Joe Lundberg

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Sandy on Final Approach to the Mid-Atlantic Coast

October 29, 2012; 9:50 AM ET

Monday, 11:30 a.m.

Hurricane Sandy is now on its final approach to the mid-Atlantic coast and will make landfall early tonight in South Jersey in all probability. Given the latest satellite imagery, the recon data and surface observations, Sandy is not done deepening. Kudos to the European model for hitting the grand slam on this storm a week ago. It stayed on message and beat the tar out of all the American models - specifically the GFS, its ensembles and all of the tropical models derived from it.

Furthermore, the worst fears I explicitly stated in last Thursday's post about keeping on message about the name of Sandy are now quickly unfolding before our very eyes. Make no mistake - what's coming at the New Jersey coast IS a hurricane. Yes, it is not purely tropical. But if it now has a 20-mile wide eye, which the hurricane hunters are reporting, and there's a burst of convection around the center, it's still acting as if it is warm core, even if the wind field is being spread over such a vast area. I hope that the residents there have paid close attention to the updates on Sandy over the past several days, because the storm surge is REAL. The hurricane force winds are REAL. The rain is REAL. This is a beast, and it's hard charging now to the coast.

There's still some debate about the final chapters of Sandy as it moves into southern Pennsylvania late tonight and tomorrow, and all but comes to a grinding halt for a time. I'm utterly ignoring the GFS forecast here, as it has yet again proven to be completely useless in the exercise and should have been dismissed days ago, but every once in a while, as the saying goes, a 'blind squirrel finds an acorn.' This time, the acorns were aplenty, but none were apparently picked up by the model until late in the game. Anyway, the storm will become vertically stacked tomorrow and tomorrow night over central Pennsylvania then crawl northward from there Tuesday night and Wednesday. It will take until Sunday before this entire feature finally clears the mid-Atlantic and New England.

The wind will get stronger and stronger as the afternoon progresses and will reach peak intensity in most areas tonight before the storm plows inland and begins to weaken. The wind will be strong enough to bring down trees and/or power lines in many, many areas, and that does not include places where the precipitation comes down as heavy, wet snow. This will be a destructive storm with a final price tag perhaps into the billions, and the cost in terms of lives may be far greater.

Rainfall has already been epic along the Delmarva Peninsula. As of 11 a.m., there are numerous reports of 3 to 5 inches of rain, with rainfall rates of an inch an hour or better. And it's not even close to being done. This tropical and torrential rain will spread inland across Maryland and northern Virginia up into Pennsylvania. Here's the latest, 12z NAM total precipitation forecast from this morning out to 8 a.m. Wednesday:

In case you have a hard time reading the scale below the image, or the image itself, that's 5 inches or more across most of Maryland and Delaware - on top of what had already fallen through 12z this morning! Flooding is a given in most of this area. Some of that will be in the form of heavy, wet snow, especially in West Virginia.

In short, an historic storm, one that will be studied and written about for years to come.

If you have pictures, videos, and observations from the storm, please send them in to AccuWeather.com! We want to see what's happening in your backyard!

In the meantime, stay safe. It is going to be as bad advertised.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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About This Blog

Joe Lundberg
Joe Lundberg, a veteran AccuWeather.com forecaster and meteorologist, covers both short and long-term U.S. weather on this blog.