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Hurricane Sandy remains a Category 2, continues on its track toward the East Coast

By: Angela Fritz 9:48 PM GMT on October 25, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is tracking north through the Bahamas this afternoon as a Category 2 hurricane. Maximum wind speeds in the hurricane are 105 mph, with a minimum central pressure of 963 mb. Sandy's center is moving through the eastern Bahamas, about 100 miles southeast of Nassau. The hurricane's eye is still not apparent on satellite nor was it clear in the data from today's Hurricane Hunter mission. Gusts in Nassau have reached 39 mph so far today as the hurricane approaches from the south. Buoys west of Nassau have been recording surface winds up to 39 mph, as well. On Abaco Island, just over an inch of rain has fallen today, and almost an inch of rain has fallen in Miami, where rain started last night.

Sandy's appearance on satellite is a bit ragged this afternoon as it approaches very high wind shear (40-50 knots). The hurricane is obviously already undergoing structural changes this afternoon, caused in part by an upper level low over western Cuba. This low is prohibiting Sandy's outflow on the west side, and as a result, the storm appears asymmetrical with a large area of outflow and circulation to the north, and only a tail of circulation on the southeast of the hurricane. Visually, Sandy is a huge storm. Based on clouds alone, Sandy stretches from Jacksonville, Florida, east to Bermuda, and south to the southern Caribbean Sea. Sandy's radius of outer closed isobar is 350 miles, though tropical storm-force winds only extend around 200 miles from the center.

Figure 1. High resolution MODIS visible satellite imagery of Hurricane Sandy early this morning.

Forecast For Hurricane Sandy
As Sandy moves north, it will grow larger and the hurricane's energy will spread out even more, which will lead to a slight decrease in maximum wind speed. Models agree on this steady decrease in intensity over the next few days, though beyond that, the intensity forecast is still in question since Sandy could begin to gain non-tropical energy as it transitions into a non-tropical storm. The track through Saturday evening remains well understood by the models: Sandy will move north with a slight turn to the west before being yanked north-northeast again by the approaching mid-latitude trough. It's at this point in the forecast that the models diverge, though all but the HWRF are forecasting the unfortunate turn back to the west and into the Northeast U.S. Furthest south along the East Coast is the ECMWF, which forecasts a turn into Maryland/North Carolina on Monday. The GFS forecast is a bit further north than the ECMWF, pushing Sandy onshore near Long Island late Tuesday night. However, this represents a large shift south from earlier GFS runs, and puts the Mid-Atlantic into play more than it was in earlier forecasts. The forecast from the National Hurricane Center appears to be a compromise between the ECMWF and the GFS. The Center is forecasting Sandy to approach the New Jersey coast on Tuesday afternoon.

There are many questions surrounding this hurricane and its forecast, but I find it important to convey that Sandy's impacts will be widespread, no matter the location of "landfall." Risk to the Mid-Atlantic seems higher this afternoon, and as Jeff noted in his morning blog, Sandy will be a very large and possibly non-tropical storm as it approaches the coast, with gale-force winds extending up to 300 miles from its center. This increases the probability of storm surge extending far from the center of the storm, which, combined with the timing of a full moon tide, is a big concern, along with freshwater and river flooding from heavy, extended periods of rain.


Figure 2. Today's "extra" 18Z (2pm EDT) weather balloon launched from the Peachtree City office of the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service is launching extra weather balloons all over the country to improve the quality of forecasts as Sandy approaches. Thanks to NWS Meteorologist Alex Gibbs for snapping this shot just before launch!


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

The sulfur stench in Southern CA was discussed here in depth. Now they are saying it could be from volcano..

Earthquake swarms and a region-wide rotten egg smell recently reminded Southern California residents they live next to an active volcano field, tiny though it may be. At the time, scientists said the phenomena did not reflect changes in the magma chamber below the Salton Sea. But now, researchers may need to revise estimates of the potential hazard posed by the Salton Buttes - five volcanoes at the lake's southern tip. The buttes last erupted between 940 and 0 B.C., not 30,000 years ago, as previously thought, a new study detailed online Oct. 15 in the journal Geology reports. The new age - which makes these some of California's youngest volcanoes - pushes the volcanic quintuplets into active status. The California Volcano Observatory, launched in February by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), already lists the area as a high threat for future blasts. "The USGS is starting to monitor all potentially active volcanoes in California, which includes the Salton Buttes," said study author Axel Schmitt, a geochronologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. "With our results, I think this will further enhance the need to look into the system," Schmitt told OurAmazingPlanet. Schmitt and his colleagues dated zircon crystals in the hardened lava of the buttes with a relatively new technique, a "helium clock" that starts ticking once the minerals begin cooling at the surface.

