Saturday 1 PM EDT
Sandy is still wobbling northward well off the South Atlantic coast. As a strong trough aloft approaches Sandy, the storm's circulation will be drawn into and become part of a greatly expanded upper air storm.
Since the storm will be a hybrid that includes some of the characteristics of the non tropical storms that cause most the cold season precipitation we see in the Great Lakes and Northeast, its circulation will be more spread out (rather than more compact). A lot of rain will be generated as tropically moist air is forced westward over air that is much cooler. This is something we typically do not see with pure tropical storms/hurricanes.
What all this means is that the heavy rain and increasing wind will reach places long before the center arrives. Delaware, New Jersey, as well as parts of eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland, are likely to start getting damaging winds and torrential rain tomorrow night, perhaps escalating into the worst conditions Monday morning. The center will come ashore after this, and by that time the rain and even the wind will be weakening.
Unless the storm tracks farther north than expected, the New York City area may be near the northern edge of the very worst conditions. Where the wind and rain are the worst, there will be streets flooded with water and massive tree damage and power outages. And, the wires have to be restrung one at a time... that's what takes so long (as well as other challenges of accessibility and maintaining safety.
It is important to complete your planning and preparation before the worst conditions approach later tomorrow. This video shows the situation and forecast as of early Saturday afternoon. Please check more recent information that will be continuously updated on AccuWeather.com. Also, your local emergency management people are trained on helping people avoid and deal with the most critical things that can kill and destroy.
Enhanced infrared satellite picture from early Saturday afternoon.
This map shows the split flow that is predicted to be in place on New Year's Day. Note how the flow reaching northern Pennsylvania originates far north in Canada, whereas to flow aimed at Virginia comes from Mexico.
The maps I searched for were from December 1960. I was 13 and was thoroughly overjoyed when Philadelphia got 14.6 inches on Dec. 11 and 12. Schools were closed for three days, something that did not happen again until the Blizzard of January '96.
At midnight, the temperature will be in the 50s to low 60s from Virginia to Southern New England... more like late spring than Christmas time. Meanwhile, cold air will be advancing into western parts of Pennsylvania and New York, driven by strong winds. Earlier, this "cold" air mass looked like it would be more potent than it has turned out to be. This map shows the pressure pattern and some temperatures at 9 a.m.
Temperatures are likely to be in the 50s from Boston to Washington, D.C., during the nighttime hours of Christmas Eve. Dry chillier weather will arrive during Christmas Day, with dry weather lasting until at least Saturday.
This picture, which may or may not have been taken very recently, has a red dot near the North Pole. I cannot confirm that a red dot is there on the ground or that it means anything. We will monitor the area for any signs of activity and advise everyone to maintain the spirit of being nice and not naughty.
Rain with areas of fog should spread from Virginia to New Jersey Monday or Monday night then spread into New England for Tuesday. From the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania into the interior of New England this could at least start as snow or ice. The GFS for 1 AM New Year's Day looks interesting. See the map below. Whether or not this storm develops and where it will snow or rain cannot be precisely predicted two weeks in advance using these models.