I will be separating this diary into three parts. I'm not going to sugarcoat this, guys. Sandy is bad. Very bad. I've been following weather for 10 years, and have lived 24 years on the gulf coast. I've been through Katrina, I've been through Andrew, and I've been through several events. This morning, we got bad news. It strengthened into a Hurricane again. Then, we got even worse news... 957 mb central pressure was just found via dropsonde, meaning that the rapid deepening of pressure is underway.
So the first part is, why is this storm so rare and powerful?
The second part is, what should you expect?
The third part is, tips from someone who has been through catastrophic events like this before.
Why is this such a rare event?
To put it simply, this type of weather pattern has never really been seen before. Comparisons have been made to the "perfect storm" of 1991. That is an apt comparison, in 1991, Hurricane Grace moved into the New England area. At the same time, there was a high pressure system to its north, creating a trough, which would normally cause a decent snow event were it not for Hurricane Grace.
The perfect storm:
Sandy and the new perfect storm:
See the similarity in what situation is setting up? That trough over the states is the edge of the high pressure system. When they clash... well, look in that first picture. The only difference is, this one is coming inland, and this one is stronger than Grace.
So here's the deal with its rarity:
A) Hurricanes rarely happen late in October.
B) When they happen, they rarely hit land, they are usually swept out to sea.
C) When they don't get swept out to sea, they normally hit the Gulf Coast.
D) If they somehow hit the East Coast, which is rare enough as is, its usually in Florida or Georgia.
E) This is going to hit during the full moon high tide.
I can seriously go on and on, but here's the major point:
A Hurricane hitting New England, is rare... A hurricane interacting with a Nor'easter, is rare... The two happening in sync? This was supposed to be a once a century type event... and for it to make landfall, unlike the "Perfect Storm" of 1991, is terrible. It has never happened. That this is happening during the election... There really is no precedent for this, EVER.
This is mother nature slapping us in the face for not talking about climate change in an election year.
How it will effect the area...
Well, first of all, lets take a look at the pressure gradient map from one of the models:
Notice a few things here: First, the pressure is 950 in the middle of this storm. Some models have it dropping as low as 930. The perfect storm was 972. For those who do not know meteorology, it's pretty simple... the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Why? Well, look at those lines. Those are pressure gradient lines. Think of it like a topology map, and you will suddenly understand the problem. That high in the top left of the picture of 1030mb, and the center of the low at 950mb, is an insane pressure gradient. Imagine if you will, a ramp. The higher the high and the lower the low, the steeper the ramp, and the faster a ball rolls down that ramp. In the same way, the wind will be faster because of these topology lines.
Second, we have another problem. Wind field. The wind field of this storm right now is a shocking 435 miles of tropical storm force winds. Because of the interaction with the front, and the deepening of sandy, this is expected to expand. This may be a record setting storm in terms of low pressure in the Northeast, and in terms of wind field size. Combine this with blizzard effects from the interaction, and you will have millions of downed trees.
Thirdly, depending on where you live, they are predicting 15-25 INCHES of rain, and up to 5 feet of snow, depending on if you get the rain part or the snow part. The moisture content of Sandy is insane.
Lastly, we have storm surge. If this directly hits New York City, Look at this map. Anything yellow or orange will be underwater. This is hitting at high tides with 30 foot waves, the storm surge is going to be fairly dramatic. Even if you are in the Green zone, you may be affected. Meteorologists simply don't know what to do with this hurricane as far as predicting surge goes:
If this hits the DelMaVar area instead, here is what you should expect... Any county not colored, is not underwater. Any county colored, is underwater. I use category 3 because this will be hitting at high tide and will probably have category 2-3 level storm surge. I use 3 also to be safe... Here is what to expect:
I don't even want to think about the effects this is going to have on the election with the power outages.
Now that hopefully I've scared you a bit (and I want to, this is a SERIOUS situation), here are some tips, having weathered some of the strongest storms in the history of the gulf coast.
1) You need about a gallon of water per person per day. Figure you're on your own for at least three days before the Salvation Army, FEMA, Red Cross and/or National Guard gets there. So fill up what ever containers you have or can buy. Don't forget your critters.
2) Do you have a manual can opener? You'll need one.
3) Medications should be refilled now.
4) If you need meds refrigerated, call/visit the closest fire department. Explain the issue. They may know of a service within your town that offers ice for medical reasons after the storm arrives.
5) If you have a spare tub, fill that with water to flush the toilet. Though if the water levels get too high, the septic systems may not work. If the water gets really high, the sewer systems won't work. If the power is out long enough, the lift stations for the sewers won't work.
6) Contact family/friends/redditors out of the storm area now so you have one spot to call if your family becomes separated.
7) Even if cell phones are mainly down or the circuits are busy, text messages can get through.
8) Cash is king when there's no power. Debit and credit cards don't work without power.
9) If you are on a wooded lot, check your chain saw. Do you have bar oil? What about treated gas? Gas that's been sitting, particularly with the ethanol levels, makes for crappy two-stroke fuel. Check that what you have is OK and works.
10) Fill up your fuel tanks and extra gas tanks now. Again, without power, the gas pumps don't work.
