Computer Models: Hurricane Sandy to Slam Northeast

The U.S. Navy computer model showing Hurricane Sandy approaching the Northeast Monday morning. (Image courtesy of Penn State eWall.)

Top-of-the-line computer models have been forecasting a devastating blow delivered by Hurricane Sandy to the Northeast early next week for several days now. In the computer model scenarios, Sandy could come ashore anywhere from Maryland to Cape Cod and would do damage to a wide swath of coastline and many inland locations as well.

As of Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service in New York City issued a preliminary public advisory:

THERE IS LOW POTENTIAL FOR A MAJOR COASTAL STORM WITH HEAVY RAINFALL…HIGH WINDS…COASTAL FLOODING AND BEACH EROSION EARLY NEXT WEEK. THIS WILL ULTIMATELY DEPEND ON THE EVENTUAL TRACK AND EVOLUTION OF TROPICAL CYCLONE SANDY AS IT INTERACTS WITH A DEEPENING UPPER LEVEL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM APPROACHING THE EAST COAST. THE STORM MAY VERY WELL JUST MOVE OUT TO SEA…AND HAVE LITTLE IF ANY IMPACT ON OUR WEATHER.

That the NWS wants to avoid worrying the public over a “fish storm” made perfect sense for the initial two or three days that Sandy began to be seen by the computer models. However, as of this writing, the great majority of members of NOAA’s Global Forecast System climate model are indicating a curve toward New York City and the densely populated I-95 corridor.

With Arctic air rushing south on the western edge of Sandy as it makes landfall, the potential exists for an unusual (though not unprecedented) one-two punch, with the dire effects of a hurricane on the coast (and well inland) and a crippling snowstorm 250 miles to the west.

A full moon early next week, and its attendant astronomic high tides, stands to increase the effects of beach erosion and storm surge.

In this observer’s opinion, preliminary preparations for the tens of millions living in the region that would be affected by Sandy should be begun before the weekend, with unusually long power outages among the risks posed by the storm.

There’s a reason that the NWS avoids making forecasts too soon: It can’t afford to cry wolf. But it’s time to let the public know that something is in the offing here.

The situation is that serious.

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About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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7 Responses to Computer Models: Hurricane Sandy to Slam Northeast

  1. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Harold,
    Friends with relatives in NJ have been alerted.

  2. Steve J says:

    Agree wholeheartedly, Harold. It’s too bad the NWS has become so concerned about whether or not they are wrong or right. Obviously, some of that is due to societal perception of what a meteorologist is supposed to do, but they are the only ones that can change that perception. I really wish we would see more probabilistic forecasting that includes all realistic forecasts instead of trying to determine exactly what will happen.

  3. Bennett says:

    Hi Harold,
    Very nice blog and I’ve bookmarked you for future enjoyment. I found you through your comment on WUWT.
    Thanks for what you do!

  4. Adam Seed says:

    Harold
    Informative entry. However, I hope you’re out to sea on this one. A power outage and downed trees are very inconvenient.

  5. Charlotte Boswell says:

    Where could one drive to in order to avoid likely power outages? We are located in Newport, Rhode Island on the coast.

    • Harold Ambler says:

      Unfortunately, Sandy may come to be known as much for the extent of its winds as much as for its winds as for their power, which is another way of saying that power outages are probably a possibility for nearly the entire Northeast.

Comments are closed.