The National Science Foundation's EarthScope project funds an extensive seismic imaging project in the Salton Sea that may soon reveal more information about what's happening deep underground. "We'll be looking with great interest to see what we can tell from the Salton Seismic Imaging Project," said Joann Stock, a Caltech professor and an expert on the region's volcanic hazards who was not involved in the new study. "I think (Schmitt's study) is a great contribution," she said. "It's an area where we should be concerned. We know that there's a lot of hot stuff down there," she told OurAmazingPlanet. In August, an earthquake swarm shook the nearby town of Brawley. The USGS attributed the temblors to faults in the Brawley Seismic Zone. In September, a sulfurous stench emanated from the Salton Sea and wafted across the Inland Empire. The odor was tentatively linked to a fish die-off, but could also have been caused by volcanic gases, Stock said.
Quoting Skyepony:
LA highly flammable, radioactive sinkhole update. Those poor people are still put out of their homes.

A sharp tremor was recorded by USGS monitors just after 9 p.m. Wednesday at the site of the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish. The giant sinkhole appeared in August near the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou areas. The Assumption Parish Police Jury says the tremor was large enough that the body wave phases could easily be identified. A body wave travels through the interior of the earth. The preliminary location of the tremor was just SE of Oxy #3 cavern at a depth of 500m. There is no additional information specific to this seismic activity at this time. The sinkhole is now about four acres in size. Residents were forced from their homes on August third, two months after the bayous started bubbling. They are still evacuated from their homes.

Weird... the quake does not seem to show up on the USGS quake page.
1503. ncstorm
NHC 11am Discussion..

Was someone asking about snow earlier???

1505. LargoFl
NAEFS model at 90 hours,time to prepare is slipping away...
Great site to monitor tide gauges for Sandy:

Hurricane SANDY QuickLook

1507. LargoFl
Quoting ncstorm:
NHC 11am Discussion..

yes thats right
Quoting reedzone:
Long Islanders are actually joking around about it, that's how stubborn they are.

There are all too often very thin lines between joking, nervous joking, false bravado, rank stupidity and sheer fear then helplessness!

The projected surge and wave heights alone would make me pay attention!
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
Quoting Grothar:
Windfield map.

That's frightening, I seriously hope this is very overblown.. I liked the other one (1466) much better, and it is bad.
1511. kwgirl
Quoting NJcat3cane:
Getting a little nervous here about staying on a barrier island in south NJ near AC. Stayed last year with irene but didnt have any bad weather. This storm i think much worse will unfold. For now i am staying and the rest of the family is going inland but this could change. very worried about a storm surge over 8 feet
If you are worried you should leave. Plus, do you really want to replace your auto? Remember, hide from the wind, run from the water. Good morning everyone :)
1512. LargoFl
tree's are starting to feel some gusts now by me..........
Zachary Labe has the right idea on what is happening with "Sandy".........Thanks P for showing the way.

Quoting PublicAdjuster2:
I live in MA near CapeCod....anyone have any idea what type of impact I'm looking at for wind/rains? Looks like I'm out of the cone in the most recent updates.
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Here is what Sandy is doing to George Town Harbour in Grand Cayman right now. Nearly 500 nautical miles ssw of the storm.
1516. hydrus
Quoting indianrivguy:
Man, y'all are posting some good stuff, thanks.

1397. AussieStorm 10:45 AM EDT on October 26, 2012
Great loops Aussie, thanks.

You too Skye, you always come through!

Where's Pat.. He must be going nutz missing this. I know this last year when I was too poor to join you here, I was testy and short because I was missing this place and y'all with it during storm events.
This post deserves a bump. That is why I love this blog, it has the best people when things start looking serious. It is literally saturated with info and intelligent folks.:)..This looks serious..
"Compared to Irene, Sandy will have a much larger area of storm surge impact" - NOAA Media Briefing
1519. guygee

Re: East Coast High Impact Hurricane/Post Tropical Storm San

Postby Andrew » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:26 am
Email from Jeff (and one of the most "eye opening" emails too).

