Subtropical Storm Melissa forms off Northeast coast
A potent and long-duration storm that has been lashing the upper mid-Atlantic and southern England coasts through the past several days was classified on Friday as Subtropical Storm Melissa.
As the storm strengthened Thursday night, an eye began to emerge in the center of the storm. On Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center said it had developed into Melissa, the 13th named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.
Melissa was located about 250 miles south-southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, Friday night and was packing maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.
A screenshot from the AccuWeather satellite tool showing the development of an eye, which, along with other factors, led to the system being classified as Subtropical Storm Melissa on Friday, October 11, 2019. Melissa is the 13th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
A subtropical storm has characteristics of both a tropical and non-tropical system. They're generally more disorganized than a tropical system and have more cold air in their core than a tropical system.
The impacts to the northeastern United States coast will remain the same even with the storm now being classified as subtropical. Melissa will lash the upper mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts with drenching rain, gusty winds, rough seas, and flooding problems before it slowly heads out to sea.
Into early Saturday, Melissa will slowly move northeastward and away from the coast which will allow impacts to diminish.
Any lingering moisture from the stalled storm will remain along the immediate coast, allowing some communities to be drenched with several inches of rain.
The above satellite image shows the storm lurking off the northeastern U.S. coast on the morning of Friday, Oct. 11, and forming an eyelike center. (NOAA/GOES-16)
In southeastern New England, isolated general flash flooding can occur with 1-3 inches of rain forecast and an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 4 inches.
As of 12 a.m. EDT Saturday, Nantucket, Massachusetts, had recorded nearly 3.7 inches of rain from the storm. A peak gust of 54 mph was also observed on the island thus far.
The difference in barometric pressure between the storm and high pressure over eastern Canada will funnel strong winds into coastal areas, blustery conditions across interior central New England and a stiff breeze along and just northwest of Interstate 95 in the mid-Atlantic.
"Gusts to 60 mph can occur on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the islands while gusts between 40 and 50 mph are likely on Long Island, New York," Dan Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist, said.
The winds can break small tree limbs and knock some of the changing leaves off the trees in New England, with sporadic power outages possible in southeastern New England.
The persistent winds will also aggravate seas along the coast and offshore.
"Even as the storm moves away, some of the coastal impacts will remain," said AccuWeather meteorologist Courtney Travis.
Residents can expect powerful surf and beach erosion from Delaware to southern Maine through the weekend. Because rip currents are forecast to be frequent and strong, people should stay out of the surf.
A man watches the surf as heavy seas come ashore during a nor'easter in Wintrhrop, Mass., Saturday, March 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Offshore seas may build to 30 feet or higher due to the strong, stalled storm. Crews and passengers of large vessels should be prepared for stormy conditions or avoid traveling through waters off the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts until the storm moves away and seas subside later this weekend.
With winds from the northeast along the New England and upper mid-Atlantic coasts, flooding at times of high tide is expected.
Tides in many cases are likely to be 2-3 feet above normal but could be locally higher. Areas prone to taking on water from Delaware to New Hampshire during moderate coastal flooding events, such as from nor'easters, are likely to flood due to this storm.
Since astronomical tides will build into this weekend due to the approach of the full moon, known as the Hunter's Moon, coastal flooding can be significant, especially along the north- and east-facing shoreline at times of high tide into Saturday.
Rain and gusty winds will develop then race away across the Maritime Provinces, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, this weekend.
Going forward, areas from the central Appalachians to the eastern Great Lakes and northern New England can expect an extended spell of dry weather due to the developing atmospheric traffic jam associated with the slow-moving storm.
Some stormy weather and cooler-than-normal air may push into the Northeast for mid- to late- next week.
The big snowstorm currently over the central United States will be what ultimately kicks Melissa out to sea.
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