Hurricane Sandy maintains strength

Very late this afternoon Hurricane Sandy is centered at latitude 30.2N, longitude 75.2W. That’s about 345 miles south of Cape Hatteras, NC.

She has picked up a little speed and is moving to the northeast at 13 mph, parallel to the U.S. coast. Maximum sustained winds remain at 75 mph, and little change in strength is expected through Sunday.

Now that the sun has moved over into the west, the visible satellite photos from NOAA show the circular core of the storm with its cluster of convection. To the north and west of the immediate hurricane are the widespread bands of thick clouds and rain that are spreading along the coast:

Sandy vis sat pm.jpg

The water vapor satellite loop is another way that meteorologists have for looking at storms. These photos show very clearly where water vapor is concentrated, in this case most dramatically in the cumulus towers near the core. Also note the dry air swirling around the east side of Sandy and the dry slot between the core and the coast:

Sandy water vapor sat pm.jpg

The National Hurricane Center has issued another forecast advisory of the anticipated storm track along with a cone of probable paths:

Sandy track.gif

Sandy is forecast to make a turn more to the north by early Monday and finally make a hard left to the west as the center of the storm heads toward the coast. Landfall should occur Monday night/very early Tuesday, most likely in New Jersey.

Colder mid-latitude air will begin working on Sandy and it is likely to become extra-tropical on Monday while still over the water. That extra energy coming off the North American continent is likely to increase the strength of the storm a bit in the hours prior to landfall.

The storm surge is still expected to be nasty, but its severity will depend on its timing relative to high tide. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting that the water could reach 4 to 8 feet above ground from Ocean City, MD, to the CT/RI border if the peak surge occurs during high tide.

States of Emergency have been issued by the governors of states from Virginia to Connecticut and the mayor of Washington. While the definition of a “state of emergency” varies from state to state, it generally allows states to respond more quickly to a natural disaster, issue evacuation orders or prohibit travel and, if necessary, activate the National Guard.

As has been stated many times, regardless of exactly where Sandy comes ashore this will be a very serious storm with coastal flooding, inland flooding, wind damage, trees and power lines down, and finally a lengthy period to clean up, restore power and repair communities.

-Bill Endersen

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