The potential for a major storm of tropical origin continues for early next week for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast portions of the country. There are still considerable disagreements amongst the many computer forecast models, but the ECMWF model, perhaps the most reliable in the medium range, continues to point to an incredibly powerful storm for early next week that would be “pulled in” to the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast coast by an approaching deep upper-level trough of low pressure. This type of storm track would bring powerful winds and heavy rains to low-lying Mid-Atlantic and Northeast US locations, and inland snows on the southwest side where cold air rushes towards the central Appalachians. The main player here, Tropical Storm Sandy, continues to intensify over the Caribbean Sea south of Jamaica with current sustained winds at 50 mph. By the way, the main US computer model, the Global Forecast System, continues to predict that this storm will head harmlessly out to sea, but this model has had trouble in the past with coastal storm tracks (ie southeast bias). One final note, there will be a full moon on Sunday, often a factor during historical weather events, and this could contribute to dangerous tides. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, the sun is quite active just like the tropics in the Atlantic Ocean. A group of sunspots called AR1598 is still not quite directly facing the Earth, but it soon will be. AR1598 has been a very active sunspot region since emerging onto the sun a few days ago. In fact, it has already generated four significant solar flares in that short amount of time and the last one was given the highest strength classification, “X”, but it will not have a direct impact on the Earth’s atmosphere. Stay tuned on this as well as this active region rotates to a position that directly faces the Earth.