Sandy slams Cuba, intensifies over the Bahamas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:39 PM GMT on October 25, 2012

Hurricane Sandy shrugged off wind shear of 20 knots and passage over the southeastern tip of Jamaica yesterday afternoon, explosively deepening into a top-end Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Sandy made landfall in Southeastern Cuba around 1 am EDT this morning near Santiago de Cuba, which experienced sustained winds of 78 mph, gusting to 114 mph. Winds at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba peaked at 58 mph, gusting to 72 mph, at 3 am local time this morning, and the base received 3.51" of rain from Sandy as of 8 am EDT this morning. Punta Lucrecia, Cuba on the north coast of Cuba received 8.42" of rain from Sandy as of 8 am EDT. Cuban state media is reporting that one person was killed on Cuba, and damage was heavy, with thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. Damage was also substantial on Jamaica, where one person was killed, and power was knocked out for 70% of the island's residents. One death has been reported in Haiti due to flooding.

Sandy survived the crossing of Cuba's high mountains with its inner core relatively intact, and is now re-intensifying over the warm waters of the Central Bahama Islands. The latest 9:30 am center fix from the Hurricane Hunters found a central pressure of 965 mb, down 3 mb in 1.5 hours. The eye is intermittently visible on satellite loops, and Sandy appears to be holding its own against the high 30 knots of wind shear affecting it.


Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy approaching landfall in Southeast Cuba as seen by Cuban radar at 10:15 pm EDT Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Image credit: Cuban Institute of Meteorology.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Sandy.

Forecast for Sandy
Wind shear is expected to rise to 40 - 55 knots by Friday, as Sandy interacts with a trough of low pressure to its west. The high shear should disrupt Sandy's inner core and reduce the maximum winds. However, the trough will also inject energy into Sandy, and the hurricane's winds will spread out over a wider area of ocean, keeping the storm surge threat high. This large wind field will likely drive a storm surge of 5 - 8 feet in the Bahamas. Sandy will make its closest pass by Nassau around 8 am EDT Friday.

The latest set of 00Z (8 pm EDT) and 06Z (2 am EDT) computer model runs are in substantial agreement for the next 3 days, but Sandy's future is as clear as mud after that. Sandy will continue to punish the Bahamas today and Friday, as it tracks north to north-northwest. Sandy will probably come close enough to the Southeast U.S. on Saturday afternoon to spread heavy rains to the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina. However, the 4 - 6 day computer model forecasts for Sunday - Tuesday diverge widely. The GFS model, which has been one of our two top models for predicting hurricane tracks the past two years, has been very inconsistent with its handling of Sandy. Runs of the GFS model done 6 hours apart, at 8 pm last night and 2 am EDT this morning, were 300 miles apart in their position for Sandy on Tuesday, with the latest run predicting a landfall in Maine on Wednesday morning. On the other hand, the ECMWF model, our other top model for predicting hurricane tracks, has been very consistent in its handling of Sandy. The ECMWF model has Sandy hitting Delaware on Monday afternoon, the same forecast it has had for three consecutive runs. The other models tend to follow one extreme or the other, and NHC is picking a solution somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. An extra set of balloon-borne radiosondes is going to be launched at 2 pm EDT Thursday all across the U.S., which should help this evening's model runs. Extra radiosondes will be launched every 6 hours through Saturday afternoon.


Figure 3. This Maximum Water Depth storm surge image for the Bahamas shows the worst-case inundation scenarios for a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, as predicted using dozens of runs of NOAA's SLOSH model. For example, if you are inland at an elevation of ten feet above mean sea level, and the combined storm surge and tide (the "storm tide") is fifteen feet at your location, the water depth image will show five feet of inundation. No single storm will be able to cause the level of flooding depicted in this image. Sandy's maximum storm surge may reach levels portrayed in this image for some islands in the Bahamas. See wunderground's storm surge pages for more storm surge info.

The Northeast U.S. scenario
If Sandy makes landfall farther to the north near Maine and Nova Scotia, heavy rains will be the main threat, since the cold waters will weaken the storm significantly before landfall. The trees have fewer leaves farther to the north, which will reduce the amount of tree damage and power failures compared to a more southerly track. However, given that ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast are about 5┬░F above average, there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain. If the trough of low pressure approaching the East Coast taps into the large reservoir of cold air over Canada and pulls down a significant amount of Arctic air, the potential exists for the unusually moist air from Sandy to collide with this cold air from Canada and unleash the heaviest October rains ever recorded in the Northeast U.S., Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. This Northeast U.S. scenario would probably cause damages near $100 million dollars.

