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Since I really don't know how to elaborate on FishOutOfWater's great diary from earlier, but people keep asking me to write something, I'm going to post a total cop-out of a diary and make this an open thread where you can ask me (or anyone else, really) anything you want about the much-hyped Hurricane Sandy Nor'easter Frankenstorm Doom Armageddon Perfect Storm Thingamabob 2012.

Here's what we know so far:

  • Here's the NHC's forecast as of 8 11PM EDT:
  • Sandy is a hurricane right now, but is expected to transition into an extratropical system in a few days. A tropical system is warm throughout, but an extratropical system has temperature advection (cold/warm/occluded fronts). This is important because it's going to allow the storm to spatially grow frickin' huge, while dragging in cold air on the western side of the system.

    Here's the HPC's forecast for Tuesday, showing a ~966mb extratropical megastorm making landfall in New Jersey:

  • Ever since the NWS ordered all 70+ weather balloon sites across the United states to launch 4 balloons a day (as opposed to two), the models have improved greatly in their agreement and accuracy on Sandy's ultimate track. The sweet spot? New Jersey:
  • It's going to be a very deep storm in terms of atmospheric pressure. The models are waffling on exacts right now, but it'll be in the mid 900s by landfall. This is the pressure of formidable hurricanes. That's a lot of energy.
  • Instead of translating this energy into intense winds around the center of the system (like a hurricane), it's going to use this energy to expand its wind field over a massive area. And I mean massive. Areas from Richmond VA to the Canadian border can expect very strong winds as the thing approaches the coast and makes landfall.

    Here's this afternoon's GFS run, showing surface pressure (black contours) and 10 meter (30 feet above ground level) winds as Sandy approaches the coast next week:

  • In what is probably the worst timing since Mitt Romney tried stand-up comedy, an Arctic cold front is currently moving across the United States and is expected to reach the east coast at about the same time Sandy makes landfall. Sandy will wrap this cold air into the western side of the storm and bring the season's first snowstorm to parts of the interior east. It's too early to name specifics on snowfall totals (or exact areas), but the mountains of WV and PA look to be the best bet right now.

    Here's the cold front right now, to give you an idea of the sharp temperature gradient we're dealing with:

  • The adverse effects of Sandy will be...
    Wind: Strong winds will do damage to begin with, but strong winds over a long duration of time (we're talking a few days, here) will stress structures and trees that normally can withstand shorter duration events. Wet soil plus prolonged strong winds will take down lots of trees and, subsequently, lots of power lines, especially since most trees still aren't defoliated yet. The leaves act like little parachutes, adding to the stress the trees will experience. Expect widespread (and potentially prolonged) power outages, wind damage, and blocked roadways.
    Storm Surge: Similar to what happened with Hurricane Irene, the sheer spatial width of Sandy's wind field, along with the already-high tide caused by the upcoming full moon, will cause most flood prone coastal areas to easily flood due to surge. It's too early for the NHC to put numbers on the potential surge, but know that it could be significant enough to do damage.
    Flooding: 5-10+ inches of rain are going to fall with this system as it moves inland, causing normally flood prone areas to flood. Those of you who live in flood prone areas should know what to do to prepare and take action if you need to do so. Remember not to drive through a flooded roadway or your dumb ass deserves what you get.
    Snow: The western side of Sandy will interact with the aforementioned Arctic airmass, creating the very real possibility of snow in the Appalachian Mountains of WV and PA. We'll know more details about this as we get closer, but don't be too shocked if they start mentioning snow totals in feet.

I think I covered everything, but probably not. If something doesn't make sense, let me know. I'm in a fever-induced stupor right now, so it's quite the accomplishment that I'm typing in English rather than LOLspeak.

If you've got questions, ask 'em.

6:46 PM PT: A Kossack private messaged me a little while ago and asked why meteorologists seem so giddy over this storm, when it has the potential to be really bad. Meteorologists tend to get really excited over unusual or rare weather events like this. Even though the end result is often devastating, it's unique to get to see something historic play out in real time. Events like this also give us more data points to study in hopes of being able to better forecast unusual and rare events in the future, so they don't come as such a surprise to people. Please don't get the excitement in the meteorological community wrong -- they're not excited about the devastation, but rather the actual meteorology going on. It's all in the name of science.

7:47 PM PT: I posted this and then left with my roommate to go get cold medicine so I don't feel like a zombie. Sorry about that. Derp. I'll go through the comments now.

8:16 PM PT: A great read by Bob Henson at UCAR on the historic nature of this storm.

9:37 PM PT: If you live in North Carolina, Maryland, DC, Vermont, or Maine, go and vote early.

10:20 PM PT:

in VA, you can do absentee voting in person.

No regular early voting, but they do offer the other.  

by gfre on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 12:04:43 AM CDT

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