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.
In other words, while late summers in Phoenix have gotten wetter during the last few years, Boston has become drier. Is there anything more momentous or general that we can say about this?
This enhanced infrared satellite picture shows the cold front in the Northeast and the moisture wrapping around Odille on the southwest part of the map.
Across the Central and Northern states, thunderstorms are less common at this time of year than in late spring and summer. One area that has had more thunderstorms than usual recently is across the Desert Southwest.
Last week, I mentioned that longer range computer models were suggesting a major warmup by next weekend. More recent runs have backed off on the that idea. However, there is extreme uncertainty beyond the next 7-10 days. This can be seen by looking at the following map.
n the forecast office, we often track cold fronts with pressure maps like these. The examples are from 4AM and 10 AM today. You can see that the northern part of the front is moving more quickly than the southern end. The arrival of the front signals the start of the cooling trend that is spreading east.
The upper air flow over the East is from the west-southwest now, and some of the moisture associated with the cold front can be traced back to tropical storm activity off the Mexican west coast last week. The same moist air mass set the stage for recent flash floods in Arizona. By early next week, the upper-air flow will be coming to the Northeast region from well up in western Canada, as seen on this forecast map forecast map for next Tuesday: