Evidence continues to mount for an historic storm to strike the Mid Atlantic and Northeast early next week. The combination of an eastward advancing deep upper level trough of low pressure with its associated unusually cold Arctic air mass and Hurricane Sandy, a strong category 2 tropical system now in the western Atlantic, will interact in such a way early next week that the strong tropical system will likely be “pulled” towards the east coast. Sandy has menacingly strengthened in the last 24 hours even as it has crossed over the eastern portion of Cuba. Despite this trek over land, Sandy intensified into a strong category 2 hurricane, and currently has sustained winds of 105 mph with gusts to 125 mph. Sandy is quite a huge storm that is now moving at a pretty good northward clip at 16 mph. Meanwhile, Arctic air has plunged into the central Plains and Rockies with snow falling at Denver this morning and temperatures in the 20’s. This cold air mass will head to the east this weekend just in time to meet up with Sandy.
Computer forecast models for the most part are now in full agreement that there will be a serious impact in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast US, but the exact timing and landfall location is still in a little dispute. We’ve talked at length about some of the weaknesses of the GFS computer forecast model when dealing with coastal storm tracks and now it too has the storm being ultimately pulled in towards the east coast albeit a bit farther north than some of the other models (near Long Island). [The GFS forecasted the “harmless, out to sea” solution a few days ago]. Last night's European model run had the storm making landfall somewhere near the Delaware Bay.
The bottom line, we’re looking at the very real threat early next week in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast for the following conditions: torrential rainfall, hurricane-force wind gusts, coastal and inland flooding, power outages, coastal storm surge, and deep accumulating snows in inland higher elevation locations of the Appalachians.