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 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.