Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.
Now that Sandy is but a shell of its former self, the weather is going to proceed into a quiet interlude. For the rest of the week and this weekend, we'll be devoid of strong storms, wild winds, flooding rain and heavy snow over the vast majority of the country. Quite frankly, we need it. The entire northeastern quadrant of the county has been shaken to its core by the hurricane. As the sun is now coming out and aerial views are more easily obtained, the true carnage left in the wake of Sandy is now becoming evident to the whole world.
As stated in yesterday's post, the superlatives just don't come close to describing the scene and what this historic storm did. The storm surge at the Battery of 13.88 feet bettered the old mark of 11.2 feet in the hurricane of 1821. That storm surge occurred near low tide. With Sandy, it was near high tide. With a full moon. That latter point probably contributed an extra foot to the actual high water mark.
Scenes from coastal southern New England of sights I've know for years that are now just a pile of rubble are gut wrenching. The visual impact of seeing the side-by-side comparisons of the park at Seaside Heights, N.J., on a nice, summer day and now, with the roller coaster that is now IN the ocean are just stunning. It boggles the mind! My heart and my prayers go out to everyone in these areas that have to figure out where to go from here. How to rebuild.... if to rebuild.
Of course, this is the second hurricane to impact the East Coast in two years. Last year, Irene cut a path from the Caribbean across the Outer Banks of North Carolina before crossing the coast of New Jersey, then Coney Island. The estimated damage from the storm was about $19 billion. The early estimates for the cost of Sandy are at least double that and may well end up being higher.
It is not without precedent. Back in 1954, Hurricane Carol just grazed the Outer Banks of North Carolina before slamming ashore over eastern Long Island and eastern Connecticut to end the month of August. Less than two weeks later, another major hurricane by the name of Edna passed just east of the Outer Banks and skirted the east end of Long Island before hitting Cape Cod then eastern Maine. That was followed a few weeks later by Hazel that struck near Myrtle Beach, S.C., and headed north through eastern North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania. In other words, the entire East Coast was raked by at least one storm in a two-month period, if not two, with the grand total being three hurricanes. One year later, Connie, Diane and Ione hit North Carolina and had some impact on the East Coast, though, overall, to a lesser degree than in 1954.
I've already mentioned the 1821 hurricane. If you go back and look at the colonial records, you'll find scribbled in the diaries of the prominent people of the day some similar accounts of wild and destructive storms. Sandy is clearly a storm the likes of which most of us have never, ever seen, nor do we hope to ever see again. That said, there have been storms in the past that have been just as nasty, only with far, far fewer people in the way and very little infrastructure in the way compared to today.
Let's move on from Sandy and wander through the rest of the week into the weekend. The biggest storm on the maps in that time may be the one bring rain to western Washington and northwestern Oregon today. That is a feature we'll have to keep tabs on, however, as it is forecast to seemingly fade move by the Northwest, then roll over the northern Rockies before turning southeastward this weekend into the northern Plains. Here's the latest NAM 500mb forecast for Saturday morning:
It'll be forced to move southeastward because of what is in its way - the decaying remains of Sandy and the massive upper-level low that will still be in place over the Northeast at that time. As it does so this weekend, it will produce some showers, maybe even a little snow over the Dakotas late Friday and Friday night, but it won't have a tropical connection to it in any way, which means precipitation amounts will be light.
There is some concern that as this upper-level trough slides through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys toward the East Coast, it will cause a storm to form off the coast that may bring strong winds to the mid-Atlantic coast and Northeast coast for a time. Given how much these areas have been wrecked by Sandy, any strong wind accompanied by big waves would be more than unwelcome. However, it is a real concern for the first half of next week.
And that means our period of tranquility is likely to be brief. Even if that storm manages to be weak and stay farther offshore, there could well be another sizable storm ready to impact the West Coast or at least the Northwest late next week.
A wet week lies ahead from the southern Plains to the Ohio Valley as a wavy front becomes the focal point for showers and thunderstorms containing flooding downpours.
Blocking over the Atlantic and in Europe is buckling the jet stream over the central and eastern U.S. to extend the cool and wet weather the rest of the week and into the weekend.
More excessive wetness is in store from the mid-Mississippi Valley to the mid-Atlantic states, while the brutal heat continues in the West and especially the Northwest this week.
A cool season storm will bring flooding rains and very cool air to the Ohio Valley and Northeast tomorrow into the weekend, while the Northwest has record-setting heat with sunshine.
As the jet stream undergoes amplification late this week into the weekend, it will lead to extremes of heat in the Northwest and cool and wet weather in the Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic and parts of New England.