(Scroll down a bit)
Potentially historic and unprecedented hurricane potential for the NE US coast.

Over the next 5 days a set of extraordinary meteorological factors will come together to potentially produce a hurricane impact on the NE US coast that has never before been experienced since the founding of this nation and the keeping of written weather records.

In response to this potential threat, all US weather balloon sounding stations are launching upper air balloons every 6 hours to incorporate the latest data into the forecast models in support of NHC and HPC forecasting operations…this has never happened before!
More here
James Franklin from @NHC_Atlantic first up. #Sandy is a cat1 hurricane, 80 mph, moving NNW out of Bahamas. Turn was expected.

James Franklin from @NHC_Atlantic first up. #Sandy is a cat1 hurricane, 80 mph, moving NNW out of Bahamas. Turn was expected.

Franklin: Another turn back toward the N, then NW, is expected once it gets past the NC coastline. Error grows at days 3-5 days. #Sandy

Franklin: Someone is going to get a significant surge event out of this, but it's still too soon to tell whom. #Sandy

Franklin: Someone is going to get a significant surge event out of this, but it's still too soon to tell whom. #Sandy

NCEP director Uccellini: One complication is transformation from tropical to extra-tropical. #Sandy may not remain tropical to landfall.

Uccellini: When and where this transformation takes place probably won't have a big effect on impacts, however. #Sandy
Uccellini: We're at the 90% level of certainty that #Sandy will make landfall somewhere. Size of storm will dictate big wind/surge impacts.

Uccellini: #Sandy will cause some snow across the Apps, ctrl WV, and further west into eastern OH and into SW PA as colder air moves in.

Thanks for the info on the tremor in Assumption Parish. I was not aware that had occurred and will follow up. I've been following Sandy and have not been paying much attention to anything else. I have relatives in the Sandy impact zone.

Hoping for the best for everyone in the path of this storm.
Quoting sar2401:

Thank you. I think the dry air intrusion, combined with the incredible 50 to 80 knot shear ahead of Sandy, is going to seriously weaken her as a tropical cyclone. The real question at this time is how well she will phase with the trough that will be coming off the east coast. A couple of hundred miles further north or further south will have huge impacts. I'm not smart enough to know what will really happen, and people on the east coast should have been prepared for a hurricane since June 1. I do believe that the remnants of Sandy will have enough warm air wrapping into the trough that the forecasted snows just aren't going to happen. This could also mean more rain, and more flooding. It's going to be a bad storm, no doubt, but I don't think it's Frankenstorm.

Thank you.
Conference call with @NHC_Atlantic right now... talking about error in model track 150-200 miles days 3, 4, 5. That's why the uncertainty
this was a tweet from local station in boston
1525. hydrus
1526. kwgirl
Quoting RitaEvac:
It can be easily stated that should the forecast track and models “spectacular” low pressure verify a storm of rare intensity and tremendous impacts will be felt along the NE and mid-Atlantic coast. Given the forecasted perpendicular strike on the coast, onshore winds will push the Atlantic Ocean inland along the New Jersey and New York coast including New York City. Due to the high blocking over Greenland, the fetch of wind will extend nearly across the entire Atlantic Ocean and this will result in massive wave action aimed at the NE US coast. Lunar tides are also near peak with the full moon on Monday and this combined with the wave run-up and long duration of onshore winds (20-30 hours at 60-80mph) will result in potentially record breaking storm surge values. The potential is there for coastal inundation of sea water never before experienced in the NE US including New York City, but this depends heavily on the exact track of the center of Sandy.

Strong winds will batter much of the mid Atlantic and NE for not hours but days as Sandy moves NW to WNW and slows. These winds will last anywhere from 20-30 hours at 60-80mph with higher gust resulting in widespread power outages and downed trees. Strong winds will spread well inland from the coast into Canada and the OH valley.

Rainfall will be extensive as tropical moisture is brought northward with Sandy and pushed against a stalled front nearly along the higher terrain of the Appalachian mountains. Flooding rainfall due to the high rainfall rates and slow storm motion is likely and it is possible some rivers will reach record crests.

Impacts over the open Atlantic will be severe with a massive area of sustained winds of 60-70mph over hundreds of miles. Wave heights will build into the 20-30 foot range and I would not be surprised to see heights build toward 40-45 feet. Visibilities will be reduced to near zero in blowing sea spray and heavy rainfall.