The mid-Atlantic U.S. scenario
Landfall Monday along the mid-Atlantic coast on Monday, as predicted by the ECMWF and NOGAPS models, would likely be a billion-dollar disaster. In this scenario, Sandy would be able to bring sustained winds near hurricane force over a wide stretch of heavily populated coast, causing massive power outages, as trees still in leaf fall and take out power lines. Sandy is expected to have tropical storm-force winds that extend out more than 300 miles from the center, which will drive a much larger storm surge than its winds would ordinarily suggest. The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical tides will be at their peak for the month, increasing potential storm surge flooding. Fresh water flooding from heavy rains would also be a huge concern. Given the ECMWF's consistent handling of Sandy, I believe this mid-Atlantic scenario has a higher probability of occurring than the Northeast U.S. scenario. However, it is likely that the models are overdoing the strength of Sandy at landfall. The models have trouble handling the transition from tropical storm to extratropical storm in these type of situations, and I expect that the 940 mb central pressure of Sandy predicted at landfall Monday in Delaware by the ECMWF model is substantially overdone.

Jeff Masters

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596. BDAwx
Need radar where there isn't one? Here's an ok estimate.
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Quoting SFLWeatherman:
Moving NW now?? or NNW??

I believe you are right,you can see the flatenning of the clouds all the way up,like the High pressure in top pushing down a bit making Sandy to flatten and making a turn to the NNW or NW.
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Quoting BahaHurican:Hey, click... we're starting to get the tropical storm winds consistently here, but it's not raining right now... I expect that to change as the evening progresses...


Yeah that should change for you guys pretty soon. Stay safe.
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Dont forget our high def satellite site:

Link
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Quoting sar2401:

Absolutely not true. Much of what's shown on the satellite is high clouds, with very little rain away from the center of Sandy. Katrina's rain field was larger and more intense. Some of these comparisons are bordering on the ridiculous.


How do you know? The clouds look quite deep far away from the center. As far as I know there are no radars in the middle of the ocean...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:



That would be insane - that is all the way down to the coast!
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Quoting FunnelVortex:


Katrina was a pussy when it comes to rainfield.

This one definatley has it bigger.

Absolutely not true. Much of what's shown on the satellite is high clouds, with very little rain away from the center of Sandy. Katrina's rain field was larger and more intense. Some of these comparisons are bordering on the ridiculous.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 25746
Quoting Broward:


really expanding over Florida
Looks like some dry air got in and a blob of convection to the east zoomed away from core. This is her last chance to strengthen...lets see what happens
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Quoting jcpoulard:
Did any one notice the BLOB East of Lesser Antilles ? Any development ?


You talking abou the one halfway between the CV islands and the Antilles? That's the only one that's actually persisted any, so it may have a chance if it gets some spin going. But Sandy's just getting larger and larger until nothing in this hemisphere can develop haha. Maybe once she is gone, and if it is still around, it could spin up in the Caribbean. That area is even less user-friendly at this time of year.

That's just my blobservation.

Apart from Sandy, who is taking punches to the face from dry air like a champ, I see that Tony is still trying desperately to cling to its tropical characteristics. I think that he was stronger than the NHC said he was, possibly 55 kt at one point, maybe a bit more.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 768
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5214
Quoting WarEagle8:
Patrap and others who enjoy a good song...I kept thinking of this song while lurking, so here it is:
Link

Hint: IPANEMA
Is this girl from Ipanema? 'cause I've been listening to this all week...

Quoting clickBOOM:



Weather has been deteriorating slowly throughout today here in Grand Bahama. How are you guys doing in Nassau?
Hey, click... we're starting to get the tropical storm winds consistently here, but it's not raining right now... I expect that to change as the evening progresses...


Quoting Broward:



nasty band heading toward Florida and where is the center?
It's in between Exuma, Long Island, and Cat Island, headed for Cat Island.


Quoting baulas:
Good list that mojofearless listed. To that I would add: make sure you are caught up on your laundry. Kinda hard to get it done once the power is out!
Don't I know it... this was my Laundry weekend, and I didn't have a chance to do anything about it before now...

Quoting jcpoulard:
Did any one notice the BLOB East of Lesser Antilles ? Any development ?
Hello, JC... Glad to see you here. How have people in the Port-au-Prince area fared so far with Sandy?
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.
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tropical nor'easter frankenstorm

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 196 Comments: 63900
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:



Thank u TA
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 18074
2PM


Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5214
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:



That is just crazy.... I cannot fathom widespread damage coated with snow. It would be cool if it panned out for me here in Central VA, but could do without the Euro... that is an absolute worst case scenario for us.
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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 27843
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:



faster and faster


OMG...Al gore was right! Is it going to be like the movie"The Day After" LOL Give it a rest.
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Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 10492
Quoting icmoore:
a href="Photobucket" target="_blank">


So when is the area extent of Sandy going to start being compared to Typhoon Tip? Because she is a a beast!
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Quoting jcpoulard:
Did any one notice the BLOB East of Lesser Antilles ? Any development ?
I have been watching it but IDK about chances for development.
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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 27843
Quoting SFLWeatherman:
Moving NW now?? or NNW??



