Saturday, 9:30 A.M.
Sandy continues to slowly but surely undergo structural changes today, still maintaining a warm core, and slowly but surely seeing the winds become spread out over a wider and wider area. By the time Sandy does make what appears now to be its inevitable landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast, it will be an immense storm, affecting the entire Eastern Seaboard. Look at the 0z GFS surface forecast for Monday evening:
In other words, you'll literally be able to trace isobars around the outer reaches of Sandy from Maine to Florida! Not only that, but if you look at the difference in pressure from the center of Sandy to the center of high pressure over the northern Great Lakes, and it's very conceivable you'll go from something below 940 mb to the surface high of 1030 mb or more. Essentially, an 80 to 90 mb pressure difference, if not more, when it is about to make landfall later Monday along the mid-Atlantic Coast. It is no wonder, then, that the dire forecasts of wind reaching gale force well inland, and perhaps even approaching hurricane force (74 mph) in gusts deep into the interior of the mid-Atlantic and New England, are well warranted in my opinion.
There are still some significant differences in the models as to the strength of Sandy prior to its expected landfall, and when and where that will end up taking place. That window continues to narrow, though, and most model projections center on New Jersey sometime later Monday. That essentially means that as I am typing this Saturday morning from work, we're closing in on 48 hours to landfall.
What does that mean? Some of that depends on where you are. If you live from the Delaware Bay on south into eastern North Carolina, you need to finish your preparations for the storm pronto. Farther north and west, you may have some time into tomorrow when the winds still aren't too strong, and the rain not too heavy before you need to have everything taken care of. By Sunday night and into Monday, pretty much all of the mid-Atlantic into central New England will be in the throes of Sandy's wind-whipped torrential rain.
Speaking of rain, how much are we talking about? Well, to give you a rough guesstimate, here's the 6z NAM forecast of total precipitation from early this morning through early Tuesday afternoon, when Sandy is most likely to be somewhere over Pennsylvania or the southern tier of New York State:
Again, that is just ONE models' interpretation of the rainfall totals. It won't be exactly right. None of them will be. But I think it gives you a rough idea of what we're up against here. Tremendous rain from eastern North Carolina and the eastern third of Virginia into central and eastern Maryland and southern New Jersey, with totals of 4 to 8 inches, maybe a foot. There is no doubt that will cause widespread flooding, and even with less amounts being projected farther north and west into eastern Ohio and West Virginia into upstate New York and New England, I would still be concerned about flooding in many of these areas.
That's just the rainfall aspect of the storm. How about snow potential? That's harder to judge, but the main area of concern centers on southwestern Pennsylvania down through West Virginia, and the high ground of southwestern Virginia. Much of this region has elevations of 2,500 feet or higher, and as the moisture from Sandy rolls in from the east and northeast, and the cold air drills in from the west and southwest, snow is almost a lock in these areas, and it wouldn't shock me to see more than a foot in favored locations. It will initially start as rain, but it has no choice but to go to snow, and as far as steady precipitation is concerned, end that way in the mountains. That in and of itself would snap trees and bring down power lines, but some trees still have leaves on them, increasing the chances of that happening. The wind will only make it worse.
And what about that wind? Here's one graphic we're putting out here at AccuWeather.com:
My worry is that this is conservative. Yes, I could see higher winds, especially from central and eastern Pennsylvania to southern New England into eastern North Carolina. Those kinds of winds would bring down trees and power lines on their own merit, not to mention cause structural damages to many things.
What kind of preparations should be made? A whole litany of things. Non-perishable foods would be a good start. Necessities like toiletries another. Water. Lots of water. Maybe even put some in plastic containers (expandable), stick them in the freezer, and use them as ways of keeping refrigerated foods cold if the power goes out. Batteries. A car charger for cell phones and maybe laptop computers. Gas, for your car and your generator. A generator if you don't have one. The list goes on and on, but it's quite possible that if the power goes out, it may stay out for several days because of the anticipated widespread nature of that problem. Remember, just a year ago in a snowstorm, some lost their power in the Northeast and didn't get it back for over a week - specifically, Connecticut! And yes, it will be turning cooler behind this storm in many areas, so warm clothing and blankets might be good to have as well!
Will everyone suffer the same fate? No. Many will see strong winds and rain, but keep their power, not lose any branches or shingles, get no dings to their car, and have no flooding issues. And those people will probably say it was overhyped. There's not much I can say to those people. But I fear just as many will experience at least one of those adverse impacts, if not several of them, and it is to those people that I've been writing these posts to all week long.
Once this storm rolls inland, it's going to take a few days to unwind. If you're living in central and eastern Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, for example, it's already been two or three days since you've seen the sun. It will be at least that many more before there's even a chance of seeing it again. It's a little early for that kind of cloudy, gloomy weather to take place!
In the meantime, keep checking back to AccuWeather.com. The team of meteorologists and news hounds will be on vigil 24/7, updating stories, forecasts, photos, videos and graphics. Send your pictures and photos to AccuWeather.com so we can see first hand what is happening in your backyard! Beyond that, pay attention to the forecasts and the updates, and stay safe.
Summer has ended astronomically, but from a meteorological standpoint, there's plenty more warm weather heading into October from the Plains to the East.
Two strong cold fronts will charge across the country in the next week, eventually taking out the current hot and humid air mass from the Plains to the East Coast.
Over the next three days, hot and humid air will expand across the Mississippi Valley all the way to the East Coast. This will be followed by even more heat and humidity leading into the weekend.
Hermine will head across the Florida Panhandle late tonight, then cut across the coastal Carolinas and become a headache for the mid-Atlantic and southern New England over the Labor Day weekend. It will be followed by a heat wave later next week.
The heat and humidity will be erased from much of the East later this week, but warmth will spread from the Plains eastward over the weekend. The tropics could still play an important role in the weather along the Eastern Seaboard this weekend.
A dominant ridge will keep it hot from the Ohio Valley to the East into next week, while the disturbance north of Cuba is slow to develop as it approaches the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.