Potential for widespread travel and commerce disruption as air, surface, sea, and rail travel will likely be significantly impacted along with widespread long term power outages which could last well into November.
I wonder what the lobstermen do with their pots, or is their season over? I heard from some crabbers that their trap lines are scattered in Fl. bay.
Quoting PublicAdjuster2:
I live in MA near CapeCod....anyone have any idea what type of impact I'm looking at for wind/rains? Looks like I'm out of the cone in the most recent updates.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency website
1529. kwgirl
Quoting uncwhurricane85:
im over sandy just another irene...and btw irene was way better looking than this POS, i know its suppost to be some crazy hybrid noreastercane but seriously its not going to have winds much over hurricane strength in reality! Not impressed!
Your ignorance is showing.
Uccellini: Strong winds likely to develop in the Ohio valley and across the Great Lakes, especially east due to the size of the storm.

Uccellini: Want to emphasize - still a range of solutions for #Sandy's track. Track will dictate surge, rain most. Significant surge likely.

Uccellini: Current forecast track points to significant effects and risk of flooding in DC, DE, eastern/central PA and NY.

Question: Can you explain the difference of rain/snow depending on track differences north vs south? What totals can we expect? #Sandy
Uccellini: WV will be the snow area regardless of track due to upper level pattern. #Sandy

Uccellini: 10" of rainfall likely along and east of the eventual track w/ max amount concentrated close. Shift N would include SE NY. #Sandy
Uccellini: Wind likely from Carolinas well into New England. Wind minimum in the Appalachian mtns. Breezy again N/W of #Sandy.

Franklin: 4 days out, it doesn't pay to get too specific about winds given track error & complicated T/ET evolution at landfall. #Sandy
Franklin: Several hundred miles wide area of TS-force winds likely around the track with hurricane force winds close to center. #Sandy

Question: How big will the surge be and how much damage will it do relative to #Irene? #Sandy
Franklin: No specific numbers yet, but numbers higher than #Irene for someone with #Sandy.
Franklin: Wind field & angle of attack with #Sandy means a "very, very, very large area" of surge north of the center. Bigger than

Question: Best sense for what NYC will expect? Franklin: Not 4 days out. Track error is average 200 miles. #Sandy

Franklin: If track shifts south, NYC gets low-mid TS winds. If track shifts north, NYC gets high-end TS-force. #Sandy

Uccellini: Same is true for rainfall. Shift in track north would move rainfall maximum north toward NYC. #Sandy
Question: Any sense on what kind of snowfall we could see? Uccellini: Over 1 foot in WV mtns. Chances for 2' increasing. #Sandy

Uccellini: Lighter amounts in lower elevations in OH, PA, etc. Potential 4-8" in SE/E OH. #Sandy

Question: Chance of impacts being greater inland like #Irene? Uccellini: Chances of 4-8" of rain incr. Slow mvt, topo will enhance.

Franklin: Diff between trop cyclone and ET: With tropical, need storms to bring fast winds down to surface. Very spotty high winds.

Franklin: In #Sandy's case, it's the large-scale pressure field driving winds. This will give us a large area with a uniform wind field.
Question: Can you quantify this in terms of history? Barometric pressure? Franklin: Intensification due to tropical processes ending. #Sandy
Uccellini: The way the two systems are merging are contributing to each other to enhance the process. #Sandy
Quoting AussieStorm:
Question: Chance of impacts being greater inland like #Irene? Uccellini: Chances of 4-8" of rain incr. Slow mvt, topo will enhance.

Franklin: Diff between trop cyclone and ET: With tropical, need storms to bring fast winds down to surface. Very spotty high winds.

Franklin: In #Sandy's case, it's the large-scale pressure field driving winds. This will give us a large area with a uniform wind field.

Aussie ~ you probably missed the bots message, but we're next store now on a new blog.
Quoting TomballTXPride:

Aussie ~ you probably missed the bots message, but we're next store now on a new blog.

bugger, so I have been doing these for nothing??
1538. NJ2S
Walking through manhattan right now you would never know a hurricane is on its way... This city is not prepared!
Quoting AussieStorm:
haha Joe saying the entire AC boardwalk could be destoyed smh this is CRAZY and outtahand
1540. hydrus
Run the WV loop below to about 200 frames and notice the vast air of dry air this thing is gulping up. Now, not sure how this will bode with forecasts and what the models are saying but my guess is that that much dry air could be a very VERY good thing to keep this storm in more in check down the road.