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.
The current surface pattern clearly shows the flow that is bringing ocean-cooled air in from the east. If the high pressure area to the north expands southward as expected by tomorrow, this flow will be weakened and perhaps cut off.
The cold front is embedded in a large area of clouds, showers and thunderstorms covering the middle of the country. It will advance past the Northeast coast by the end of the day Sunday. The frontal zone is shown on this picture from late morning Friday.
When weather systems are relatively weak, small scale variations cause forecast uncertainty because several different weather types (such as showers, sunshine, cloudiness, etc.) can coexist in the same region and change constantly. This map shows such a pattern:
Some of the thunderstorms can become severe, with damaging wind and brief cloudbursts of rain. The greatest chance for locally severe storms should be in the "S" areas highlighted on this map (based on the NWS Storm Prediction Center's guidance).
There is a slight risk for severe thunderstorms later today from north-central Tennessee up across Indiana and Ohio to Michigan and eastern Wisconsin (shown by the "S" area on the map below. Thunderstorms are not predicted for areas near the coast from Delaware to New England.
It is not going to snow any time soon, but in any type of weather the flag is a symbol of freedom. This holiday weekend we celebrate the contributions of those who were there to defend the freedoms we enjoy in these times.