Hurricane Sandy (category one status) continues to ominously intensify and there has been a burst of convection (thunderstorm activity) in the last few hours surrounding the center which is indicative of further intensification. Sustained winds are now at 90 mph with gusts reaching 115 mph and the central pressure is down to 943 millibars (27.84 inches) - already the lowest pressure ever at this latitude. In addition, there are off-shore buoy reports that have measured wind gusts to 130 mph and barometric pressure readings as low as 937 millibars. The significance of the extremely low central barometric pressure reading of the storm is that it sets up a very strong pressure gradient which in turn translates into very strong winds. Much of Atlantic City, NJ is reportedly already underwater - well before Sandy even makes landfall. The latest movement is towards the NNW at 18 mph and it appears to be heading for a landfall later this evening somewhere between Cape May and Atlantic City, New Jersey. After tonight’s landfall, the storm will transform from a tropical system to an extra-tropical system, and the center of Sandy will slowly plow northwestward to over northern Delaware/southeastern Pennsylvania by morning on its way to south-central Pennsylvania by later tomorrow.
Winds and rain will gradually intensify early this afternoon and then the brunt of the storm for the region from DC-to-Philly-to-NYC will occur between late afternoon and Tuesday morning. Winds in this region should gust to 60-80 mph with possible isolated gusts to 100 mph; especially, closer to the coastline. Rainfall will pile up quickly during the brunt of the storm with “horizontal-sheeting” at times and the overall totals will generally range from 5-10 inches in the Mid-Atlantic region with the tendency for those higher amounts to occur between DC and Philly and the lesser amounts towards New York City. Also, there certainly will be many locations ending up with 10+ inches of rain; especially, for example, over the Delmarva Peninsula. Winds will generally be out of the north or northeast through the evening, but then could briefly slacken off later tonight in those locations where the center moves overhead, and then the winds will shift on the back side of the storm to out of the south or southwest. The storm surge and coastal flooding from New York Harbor down the entire New Jersey coastline could be at historic levels. Widespread power outages can be expected to pile up in the Mid-Atlantic and New England during the brunt of the storm from later this afternoon into early Tuesday. Heavy snow will pile up on the cold side of this storm with two to three feet possible in West Virginia.
Good luck riding this one out, stay safe – don’t go near trees, power lines or any high water.