It looks like its zigzagging around a bit
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a href="Photobucket" target="_blank">
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Quoting ncstorm:
The DGEX model has snowmageddon for nc, va, dc, md and sc..

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


SC too?
The ECMWF barely puts snow in SC
I

Yep
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 18074
Quoting hydrus:


It looks like the moisture is slowly wrapping around the system.
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With the continuos south wind here on Provo, the storm surge on the South side is up to some houses now.
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How big is Sandy's rain field compared to, say, Katrina?
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Moving NW now?? or NNW??

Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5214
Quoting heavyweatherwatcher:


In the USA, election day is 6 Nov...
30 October is just the day before Halloween (though early voters might be voting!)...
LOL!
But, if you are somewhere else- maybe you do have anelection day on 30 October... so check with your local supervisor of elections...


yea I had a brainfart...have election on the mind syndrome...LOL
I am SURE I will have to eat some crow on that post for a while now...DOH!!!!!
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Yep, that is "Larry" (sandy's companion low) heading for Puerto Rico, and he looks mean!
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They're already starting to lose trees in Cat Island.

Here in Nassau winds strengthening, but rain is not very hard right now.

Men from Mangrove Cay Andros who went sponging in the Gold Cay area last week have not returned. I sure they have hunkered down where they are.

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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Sandy has a thing for triangles I believe...



She is near the Bermuda triangle so she may be trying to fit in.
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Sandy has a thing for triangles I believe...


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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 27843
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


If the Euro verifies yes.

Im just amazed at the amount of snow it puts into the west/northern half of NC, and in VA, and that the snow reaches into TN and barely into the NE GA mountains.

If the GFS verifies I would still see some snow, probably not as much though. If we(eastern US) get a major snowstorm out of Sandy on Halloween it will be crazy.
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really expanding over Florida
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Quoting jcpoulard:
Did any one notice the BLOB East of Lesser Antilles ? Any development ?


I dont know,
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Quoting Jarhead6012:
I have a question, IF this monster hits on Tuesday, that is Election day, will they postpone the election in the affected areas until the storm passes??


In the USA, election day is 6 Nov...
30 October is just the day before Halloween (though early voters might be voting!)...
LOL!
But, if you are somewhere else- maybe you do have anelection day on 30 October... so check with your local supervisor of elections...
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Quoting presslord:
Snowcane!


no DOOMCane...LMAO
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Did any one notice the BLOB East of Lesser Antilles ? Any development ?
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Gettin some rain here...

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Quoting ncstorm:
The DGEX model has snowmageddon for nc, va, dc, md and sc..


SC too?
The ECMWF barely puts snow in SC
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9896
Quoting wxchaser97:

Hey, I'm in for snow early this year. But we would also be getting wind from Sandy. My local forecast on Sunday will be difficult in the short term.


If the Euro verifies yes.

Im just amazed at the amount of snow it puts into the west/northern half of NC, and in VA, and that the snow reaches into TN and barely into the NE GA mountains.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9896
550. GGNC
Quoting air360:
Once sandy makes her NE turn in the next 24hrs and is heading in the direction of the SC coast is there the possibility she will not turn back to the NE as soon as everyone thinks? Seems to me once she is heading that way that every single mile she goes NW is that much closer to the NC and OBX coast once she makes that turn back N/NE

PS: Im not wishing/predicting/hoping or anything else. I am trying to learn the scientific reasoning why she is going to do what she is expected to do :)


I'm in the same boat with you. For all the hypotheticals floating around and discussion of the longer range forecasts for the NE coast on Monday and the short term discussion about what is happening with Sandy right now, it's unsettling to have such a large area of disturbed weather directly to the south of the NC coast, moving northward. Ironically, it seems like the one thing that people agree on (or at least haven't really discussed) is this inferred NE curve out to sea, then back NW before landfall.
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The DGEX model has snowmageddon for nc, va, dc, md and sc..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 18074
Please disregard the original post here, poster (me)had a MAJOR brain-fart...LMAO
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Quoting biff4ugo:


When you do one, don't you always do the other...unless you are homeless?

We talk about power outage, because power goes out for alot more people than get hit by the hurricane wind field. The folks inside don't get power either AND they have more damage.

I didn't know about the dog bites before or the walls.


Yep, three different people in my mother's neighborhood were bit by three different dogs in the first 24 hours after Hurricane Ivan. And we had packs roaming the streets in very short order after Katrina. Walk tall. Carry a big stick. Literally.
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I just spoke with my relative in Santiago de Cuba and they said that the city has been seriously damage. Hundreds of houses are partially o completely destroyed. The city is almost without electricity. Neither Flora did so much damage. God help them.
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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