Monday 1 p.m.
Hurricane Sandy, with 90-mph winds, is heading for a landfall early this evening in southern New Jersey. As winds have increased, power outages have multiplied, and some neighborhoods are littered with branches and whole trees that have come down. However, the worst is yet to come. There will be more inundation of coastal communities, and areas where the beach erosion is so severe, details of the shoreline will have to be re-mapped even as record books are revised. Torrential rain is spreading westward through Pennsylvania and Maryland as the cloudbursts continue nearer the coast. All that and more will continue to be covered by our stories and videos.
Here is the storm as of late morning:
As the storm approached the coast, the pressure gradient (change of pressure with distance) tightened. This analysis is from noon. Near the coast, the lines should really be closer together because the surface pressure in the center of the storm is not captured by the data set used to make this map.
The map is an experimental National Weather Service model forecast of what the radar should look like along the East Coast at 4:30 p.m. today (Monday). Maps are generated for times only 15 minutes apart. Note how much the rain diminishes east of the storm center.
In the wake of a devastating storm like Sandy, the people who live in the affected area will have to deal with big disruptions in their lives. Little things we take for granted become major inconveniences, and some of them are potentially dangerous. These effects last long after the TV crews have departed and the sound bites are stored away for station promos. Some examples:
1. The hurricane-force gusts and flying debris cut thousands of power lines. These have to be restrung one at a time... and in cases where there is structural damage, there's nothing to string them to.
2. Many water systems are affected by contamination from flooding and seawater.
•Pollution from overtaxed storm sewers enters waterways, lakes and beach areas.
•In the hardest-hit areas, just the simple act of finding a bathroom and maintaining cleanliness becomes a major chore.
3. Without power, there is no refrigeration, and tons of food end up worthless. Restaurants without backup power have the same problem, and health officials have to monitor to make sure tainted food is not served.
• Sump pumps don't work and basements get flooded.
4. Thousands of carpets, drapes and articles of clothing received water damage; mold and mildew become widespread where the items can't be dried fast enough.
5. Where businesses have been destroyed, employment is disrupted as well as schedules for just about all other activities.
6. There's a day care nightmare. Parents have even more to do because of the cleanup and the efforts to secure food and water. At the same time, all the debris adds extra danger for children picking through the rubble and shattered shards of glass. The normal routine of calling friends and relatives or arranging for day care becomes a frustrating experience as phone service is disrupted.
For all these reasons and many more, effective disaster relief is so important. The next few days and weeks will bring trying times for those affected by Sandy.
Conserve cell phone power by lessening screen brightness and making shorter calls. If your phone is using other resources (such as searching for LTE service in an area not covered by LTE), turn them off.
7. The building trades and home improvement stores enjoy boom times as repairs get underway.
This mornng, showers were moving across the lower Great Lakes region. A band of thunderstorms developed near Chicago before 6:30 a.m. CT and reached the southwest Michigan shoreline an hour later (8:30 a.m. ET). The following maps show the shower zone and Chicago area lightning.
The tropics have been more active recently. This map shows various entities that area being tracked and analyzed. Hurricane Gonzalo stands out clearly.
A couple of days ago, the storm entering the East had a stronger circulation than it does now. Here is the pressure analysis from earlier this morning. Several minor disturbance can be seen, and trough lines representing those have been sketched on the map. Note that there is little difference in temperature from western Pennsylvania to Wisconsin.
The rain band is only 100-200 miles wide, but it is moving slowly. This map shows its location at 10 a.m. today. Once the main rain band passes, it won't be quite as warm as it was when the rain started. However, by mid-October standard, it will still be mild.
On some days, there are so many "little things" that it is difficult to identify the players. Today, we see two systems dominating: the low pressure area on the left (west) and the high pressure area to the right (east). The cold front associated with the low pressure area is helping to support bands of rain.
One branch of the flow will go from Oregon and northern California eastward to the Plains, then it will go around the south side of the storm we have been talking about. A second branch of the flow will run from British Columbia northeastward to northern Hudson Bay. Cold air will be north of that current...which means it won't be anywhere near the eastern U.S. later this week.