It's not often that a Nor'easter centered more than 600 miles out to sea brings heavy snow and and major coastal flooding to New England, but Winter Storm Saturn
is a one-of-a-kind. The massive storm, which was centered about 600 miles east-southeast of New York City at 7 am EST, sprawls out over a huge area of ocean more than 1000 miles across. While the central pressure of 988 mb is not exceptionally low for a Nor'easter, the sheer size of the storm is allowing Saturn to pile up a formidable storm surge, which hammered the coast of Eastern Massachusetts during the Friday morning high tide cycle, causing severe erosion, widespread street flooding, and damage to roads and houses. Snowfall amounts as high as 18" have fallen in Massachusetts (in West Walpole), and a band of moderate snow has set up along an arc from New York City to Boston. The big storm has dumped 6+" of snow on seventeen states this week, from North Dakota to Massachusetts. The deepest snows fell in the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia and eastern West Virginia, where a number of locations received over twenty inches. The top snow-getter was Franklin, West Virginia, with 24". Figure 1.
Satellite image of Winter Storm Saturn at 9:45 am EST Friday March 8, 2013. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.
There's a nice 3-day animation
of these satellite images available from NASA. Figure 2.
A house slides into the ocean waters at Plum Island, MA, after being hit by pounding waves from Winter Storm Saturn on Friday, March 8, 2013. (Courtesy: NECN)Moderate to major coastal flooding in Massachusetts
The island of Nantucket, MA, which is south of Cape Cod and thus the land area closest to the center of WInter Storm Saturn, has received the worst pounding from the storm's wind and water. The island has observed wind gusts greater than 40 mph every single hour since 6 pm Wednesday evening, and will probably continue to so so until late Friday afternoon (thanks to Eric Fisher for this stat.) A storm surge of 3' hit Nantucket Island
on both Thursday and Friday. The storm tide--the height of the water above the high tide mark--reached 2.63' during the Friday morning high tide, and 2.57' during the Thursday morning high tide cycle. These heights beat out the Blizzard of 1978 for 5th highest Nantucket water level since records began in 1965. Only Nor'easters in 1991, 2013 (Nemo),
1992, and 1987 brought higher water levels to Nantucket. Boston was too far to the north of Winter Storm Saturn to receive a top-ten storm tide; the storm surge water level peaked at 2.62' above the high tide mark
during the Friday morning high tide, well short of the 3.43' needed to crack Boston's top-ten list.
Our Winter Storm Saturn
Section has more on the storm. You can also track current storm surge levels using our wundermap with the storm surge layer
turned on.Join me in Austin, TX on Monday for "Climate Change and the Individual"
I'll be in Austin, Texas on Monday March 11, where I'll be speaking at a panel discussion on climate change that the public is invited to (it's free.) The event is at Bourbon Girl, 212 East 6th Street, 2:30 - 3:30 pm. On stage with me will be David Kenny, CEO of The Weather Channel, and Peter Glatzer and Adrian Grenier, co-founders of SHFT.com.
Adrian is the star of the HBO TV series, Entourage. SHFT.com's mission is to convey a more sustainable approach to the way we live through video, design, art and culture. The event is part of "SHFT@Austin", which runs from 10:30 am - 6 pm at Bourbon Girl. The event features a Green Gadget Lab, SHFT's Year on the Road Photo Gallery, in-car app demos in Ford electric cars, and some of The Weather Channel's latest innovations.
Wunderground's climate change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood has a very detailed article in the Washington Post
on what it would take for the U.S. to catch up to the European ECMWF group in forecasting skill: "the benefit of additional money can be important, but the impact will be patchy. To be the best in forecasting, the U.S. must face the underlying issues of fragmentation and provide the U.S. organizations responsible for weather forecasting a stable environment in which to function. "