm overload, I know... and nobody likes to think about these kinds of things. Nothing here is certain, of course, just becoming more likely with every new piece of data. But one thing is for sure... if this all happens as forecast, and you and your family are stuck in the cold and dark without food and light and communications because you didn't run to the store and get ready... excuses are going to spectacularly hard to come by.


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16. suzi46
10:01 PM GMT on October 28, 2012
thanks..found it on FB..
Member Since: February 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5706
15. auburn (Mod)
6:27 PM GMT on October 28, 2012
Quoting suzi46:
Bryan..why was your latest Blog entry removed?? possibly it was TOO informative?? knew I should have printed it when I saw it earlier this morning..!!!

please update us..thanks!!!


Looks like he removed his own blog for some reason..
Member Since: August 27, 2006 Posts: 547 Comments: 50615
14. suzi46
4:43 PM GMT on October 28, 2012
Bryan..why was your latest Blog entry removed?? possibly it was TOO informative?? knew I should have printed it when I saw it earlier this morning..!!!

please update us..thanks!!!
Member Since: February 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5706
13. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
3:44 AM GMT on October 28, 2012
bnorcross has created a new entry.
12. newenglander007
9:34 PM GMT on October 27, 2012
Your information is very helpful. However, I must take exception to your last comment regarding those not taking heed will have no excuse for not having done so. In my area, hardware stores were already out of lanterns and C batteries when I went shopping early Friday afternoon. Given the demand for 
flashlights and batteries, many people are going to possibly be in the dark 
through no fault of their own. Sometimes there are legitimate excuses. I am
well prepared, having gone without power last October for five days. But there
are also those who can't be prepared because they don't have the financial means. A little empathy and sympathy is in order during extraordinary situations like this weather event.

Member Since: October 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
11. suzi46
3:45 PM GMT on October 27, 2012
yes..whenever there's a serious storm threat it is difficult to remain somewhere between 'panic and apathy'..in this case I think a 'word to the wise' would be to PAY ATTENTION and pray for the best while preparing for the worse!' thanks Bryan for laying this out in no uncertain terms that this could be a 'killer storm' with very dire results!!
Member Since: February 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5706
10. MrstormX
3:45 PM GMT on October 27, 2012
Than You Mr. Norcross!
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
9. texino
2:08 PM GMT on October 27, 2012
late season storms i.e. "Hazel" 1954 have come before and will again. Good logical planning is essential, however; this hysterical doomsday scenario being spread by the comercial weather media is just the sort of thing that engenders apathy among the public when, as often happens, these events fizzle.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
8. AmyElizC
1:34 PM GMT on October 27, 2012
Well put! It was so, so frustrating to wake up this morning and see all over facebook "oh, it's been downgraded to a tropical storm, it won't be bad after all!" I've already posted your article on my wall, hopefully people will read it and realize how serious this is - especially considering that I and many of my friends live in Southeast Pennsylvania.

Member Since: October 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
7. indianrivguy
11:46 AM GMT on October 27, 2012
Thanks Bryan, well spoken.
Member Since: September 23, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 2541
6. Chicklit
11:23 AM GMT on October 27, 2012
Thanks for laying it out there for everyone. Ugly scenario and all too probable.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11328
5. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
6:50 AM GMT on October 27, 2012
P.S. One thing that is going to really become a problem is that by Saturday evening the storm will have diminished to a weak tropical storm (if the models are correct) and appear to be heading out to sea. So, it will be a tough sell to the public that the storm remains a serious threat at that time. Furthermore, the government agencies will be plenty pissed off if, in fact, this turns out to be a screw up by the models (i.e..crying wolf) and limited resources are spent preparing for a non-event. I would have to say that I can rarely recall an event that weighs so heavy on the meteorological community so far as forecasting this thing right.
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 300 Comments: 280
4. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
6:17 AM GMT on October 27, 2012
Krikes Bryan. This means the emergency managers have just 48 hours (as of Saturday morning) to get their plans in order. With 60 million+ people to consider in the zone to be affected this going is going be a very tall order indeed. Perhaps the most extensive weather-related emergency plan in U.S. history.
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 300 Comments: 280
3. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:29 AM GMT on October 27, 2012
nice write up thanks


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
2. originalLT
4:28 AM GMT on October 27, 2012
Thanks Mr. Norcross. Believe me, I know how serious a heat attack is, I had one in Jan. 2009, and then Quintople By-Pass surgery a few days later. It was no fun.
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 7507
1. lat25five
4:19 AM GMT on October 27, 2012
Thx Bryan that blog just about sums it up.
Guess your going to be doing another Sunday night vigil. Good point about the high-rises Sandy has been recording much stronger winds aloft from the onset.

Glad to see you here looking forward to your blogs.
Member Since: February 25, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 44

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

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