A devastating situation is setting itself up for the east coast of the United States, which will impact 50 to 60 million people. Hurricane Sandy has been gradually hooking to the left this morning. Sandy has also been strengthening and is packing winds of 90 mph. It's possible it could strengthen somewhat more before landfall
Here's the thing though. Tropical systems get their energy from warm ocean waters. Today, Sandy will go through a transformation into a hybrid between a tropical cyclone and a mid-latitude cyclone. Sandy will interact with a big dip in the Jetstream that's in the eastern United States. We call a dip in the jet stream a trough in meteorology. Despite cooler waters, the storm will still strengthen as it approaches shore thanks to energy that will be injected into the storm from the trough. This is called "baroclinic" energy. This is the energy that a cyclone can get from the atmosphere when warm and cold air masses are close to one another. This is truely a superstorm! Sandy's central pressure has dropped to 943mb. That makes it the lowest central pressure north of Cape Hatteras, NC on record. Pressure this low is extremely rare.
Sandy is on track to make landfall this evening Most forecast models are showing it making landfall along the Jersey Shore.
Sandy is a monster of a storm. Tropical storm-force winds extend 520 miles from its center. That's a massive amount of real-estate that makes Sandy the second largest tropical cyclone ever in the Atlantic. The largest was Olga back in 2001. On Sunday with peak impact still a day away, water levels had already rose 2-4 feet from normal from Virginia to New York. Winds gusted over 60 mph for parts of Virginia and North Carolina. Those same areas have picked up between 1-2" of rain. Below are more details about the threats that this storm will pose to the northeast U.S.
The storm surge Sandy will produce is going to be a huge threat. Sandy is forecast to bring a near record storm surge to parts of northern New Jersey, New York City, and Long Island. The forecasted 6-11 foot surge could cause billions of dollars in damage if it hits near high tide at 9 pm EDT on Monday. Monday's full moon will also add an addition 2-3 feet for water levels. Depending on what exactly happens, the water could over top flood walls in Manhattan. That could mean that the city's storms surge could flood part of the New York City subway system. The transit system in New York City as well as many in the region has been shut down.
On Monday and Tuesday, a 500 mile section of coastline will see 55-75 mph sustained winds with another 500 miles of coastline seeing tropical storm-forced winds. Trees are still in leaf and because of Sandy's relatively slow motion that could mean widespread power outages due to downed trees. Wind damage alone could cost billions. Johns Hopkins University has a power outage computer model that shows 10 million people could lose power from the storm.
Sandy's heavy rains between 5-10" will likely cause major river flooding. It likely won't be as bad as the flooding with Irene. Soil moisture is much lower than it was with Hurricane Irene. Still, it will be a serious threat in the area. Below is the projected rainfall in the coming 5 days.
Part of the Appalachian Mountains along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina could see up to a foot of snow or more as colder air will get wrapped in on the backside of Sandy.
Those are the major impacts from Sandy. This is shaping to be a historic storm. Hopefully, it isn't as bad as it is sounding, but this thing needs to be taken seriously! Hundreds of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate. Some people may say well it's only a weak category 1 hurricane, but the thing is this is not your average hurricane. This is a strong and immense hybrid cyclone that will be capable of billions of dollars in damage and taking lives. So if you have family and friends in the area make sure they are taking this storm seriously and are taking the proper precautions. We'll continue to monitor Sandy and update this blog as we wait for Sandy to come ashore later today.