"This will be not only the storm of the century; it will be the biggest storm in the history of mankind."
-- Eric Thomas, WBTV Meteorologist, March 12, 1993.
This line has been running through my head for the last two days, because it is becoming more evident that (despite having no historical precedent) we're about to have another "Storm of the Century" next week, thanks to Hurricane Sandy (the government calls her "Frankenstorm"). Read our news stories for additional information this weekend.
Another great line was spoken this morning at AccuWeather. This morning I attended an emergency meeting at AccuWeather.com about the track, and impacts of the storm. Forecast Manager Marshall Moss started it out by saying, "Today, we're in the business of saving lives" -- a line from "A Few Good Men" (and, to be fair, women). It's true, we are here at work today to do what we do at our core -- provide a more accurate forecast tailored to peoples' needs, to save lives and property. This is what it's all about.
I said on my WeatherMatrix Facebook Page last night:
"The weather hasn't 'scared' me for a long time, but what I'm seeing tonight on the forecast models, and the seriousness with which I'm seeing famous meteorologists discuss next week's historic storm, has gotten me a little worried. If you live in any STATE on the East Coast, it's time to think about preparing for next week's storm because the track is not certain but the potential devastation seems to be. Tomorrow in my blog I'll be talking about worst-case scenarios and what you need to be prepared for. Some simple steps can keep next week from being a nightmare for you and your family."
The 00Z GFS is progging this storm to be a sub-938 millibar storm; the ECMWF a sub-934 mb storm (<27.58" Hg). This is how those would fit into the Northeast U.S. history's "big storms," concerning lowest pressure only:
"Perfect Storm" 1991: 972
"Storm of the Century" 1993: 960 $6.65 billion (2008 US$)
"Long Island Express" 1938: 938* $306 million (1938 USD)
GFS Sandy: 938
ECMWF Sandy: <934
In terms of damage, Sandy is expected to cause "billions" while the 1991 storm "only" caused $300 million. The 1993 Superstorm, however, caused $6.65 billion damage in 2008 dollars.
*Measured off the N.C. coast; pressure was unknown when it was farther south. If Sandy reaches 934, she will be one of only 19 Atlantic hurricanes to achieve pressure that low, NONE of which had that pressure north of the Outer Banks.
There were a lot of other "quotables" said in that meeting which will give you some insight into what our meteorologists are thinking. A couple that stood out to me:
- "This will be a catastrophic storm over a large area."
- "I'm scared about storm surge in NYC, and it will come sooner than people think."
- "There could be power outages for weeks, and it could affect the election."
- "The 00Z GFS 900 mb winds essentially show power being knocked out from D.C. to Maine."
- "This type of storm has never been seen before by meteorologists."
Two days of rare September severe thunderstorms in Pennsylvania have dropped tornadoes and funnel clouds, and I was able to chase some of them.
There are quite a few notable low pressure systems or "cyclones" worldwide today. One of them, Typhoon Meranti, is the biggest in a while.
On the evening of September 5, 1996, as Hurricane Fran approached the North Carolina coast, I embarked on my first-ever hurricane storm chase trip.
Twenty years ago, Hurricane Fran roared into eastern North Carolina, and I was there -- and I've got the VHS tapes to prove it.
Until yesterday, Hurricane Wilma was the last Hurricane to strike the state of Florida, 11 years ago.
Hurricane Irene caused over $16 billion in damage in 2011. A the 5-year anniversary, I look back on my experiences with the storm.