Friday 9 AM
Sandy continues to threaten the Northeast, and in the area where is comes ashore, there will be damaging winds knocking down trees and cutting power, flooding rain and, at the coast, a dangerous storm surge. Time of that is crucial, because we will be close to the time of the full moon, and range between high tide and low tide is greatest then. This map shows the track forecasts of a wide variety of computer models. Why the differences? Each one has its own way of ingesting data and handling the intricate math associated with second order nonlinear differential equations. A big problem is we simply do not have data for every place in the atmosphere.
This video discusses where the storm is heading now, what should happen next, and what some of the effects will be. Unfortunately, this kind of storm can affect millions and cost billions.
Looking at next week, the GFS ensemble spaghetti plot of upper air winds shows how much agreement there is among members of the ensemble (same model running multiple times using slightly different starting assumptions). The maps are from next Tuesday, Nov. 25, and Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27. There is good agreement on the first map, but a lot of spread two days later.
The location of lake-effect snow bands is tightly controlled by geography, topography and wind. From this pressure analysis, we see why the wind favored heavy snow staying south of the hardest hit Buffalo snow belts earlier today.
If this timing works out, there would be good travel weather for the Northeast Corridor on Wednesday while snow showers cross the Great Lakes and reach the northern and central Appalachians.
This map from one of my tweets yesterday (accuElliot) showed the wind direction most favorable for heavy lake-effect snow in and near Buffalo. Just a minute change in direction greatly affects the location of the heaviest snow, almost as if you were operating a fire hose. The snow is so deep (more than 4 feet in spots and deepening) that officials were considering the use of high lift equipment to extract vehicles.
It suggests rain in the I-95 corridor and snow from the mountains of West Virginia and Pennsylvania to southwestern Maine. Other models and ensemble versions will be examined this weekend as we narrow down the uncertainties associated with this fast-moving storm. Whatever the form of precipitation, you can count on another shot of cold air behind it. Lake-effect snow will be common as well.
I can see how slippery spots can develop from Philadelphia's northern and western suburbs on northeastward. The highest amounts of snow may be from Boston's western and northern suburbs on through Portsmouth, Portland and Augusta. Some spots could get 3-4 inches. Be ready for a slow commute tomorrow morning. If these problems develop, they could occur rather suddenly.