11) Do you have a car charger for your phone? Now would be a good time to make sure it works, particularly for those folks that just got a new iphone 5 with the new lightning adapter.
12) Use up your refrigerated food first. Cook the meat and eat the dairy within the first couple of days on the grill. There is no saving it without power.
13) Do you have enough propane and/or charcoal to fuel the barbeque?
14) When cooking with the grill, use it away from the house. Make sure a flare-up can't catch the soffitt on fire. Don't grill in the garage.
15) Rake the yard now. With the amount of rain expected, you need the drains open and running freely. A drain clogged with leaves does not flow and all the water may end up in your basement.
16) Buy a tarp or two. I get the medium and about a 10 mil just to protect the roof if I've got a tree down. If you don't need them, you can always return them.
17) Batteries for everything. You need batteries for flashlights and everyone in the family should have their own flashlight.
18) Canned food is fine. Packaged tuna, canned spaghetti, peanut butter and crackers, peanut butter and jelly,
19) Make certain you have one long (50 foot) heavy duty extension cord. I was without power for 20+ days after Hurricane Charlie in 2004, but my neighbors, on a different circuit, were without power for 40+ days. We ran their refrigerator and fans on an extension cord for the 20+ days I had power and they didn't.
20) After the storm is over, don't go sloshing through the puddles. Power lines will be down all over the place and that water may be hiding that live wire.
21) Collect the phone numbers of the power, phone and cable companies. If there is an issue like a downed wire, or junction box destroyed by a fallen tree, they want to know.
22) If there is someone in the house with medical issues that must have power, call the local Red Cross. There will be a medical shelter that will have back up power. Make sure you have a spot there.
23) If you're being told to evacuate, get out. I'm in a southern suburb of Orlando and about 280 miles west of Sandy. We've had gusts of 47 at my house tonight and winds of about 20 all day. This storm is huge, slow moving and full of moisture. Whoever gets this storm is going to get the crap kicked out of them.
I wish you well because someone's going to need it.
24) If you have pets, make sure they have name tags on. If the pet gets lost, you want someone to call. Make sure it's a phone number you can answer. If you only have a landline, now would be a good time to get a google voice number. If the worst happens and your house isn't there any more, how will someone reach you?
25) If you have pets, call the vet for proof of rabies and shots. If you need to evacuate, your pet may not be welcome at a shelter without these records.
26) Right now, find your paperwork for all your insurance policies. Home, renters, car, business. If your house is damaged, the paperwork may not be available or may have been destroyed.
27) If you are even sorta kinda near this storm and you're near a body of water or the coast, do you know at least two ways to leave your neighborhood? Plan it out. Write it down. If things get hairy, your mind may not be working all that clearly and things you thought you'd never forget, you don't know.
28) If you need to evacuate, where are you going to go? Does everyone in your family know? Even the ones not in the area?
29) Every person in the family should have the phone numbers and addresses of family written down. Everything is in our phones, but when that battery dies, you can't access those phone numbers.
Flashlights and candles - best candles I find are tealights, they're pretty tight and you can just drop one in a lowball glass and it's pretty much safe.Good luck, those from VA to Maine... You're all going to need it, and you have my sympathies. This is going to be a tough one to ride out. It sucks that this is happening during the election.
Fridge and Freezer - Keep the fridge closed unless you know what you are taking out to eat. Everytime you open it, you're seriously decreasing the temperature and how long you food will last. If you can, get your deep freeze/freezer stocked tight with ice, it'll last longer in the event of a prolonged power outage.
BBQs - Great way to have hot food thoughout, but it should go without saying, the running BBQ stays outside.
Boredom - Books, cards, boardgames and booze. If all you're doing is waiting, might as well have a buzz going.
Portable electronics - Might as well keep them off as long as you can. You may need the battery life in an emergency. You can save a lot of battery life on your devices by disabling the mobile radio, so it stops searching and bluetooth, wifi, nfc since you won't be using it anyways. Set you brightness to the lowest level, most devices are set high and they really don't need to be.
Communcation - If it looks bad in your area, have a plan with friends or family beforehand so you parents aren't worrying and if someone needs to leave, everyone knows whats up.
7:07 AM PT: Almost forgot!
TAKE PICTURES OF EVERYTHING.
You will need it for insurance claims.
7:41 AM PT: New military simulator... honestly, us in the weather community, we are all dumbstruck.... Anything teal or brighter is tropical storm force winds (this is in meters per second), anything GREEN is category 2 hurricane force winds.
8:57 AM PT: Quick thing I forgot.
IF this is your first time using a generator, remember --- DONT USE IT INSIDE. Generator use inside is a very common cause of death for people unfamiliar with generators.
9:33 AM PT: Another interesting factor - It will make it very hard if not impossible to poll Virginia, possibly North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and potentially Ohio.
11:38 AM PT: UPDATE! New York City is considering shutting down its subway system on short notice tomorrow.
12:04 PM PT: Latest GFS run :(
Yeah... Its blowing up now. Look at that circulation, literally the size of the east coast.
Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 6:40 AM PT: It would appear that the center of this track, ground zero, has moved north to just slightly bellow New York City. Not the best track in terms of affecting NYC. I worry for you guys.