Hurricane Sandy “nightmare scenario” unfolding? Growing threat of “historic” East Coast hurricane

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There is growing concern in the hurricane expert community and a growing consensus in forecast models that a major, even historic Hurricane Sandy may strike the East Coast early next week.

If current forecast model trends pan out, a major “billion dollar weather disaster” may unfold next Monday & Tuesday somewhere from Mid-Atlantic to New England.

Here is the current thinking from the Weather Lab, and the breakdown of a potentially devestating blow from Hurricane Sandy for the East Coast next week.

Hurricane Sandy through Thursday:

Hurricane Sandy lashed Jamaica Wednesday. Sandy’s developing eyewall passed over the eastern end of Jamaica, and is heading for mountainous eastern Cuba early Thursday.

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IR color loop shows Sandy’s eyewall passing over eastern Jamaica

Source: NOAA

The official NHC forecast then takes Sandy into the Central Bahamas by Thursday PM.

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Source: NOAA/NHC

Interaction with land means Sandy may weaken slightly to a 70 mph tropical storm, but remain well organized and near hurricane strength.

Friday: Sandy sideswipes eastern Florida

Forecast model agreement is good through Friday for a resurgent hurricane Sandy to slow a bit, and jog slightly northwest.

If the slight left hand turn occurs, southeast Florida will feel the effects from a growing storm as Sandy does a drive by. Tropical storm force winds, wind driven rain squalls will lash the greater Miami area, and heavy surf will pound Florida’s East Coast.

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Some coastal flooding and wind damage with gusts to 60 mph may occur in and near Miami Friday. Tropical Storm Warnings are flying for eastern Florida.

This Weekend: Critical 48 hours for Sandy’s development & track

The danger zone for Sandy’s development occurs this weekend in the open Atlantic.

Forecast model tracks are tightening around a solution brining Sandy north over warm Gulf Stream waters east of the Carolina’s.

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Source: SFWMD

As Sandy moves north, she will begin to interact, or get “picked up” by a mid-latitude trough approaching the eastern USA.

This is where things get dicey, and potentially very dangerous.

These northern, non-tropical systems can inject cold air and jet stream energy into hurricanes as they exit tropical latitudes. The “Perfect Storm” of 1991 is an example of such a storm as Hurricane Grace moved north.

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The increased energy aloft combined with a shot of energy from warm Gulf Stream waters below has the potential to morph Sandy into a “hybrid” superstorm…a storm with both tropical and mid-latitude characteristics.

Many models are indicating that may happen, and that may create a geographically large, potentially devastating storm plowing into the most densely populated area of the USA early next week.

Monday & Tuesday: Crunch time

Many forecast models and the growing “spaghetti plot” consensus favor a Monday or Tuesday landfall with Sandy, somewhere between New Jersey and New England.

A few of the more trusted models paint what amounts to a nightmare scenario… a powerful hurricane slamming into the northeast “megalopolis” with widespread damaging wind, significant storm surge and huge battering waves.

The European(ECMWF) model has taken the lead on Sandy, and continues to favor a New Jersey landfall Monday night.

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Source: WxUnderground

The Navy’s NOGAPS Model paints an almost apocalyptic scenario…a powerful hurricane with damaging wind and tremendous storm surge taking direct aim at New York City.

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Even the oft lagging GFS has come more into line with these solutions in the latest runs.

If either of these 2 trusted models (Euro, NOGAPS) pans out, we are likely looking at a large powerful damaging event of historic proportions for New Jersey, New York & Long Island, Philly and potentially Boston and/or Upstate New York.

As Irene taught us, areas far beyond the “landfall zone” can suffer significant damage from hurricanes well inland.

A scenario that includes millions without power, many lives lost and billions in insurance losses is goring increasingly likely early next week in the northeast USA.

There is still a chance that Sandy will stay out at sea.

But the prudent move at this point is for states, cities and residents in the northeast to begin planning and marshalling resources now in anticipation of the growing threat from Hurricane Sandy.

Stay tuned…


  • Craig Edwards

    Never seen anything like this in forecast model output in 40 years of weather business. Not too soon for preparedness planning!

  • Christopher Anton

    Wonderful, I’m due to land in EWR on Monday evening for a one night stopover en route from UK to Cancun. I guess it might be a bit exciting.